Travel Journal

Peru, Ollantaytambo

(Friday 22 April 2011) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 250 4/14/11
We crossed the border about 6:30 PM and got into Puno around 10 where we changed buses to an overnight bus to Cuzco. Most of the travelers were young, loud – look at me -- Englanders although my seat companion was a nice fellow from Austria. We got into Cuzco around six in the morning and I checked on buses to Nazca, which I would be catching in a few days, and to my immediate destination Macho Picchu or Aguas Calientes. Nazca was no problem with frequent bus service but Macho Picchu was another story. Despite my free time in Copacabana, I really hadn’t researched this leg of the trip. At the main bus terminal, there is no service to Aguas Calientes – in fact there is no bus service to Aguas Calientes you can either hike there or take the train as far as I know. You can take a bus to Ollantaytambo and catch the train from there which is the half way point between Cuzco and Aguas Calientes and much cheaper than taking the train all the way from Cuzco. However you can’t get there from here…well, not the main terminal. I got directions to what I thought was another terminal that served Ollantaytambo, and after haggling with taxi drivers for fifteen minutes, I was driven and dropped off at a taxi collective garage. I was tired and irritable and agreed to the seven dollar ride to Ollantaytambo rather than finding a two dollar bus to do the same.
An hour later I was there and in the main plaza before 8 AM. I was starving and found a local place open off the square and had some pancakes. I dropped my pack off at a hostel that would watch it for a buck and went to see the Inca complex there. Because of the steep hills, the Incas used a terrace system to get the most out of the land and these formed what would be steps for giants up the hill. Inca sites in the Sacred Valley are expensive and you can either get a ten day pass for 130 Sols or a single pass for 70 (about $50 vs. $26) so I opted for a single pass believing I would not visit any other sites on the pass. Because I was acclimated to the altitude for the last few days, the climb wasn’t as bad as it would be if I just arrived, but it still was slow going. The photo with the credit card is not me trying to access an Inca ATM just seeing if I could slide a credit card into the cracks. The Inca’s did amazing stonework. I guess if you have time, a chisel, and a huge workforce, you can do about anything with stone.
Afterwards I check the train station out and found out all the cheap tickets to Aguas Calientes were taken and had to bump up the service to get there today and back tomorrow. $110 round trip was ridiculous but what can you do (plan ahead and make reservations you moron). I got a ticket for a one o’clock train there and a one o’clock train back the next day.
I wandered about the town for the morning and had a great grilled chicken at a local restaurant again away from the overpriced tourist restaurants around the plaza. I collected my backpack and got on the train to Aguas Calientes .

 


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