When we finished our half day touring Machu Picchu I was wore out and thirty. We went directly to the restaurant next to the Belmond Lodge right at the entrance to the Machu Picchu ruins. It was set up for a buffet and fortunately, our group had reservations. It was a clear, hot day but I had been afraid to drink much since the only toilets were outside the ruins entrance gate and there was no reentry. Most members of our group were hungry, but I just wanted to keep thinking water and then a Peruvian soda that was on the buffet. I hardly ate anything at all.
Exhausted, we all got in line for the bus back down the mountain after lunch. The line actually moved pretty quickly; we didn’t have much of a wait at all. The hotel was going to deliver our bags to the train station, so once we arrived back in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo) we had free time to visit the bars and souvenir stands before the train ride back to Ollantattambo From there we are taking our bus to Cuzco. At this point, I wish we just had the direct train to Cuzco.
Carlos showed us the layout of the city and where the entrance to the train station was although it was too early for us to get in. Neither Boris nor I felt much like shopping, but sitting in a bar near the station, hydrating, and watching the crowds sounded like a good plan to me. We saw more of the sherpas loaded down with gear for the Inca Trail while we passed through the marketplace.
When the luggage arrived, we made our way into the train station to wait. There were lots of passengers waiting for multiple train departures. It is obvious that some people hike up to Machu Picchu, but take the train back down and it was much more crowed than when we arrived yesterday. Wow, that was only yesterday. It seems like so long ago given the amazing experiences we had visiting the Lost City of the Incas.
There were more steps and some difficulty handling luggage, so just be prepared if you are leaving from the Pueblo station. Once on board, we found that instead of the relaxing ride and looking out the windows, we were going to be treated to some entertainment. A dancer dressed in costume and mask appeared and danced down the car to piped in music. She was dressed as a demon according to Harvey, our Incan guide. After her own performance, she decided she needed some audience participation.
It came as no surprise that she selected to dance with Joe. However, guess who was her second victim, I mean partner. Thats right. Boris. He danced with her back and forth down the aisles. Hysterical, but he looked like he was enjoying himself. Of course, I got some video.
After the dancing, the staff in our car put on a fashion show. Peru is headed into winter, so none of the items we saw were anything I could wear anytime soon. That didn’t stop me from looking though. Of course after the show they came down the aisles selling the modeled clothing.
After that we settled into the rest of the ride into Ollantattambo, hoping for a view of the glaciers. I was on the wrong side for the best pictures, but I did catch a glimpse. Given all the entertainment, it felt like a quick trip back. Upon arrival in Ollantattambo, we had to get off the train quickly as it was continuing on to Cuzco. From the station we got back on the bus for our drive into Cuzco.
On the way into Cuzco, Harvey told us about the new airport planned for the city. It has been in the process for about 10 years, but has met with a lot of resistance because it is closer to the Sacred Valley and many of the people are concerned about the disturbance and perhaps damage it will cause to the area. It will be bigger and closer to the attractions in the Sacred Valley and access to Machu Picchu.
Arriving in the city, we hit lots of traffic and it was very slow going. If they are going to put an airport out here they better start with wider roads and more lanes of traffic. Once we got closer to the hotel, we had to switch from our bus to two smaller vans because our bus wouldn’t fit into the narrow lanes of the old city where we are going. Our hotel tonight is something very special-although all the hotels on this trip have been amazing. As the name implies, Monasterio, A Belmond Hotel, is an ancient monastery and one of the most touted hotels in Cuzco.
Upon arrival the doorman greeted us at the front of a large wooden door. Once everyone was on the sidewalk, he opened the door for the big reveal. We were checking in in the monastery’s chapel. What a moment. We quickly got on our way. Our luggage had been delivered to the hotel prior to our arrival and we simply had to point out our bags and receive the heavy metal key to our cell (what the monks called their rooms). Although not large, the room was gorgeous with high ceilings and the bathroom made the most of its tiny space. No two rooms in this hotel are alike.
Carlos recommended several area restaurants for dinner, but Boris was so exhausted he didn’t want to go out. We ordered room service and then crashed after our exciting day at Machu Picchu and our spectacular arrival into Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Incas. The exploration of more Incan sites and this fabulous city is on the agenda for tomorrow.