Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes (March 28, 2008)

That morning, we spent some time blogging while Kevin was finishing up at his conference. In the late morning we grabbed a cab to go to Ollantaytambo, which is a town about 60km Northwest of Cusco. It was from Ollantaytambo that we were catching our train to Aguas Calientes (the city just outside of Machu Picchu). The cab ride was an hour and half ride. While Kevin was talking to the driver, we realized that we payed too much for the cuy in the touristic restaurant (which we knew already, but what can you do?). The cab ride was another interesting one (which one isn’t in this country?) On the way there, we pulled into this little town and the cab driver turned off the highway and started on a small road. I think we were all wondering what was going on and whether we were going to ended naked on the side of the road (best case scenario). Our cab driver took a short cut through the mountains. Although it got a bit scary at times, looking down the cliff, the scenery was absolutely breath taking. Roger was in awe and trying to take pictures along the way. The cab driver was very nice and stopped a couple times for pictures. He even pretended to take off and leave Roger there after Kevin asked him to. It was pretty funny. Oh, I almost forgot, as we came around a bend in the road we had to stopped as there was a guy on the road and a whole bunch of tree trunks in the middle of the road. I guess a guy was cutting trees above us and throwing them down. It took a few minutes of the guy franticly making signs to his friend to stop with his arms and then he had to remove all the trees one by one. For a few seconds there we were wondering if we were going to backtrack on that small windy road.

We ended up getting to Ollantaytambo in good time, even with the photo op and the tree trunks. The first thing we did was to go get our train tickets that we had reserved by internet before we had left. Ollantaytambo is an attractive little town at the foot of some spectacular Inca ruins and terraces. We had a bit over 2 hours and a tough decision to make as we were all starving: eat or visit the ruins. We found a compromise and had a quick sandwich and spent a bit over an hour in the ruins. It was SO hot that day. We had a lot of fun just walking around the ruins and taking pictures. It is the place where the Inca emperor Manco Inca was able to defeat the Spanish in a battle. The finely cut rocks and plantation terraces were very large obstacles for the conquistadors to surpass, and the fortress was also used by Manco to conduct successful attacks on Francisco Pizarro.

We then went to catch our train. We took the Vistadome to Aguas Calientes which is the city where you sleep at the bottom of Machu Picchu. The vistadome is a very nice train with panoramic windows in the ceiling so that you can see as much of the beautiful scenery as much as possible. It was very nice and we even got a meal. When we arrived, we went to look for a hotel right away. Thanks to Melissa’s, who had done a good job looking at their travel book in the train, we found a hotel right away. Second stop was to buy our entrance tickets to Machu Picchu for the next morning as we where planning on getting there very early. We also went to the bus station to get the bus tickets for the next morning. All this being done, we felt we deserved a drink so we found a terrace with a 4 for 1 deal for drinks. While having our drinks, we checked our travel books to see where we would be eating that evening. We saw that there was a French Peruvian restaurant that was highly recommended, so we decided to check it out. It was Called Indio Feliz and is run by a French guy and his Peruvian wife. It was a very good 3-course meal. We also had some nice wine, a must with a French-style meal. After the great meal we headed back to the hotel to catch some shuteye as we were getting up at 5:00 the next morning (funny but it seems we are getting up early pretty often on this holiday!).

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