My early night didn't go quite as plan, as I got hooked watching Need For Speed and a few episodes of Friends but on the plus side I was well on the mend from my recent illness. We had breakfast - the free bread, jam and banana offered by Loki, checked out and picked up our packed lunch which Loki offered their guests going on tour - pretty good of them I thought - it consisted of an apple, banana, ham and cheese sarnie, crackers and boxed juice. We were then off on our way on our two day adventure. Our first stop would be a town called Ollantaytambo where we would get to explore town and some of their Inca artefacts there. First though we had to get there, to get there we were crammed on a small mini-bus with several locals. We made it eventually but didn't have time to do much apart from look around the local shops. I did manage to try a Peruvian Empanada once again they didn't match up to the legendary ones in Argentina but they were by no means the worse.
We had to be at the train station thirty minutes before it was due to leave, the station was packed with tourist from everywhere Asia, Europe, America and they were a diverse range young, old, backpackers, holiday makers it. The train was very nice (not the cheapest way to do Machu Picchu) but we got a free snack Coca-Cola and cracking views. Earl had an Inka Kola and I should have spoken about this in my previous blog as I tried an Inka Kola at San Pedro market, what makes Inka Kola weird is that it is no the standard colour of normal cola. Instead of the brown it is more a fluorescent yellowy green. It intrigued bot Earl and me so when the opportunity arose I got a bottle I wasn't that impressed, it didn't have a cola taste not even rola cola taste, instead it tasted more like cream soda and some people even say Irn Bru, all I knew that it wasn't for me and I'd stick to regular coke or Pepsi. The train whizzed by taking around one and a half hours I even managed to catch a couple of Z's.
We were met in Aguas Caliantes by someone from the hostel we were staying in as part of the tour, we were also now joined by an Australian Brit called Jonno. He was sound and had a look of a rapper about him, maybe a smaller version of Tinie Tempah, he was sound. We checked in and Earl and Jonno were both knackered so had a nap, I wasn't keen on sleep as I thought we would be up early the next day and didn't want to ruin my night's sleep so I cracked on with trying to unlock a few more achievements on Quiz Up and finishing The Cocaine Wars book I was reading. When the lads eventually arose from their slumber it was time for another briefing this time it was to be about our Machu Picchu trip the next day, we got told the unearthly hour of 4.30am we would need to be having breakfast and when and where to meet our guide. With that in the bag we decided to go for some food as we were all famished. We decided on Mexican and a beer my first of Peru, and went to a decent restaurant unfortunately because of the touristy nature of the town everywhere was reasonably pricey, it wouldn't have mattered but my enchiladas didn't fill me and neither did Earl's fajitas or Jonno's burritos, so we got some street food for desert, this was just basically meat and potatoes on a stick but it hit the spot and gave us a full tummy to go to bed on.
The next morning we were joined at breakfast by the Machu Picchu multi-sport group this consisted of four British / Indian guys, a Brazilian girl and an Aussie couple they were all sound. We had decided to walk up to the Machu Picchu entrance, this would be about one hour forty minutes from our hostel, I was keen to get the bus but no one else was so I was forced to go along with everyone even though walking up hill for over ninety minutes is not my idea of fun. The walk up is no joke. From Aguas Caliantes to the river and the bridge crossing, it's about 15 minutes of easy walking, mostly downhill. Cross the bridge and the going gets tough. It's basically 45-60 minutes of stairs all the way to the top. You're not really dodging buses (except in some limited sections) because you're climbing up a separate trail, not hiking up the road. But it's a real challenge, I only made it thanks to the fact I placed myself behind Emma (one half of the Aussie couple) and she had a cracking ass which kept me motivated to follow. What was also irritating is that the track finishes at the same point as the buses so you reach the top knackered where the people on the bus get off feeling fresh as a daisy and then you all join the same queue. I'm of the idea that the people who go for the walking option should get a priority line. Anyway we went in and got a few snaps before it got too busy with tourists and then met our annoying tour guide who gave us more information on one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We found out what certain buildings were, why and the history of Inca it as fairly interesting but like I said the tour guide was pretty annoying always wanting questions and refereeing to everyone as dear friends, maybe it was just my early morning catching up with me. When the tour was over we split up some of the group were to climb Huayana Pichu mountain where Earl, Jonno and myself were to take the hour and a half trek up the Machu Pichu mountain. The Machu Picchu citadel is bookended by two Apus, or sacred peaks. Mt Huayna Picchu marks the north end of the site; to the south stands Mt Machu Picchu. Both offer spectacular views, but while Mt Huayna Picchu turns away would-be visitors, the summit of Mt Machu Picchu nearly always stands empty.
The reason may be the difference in height. At 1,640ft, Mt Machu Picchu is more than twice as tall as its sister peak. But the reward for the 90-minute climb up flights of ancient stone stairs is the most incredible view that can be achieved (short of a helicopter) of how Machu Picchu was carefully integrated into its natural surroundings. Distant, sky-scraping Andean peaks tower in the distance while the winding Urubamba River nearly wraps itself around the main site like a python. If I thought that the walk in the morning was tough this eclipsed it, and walking down was also terrifying as next to the steps was a sheer drop and the steps weren't the most sturdy infact most were just crumbling rocks but I lived to tell the tale and see the quality views. We said goodbye to Jonny who was on an earlier train back to us and then explored the last Incan city until our legs could take no more and caught the bus bac to Aguas Caliantes.
My legs were sure as we strolled back to the hostel but I managed a stop off to buy some new pants I was craving they are typically South American and have similar in Thailand and look like pyjama bottoms but I was very happy with the comfortable acquisition. After this we decided to take our aching legs to Aguas Caliantes hot springs. We soaked our weary bodies in the thermal baths and they were not bad, but the feel is much like a public pool, I expected something more like a waterfall but without the waterfall and just the pool of water. The pools were also crowded, since everyone wants to get into the hottest pools. It was also towards the end of the day when we visited and most of the pools semt not at their peak temperature and quite dirty. It was still decent though it was either the baths or the burger after that relieved me of my aching legs, I assume it must be the pools. For the next couple of hours it was a case of killing time, manly using the hostel Wi-Fi until we returned by train and bus to Cusco where we would spend another couple of nights.
So until next time stay safe and take care