Peru – Day 5

Tree house

35,000 steps later, we’re having wine back at our tree house hotel room. That’s right, I’m finally living out my dream of having a tree house like Punky Brewster but this one is even better because it comes with a full size bed for me and a twin for my friend. She preferred the smaller bed so I didn’t even have to rock, paper, scissor for it like Punky would have done back in the day.

  • Enjoyed breakfast buffet for the last time at Tierra Viva in Urubamba – Great place that I highly recommend
  • Took a taxi ride to the Peru Rail train station in Ollantaytambo
    • The signage says that you can only have one carry on item but there were no issues with my backpack and a piece of luggage which is the size they used to allow in an overhead compartment before they changed TSA rules. Anything larger than that likely would have been a problem because they do have rules about bringing on luggage. They did watch me bring it on and it fit in their luggage area. Otherwise, you will need them to store your luggage and you’ll have to go back for it or ask your hotel to store and return for it at later time.
  • Had a very pleasant 1 hour and 25 minutes train ride to Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu
  • Off boarded and met our host from our hotel who walked us through the maze of the market stalls
  • Checked into Rupa Wasi Hotel – a Tree House Hotel, where the host glady helped us figure out our Machu Picchu plans
  • Lined up to purchase tickets to hike Machu Picchu and ended up with tickets for the afternoon
  • Ate lunch and then began our venture to Machu Picchu

The train ride on Peru Rail to Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo is very comfortable and quick. The restrooms at the train station in Ollantaytambo itself is one of the cleanest train stations I’ve ever been to including their lovely departure waiting area and the arrival area that looks like a pretty garden with a cafe. Their service is also by far the best I’ve received at a train station, from the purchase of tickets to the employees directing you at the gate and on the actual train, though no one helped me with my luggage. I think since they had to turn a blind eye to their “one carry on per person” rule, they weren’t going to help me lift my bag onto the train. Overall, it’s a pleasant ride where I was able to read a book for almost an hour and a half. Through the top windows of the train, you can catch glimpses of the snow capped Andes Mountains or look out the side windows at the river below.

Rupa Wasi Hotel in Aguas Calientes sent a host to meet us at the gates of the Peru Rail Station which was extremely helpful in navigating through the maze of market stalls selling alpaca goods and bright, colorful fabrics. Through a few rows of stalls, you end up over a wooden bridge and then a brick walkway that leads to the city square where you see a ton of people lined up to purchase Machu Picchu tickets. We opted not to line up then, instead, we headed to the hotel to drop off our bags. As we neared the Rupa Wasi Hotel below the Tree House Restaurant sign, my eyes gaze right and I see stair, with lots and lots of steps. I look down at my luggage and realize that I have to lug that big ass bag up those steps on my own because Steve is not here. Oh, why did I pack so much? Oh, why, oh why did I have to buy those gifts at the market? Well, there was no one else to do it, so huffed my way up those steps and carried my bag up. Good thing I’ve been working out and the guns to do it. hahahaha…

After we checked in, our host helped us research online and determine our plans to purchasing Machu Picchu tickets. Apparently, you can’t buy tickets online within 24 hours. We dropped our bags and headed out to the ticket vendor in the center of town. It cost 152 Soles per person for an entry to Machu Picchu for the afternoon ticket. With a ticket in hand, we realized we had no idea which direction to start walking or where the actual Machu Picchu ruins were. People speak very little English so we walked to the train station which was nearby and hopefully, in the right direction, to have someone help us. Unfortunately, we were wrong and had to turn around, but the station agent did give us a map and directed us on our way. We grabbed lunch at C’hayna Restaurant, a local tourist spot on the river, went potty, and started on our way to Machu Picchu at exactly 12 noon following the river. I enjoyed my lunch of Carne Brocheta con Verduras y Sopa de Verduras con Arroz and felt like I had the right amount of fuel to keep me going for the day. You usually can’t go wrong with skewered meat. However, my friend did not like her pizza but it served as the sustenance she needed for the long journey ahead.

It took about 30 minutes to walk from the C’hayna Restaurant near the wooden rinky dink bridge to the patrol booth at the beginning of the Machu Picchu trail. From there, we hiked up three flights of steps before opting to walk along the bus road. The steps were just a little much for us though I was in it for the workout.

Nearing the last steps before you reach the actual entrance of Machu Picchu, you see hordes of people hurrying to get through the gates of Machu Picchu and even more people lining up for the bus to leave. You hand the ticket person your passport and your ticket, push through the turn style and you’re only 50 meters to the ruins. The ruins are just “Oh wow,” in the words of my baby Apollo. You see the mountain and all these piles of rocks creating a maze below. It’s an incredible sight to see and it’s hard to describe the view. I think you should just make your way to Machu Picchu if you don’t have a fear of heights. Or you could be like the dude we bumped into who had a walking stick and was taking one step at a time ever so slowly with a guide holding his arm, apologizing for holding us up as he had a fear of heights. Good for him for trying to conquer his fears!

Along the way to the Sun Gate, we tried to use the camera timer to take pics of us doing yoga poses. That didn’t go so well. It was really funny trying to take the pics on our own. I think I fell a few times trying to pose in 5 seconds. It worked out better when we had other people take pics of our yoga poses.

We begrudgingly made our way to the Sun Gate, or I should say, my friend reluctantly agreed and I had to goad her to keep going. I was determined to make it up to La Puerta del Sol since we were already part way. I even had people walking down from the Sun Gate tell her it was going to be worth the trek up there. She didn’t say it…I know she thought the view of the Machu Picchu ruins from the Sun Gate was awesome because she was happy to be in the pics once we were up there and she even asked a dude to take pics of us. On our way up and down from the Sun Gate, we played with with three llamas feeding on the grass. It was quite difficult to take selfies with them. I tried a few times. The llamas were super friendly and really fuzzy and soft to the touch.

Machu Picchu yoga

From the Sun Gate, we hustled down to the ruins so we could walk through the mazes of them and just be present there. We had only seen pictures of the place and words can’t do it justice. Who knows who layered all those stones there into small rooms and why exactly? You can tell by the uniqueness of the stacked stones that there was more than one person in charge or maybe the sculptures were created at different times. Who really knows? All I know is that I am so glad I have been able to add Machu Picchu to my adventures. We even struck yoga poses in pictures a few times at Machu Picchu. We stayed there admiring the ruins until they literally had to kick us out of there. After exiting the ruins, my friend and I decided to forgo the bus and walk down into town. Originally, we were going to purchase a bus ticket for the return trip but the line of people probably swayed my friend from the idea. I still wanted to walk back, even though the sun was starting to set, and we’d be in the dark in no time. I did use my flashlight for the last 20 minutes down so we could see the steps and slippery mud. Since we were going downhill, we walked down the steep stairs, watching our feet every step of the way, versus taking the bus road. Getting honked at by buses wasn’t exactly going to be a fun way to end our hike.

My friend wasn’t that hungry though she started describing the requirements for a good smoothie so we stopped into a cafe for a 15 Soles Papaya Smoothie. Then we walked along the river and ended up passing a Chinese restaurant called Amazonas. The red lanterns caught our eye and my friend said, I’ll eat this! Her willingness was a good sign as was the crowded dining room filled with locals. There were many dishes on the menu which made it difficult to order. We ended up ordering Trucha Frita (Fried Trout) with a side of Fried Rice and Fries, and Camarones con Verduras (Shrimp with Vegetables). They were both really delicious. When the rotisserie oven opened, we saw that they had 12 chickens roasting and realized that every single table ordered the roasted chicken. We’re going back tomorrow.

And with a bottle of Peruvian white wine, we’re calling it a night.