This trip focused around two main features. One was the Panama Canal, the other Machu Picchu. However, as we’ve spent these last few days here in Peru, we began to think that maybe Machu Picchu wasn’t going to be a focus after all. We’ve so enjoyed being here that in some ways, we’d rather pushed MP out of our minds. But, plans were set, tickets had been bought and complex luggage arrangements made, as you’ve just read. So, at 7.30am this morning, Marco and Adriana arrived and we set off to Ollantaytambo, a main station for the Machu Picchu train. Since a landslide a couple of years ago, the train no longer goes through to Cuzco, but terminates at Urubamba.
It was a beautiful morning as we drove up through the valley. We’d not heard the same rain last night as we’ve heard since we’ve been here, so we were keeping everything crossed that it was going to stay fine.
In Ollantaytambo, two porters for the Inca Trail sat waiting for some passing business. The Inca Trail per se is closed during February, but there are still long trails to follow and more local hikers enjoy coming at this quieter time of the year.
The station was pretty busy and it seemed like the 8.30am train was a popular choice.
More interesting things lining the pathway, more temptation to resist.
We were arriving at the same time as some of the town’s ladies, too. They are allowed to sell on the station by paying a commission, Adriana told us.
So, whilst they went to sort it out, they left their packs on the platform.
Rather more colourful left luggage that the usual European style, don’t you think?
The platform itself was slightly chaotic. People taking selfies, groups assembling for photos and people with six cameras on their arm, taking them for several members of the group. The ladies selling the brightly coloured bags, the mosquito repellent and the plastic ponchos mingled in the crowd, doing quite a good trade with the youngsters in particular.
I loved the hats!
A shout and a whistle signalled for everyone to stand aside and the smart blue train arrived.
We had tickets for the PeruRail Vistadome and had seat allocations for coach A.
Inside, it was very smart – and full! Those high windows enabled us to see the mountains around us and the seats were very comfortable and clean, too.
We sat at a table set with a cloth and cutlery and Adriana found herself sitting next to another guide, university friend and colleague so we were a jolly bunch of four.
Shortly after leaving Ollantaytambo, the two train crew came through with a trolley, handing out breakfast trays.
A plate with melon, a slice of prickly pear cactus fruit, some quinoa pancakes at this stage, with some elderberry sauce and a slice of cheese and swiss chard pastry brought shortly after I took the photo.
And Arnie, the train manager and another university friend of Adriana’s came to shake hands and check all was well with us. What attention we were receiving!
Having collected the breakfast things, the pair changed into souvenir mode and brought their trolley along once again, trying to sell us PeruRail caps, waistcoast, alpaca scarves, playing cards, T shirts…you name it. We giggled with the young woman who was doing her best to tempt us to spend some money – in vain, I’m afraid.
Arriving at Agua Calientes station, there was a warm welcome awaiting us. Four members of staff from the hotel where we will stay were there to collect our hand baggage so that we could go straight on up to Machu Picchu and make the most of our time here.
So, our two carry on bags went off on a journey of their own too – the logistics challenge continues!
We made our way through another colourful market
to the bus stop for Machu Picchu. Those small green buses take people up to the ruins on a regular schedule – as soon as the bus is full, they leave!
In no time at all, ours was filled and off we went.
I’ll share what happened next in the following post.