Today we had some free time to wander around the township of Machu Picchu for the morning before our train/bus transfer to the city of Cuzco.
Machu Picchu town is set on a fairly steep side of a hill and is at 2400 meters above sea level. From our hotel, the last building on the road to the Inca ruins, it is quite a climb to the station and into the shopping/market precinct. There are many colourful stalls with ever aggressive stall holders wanting us to purchase their equally colourful wares.
There is a BMX bike downhill competition on today, Sunday, and the track runs through many of the narrow streets of the town. Ease of ‘looking around’ is limited somewhat. Sometimes for me, its good to ‘feel’ what goes on in a town and how it functions and the local highlights make a visit interesting. I was wandering through the crowd with the video camera ready for the action shots wearing my ‘travelling vest’ that has quite a number of patches on it, one is a Canadian Flag. I heard a voice call out, “Video Press all the way from Canada”. Rather neat! I managed to make my way into the area where the commentary guys were at a vantage point for the final jump and finish point, and no-one suggested I get out-of-the-way. LOL!
There were many massage places so I took an Inca Massage for an hour. Lyn has been feeling off and was diagnosed with tonsillitis the other day as well as having a heavy cold. Sort of feeling miserable, you could say, so didn’t try out a massage. Oh yeah, the massage was just right.
We needed to be back at the hotel for 12:30pm for the steep walk back up to the station. Our Tour Director often remarks that ‘you Australians are terrific, you are always on time. This saves me heaps of worry.” And we were again. The train is ready for us and we board ready for the 2 hour journey to where we meet the buses. This train is rather plush and we get served lunch while travelling. Others in the carriage who are not in the Scenic group ask why they missed out – “sorry everyone, we are travelling with a tour company that cares”. Now here’s a question that I expect everyone to answer “NO” to, unless you have done this trip yourself. Have you ever been on a train that entertains you with a ‘catwalk’. Yes, two of the train staff turn themselves into models for 15 minutes and model some alpaca clothing of very high quality, up the aisle of the carriage. Now that’s innovation Australian Railways! We are able to purchase the items and I nearly do (for Lyn, of course), but time runs out and we must get onto the buses that are ready to transport us on to Cuzco.
There are about 6 or 7 buses in our little ‘caravan’ into Cuzco, some splitting to go to other hotels close by. They are an Evergreen Group which is the ‘cheaper’ version of Scenic and so miss out on the fantastic accommodation we are about to walk into. Our hotel is “The Monasterio”; a renovated monastery. We are ushered into the glorious little chapel and served refreshing drinks and given hot towels by the efficient staff. They are dressed as monks to set the scene. We are given heavy brass room keys from years ago, not the modern swipe card type. Some of the group travelling as Diamond Members of Scenic have been upgraded to ‘exceptional accommodation’ as they have described it, which include free butler service, free mini bar and other gifts.
I have included a photo when we reached the highest elevation of our trip so far; 12,450 feet or 3,795 meters. That’s high! It was interesting to see so many houses and even vegetation at that altitude. Even tonight, our elevation is 11,300 feet. I must admit that breathing for me is very much laboured. I shall get an extra shot of oxygen in the morning when people are up and about. (I’m writing this at 4:30am so not a good idea to give the medical desk a call.)
Tomorrow is a city tour of Cuzco.