|Well I made it to Machu Picchu and it was everything I had hoped. It was one of the places that I had read about for many years and had always wanted to visit.
From Ollytamtambo to the ruins entailed a 7am train ride to a little town called Aguas Calientes. The train was really modern but the track was through some quite narrow areas on the side of a river and only about 3 years ago it had been washed out in a few places they did however serve an airline style breakfast and the scenery was spectacular.
Aguas Calientes is on the side of a hill with Lots of tourist eateries and massage places for the weary walkers on their return. From her you get a bus up the side of the mountain if you look at my photos you can see some pictures of the switchbacks.i
On arrival yet another walk through tourist tat and a pay toilet and finally into Machu Picchu itself.'
It is an amazing place - about 80% of it is original and our guide Smithy (Caesar Smith....)says the Incas built the real parts and the 'incapables' are maintaining it.
It is set on the sides of quite high mountains with a flat area in the middle. The blocks they used to build with came from about 5kms away and most of them are huge -they used the existing rock as a base for their structures. We had about 2 hours of Smithy and my knees held up because he kept stopping to explain the hows and whys. One of my photos is of a rock which is perfectly aligned with the Southern Cross and a sun dial another rock is in perfect alignment.
After our tour we were free to wander around the site - i spent quite a while just sitting in a secluded place contemplating the enormity off it all. I was also fascinated by the road we had come up.
So won't bore you with any of the history of the place I'm sure if you are interested you can read all about it.
We then had to return to Cusco the way we had come...a bus ride down the mountain and a train back to Ollytamtambo and that was really surreal.
Soon after boarding we were served a small snack and while this was happening we couldn't use the toilets as the food cart took up the whole aisle....then couldn't use it as it was being used as a change room for a ''clown''' who then gave a very strange performance in the aisle I believe it was some local dance but we never really got the full story.....and then... still no toilet as they were being used for the staff as change rooms for a fashion parade that lasted for about 45mins there were a couple of people who tried to get in and were immediately asked to don some garments and waltz up the aisle it was a hoot in the end as we decided to make the most of it and clap and cheer the displayed clothes and to stroke them...all pure alpaca and some very nice but unaffordable pieces. Fortunately my liquid intake had remained low so I made it to the end of the ride without much discomfort but a couple of of group were quite desperate. Still it was one of the most interesting train rides I have ever taken!
Didn't bother to climb to the sun gate as the only time it is really worthwhile