South America: Machu Picchu, pyčo!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 10:09:03 PM
When we arrived to the railway station, from where the train went to Machu Picchu, it was already 5 pm. We met our guide for Machu Picchu who told me that the train ticket to Machu Picchu wasn't included in my package because I'm a student. No one told me that. I thought I got the same product, just cheaper. Apparently, students have to walk behind a train in Peru to get a discount. The walk was horrible. It got dark pretty soon. We were told to follow the railroad even though there were signs saying "Don't walk on the railroad!". Fun started in the second part because there were really narrow tunnels. I walked with two Brazilians and all of us didn't really want to meet the train in the tunnel. Because it was dakr we had no clue how long the tunnel was. It could have been 100 m, it could have been 1 km. I checked time and the train was about to go. Despite this we risked it and started running as fast as we could. Fortunately, the tunnel was only 200 m long. But the fun wasn't over. After a a few hundred meters, there was another tunnel. We risked it again and got damn lucky because the train went through right after we'd gotten out of the tunnel.
Aguas Calientes, the closest village to Machu Picchu, has no road connections with the world, just the train. We stayed in a hostel, but not a long time because we got up at 4.20am to be at the station for buses to Machu Picchu at 5. When we came there there had already been a line. Machu Picchu is on a pretty steep hill, but all mountains there was extremely steep, it was no exception. When we got to the gate it was 6 and there had already been a huge line of people. It moved down really fast though. Machu Picchu is impressive, but it didn't surprise me in many ways because it's so notoriously famous and I've seen pictures of it from all possible views. Two-hour tour around the place was interesting. I learned a lot of new facts and found out that many things we were taught about MP weren't actually true.
Because we were early on the place we were among 200 people who were allowed to go to the mountain which is above Machu Picchu. We had to walk up steep stairs and the elevation change was I guess 200-300 m. I was surprised that there were ruins on the top, too. It was a bit scary because the mountain didn't have any slopes, just walls about 1000 meters high. I saw a girl who collabsed because of fear of highs. However, the view of Machu Picchu was spectacural. I could't stop watching, but it was about the time to go down. I went back down to the Incas city and took the Incas steps back to Agua Calientes. I had lunch with a huge beer. And if I say huge I mean huge, it was 1.1 l. They should sell such bottles everywhere, not 0.33 l. There is no point to order beer again and again. BTW The most popular beer in Ecuador was Pilsener and the most popular beer in Peru is Pilsen. The Czech republic is everywhere :-)
The train left at 1.20pm and took us back to the van. The journey back to Cusco was insane. It took 8 hours and after that everyone agreed that the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu for $70 was a bargain. I wanted to move towards to Chile, but we came back late and I missed the last bus, so I had to stay in Cusco over night. First I went to the hotel where the other Czech people stayed. I was abot to sign the bill when I realized that the price was in dollars, not in soles (it's three times more). I thanked them and left. There was a backpackers hostel two block away. It was definitely a good choice. The best hostel I've seen here. A nice building with a court in the middle. There was a bar with a DJ, free internet and wifi, rooms were nicely furnished. When I checked out I found out it was a new hostel opened last month. There was just a higher number of kinda hippie or hare krisha people, but they were nice and harmless, so if you go to Cusco go to Yamanya Hostal. It's totally worth 24 soles ($8).
P.S. After I visited Machu Picchu I have mixed feelings about this place. It's definitely a breathtaking place which doesn't have many peers, but it's already too much tourist and everything is commercialised. Cusco and Machu Picchu is the most expensive place in Peru and they let tourists pay for everything. If you don't like it you may not be so satisfied here. But as everyone says: If you go to Peru you have to visit Machu Picchu.
The Incas city of Machu Picchu and the mountain I walked up.