Aguas Calientes Travel Blog› entry 6 of 10 › view all entries
October 11th, 2008 – by: aerynn
The VistaDome is the middle-priced train to Aguas Calientes. The Backpacker is the cheapest, with no assigned seats, and the Hiram Bingham is the fancy train for rich people.
Our seats and personal space were exceedingly small on VistaDome, but otherwise, it was a pleasant ride, with beautiful scenery and cute snacks.
One of my favourite attributes to taking this train was the way that we ascended out of the Cusco Valley. I've never seen train switchbacks before, and in retrospect, the idea seems obvious, but finding out clever ideas that passed me by is always amusing.
At a few stops along the trip, there were women waiting with their goods to try to sell to us through the train windows. Another stop was accompanied by children hanging out near the tracks.
Some of the tourists on the train began tossing them money and candy out the window, which seemed quite derogatory to me.
It was perhaps only slightly in poorer taste than me taking photos of them without asking, so I guess I shouldn't judge. But for some reason it left a bad taste in my mouth.
The valley became more and more beautiful the closer we got to Machu Picchu, and also more speckled with ruins, such as Ollanta Ytambo. Taking photos from a moving train was challenging, so many of my favourite scenes will have to remain only in my memory.
We arrived in Aguas Calientes in the late morning, at a crowded train station with more people trying to sell us stuff. To get into town to find our hostel, we had to make our way through a craft market.
We were happy to arrive at our room at the Machu Picchu Hostal, which was located between the train tracks and the river. The room and hostal were very cute, and centrally located.
Aguas Calientes is shaped like a 'T', as the town surrounds the mouth of a stream into a river. The tracks go along the river, as does the road to Machu Picchu, at least for a time.
There are several bridges connecting the town across the stream. Upstream there are hot springs, hence the town's name, however, we never made it upstream that far.
After a 4 hour train ride with only a small snack, we were getting quite hungry.
However, they did charge us a tax that was excessive. Some places did this just for kicks, I think. There is no legal tax there, so places that charge it shouldn't be supported, in my opinion.
Wandering through town, we both found it to be comfortable, quaint, and not at all boring. This is in contrast to what we had heard, so it was a nice surprise!
We found the central plaza, and a place to inquire about how to get access to Machu Picchu. There is an office right off the plaza which sells the tickets. It is legitimate, not a scam, and buying them a day ahead of time allows you to avoid a line at Machu Picchu in the morning.
The bus tickets can also be purchased in advance, but we didn't find that out until the next day. There are aspects of the tours that seem attractive, after wandering around town without much guidance of exactly what we needed.
I did know that I needed a nap, so aside from a bit of shopping, and purchasing our tickets to get into Machu Picchu for the following day, we took it easy for the rest of the afternoon.
We ended up eating pizza for dinner across the street from our hostal. The power went out during dinner; most luckily after our pizzas were done cooking.
Bed time came early, as we had big plans for the following day!
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