November 22nd, 2008 – by: alyssa_ob
view from Vistadome
It was chaos when we arrived in Aguas Caliente. We had a hostel in mind and thought we knew how to get there from the train station. The only problem was that in order to exit the train station you had to walk through the market. So there we were with our backpacks and 50 million other people leaving the train all trying to figure out how to get out of the market and into town. All the vendors were telling us how soft their alpaca wool whatevers are and how pretty the cloth is and feel this, buy this, so soft, so pretty, buy buy buy… As if the market wasn’t stressful enough, lets add a heavy backpack, upset stomach, complete disorientation and a mass of confused tourists to the mix.
We somehow made it out of the market and passed the place where you buy the tickets for Machu Picchu so we stopped in and bought our tickets right away.
We were very overwhelmed here because it was so over-touristy. All these fancy restaurants that cater to the rich tourists meant no cheap dinner tonight. It was stressful just walking to the hostel because of all the people trying to sell us stuff or get us to come in to their restaurant. Yeah, I think I’ll ditch the backpack before dinner, but thanks anyway.
We got to the end of town where the road ended but the train tracks continued and still no hostel. We decided we were on the wrong street and somehow found the sign for the hostel - pointing up a large number of steps… So we climbed up the stone steps and up some more steps only to find out the hostel didn’t have any rooms. Excellent.
Back down we went, at least as far as the next hostel down. They had a room. It was a little sketchy but very cheap so we took it. We had one room with 4 beds and a turd in our toilet. Lovely. And no water. I told the woman (in Spanish) that we had no water in our bathroom and she showed us that we had to turn the water lever on. Oh, I see… The toilet runs so they keep the water off. Yeah, we needed to get out of there.
river we followed
We went and found the bus station and bought our tickets for the bus to Machu Picchu so we could catch the first round of buses at 5:30 am.
Then we looked for luggage storage and a guard at the train station pointed off in the distance so we wandered that way. From above we could see a luggage room in the train station so we decided to drop our packs at the train station when they open at 5. We looked for some market listed in the guidebook so we could buy food for lunches but never found it. Instead we found ourselves back on restaurant road and just went in one (that was recommended by the guidebook). We all experienced sticker shock compared to the relatively cheap food we’ve had previously. We decided to just get one big pizza and a couple liters of beer. (Really, the pizza was reasonably priced if we had been back home). I wasn’t feeling the best but I tried to put on a sociable face when all I wanted to do was go back and curl up on the nasty beds. A large group near us (must have been 20 or so) was celebrating a birthday and somehow they got a birthday cake served.
more rocky mountains
I think those people had just gotten there since they didn’t seem to have adapted to the culture yet. We were entertained (against our will) by another folk group with the big pan flutes and drums and singing and whatnot. Of course they came around asking for donations… All I wanted to do was go to bed. Why did we have to listen to that music? Why did we order another liter of beer? Clearly the other girls didn’t know how sick I was feeling.
Sara taking a photo
Finally we went back and stopped at a little store for rolls and snacks. While in the store we heard a loud clap of thunder and then it began POURING! We ran back to our room (really we just walked fast - I wasn't about to run up all those steps). We turned in early because tomorrow would be an early day. We would finally be going to Machu Picchu! It was pretty loud outside our room quite late but it was nice to hear the thunderstorm in the background. I thought it stormed all night, but then I realized it was the roar of the river I was hearing for most of the night (since I didn't sleep much).
Aguas Calientes Hostels review
There must be someplace better in this town
We found this hostel by chance – our first choice was full and this one was right next to it. Or to be more specific, our first choice was up a bun… read entire review
Aguas Calientes Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
overpriced but good pizza
This town is a tourist trap and therefore all restaurants can charge higher prices for everything they serve. This restaurant looked nice from the ou… read entire review
Aguas Calientes General Tips & Advice review
take the first round of buses
Unless you are hiking up to Machu Picchu, a bus ticket is needed. These are sold at the bus station for $14 US round trip. The bus station is “bel… read entire review