Day 10: From Yucay to Aguas Calientes
Aguas Calientes Travel Blog› entry 13 of 17 › view all entries
August 5th, 2009 – by: davdstraat
From the moment we arrive at the station, we notice the huge difference between Perurail and the Dutch Railways: we can only enter the station via a gate where our passports are checked, we have reserved seats, with actual boarding passes, three stewards in each wagon (about 60 seats), no people standing in the train, a catering car in each wagon, even an on board tax free shopping, and, the greatest difference of all, the train is actually on time!
The ride on the train goes through a landscape of ever increasing beauty, following the valley of the Urubamba river even further,where the rive becomes wilder and wilder.
Even though the train is spot on time, both at departure and on arrival, it's not exactly the TGV: it takes nearly one and a half hours before we reach our destination, train station Machu Picchu - Aguascalientes, just 40 km away from where we left.
Getting off the train, we go directly to our hotel, where we check in and have the rest of the day to ourselves. For me and one other member of the group, that rest of the day starts with a long wait: two rooms were not ready when we arrived, but "it would take only about a quarter to get them ready". About one hour and a quarter later, we finally get to our rooms.
The first part of this free time, I spent calling the homefront and walking through the town, looking around, taking pictures and looking for some presents for friends back home (and even finding a few).
Together with three others of the group I have lunch at the restaurant Inca Wasi, right across the street from our hotel (I found the chairs with the Inca cross in the back so appealing - and inside, the figure appears at many more places - even the plates on which I get my hamburger served is tri-stepped-cross shaped).
After lunch, eight of us set out for the waterfalls, one and a quarter hours of walking, according our tourguide and the brochures... Two and a half hours later, mostly walking on the railroad tracks, six of us arrive at our destination (one couple "retired" about half way, one of them feeling to bad to continue). In spite of the very much miscalculated walking time, it is a beautiful way to walk. The surroundings along the railroad are already spectacular, but the last past leads us through a small nature reserve.
On the exit of the nature reserve, where we are to rejoin the railroad for the way "home", we stop at the visitor center for a glass of drink (we also stopped there on the way out to pay the entrance fee of ten soles). Walking makes thirsty. After the stop we go railroadbeamhopping again, until we are back in town, where we (at least: five of us, number six goes his own way) replenish once more with tea and cheesecake at the main square.
I spend the remainder of the afternoon (and the start of the evening walking around Aguascalientes, shopping, taking pictures and looking around at the market near the station (a huge market, where I can't find what I'm looking for: shoes; during our walk to the waterfall, the sole of my shoe has gone loose, and it is now downright dangerous to continue on it - so that's the second pair of shoes due for the dustbin this holiday - and I am really dumbfounded when I can't find a shoeshop anywhere in Aguascalientes - and I have a big problem: my reserve pair is in my suitcase.
At seven, our group assembles lobby of the hotel for a group meeting: what time shall we leave tomorrow for Machu Picchu? Early enough to see the sunrise over the deserted city, or should we go at a normal time. When it comes to a vote, I withhold my vote, not voluntarily going for an early rise, but not wanting to hold back all the group if they want to. The single remaining "late-vote" is then outvoted twelve to one, so we'll be up early tomorrow (again!).
After the meeting, eleven of us (including our tourleader) go to the restaurant next door to our hotel for dinner. Once again it's all very good, although I make a huge mistake with the soup. With the Creole soup, we get a small cup of what is presented to us as "Peruvian Sambal".
During the meeting, our tourguide told us that we are allowed to take only very small bags into Machu Picchu. On asking, my usual linen bag turns out to be much to large. So after dinner, having bought some more drinking water, I make a desperate attempt to find a bag that will be small enough to take with me, and still allow me to carry the most basic needs like drinking water, telelenses, batteries and memory cards.
That's the signal for me to return to the hotel and get some nights rest, before it is early again tomorrow, for the so manieth time.
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