Cusco Day 1 – Sacred Valley & Ollantaytambo
Left my grandma’s house at 5:00 AM to be at Lima airport at 5:30 for my 7:40 flight. At 7:30 they announced that our flight had been canceled ;-( Curses LAN, Curses!! They instructed us to go to gate #8 where they would be trying to get us all on alternate flights – in order of check in. Being that the printer at my grandmother’s house was out of ink – I had not been able to do my on-line check in and had done so upon arriving at the airport – so I knew I was knew I was going to be there for awhile…if I even got on a plane at all!
I ended up watching almost everyone else get on the next two flights and ended up on the 9:30. At 9:20 they announced that the flight was going to be delayed for an hour due to maintenance. Double curses to you LAN!!! I was highly emotional and operating on one and a half hours of sleep at this point – so I actually took the time to fill out a complaint card. HAHA!! At 10:30, after 5 hours in the airport, I finally departed for Cusco. Funny thing is, as soon as we were in the air, the frustration of the whole morning completely disappeared, and from the second I landed – the entire trip to Cusco was magic…
The taxi that the hotel arranged for me was thankfully still nearby, so he came and got me right away. We picked up a lady in the center of town that had apparently come with him to be my unofficial tour guide as we drove from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. The first thing I wanted to do was heed my mother’s instructions and have a Mate de Coca (Coca Leaf Tea) to help with the Sorochi (altitude sickness). My taxista stopped at a street vendor and bought me a bag of coca leaves, then drove me to a local restaurant that graciously prepared my tea. The restaurant had a beautiful mural on the wall, and I got my first sense of Cusco hospitality…
The drive from Cusco to Ollantaytambo was AMAZING. The view of Cusco from above is spectacular, but as we started going through the Sacred Valley, I was speechless. My guides were so great – they stopped at all of the “Kodak moment” spots and filled me in on all the history. As we arrived in Ollantaytambo, I was practically jumping out of the car with excitement. My guides dropped me off at my uncle’s hotel – the Pakaritampu. Gorgeous is a huge understatement. I was greeted so warmly and treated like a princess my entire stay. I couldn’t believe the gorgeous view of the hotel gardens and surrounding mountains from my room window. As soon as I had settled in and rested for a bit, the bellboy – Moises, walked me to buy a train ticket for tomorrow’s trip to Machu Picchu. I decided to buy the 6:30 AM Vistadome ticket ($45) for the ride there – it’s a window car, so you can see the sites on the way up. The ticketing agent offered me the locals train back at 9:10 PM which only cost 10 Soles. That gives me a full day to explore Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes…I can’t wait!
When I returned to the hotel, I treated myself to a Pisco Sour at the bar, had a great conversation with the bartender and then enjoyed a delicious eggplant parmigiana at the restaurant. Now it’s time for bed so I can rest and have tons of energy for what will surely be one of the most awesome days and experiences of my life ;-) MACHU PICCHU tomorrow!!!