•Machu Picchu – Magic before 10•

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On Friday (Sep 30) we got up early in order to catch the train (Peru Rail) from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes to visit Machu Picchu – the historical Inca ruins (100 km northwest of Cuzco). The train slalomed through lush green valleys surrounded by huge mountains and passed by little rural towns. Four hours later we arrived in Aguas Calientes where a parade was going on at the main plaza and mainly local kids in traditional costumes were  dancing to traditional music.  That was pretty cool to see!

 

But the rest of Aguas Calientes was awful: the little town was packed with tourists that´s why you´ll mostly find souvenir shops and restaurants which employees  were  wooing the customers partly with fake offers like „4 for 1 drinks“ or „drinks inkluded“ but charge you an exorbitant high service charge (20% for a bad service) on the even overpriced stuff they sell. HORRIBLE! Well, we then ended up in a place that offered „Happy Day“ instead of „Happy Hour“ but we didn´t quite feel the benefit of that deal. Whatever… it´s a nap wherever you go in that town!

 

As there´s nothing much to see in that turisty town we went to bed early, also because our plan was to catch the first bus to the ruins of Machu Picchu at 5:30 am the next day. Just in time we arrived  at the bus station the next morning (5am) where already a bunch of people were waiting –  and quickly more people were following frequently. Well, Machu Picchu is THE place to visit and hence tons of people come every day. The bus took 20 minutes to reach the entrance gate of the Machu Picchu National Park – all the way up the serpentine road to an altitude of 2,430 metres (7,970 ft).

 

Clouds! What a bummer! But that coudn´t stop us from climbing the highest point of the ruins where only a handful of people made it to. Magical silence! Together with the clouds and the fog it was a mystical atmosphere! Then the sun was rising and fought its way through the mist – unveiling parts of the ruins and the opposite mountain Wayna Picchu. The view was amazing!There are no words to really describe the atmosphere… just magical! Getting up early was definitely worth it because from 10am onwards masses of day visitors  came and spoiled that magical atmosphere: whole school classes arrived with kids yelling, people disrespectfully climbing up ruin walls and guards blowing there whistles to get them down again! What a shame!

 

 

In the evening we took the train to Ollantaytambo (in the middle of Cuzco and Aguas Calientes). We were just about to fall asleep when suddenly music appered, a guy in a traditional costume started fooling around and scaring passengers. The culmination of the whole show was when the train stewards were doing a fashion show „catwalking“ through the whole train compartment. We couldn´t stop laughing! Then we spend a day in Ollantaytambo and returned to Cuzco by car.

 

There we decided to have a real Peruvian dinner and so we got served a Pisco Sour (national drink!) and „cuy“ (guinea pigs)! Well, what shall we say… there are more delicious things in the world! Moreover these little Andean creatures don´t have much flesh „on their rips“ and look as if a car ran them over – not really attractive!

 

The last day in Cuzco (Oct 5) we spend mainly in a cafe and took it easy before hitting the road again towards Arequipa (at 8pm). Unlike the “sauna night bus“ from Puno to Cuzco this bus was cold like a freezer! These aircons are a curse!

 

But then in Arequipa the sun was shining when we arrived (6am) and so we enjoyed a nice breakfast together with Fleur & Alex in the sun. We enjoyed the last hour togehter with „our travel buddies“ to the fullest: we sipped a beer on the rooftop terrace of their hostel which was a worthy ending to our 2 ½ weeks of travelling together. Then we finally said good-bye (we are looking forwart to see you guys in France for some skiing and have cheese-fondue with you)!

 

Colombia here we go!

 

Here you can see the pictures from Machu Picchu!

 

 


 

•Cuzco – The hub of the world•

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On Sep 26 we then took a night bus from Puno to Cuzco. We arrived at 4:15 am and were pretty exhausted! During the day we walked through the beautiful Old Town. Cuzco has been the hub of the Inca Empire. Balconies grace colonial  façades and the effort is made to keep the charme of the historical buildings. But tourism and associated therewith the commercialization of the town casts a shadow over the charme: exorbitantly high prices and „Hey my friend, sun glasses, Machu Piccu, massage? “-hawker just suck!

 

Om Wednesday (Sep 28) we then were about visiting the close Inca ruins of „Sacsayhuamán“ when suddenly a man appeared on the way there and offered us a horse-back tour to the surrounding sights (12€ for approx. 3 hrs). After a short deliberation we agreed. A word a blow! 10 minutes later we were sitting on the backs of Peruvian horses.

 

The tour began – straight uphill on mushy, stony tracks. Fleur’s horse was farting nonstop as a expression of dislike which was hilarious! Then Patrick’s horse did a overtaking manoeuvre and he pretended to be a cowboy – we couldn’t stop laughing. Helplessly at its mercy Patrick just let it go (because it was Patrick’s first time on a horse) and thought that he had everything under control. But I (Patrick) was proved to be wrong! My delusion of being able to manoeuvring the nag turned out to be pure imagination!

 

Suddenly  the horse started galloping on a field and got faster and faster. It seemed as if it felt my insecurity and tried to turn the tables. When it rode by a house and trees very closely I’ve got the impression that the horse tried to get me down. So I decided to finish the ride unexpectedly with a unreeling movement off the horse when it ran straight towards some low branches. My face hit the ground and my horse did a lap of honour.

 

 

This wasn’t exactly the way I expected my first ride to be. But in these situations you have to be strong and fortunatelly I wasn’t insured seriously. So I got back on the horse – but this time on Sonja’s and she took the wild stallion! But the wicket horse didn’t calm down and when we had to cross a paved road we stopped the ride at this point because we can’t afford to break our neck – we’ve got a world trip still ahead of us!

 

So we decided to walk back! Anyway we enjoyed the view on the city and strolled through the streets of Cuzco. The sun was shining and luckily we could grin over the just experienced. In the evening we caught up with Fleur & Alex and had dinner together at „The FROGS“. After such a day we indulge ourselves in a taste of some cocktails!

 

The next day (Sep 29) we joined Fleur & Alex on a trip to Pisac (30km away from Cuzco) to visit the famous market there. Handicrafts, music instruments, clothes, blankets, fruits, meat… simply everything and so extremely cheap. Very dangerous for Mrs. Heydorn (no Sonja, buying 2 mts of beautiful traditional fabric makes no sence and a warm pullover won’t find space in the backpack – neither does the heavenly soft Baby-Alpaca wool blanket). There was only room for a small hair band. It’s really hard to belive that I (Sonja) could restrain from all that! ;-) Finally we then also bought some finger puppets.

 

On Saturday (Sep 30) we then hit the “rail“ to  Aguas Calientes to visit the ancient city of Machu Picchu.

 

Here you can see the pictures!

 

 


 

•Puno and the Floating Islands•

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After a 4-hours bus ride from Copacabana (Bolivia) we reached the Peruvian town of Puno in the afternoon (Sep 25). Puno is directly located at the Lake Titicaca and serves as a starting point for trips to the “Islas flotantes los Uros” – the floating islands on the Lake Titicaca. In total there are approx. 4,000 Uros living on the 70 floating islands.

 

In the evening we had dinner together with Fleur and Alex: Soft Alpaca Tenderloin with potatoes and “Inca Kola” was served – a typical Peruvian dinner! :) This time we treated ourselves a little bit better than usual and slept in a real hotel with private bathroom and a huge Kingsize-bed.

 

The following day (Sep 26) we bought bus tickets to Cuzco (nightbus) and then went to the nearby port to take one of the many boats to the floating islands. After a 30-miuntes boat ride we reached the floating islands and were welcomed by the President of the “Islas flotantes los Uros” José who explained a lot about the life on the floating reed islands on the Lake Titicaca and their history. He was speaking to us in a very calm and slow voice telling us not to give any money to the inhabitants of the islands because this would lead to a dependency they don’t want. We should rather buy handicrafts and souvenirs which they made with their own hands.

 

After a short discovery of the 40sqm-island and an obligatory shopping-tour (hand-made souvenirs) we sat down on one of the traditional reed boats to be shipped over to the main island 100m south. Before takeoff the president’s wife, another woman and José himself sang a farewell song for us – primarily in Aymara (their mother tongue)then in Spanish and finally “Alle meine Entchen” in German and “Frère Jaque” in French! They didn’t hit the right tones but the good will matters!

 

Beside some souvenir shops the Uros have a restaurant, a small supermarket and two little accommodations on the main island which they rent out for tourists. The even have a little post office and a kindergarten, school kids have to set over to the main land by row boat! Every couple month they have to put new reed on top of the island’s ground as the bottom-layer of the islands is carried away by the underwater current. Each of the islands is attached to 4 wooden columns which are fixed in the lake’s ground so the islands are not floated away “We don’t have passports and don’t wanna end up on the other side of the lake in Bolivia” José said.

 

 

 

And what are the „green“ news?


On the „Islas flotantes los Uros“ the energy comes from solar panels – 3 families share one. They’ve been donated to the Uros by a former Peruvian president in the 90s. Rain water is collected in big tanks (roof) and used for the bathroom. Another good thing to mention is the rickshaws in Peru who transport passengers CO2-neutral to their desired destination.

 

Here you can see the pictures from these unique islands and Puno.