Day Thirteen - June 22nd, 2009 - Ollantaytambo/Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo)
After breakfast we hike around the Incan ruins in
Ollantaytambo. They're really impressive - lots of terraces, beautiful buildings on hillsides, and lots of underground water channels that feed beautiful stone
fountains. We wander the town a bit, marveling at the aqueduct system that there is all around the town of Ollantaytambo. The town itself is really quite interesting, worthy of exploring.
After our morning of exploring as much as we can squeeze in, we hop a train to Aguas Calientes. The train ride affords us great views of the Urubamba River, and we imagine kayaking it. For awhile it would be super-fun Class II, with a little III thrown in, but eventually it becomes wayyyy more serious. Continuous treacherous rapids, almost all the way to Aguas Calientes.
Aguas Calientes is a town that exists only to vacuum up as many dollars as possible from the massive flood of turistas visiting nearby Machu Picchu. They are trying to convince the world that the new name is "Machu Picchu Pueblo", but by either name it stinks just as badly. We check into our hotel, Gringo Bill's which is kinda crappy, and I pop one of the Coronas that I've been toting around since Cusco. It tastes better! At the time I assumed this was because we were at lower altitude, but now I'm guessing it's because I wasn't taking Diamox any longer. We grab lunch at a recommended french restaurant in town, Indio Feliz, and have a wonderful and much needed meal.
Buses run from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu starting at 5 AM and run continously all day, and we want to be on the first bus - both to beat the crowds and to see the sunrise - so we crash early.