Who am I kidding, Machu Picchu is certainly one of the main reasons of our trip to Peru. The story starts a little over 4 years ago, when my husband (my fiancé back then) and I were dating, we watched a Tamil movie Endhiran, starring the world-famous actor, Rajnikanth and Aishwarya Rai. One of the songs was shot in Machu Picchu and my husband mentioned that he’d love to visit it some day. Nonchalantly, I responded with “OK” and here we were, 4 years later to see one of world’s famous landmarks.
The glory of Machu Picchu begins with the 1.5 hours train journey from Ollantytambo to Aguas Caliente. The comfortable train with a soft shake lullabying you with open windows and glass top, offers some of the best landscape views with glacier covered mountains.
Aguas Caliente, the closest town to Machu Picchu, sometimes called Machu Picchu town itself, is a very vibrant, happening (and very touristy) town. Certainly very different from what we had imagined.
There are plenty of shops selling all kinds of souvenirs (read same), scarfs, table cloths, figurines, handbags, etc. Lots of coffee shops and restaurants add up to the touristic nature of the town. The main square has a church and a fountain with a statue of Pacha koothai. Certainly, a beautiful place to stroll around in the evenings; no doubt about that! I found the town to be very pretty especially because of the Aguas Caliente running between the streets and cute bridges connecting either side of the streets.
The evening we reached Aguas Caliente, we ambled through the streets, stopped at Le Boulgerie de Paris for a cappuccino and a pastry. Pricey, but they were really good. Actually, everything is pricey in Aguas Caliente! The pastry tasted very much like the Russian Napoleon pastry that I love! The cappuccino was hands down the best we had had in Peru.
The next morning was the big day, the day all of us were excited about and looking forward to! Machu Picchu day! We woke up at 4am, quickly dressed up, gobbled up some breakfast and reached the bus station at 5. It was crowded already! As time passed, the line behind us became insanely long!
The 25 minutes bus journey up the hill to Machu Picchu was not a smooth one. There were no roads per se, and the journey was through the rugged, narrow and serpentine roads. As soon as we got off from the bus, another long line at the entrance.
We sat on one of the terraces, waiting and (really hoping) for the sun to rise and clear up the clouds. The weather forecast predicted rains and we were afraid the clouds would never clear up. We waited patiently, patiently and patiently; yes, lots of patience was needed. While waiting for the clouds to clear up, we walked around hanging around with the llama’s.
There were also small insects (mosquitoes) around that were bugging the heck out of us. Every exposed skin was a target. Their bites did not sting (yet!). We should have listened to our guide “Bring insect repellent!” who told us in the last minute!
Slowly, the sun rose and pierced its rays on one of the mountains around. The sun rays cleared up a part of the ruins, then all the ruins and eventually all the clouds by the Wynapicchu mountains. And there it was, the Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas in all its glory.
It was a sight to behold, to remember forever and a day. We spent a little over 2 hours, purely enjoying its massive beauty and the cleverly built terraces surrounding the mountains. It is incredible how the Incas found this place, which is strategically located between the Andys and the Amazon and built this city from the quarry nearby. Absolutely fascinating and mind-blowing. What’s even more incredible is that, the city has the shape of the condor, which can be clearly seen when one hikes up the Waynapicchu mountain.
We walked down to the ruins, the temples and learned about how the stones were cut and placed in specific spots to cast perfect shadows on solstice days. They were built by the astronomical master minds. As the tour guide said, it is not about the gold that we lost, but it’s how about the knowledge of these master minds that we lost forever.
After walking around the ruins, we walked back up (huffing and puffing, of course) to see the aerial view before we left this city of the Incas! After getting back on the train, we started to itch. The pesky insect bites were really itchy, really really itchy! Yes, insect repellents highly recommended!