We spent a nice few days on Isla Del Sol, the apparent birthplace of several Inca leaders (as well as the sun!). We walked the island in one very long day, taking in 20 kms and six hours. Needless to say, we were pretty knackered by the end. However, it is good practice for Machu Pichu, yet to come.
View the photos from Isla Del Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
From there we headed by bus to Puno, which is via the isthmus that connects Copacabana in Bolivia to Peru. Interestingly, there is no Bolivian land route to Copacabana! After one night in Puno, in the loudest hostel ever (Hostal Europa), and one meal that included “cuy”. Cuy is basically guinea pig and was devoured by a girl called Karen who we met on Isla Del Sol. Quite disturbing I think to have something you are eating still kind of looking back at you. Anyway, I digress!
From Puno Tim and I had decided to get the train to Cusco. It takes about four hours longer than the bus and costs double, but both being a fan of trains (the civilized way to travel no less) we departed early in the morning. The train journey is fantastic for the scenery the train route takes you though. The valley gets narrower and narrower finally culminating in cliff-like drops to the gorge with the river, brown and heavy from the rain the night before. Unfortunately, the train is only for tourists, mainly due to the price, the “backpacker” class costing 14 US dollars. The first class which includes a plush bar and Orient Express style restaurant car costs 90 US, but was on promotion for 50 US. We were tempted and probably should have as the food (which I think is included in 1st) cost us a total of 50 US dollars between us. However, it was worth the money as a one off, and I highly recommend it.
View the photos of Puno and Cusco, Peru.
Arriving in Cusco that evening, we used our sixth senses to avoid getting into an unofficial taxi that when we went to get in it, was joined by two of the driver’s “friends”. It looked like a mugging set up so we back tracked quickly and made sure we only got into a licensed taxi. Although this may seem obvious, it is pretty hard to tell which taxis are which, plus whenever you step off public transport in Latin America you get bugged and hassled constantly until you give in to someone or get reduced to shouting back abuse, which nobody really wants to do.
We checked into a hostel called “The Royal Frankenstein”, which was a little odd, but served us well for one night. An good example of the inventiveness of the locals was that a guy standing outside the hotel when the taxi pulled up (it was obvious where the hotel was) invited us in and we then spoke to a young lady who showed us which rooms were available. She then told us that she didn’t know who he was, but he had asked for 5 soles (about 1 pound) as commission for bringing us to her hotel! Anyway, I drew the short straw and got the crapper of the two beds. As a result I got up early the next day and wondered around looking for other options. We are now staying half way up the hill in Cusco, with a great view, and breakfast for the same price. Only downers are that we have to get a taxi back for security reasons plus the shower is either hot or cold, and not based on any selection of your own!
We have booked our xmas lunch in the town for xmas evening which is costing us 30 bucks but includes a bottle of wine each plus turkey which has got to be pretty hard to get hold of in Peru. Kind of similar to xmas trees which are replaced here by the creation of nativity scenes. The xmas market was today and took over the entire main square. Little nativity huts, moss and and other things to decorate the nativity scene are sold in abundance. It had been the first day when we haven’t been constantly hassled by street sellers who (mostly are children) sell postcards, sweets, cigarettes, paintings and others that sell Inca Trail tours and try to get you into their restaurants. I think that they are all so busy with their own xmas planning that we tourists get a welcome break.
Well, I guess Happy Christmas is in order to all my friends and family. I will be thinking of you. Although it rained yesterday afternoon, it is again hot enough to burn today. I hear it is pretty grim back in the UK and a white Christmas is on the cards so I won’t rub it in anymore!
Lots of love to you all!