Sunday, March 23, 2014

Peru - Machu Picchu, part 1 : The Tour

Wednesday, March 12th, we were picked up EARLY from our hotel to begin our journey to Machu Picchu. I was SO excited!!!
It started with a 1 1/2 hour ride in a van to Ollantaytambo where we got on our train. We took a vistadome train with Peru Rail to the town of Aguas Calientes which is at the base of the mountains where Machu Picchu is. The train ride was really beautiful and was around 1 1/2 hours long as well. Since we were traveling with friends the time flew by!
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this was my favorite food day of the trip and it started with this SUPER yummy chicken empanada at the train station
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we started spotting ruins on the train ride in
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We were met at the train station by our guide, Karina, and a man from our hotel and were told we could leave anything we didn't need for Machu Picchu and he would take it to the hotel. A little scary, but we had pretty much only brought our clothes for tomorrow, so we left them and we were off! It happened so fast! We thought we would stop at the hotel first but Karina guided us to the bus stop and before we knew it we were driving up the mountain. It was GORGEOUS!!!
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I had just been telling Mike I wish we could have a Machu Picchu stamp in our passports and guess what they had?! A stamp for your passport! We were admitted into the park, stamped our passports and Karina started giving us the history as we stood in awe of the beautiful scenery. Karina was an awesome guide...easy to understand, funny and very knowledgable! SATO did a great job arranging this part of the trip and it was definitely less stressful knowing it was all taken care of.
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We came around a corner, and there it was...MACHU PICCHU!!!!
It was pretty surreal and looked just like the pictures we have all seen so many pictures of.
After some photo-ops she started walking us around to show us the various structures and temples. There are terraces for farming everywhere and it is crazy how advanced they were in creating everything. I don't have a lot to say about most of the ruins so I will let the pictures do the talking. One thing to note is that for temples the Inca took the most care with the stone work. The rocks fit together so perfectly that plants can't grow between them and then they would sand them down until they were smooth. Upperclass residences were close to perfect and those in the lower class had walls that were made more like the walls of the terraces...more space between the rocks and more crude looking.
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They think there are many more ruins in the jungle area below Machu Picchu that they have not yet been able to excavate. On the mountain-sides all around the area you can see the remains of terraces, so I can only imagine what else there is to discover.
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All sorts of drainage routes and fountains are throughout the remains, many with water still flowing through them.
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this is the path of one of the fountains
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Look at the cool stairs they carved and then how they fit all those other rocks perfectly in that space!
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you can see the wall change from an upperclass home (in focus) to a more smooth, symmetrical wall of a temple
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I wish I remembered more of what she said about each place!!! This was another fountain and below that were little pools that they would use to see the reflections of the sun and stars...I think for some religious purpose?
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a place to hold a torch at night
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For the most part walking around at that altitude wasn't bad, but going up all the stairs definitely got tough!
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a rock quarry where they would get rocks to build with
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temple of the sun
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Sundial
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The mountain behind us (which is in most pictures you see of the ruins) is Wayna Picchu and there are ruins up at the tippy top of the steep mountain! We hiked it the next morning, so more to come on that.
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Karina suggested this pose :-)
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lower class homes
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There were workers around the site scraping moss off of the rocks and from in between them. Karina told us they have to keep on the ones between the rocks especially because they don't want the plants to push the rocks apart and cause the ruins to fall apart.
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using a massive rock as part of their construction
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rocks in the shape of a flying condor (wings spread and face on the ground)
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Mike had our zoom lens and here are his pics from the first part of the day...
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this is the top of Wayna Picchu...the very top of that big mountain!
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