The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur
November 2 - Aguas Calientes

Since our train back to Cuzco did not leave until 3:30, we thought about going back up to the sanctuary for a few hours this morning. The bus ride was reasonable enough, but when we thought about the admission into the park itself and the crowds -- I can't imagine what a mess it must be at the height of season -- we opted to spend some time getting to know Aguas Calientes a little better.

Since we did not have to be anywhere or do anything, we slept in a bit. Then after a leisurely breakfast at our hotel, walked down the railroad tracks -- in the daylight, in the sunshine -- for a better look at the MP Pueblo Hotel where we had dinner the night before. The property is really rather tropical, with many detached buildings holding 4-8 rooms each scattered up the hillside. There is a lot of climbing, though, and since the hotel tends to attract older, wealthier guests ... well, the staff can carry the bags up and down for them, but I didn't see any sedan chairs! They also have to walk down to river level and along the railroad tracks to get into town. A strange arrangement.

I am now more convinced than ever that every other restaurant in Aguas Calientes serves pizza! It is far and away the most common menu choice. I don't know whether that is because the economy is so based on tourists or whether there is a Peruvian passion for pizza, but you are never too far away from a decent pie.

You are never too far away from a place to buy local handicrafts, either. We passed some time doing a bit of shopping, both along the tracks and in a market area up the hill by the train station. After awhile, it all looks the same (for the most part, it is), so I am always interested to see what causes us to stop at one stall and not another. Usually it has something to do with the person in the stall.

The train back to Cuzco takes four hours, during the last hour of which the train shuttles forward and back as the track switchbacks itself up the mountain. Our tour company picked us up at the last stop before Cuzco and drove us into town -- 15 minutes on the road as opposed to another hour on the train. It worked for me! Had they not done that, we could have caught a bus into Cuzco from there for only 5 soles (about $1.70).

It was threatening rain as we arrived back at the Picoaga Hotel in Cuzco. By the time we had settled in and headed out for dinner, it was raining lightly. I took Margene back to the Inka Grill for dinner because I had enjoyed the meal there a few days earlier and thought she would enjoy hearing the band. As luck would have it, the band went on break just as we arrived and started up again about the time our check arrived! We will do a little more shopping here and head to Lima at 1:00 tomorrow afternoon.

Around Aguas Calientes

[Itinerary Page]

© 2004 Restaurant Doctor