A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand

Last ports of call before heading home.

sunny 18 °C
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Auckland

After travelling across the South Pacific, from Peru we docked in Auckland where some 400 passengers had started the World Cruise. In the days prior to arriving in Auckland, there were farewells to say to those Kiwis and others who would be disembarking. This included saying goodbye to Glen and Peggy our friends from Canada who we had become close to during the voyage. We remain connected on Facebook and are making plans to visit them in Canada next year.

For Auckland itself, we opted for a private winery tour. So we boarded a small bright yellow bus and headed out about an hour from the port into the green hills north of the city.

The first stop was Westbrook Winery where we arrived as the doors opened for tasting. A modern winery with tastings, sales and a gift shop set in some beautiful gardens. Once again the weather gods were with us and the sun was shining. A good start to the day.

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Our next stop was The Hunting Lodge An even more modern setup with a lot of vertical integration. There was a restaurant and a large garden area which was being set up for a large dog-friendly party. The winery also sold pre-mixed cocktails in bottles and would have been a great place to settle in. Wine was samples and wine was purchased. A couple of bottles of a varietal we had not previously tasted.

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But we were on a mission so loaded up the bus and headed to Soljans for Lunch. Another winery in a beautiful setting we had a fantastic lunch and a glass of wine at this stop before browsing the gift shop on the way out. Very much still a family-run venture we were served lunch by one of the only people we had come across who was older than the cruise passengers. Still staying at work to make sure the other generations did things right.

In the car park, there was some confusion when we parked next to another yellow vehicle.

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Our last stop was at Coopers Creek It was probably one winery too many for the day. The winery itself suffered in comparison to the first three we had visited in terms of the setting and the facilities. Still, we were on a mission and there was wine to taste, so we stuck to our task with some assistance from Piney.

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After Winery number four we piled back into the bus and headed back to the pier in the centre of town. Arriving back onboard around 5 pm we had to skip an invitation we had to go out to a Chinese restaurant even though the ship was not scheduled to leave until late that night. By this stage, the idea of eating and drinking was not appealing. So, not for the first time, we slept through a late sail away and awoke as we put down the anchor at our next and final stop.

Bay Of Islands

Parked in the bay it was a short tender ride to shore. The process was greatly assisted by some local boats which added more capacity and were easier to load. The boats landed at the Waitangi Pier and then there were shuttle busses available to take us into Paihia. Despite the two modes of transport, it was a quick and smooth process with little to no waiting.

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We opted from Paihia to take the local ferry across to Russell which we had been advised was once called "the Hell Hole of the Pacific". On the ferry, we sat next to an older lady who explained she was on the Ferry to attend her church in Russell and invited us to drop in for tea and biscuits. It would seem that Russell was a little quieter these days on a Sunday. We had a short stroll around a small and pretty village including a cup of coffee at Hell Hole Coffee which was as much action as we could see.

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Back on the Ferry, we walked around various souvenir shops for the last time on this trip and had lunch on the Pier at Paihia. Again with the beautiful weather and scenery.

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Having just travelled all around the world I can speak with some authority and say the Hot Chips at Zane Grey's Restaurant and Bar are the best in the world.

We retraced our steps via Bus and boat to reboard the ship for the last time and then dress for dinner and drinks.

A later-than-usual night out ended up at a 70's dance party. It would be unkind but probably accurate to say the dancers were mostly in their 70s.

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So that is the blog entry for the last port of call on our epic world cruise. No more destinations to recall. There will be another post at some point to record our arrival back in Sydney and then some thoughts on the whole voyage.

Posted by StephenJBrown 00:01 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Islands of the South Pacific

Big Giant Heads, Scenic Cruising, early birthday celebrations and an unexpected diversion

sunny 24 °C
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From Peru, we set off across the South Pacific stopping at a number of Islands along the way. Visiting settlements among the most remote on the planet once again the good weather followed us with the sun shining down whenever we were in port.

Easter Island

We sailed nearly 4,000 kilometres from Peru to reach one of the most isolated inhabited islands in the world. With no harbour and thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean on all sides, there is always a swell running and many cruise ships are unable to tender passengers ashore. So many cruise ships travel a long way just to wave as they go past. For this cruise, there was the additional drama of the Chile Visa. Recently introduced in response to the Visa requirements for Chileans visiting Australia it was a beauracratic nightmare, mostly in Spanish and online. We had managed to apply for, obtain and then print our visas onboard (they could not be issued more than 90 days from the visit and the ship left Sydney 95 days before we were due in Easter Island). I did hear a rumour later that around 100 people either did not have correct visas or they were misplaced by Princess and as we arrived on a Sunday there was no way for it to be clarified with the embassy so they were denied permission to go ashore.

Anyway, on the day the weather was fine with very light winds however there was still a 1.8-2 metre swell running which is pretty much the limit for tender operations. With light winds and little chop the problem was not the shuttle journey but just getting on and off from the Ship. When tied alongside the shuttles were moving up and down well over a meter with the swell and this is a problem with loading guests with an average age of 69.5 Plus years. Everybody's favourite captain announced that it was at the limit but we would be proceeding ashore. There was advice that wheelchairs could not be loaded and guests with walkers or mobility problems should not go ashore. The shuttle crew then did a fantastic job of getting passengers onto (and later off the shuttles) with crew on the ship and the shuttle holding people up when the shuttle dropped away and virtually passing passengers across when the shuttle was level with the ship's deck.

We did a ship's tour on Easter Island mainly to ensure getting on an early tender and getting ashore. It was strange to actually be there. The Island depends a lot on tourism but it is difficult to get to and seems more rustic than some islands with low wooden buildings and roads defined by potholes and thin rings of tarmac or dirt. We visited three sites including a partly reconstructed village where we looked at odd features such as rock walls around vegetable gardens and huge chicken coops made of stone.

There were also the Moai, many still lying where they were knocked down. All of them are a lot more weathered and eroded than 1 expected. There was only one example we saw of a statue with its eyes and hat/topknot in place and looking like a statue of previous PM Malcolm Fraser staring into the distance. There has been a resurgence of the local culture and language since the times when the population was in the hundreds. There is also a sense that not all the locals are happy with being governed from Chile.

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Piney did get ashore and was a little stroppy as on a Sunday there was not much in the way of open bars to be seen.

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We returned to the tiny dock and breakwater and perused the local stalls before joining the queue for the tenders. Boarding the tender was relatively easy then we headed out through the narrow channel between rocks back out to the Ship where the real fund started. Passengers on the top deck of the shuttle struggled to get down the stairs without injury and then we were all assisted back onto the ship by the crew who excellently judged the rhythm of the swell so the ship and shuttle were aligned for each guest transfer.

Back onboard the Coral Princess there was a general agreement that the Captain and crew had done a great job in allowing this landing to go ahead and people who had missed the stop on earlier world cruises were even more appreciative. So cocktails before dinner and the ship set sail for Pitcairn Island.

Pitcairn

From Rapa Nui, we set off to travel over 2,000 kilometres to the sparsely inhabited spec in the ocean with the history made famous by Holywood. Pitcairn Island.

Pitcairn is tiny, it is also a National Park and has no airport, harbour or breakwater. Landings are not allowed and can only take place on a single unprotected wharf. So we had to make do with scenic cruising around the Island. Once again we brought the great weather with us. For over a week, Pitcairn had been wet and windy but when we arrived the sun shone from a blue sky over a deep blue sea.

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On board the Coral Princess we had a lady who was a direct descendant of the mutineers who settled on Pitcairn and we were able to listen in as she spoke to the local mayor on the radio and discussed visiting relatives next year. This trip will have to be made via the supply ship which comes from Tahiti.

The circumnavigation and visit to Pitcairn took a little over an hour then we sailed off towards Tahiti. Later on, we found out the locals had launched a drone and taken some photos of the ship as we sailed around the island so I have stolen these great images from their Facebook page.

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Tahiti

From Pitcairn, we travelled over 2,000 kilometres across the Pacific to the Islands of Tahiti.

The weather forecast was for rain but none was in sight as we docked at Papeete, the Capital of French Polynesia.

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Kathy and I took a Princess tour in the morning which was billed as a Lagoon sail and snorkel. The weather remained great for our boat trip. We set off in a large modern catamaran, headed outside the reef and travelled for around an hour before entering the reef at another point. During the sail we saw dolphins and lots of camera-shy flying fish. We then sailed back inside the reef looking at the blue water, the hillside and overwater houses. During this time there was fresh fruit and fruit juice available and we were entertained by the ship's crew of 3 with song and dance. The trip was relaxing with the gentle breeze and then we stopped for a quick dip in the azure waters. The water was momentarily cool but was comfortable to swim in over the reefs observing the colourful fish and the islands of Tahiti and Morea on either side.

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Blowing up the last photos gives this image of Kathy in the water with a mask and pool noodle.

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When the Captain blew a Conch it was the signal to return to the boat. At this point, the weather changed with the wind picking up and bringing clouds over us. Some of the passengers then had trouble getting back to the boat against the wind so there was some manoeuvring required.

With everyone onboard, we set off back to the ship. This time the fruit was supplemented with potato chips (which easily caught the wind) and the fruit buch now contained rum so everyone agreed it had been a good day.

I am not saying the single girl dancing on the boat was exactly like the video below but she was very graceful. Anyway, enjoy the video of some Tahitian Dancing.

When we docked we did a quick trip to the shops and markets across from the dock as they were due to close at 1 pm. It seems they don't have 24-hour weekend trading in paradise. We made it back to the ship before the shops closed and before the rain set in for a rest before heading out again in the evening. There was some rain for most of the afternoon but it had all cleared away by 5 pm when we ventured ashore again.

We were staying in Papeete until all aboard at 8:30 pm so we were able to set out later with our Canadian friends Glen and Peggy to find a place for an early celebration of Kathy's birthday with something different from the venues on the Ship.

We found our way to a rooftop bar called Baroof on a balmy tropical evening and enjoyed local beer, cocktails and some different food (see the profiteroles) before waddling back to the ship.

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Once again the weather had arranged itself around our visit and we had a great stop in Tahiti.

As we headed towards New Zealand on a long stretch of sea days we had one more unexpected Pacific Island visit with a diversion to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

Rarotonga

As we followed the South/West course from Tahiti there was an announcement from the Captain that we would be making a diversion to the Cook Islands to medivac a passenger ashore. Overnight there was another incident where a staff member fell down some stairs so when we arrived at Rarotonga in the morning there were two patients to transfer ashore. At this point, the wind and waves had picked up quite a bit and it took some good seamanship on both the this and the tender to make this transfer safely. The still pictures do not quite convey the roughness of the sea and the difficulty of the transfer.

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It took some time for the transfer to be completed on land with the ambulance being later to the dock and then not having the required equipment but with assistance from the Ships medical team the patients were transferred to the hospital and then the tender and crew returned and the Coral Princess set off once more towards New Zealand.

Back onboard we continued the celebration of Kathy's birthday for two more days (one for her birthday in Australia 22 hours before her birthday occurred on the ship) At one point the tracking gizmo we use as a room key and for ordering food and drinks enabled the wait staff to find Kathy at Lunch and sing Happy Birthday and present a cake.

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So an extended birthday celebration helped us make the marathon voyage across the Pacific visiting some well-out-of-the-way places as we did so.

The world cruise is coming to an end with some passengers disembarking at our next stop in Auckland. The conversation now centres on Packing, what to leave behind and bookings for other cruises.

Posted by StephenJBrown 19:37 Archived in French Polynesia Tagged birthday snorkeling tahiti easter_island pitcairn Comments (0)

Pisco, farewell to Peru and South America

2 different distilleries and we drink the ship dry.

sunny 23 °C
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Our last day in Peru and in South America began with us travelling overnight from Lima and disembarking at the industrial port of San Martin.

This port is isolated and not in any town. From the port and the ship, we could see the desert landscape which is the main feature of the Pacific coast.

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At this port, there were options for shore excursions which included flights over the Nazca Lines and boat tours of the wildlife in islands to the south. We opted instead for a bus tour of 2 pisco distilleries with tastings. (Pretend to be a little bit surprised). We boarded the bus and headed off through the coastal desert, past rocks, sand dunes and Ocean until we turned off away from the coast and down the Pan American highway. We continued through the desert landscape and began passing through huge industrial farms fed by underground water. There were hectares of table grapes which are grown in a canopy rather than in the rows associated with wine production.

Our guide on the bus gave us a history of the area and of Pisco as we headed for the first stop.

Pisco is described in Wikipedia as a colourless or yellowish-to-amber coloured spirit produced in winemaking regions of Peru and Chile. Made by distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof spirit. Our guide touched on the dispute between Peru and Chile on the origin and ownership of the term Pisco and some of the differences. We will concentrate on the Peruvian version which we tasted. Our guide also stated that the origins of Pisco came about in colonial times when Spain outlawed the export of wine from South America to Spain to protect Spanish winemakers. This caused the winemakers in the area to turn to making a spirit from the wine to stay in business. Wikipedia does not mention this history but it was repeated at both the distilleries we visited so is perhaps more of an indication of the residual feelings over the colonial power.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pisco

Peruvian Pisco is now defined by government regulation as to the grapes, method and locations where it can be made and is sold as a spirit for mixing or blowing your head off as well as in several pre-mixed forms including flavoured cream varieties.

Our first stop was at a distillery which is focused on an eco-friendly image with accommodation and other fruits being grown on site along with the grapes and pisco production. We toured the gardens and were shown exhibits about the history of Pisco Making. This was followed by a tasting of spirit and cream versions of Pisco complete with the many different toasts in Spanish and the local language.

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After making some purchases, we moved to a bar area to wait for our bus. Here we ordered a Pisco Sour Cocktail and watched this delicious drink being made.

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One strange aspect of this first stop was that we were met by two police officers mixed in with the staff from the distillery as we exited the bus. The Police were friendly enough but were photographing or filming the passengers as we got off the bus and also as we walked around the site. Everywhere we had been in South America the local guides described the police as corrupt so I can only assume this was part of some shakedown of the distillery or even checking on the number of customers they were paying bribes for? Anyway, we never saw the police again and left the site with an appreciation for Pisco and the Pisco Sour.

We then drove through some back roads to get to the next distillery. Roads much too narrow for any other vehicle to pass the bus. Several times tractors had to reverse into fields to let us pass. We arrived at the second distillery which was a much larger operation producing over a million litres of spirit per year. While they had preserved some historical manufacturing equipment there was a focus on the new, modern plant and a slick visitor experience to a spectacular complex.

On arrival we were issued with a wristband to indicate which "experience" we had purchased and a can of Pisco pre-mix which peped everybody up before the tour of the site.

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First a tour of the grounds and historic pisco-making equipment.

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Then it was time to look at the new plant in the new distillery followed by the curated tasting (with toasts) and then exit via the gift shop. Kathy is seen admiring the flagons of Pisco but we settled for a few half bottles to bring back.

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We rolled back into the bus and returned to the ship, much in need of food. At the port, we were greeted by the Captain and officers displaying the embracing of the local culture we all aspire to as we pillaged the stalls set up on the dock.

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We were back on the ship around 2 p.m. after our half-day tour. Just in time for a late lunch and two Pisco Sour cocktails. Sometime before 9 p.m. the ship had run out of Pisco Spirit.

So we left mainland South America and headed into the Pacific Ocean. With our overland trip, it had been a hectic time and we needed some sea days to recuperate and do washing. South America had been so interesting and the people so welcoming of tourists. We are keen to go back and see more of it but without the high altitude next time.

Posted by StephenJBrown 20:50 Archived in Peru Tagged pisco Comments (0)

South America Overland Day 4&5 return to the ship

Final altitude challenge, civil unrest, salt mines and Pisco toasts

semi-overcast 24 °C

After Machu Picchu, it was all uphill on day 4 of our South America Overland excursion. From the elevation of Ollantaytambo at 2,792 m up to 3,500 m at Moray before ending up at Cusco at 3,400 m. All well above the height where some effects of altitude start to occur. After overnighting in Cusco we headed back down to sea level at Lima to rejoin the ship and recover.

Day 4

We start the day with the views of the mountains and the Alpakas chewing on the grass.

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Before being confronted and embarrassed at breakfast with the lycra-clad bodies of a gang of middle-aged German Cyclists. At this stage the idea of cycling around the mountains makes me reach for the oxygen.

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After recovering our breath, we pile into the van and take a short trip to the Inka ruins of the temple of the Sun. Calling them ruins seems a bit of an injustice as the huge terraces are still in place and remain aligned with the sunrise over the mountain at the important dates of the year including summer and winter solstice and the equinox. Louis, our guide had done his first archaeological work at this site and was keen to tell us about what was found and how that demonstrated the sophistication of the builders.

From here we headed up the Sacred Valley and turned off at the mountain which looks like a giant frog. (no kidding). Another drive up a series of hairpin bends brought us to a lookout where we could see some of the valley below and I had the opportunity to do my trick with the 360-degree camera.

We continued up to Moray where we certainly felt the higher altitude and at the same time were stunned by the circular crop terraces which were apparently used as an agricultural research station with each of the terraces having a different micro-climate for testing crop yields. We passed on the opportunity to walk down into the circles (and back up)

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From here we continued our holiday with a trip to the Salt Mines at Maras. Almost as crazy as it sounds, there was another series of hairpin bends on a dirt road not quite wide enough for two vehicles and then a view of some pools where salty spring water is evaporated and salt is harvested.

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Again we opted not to do the long walk to the bottom and climb back to the road. It was interesting to hear that the complex is now owned and operated as a cooperative by local families from the nearby towns after a strike against the previous government ownership. The enterprise is now thriving as a tourist attraction contributing more to profits than the actual salt production with a series of vans going in and out while we were there at around $10 per tourist. Also interesting was the discussion of the different salt grades produced and marketed. The top layer is white and sold as pure salt, the bottom layer is muddy brown and sold as industrial salt. the middle layer is a bit of a mixture and is now sold as "Pink Salt" at the same prices as the pure salt of the top level.

There were of course a series of stalls selling souvenirs, salt and ice cream, plus some excellent salted dark chocolate.

From the salt pools, we headed back up the hairpin bends then off to Cusco for Lunch, shopping and an overnight stay.

Lunch was again with Jamie's Peruvian fixer. Her family has extensive interests in tourism and she had come to Cusco to see us off. More authentic food was served. This time in a historic house which now operates as a function centre.

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More driving in the old part of Cusco involved testing the van breaks by driving down cobbled streets not quite wide enough for the van and any pedestrians with a slope suitable for ski jumping practice. A complicated manoeuvre required different stops to unload the luggage and then the passengers was executed to bring us to our hotel. Kathy and I were feeling tired, so skipped the walking tour (which had hill descents and climbs) and tried to get some rest. That evening the group arranged without Jamie to go to a close by restaurant which advertised the best Cuy (Roast Guinea Pig) in Cusco. We had the vegetarian pizza and tipped the musician playing background music.

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Day 5

Everybody in the group had some trouble sleeping even before the 4 a.m. wake-up call. A packed breakfast was provided and we headed for the airport for our return to Lima. We said goodbye to Luis who had been an excellent guide and checked in and then cleared security. Jamie did his normal shameless and inexplicably effective con job and our group was allowed to board in the priority queue as was somehow always the case.

The short flight was uneventful and being back at sea level was good although it took a while to kick in. One of our group was still feeling unwell and so was escorted directly back to the ship. It was a feature of the tour that Jamie never asked the group about what they wanted to do. I suspect that at the point we arrived back in Lima if he had asked how many wanted to return to the ship it may well have been about half. However, we continued on with the tour of Lima and mostly felt better as the day wore on.

We did a walking tour of the centre of Lima, visiting the Place Mayor with the cathedral and major government buildings. We passed a small picket line of some sort and there was a bigger demonstration planned for later in the day so while we were in the main square all sorts of police units were assembling and starting to barricade the square. This was all treated as normal by Jamie and our Lima guide and nothing eventuated while we were there.

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We walked past an old Italian restaurant which we were told was a previous haunt of Ernest Hemmingway. Easy to believe as it looked inside and outside exactly like the bar in Havanna we had visited.

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We continued on to a souvenir shop where by arrangement we had a tasting of various types of Pisco. (See tomorrow's blog for more info on Pisco) Every sample had a toast both in Spanish and in Quechua (the main local language in Peru). This seemed to improve everyone's mood and we headed off for Lunch.

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Lunch of course was at an authentic restaurant serving cuisine from one of the provinces of Peru. The food was great but by this time I was dreaming of returning to the ship for a cheeseburger and chips.

There was one more stop at a food market before we headed to the pick-up point for the ship.

The area of the port where the ship docked is considered too dangerous even to let people on and off shuttles and pick up taxis. So the shuttle to and from the ship operates from Miraflores, some 40 minutes from the port. Here there is a seaside shopping centre and it is considered safe enough for passengers to wander around. Jamie has done this tour many times so was well aware of this arrangement, however, the shopping centre used had changed from previous cruises and as we were doing a private tour I had to confirm with the ship before we got off what was the address we had to return to. We did later run into another couple on the ship who had disembarked at Manta to visit family. They had not been told about the return arrangements in Lima and were very lucky to have arrived at the port gates at the same time as a ship shuttle and had been able to convince the police to let them on.

We queued for and boarded the shuttle without incident except there were questions about why we had luggage and if we needed to go through a customs check. All was OK and we returned to what we are now calling home and collapsed into bed with a room service burger to dream of Alpakas and Machu Picchu Beer.

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Posted by StephenJBrown 21:07 Archived in Peru Tagged machu_picchu lima pisco Comments (0)

South America Overland Day 3 - Machu Picchu

The money shot, crossing the tracks for lunch and a rolling fashion show

semi-overcast 24 °C

The big day of our overland trip had arrived! After an early breakfast (during which I came face to lycra with an exuberance of middle-aged German cyclists) we headed down the road to the train station to begin our trip to Machu Picchu.

We walked down the road following Luis like ducklings with Jamie following behind to ensure we were all together. At the station, we saw a local train arrive and disgorge a wave of local workers who live elsewhere in the Valley or even in Cusco and commute to the tourist towns for work. Were given our tickets and then boarded the Peru Rail train to Machu Picchu. This was a panoramic carriage with windows in the roof to help view the mountains and valleys as we followed the Urubamba River down to the base pueblo at Machu Picchu.

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After an hour and a half, we arrived at the town at the base of the mountain at an elevation of 6,700 feet. (2042m or about the same as the top station at Perisher)

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From there we had a short walk to the bus station, we were issued our bus tickets and entrance tickets to the site and joined the queue for the white knuckle bus ride to the top. While there did seem to be an over-reliance on checking and double-checking tickets throughout our journey it must be said that the whole operation ran pretty smoothly. During COVID I believe there was some reorganisation at the site with a limit of 4,000 people per day being set (there were only around 2,000 on the day we visited) and a circular route being set up for all guides and tourists to follow rather than allowing everybody to wander freely around the site. The queues for the bus up and down were well regulated and moved quickly with many busses in operation.

The ride up the switchbacks was spectacular with huge drops and no guard rails but the drivers seemed to operate with a sixth sense to forsee busses in the other direction and to pull over at specific spots to let them pass. We did find out later that the drivers were in constant radio communication. An invigorating ride.

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At the top bus station, we pass through the park entry (more checking of tickets) and then the walking starts. We did not know at that point that we were actually just around the corner from the site at about the mid-way point of around 7,700 feet. Other groups, we have spoken to since have said they were given the option of just walking around the corner and viewing the site from there. Our group however was ushered onto the path to climb the last few hundred feet to emerge at the top of the site for the money shot of the whole of Machu Picchu laid out before us. The climb was tough but all of our group managed to make it to the top for the Iconic view. Kathy and I both used walking poles that day and found them to be a great help and almost worth carting them right around the world for. We could have purchased or hired poles on the day.

Once again our luck with the weather prevailed and we could see the whole site before us as we headed through the gate and onto the circuit back down to the middle station.

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After the exertion of the climb I was in need of a rest so Jamie escorted me via the shortest route down to the midpoint where I had a comfortable seat to watch and wait as the rest of the group was escorted by Luis on the trip around the site. Kathy has yet to forgive me as she ended up walking the long way around. I did manage to get some good video footage of our group and others during the descent.

When the rest of the group had completed their tour and rejoined Jamie and I we headed back around the corner to the hidden bus terminal. Once again the queue was well managed and moved fast with seating being set aside for those who needed it where we (I took advantage of this option) could sit and wait for our group to reach the front of the line. Back down the hairpin bends feeling tired but exhilarated at the sights we had seen and photographed.

Back in the town, we had a walk to the restaurant for Lunch. Once again there was a delicious selection of local dishes, this time supplemented by a local beer. Since I had already bought the branded T-Shirt I had to have one of the beers. To get to the restaurant we had to literally walk across the railway tracks and it was located between the two sets of tracks leading into and out of the station. At this stage, we were all tired from the days' exertions and there was some disappointment that the restrooms were down another set of stairs. I was also too tired to bother taking any photos so here is a link to the Cafe Inkaterra Restaurant.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g304036-d2424851-Reviews-Cafe_Inkaterra-Aguas_Calientes_Machu_Picchu_Sacred_Valley_Cusco_Region.html

After Lunch there was around an hour to kill before our return train. Some opted for more shopping, others just piled into the waiting room at the station. It was still light when we boarded the train but as we made our way back up the valley darkness closed in as we were served tea and biscuits from a trolly aircraft style.

Once everybody had been served the staff disappeared into the kitchen and then we were treated to a visit from a local She-Devil followed by a fashion show featuring local designs in ALpaka wool. Certainly, something I have never experienced on a train before and something that NSW Rail should consider.

On returning to Ollantaytambo we could just about muster the energy to walk back to the hotel. Past the queues of locals getting onto busses for their return commute back to their homes. Kathy and I did not have the energy to go out for dinner so had an early night and munched on emergency chocolate rations.

A fantastic day and a major bucket list item completed! I feel there is much more to explore in South America but it may not be necessary to venture again into the high mountains.

Posted by StephenJBrown 17:49 Archived in Peru Tagged food train machu_picchu fashion Comments (0)

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