It was onto the Sacred Valley for day five. The morning started with a group tour of the sites of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Our first stop was at a smaller artisan market prior where we got to take pictures with the adorable alpacas. It had approximately ten stalls selling typical Andean artifacts. I got my mum’s magnet and bought another chess set, this time with Inca pieces.
After that small layover, it was onto Pisac. The tour group stopped at the famous market to have a silver demonstration before being given some time to roam around. I found my Christmas ornament and the trinket to give to my boss. After the brief stop at the market, we headed upwards towards the site of the ruins. By golly it was large. I honestly didn’t know much about the ruin site of Pisac since most of the shows I saw only highlighted the market. The tour guide said that it was very easy to take several hours exploring the whole thing. The ruins are also part of the Inca trail. I saw some folks trekking. I tip my hat off to them.
After Pisac, we had lunch in Urabamba, the second largest town in the Sacred Valley after Cusco. It was named after the mighty river that cuts through the Sacred Valley. It was a buffet lunch and had pretty decent food. It was fairly expensive for Peruvian standards but it had enough variety and served typical Andean cuisine. I tried alpaca carpaccio and ate some more ceviche. The alpaca had an interesting aftertaste but it was tender and tasted almost like beef. There was also a cooked option, which many of my tour group folks said they enjoyed. The best food was the barley soup.
After lunch, we were off to town of Ollantaytambo and its ruins. Known mostly as a major train station from Cusco to Machu Picchu, it also had some pretty spectacular ruins. It was quite a workout climbing the 240 steps straight up at a 70-degree angle. I haven’t caught my breath that much since I first ran up the Sacre Coeur in Paris. It was a good workout nonetheless after that lunch at Urabamba. Also, it was a good practice for Machu Picchu tomorrow.
After exploring the Urabamba ruins, it was time for me to leave the group and head to my hotel. I was supposed to be dropped off but the bus was too big to wind through the small streets so the guide paid for me to ride a tricycle to the station. It wasn’t far but it gave me the opportunity to experience the ride. It was pretty cool. It reminded me of tricycle rides back in the Philippines.
My hotel here in Ollantaytambo is the best one I’ve been so far. The rooms are nice and spacious and the surrounding area is full of fresh plants and flowers that give it a really nice and natural feel. It also helps that it’s located in the valley so it has some pretty spectacular views of the Andes Mountains.
I had my first taste of pisco sour and a light dinner of pasta with mushroom sauce at the hotel’s restaurant. The food was pretty good but again, pretty overpriced in my opinion. I’m crashing early tonight. I have an early wake-up call tomorrow. The great wonder is next!