We slept most of the way from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo (so an upgrade is unnecessary). Lady sitting opposite me was too uncomfortable and kept kicking me. Peru rail had a trolley service selling food, which came first before they brought out the free food (nuts and drinks).
At Ollantaytambo, we almost didn’t see the guy who was supposed to be holding up a sign for us. Good thing one of the guides saw our marked duffle bags. An uneventful 2h ride back to Cusco with another Inca trail group.
We settled at our beautiful room at Rumi Wasi. But after coming from Aguas Calientes at 2000m, Cusco at 3300m left me gasping for air again. Rumi Wasi is just off the main plaza, but it is a slightly steep climb up. Rooms are lovely but impractically small if you have lots of stuff, so I am thankful we didn’t stay here before the Inca trail when we had to sort a lot of our things. It was cold too, the portable heater takes a long while to heat the room.
In Cusco, we stayed in Tambo del Arriero – where we had a spacious room and considered it very good value for money. Wi-fi wasn’t working for us for the first few days. Bathrooms are open, and toilet only have a glass door so might not work for non-couples. Breakfast are ok.
Rumi Wasi – beautiful rooms. You had to climb a steep hill to get there from the main plaza, and might not be great if you’re still suffering from altitude sickness. They light candles and the rooms smelt like I was in a spa. Loved the wooden doors, with a terrace opening into the side street at the back. But you’d quickly find it all impractical – the wooden door lets in lots of draft and it takes forever to heat the room. Ask for hot water bottles, they put this in our bed the second night, but the lone staff was too busy the first night when I badly needed it. I left the portable heater on all day. Small room, and it looked a mess when we had to unpack and repack stuff. Barking dogs in the back street, plus inconsiderate neighbours who stayed up talking in the hallway kept us up most of the night. Look at the back streets very early in the morning (we were up at 2:30am for an early flight) and there’s small groups of dodgy-looking people hiding in the shadows.
We loved these resturants: ChiCha at Plaza Regocijo for their breads and vegetable cream, Cicciolina at Calle Triunfo (corner Herrajes) for their imaginative tapas and the best breakfast ever, Limo Cocina Peruana at Plaza de Armas (above McDonalds/KFC).
Most of the people who lived in Cusco lived outside of the historical city centre. But we didn’t venture out except when I had to go to the doctors. We were warned early on that the public market areas just outside of the centre can be quite dangerous after dark. I think the danger is mostly from pickpockets. There are plenty of handicraft and souvenir markets in every corner of the city centre and they can be easy to find if you walk about. We love the market across Plaza San Francisco, though almost every market looks the same. We bought alpaca blankets at Chinchero where we saw them being weaved. Bought a bag at the Inka museum where they also weave on site. There are plenty of knitters and automatic looms in other markets and we preferred to buy those made by hand.
We selected our hotels, because they’re not run by the big international chains in the hope that the money we spend goes back into the local economy. Our inca trail tour agent is known for taking care of their porters, run by a man who worked his way up from being a porter. I heard he is now able to start a school to benefit the farmers and the families of the porters.
We flew with British Airways, American Airlines and Lan Peru. I was so surprised that Lan Peru stands out – modern airplanes (slightly roomier), and great service. I will do my best not to fly with American Airlines ever again – bad seat layouts, entertainment system like it was 10 years ago, horrible customer service that they did not even reply at all to my emails. And will avoid Miami international airport at all costs, we end up spending 2 hours at least at immigration with its long queues and we were only in transit.