Mystical Machu Picchu

Today I awoke at 5:45 to check the weather to see whether I should climb up to the Sun Gate to see the sun rise over the ruins. However, the weather was not cooperating as it looked like the entire mountain was cloaked in clouds and fog. Instead, Jim went on a guided tour of another part of the ruins, while I opted just to go commune with the ruins in the fog.

Walking in the steps of the ancients was just unreal! I watched the fog roll in and roll out several times and watched the llamas grazing on the terraces. These pictures don’t do it justice, but even the clouds seemed imbued with their own grandeur!

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We returned to the lodge for breakfast, and then back down to the train for our ride back to Ollantaytambo, and on on to Cusco.  As we rode down the valley, the sun came out and gave us a glorious ride down. The train personnel served us a great lunch, and entertained us with a spirit dancer and a fashion show.

Train trip back to Ollantaytambo

Train trip back to Ollantaytambo

Train trip back to Ollantaytambo Train trip back to Ollantaytambo

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We then made our long drive back down through the Andes to the city of Cusco, admiring the gorgeous vistas all the way!

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Driving through the Andes

Driving through the Andes

Driving through the Andes

Driving through the Andes

Driving through the Andes Driving through the Andes

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Upon our arrival in Cusco, we went directly to the Convent of Santo Domingo, which is built directly upon the ruins of the Incan palace and temple of Korikancha.  When the Spaniards arrived in Perú, Cusco was the epicenter of the Incan empire, and Korikancha was its tribute to the greatness of that empire. Even the gardens of Korikancha were clad in gold, and the site contained the most important temples to the sun and moon in the empire. Needless to say, the conquistadors proceeded to tear the temple and palace buildings down, and melted all the gold and silver to embellish the alters and interiors of the Cathedral of San Francisco on the square in Cusco, they built upon the foundations and partial remaining walls of Korikancha.  In a cosmic twist of fate, the Convent has been destroyed several times by earthquakes, but the foundations and walks built by the Incans remained undamaged!

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We then checked into our hotel, the Belmond Monasterio.  This has been rated one of the top hotels in the world, and it deserves its billing! We were greeted in the former chapel of the monastery, and taken to our room which was formerly a monk’s room ( OK, maybe two monks’ rooms!), which had been thoroughly and beautifully modernized.

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After we checked in, we walked around the town a bit , shopped a bit, and returned to the hotel for a great dinner!

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