Machu Picchu

Flight fun

So…we finish the Inca trail (tough but fun with amazing views), are stunned by Machu Picchu (I take back some of what I said about Incan ruins) and take a 22 hour bus back to Lima (not as bad as it sounds apart from the four violent torture films played back to back). We have one nice day in Lima, go out for a fancy last meal in a beautiful restaurant on a pier jutting into the sea at sunset. We pack our bags – and somehow fit everything inside after weeks of just strapping excess luggage to the outside. We book a taxi and arrive at the airport 3 hours before our flight to Paris leaves. A perfect end to a lovely month in Peru, some might say.

Then we look at the departure boards and find that there is no flight to Paris.

Apparently it had been cancelled a few months ago and passengers transferred onto a flight the day before. Naturally, our dear crappy online travel agent had neglected to tell us this minor detail so it had taken off without us, and the only other flight that night, to Amsterdam, was now full.

They told us to wait until the check in closed in case some passengers didn’t turn up – but of course they all did. So now we are stuck in Lima for the foreseeable future as all the flights on the next few days are fully booked so we just have to go to the airport each day to hope that two passengers decide not to turn up… exciting? A pain? A bit of an adventure? Who knows…

Cuzco

We’ve now spent a week in Cuzco, once the capital of the Incan empire, now tourism capital of Peru. There’s a lot to see and do but we’ve been taking things at a chilled pace after all the rushing around at the start of the trip…

First up, there are an awful lot of Incan ruins to visit in the area around Cuzco, known as the Sacred Valley – it was one of the reasons that we decided on Peru over other South American countries. However, unfortunately these ruins have been for the most part a big disappointment. Compared to ruins in Europe, Incan ruins are frankly just a bit pathetic. I mean, the Incan heyday was in the 1400s and 1500s but their cities and palaces look like something from Archaic Greece (c1000 BC) – they resemble places like Mycenae and Tiryns. Sure, they built big stone walls – but little in comparison to the sort of palaces around in 15th century Britain. They hadn’t even invented iron smelting – let alone literature or drama! The one thing that the Incas do have on the Europeans is landscape – the mountains are higher, the valleys are greener, and in general the views are more spectacular… (more…)