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Next Trip: Japan, the new and the old

My last overseas trip to South American  was somewhat of an eye opener. The terrain, nature, culture and infrastructure of both Peru and Brazil was amazing with so much learnt. After Peru and Brazil I travelled across the United Kingdom to Cardiff, Wales’s capital city. Cardiff had similarities to London (my home) but is developing with huge investments, hopping to be a striving tourist destination, especially for shopping. However now its time to go far again and I’m using my yearly trip to the Philippines (which is my second home) commencing this May 18th to venture to new places and excurse to a nearby Asian country. Whilst in the Philippines I’ll be staying in my home city of Quezon City but I plan to roam and visit places I have never been yet, however till now i don’t have a clue where yet.

One thing is for sure and that’s a confirmed trip around Japan. Knowing me I like to roam as many cities in a limited amount of time, just like in Peru and Brazil with a duration of 10 days and my ‘South France and Spain trip’ which took me only 5 days.

The Journey

The cities I will visit in Japan are Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto which should show me many of the old and new aspects of the country.

I will enter Japan through Tokyo  but will transit (flight) straight to Osaka where I will stay one night. This should give me enough time to visit places such as the ‘Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium’, Osaka Castle and other attractions in the city. I will then take either train or bus from Osaka to Kyoto where I will stay for 2 nights, giving me 3 days to roam. Kyoto which was once the capital city of Japan is famous for numerous Buddhist temples, imperial palaces and much more. I intend to visit many of its attractions and dine in their many traditional restaurants. After Kyoto I will head back to Osaka and fly straight to the capital Tokyo where I will spend a further night. I believe Tokyo will be the bustling modern city of Japan, one of the worlds most advanced in technology. Furthermore as an extra bonus I may see some of the sites for the Olympics due to commence in 2020.

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I expect Japan to be very technologically advanced but very intact with their history and ancient culture. Furthermore I’m guessing Kyoto to be very strong in traditional culture and religion, whilst Tokyo and Osaka being a modern metropolis with the most modern infrastructure. Finally I think Japan will be fast paced and one of the most expensive ive travelled.

 

 

Peru Rail

Brief

Peru Rail is a railway operator that services locals, tourists and freight. It was founded by a Peruvian entrepreneur and a British company  in 1999. Mainly operating in the southern region such as Cusco, Arequipa and Puno20180319_042142

Cost

I only know the price to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo, and it is quiet expensive and ranges from £60 – £100 (even more) depending on time and how busy it is.

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Experience

Peru rail is ha20180319_034403.jpgnds down one of the best rail transport I have ever experienced. The old carriages with the river and mountain scenery was like no other I have done before. Furthermore their service was delightful and goes well with the vacation ambience.

Our first and onwards journey was at 05:05am from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. It is advised to arrive at the station as early as 30 minutes before the train departure where the train station and ticket office officially opens as well.

Remember your baggage does have a size limit of 157cm/ 62 inches (height, 20180319_035509.jpglength and width) and a weight limit of 5kg. However for those travelling from far and who do not have a hotel or hostel to leave your baggage, there is a free bag drop at Ollantaytambo station. Although it is not always manned and you may need to get attention to get someone to attend the facility and take your baggage. Another thing to remember is your passport, because upon entering the boarding area and train, the attendants require both tickets and passport.

In the station (rail side) there is a small basic café, the train was already parked and there is plenty taking pictures with the train. There is not too much security and safety precautions at the platform and plenty of tourists walk along the rails.

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The carriages are divided between local and tourist passengers, which sounds wrong but with good intentions. Local passengers carry huge amounts of baggage and I believe their carriages would be plain and basic. On the other hand the tourists carriages are designed for the extra experience, the walls are covered with Peruvian artwork (wallpaper) whilst the table has a map of the Inca trail. Furthermore the tourist carriage has enhanced seats and a sunroof window for extra views of the mountains ahead.

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All train tickets have allocated seats and not a free for all or first come first serve basis. Some seats are facing the direction of the journey and some facing rearwards, there are also 4 grouped communal seats and the standard 2 grouped seats. My experience for my onward journey was a 4 grouped forward facing communal seat which can be either awkward facing other people or good in meeting other travellers, for me it was more positive as we got to meet two other young travellers which we conversed throughout the trip. The carriage was not too congested and I say my onwards experience was positive.

During the journey there is audio with Peruvian music and facts of Machu Picchu. There is also complimentary snacks and drinks which mimics that of an airline and heavier food to purchase if you want. On my onward journey we were given cookies and I chose to have mango juice but there were choices of various juices, water, tea and coffee.

The journey (Onwards) took over 2 hours and you can just disembark and go on your way.

Returning I took the 15:20 journey back to Ollantaytambo. Everything was definitely a bit more complicated than my onward journey. Firstly finding the station was difficult as it was not the same place I arrived (disembarked) from but a 5 minute walk up the hill. There were also much more people taking trains at this time and the station was very congested. Furthermore identifying your train is confusing as there is always one small screen with many similar numbers and times, the language barrier was also a problem. I found tourists helping each other rather than asking the attendants or relying on the info board all through till entering the train.

Returning I had a 4 grouped communal rearward facing seat, which for me was a bit uncomfortable as the guy opposite me on this route kept hitting my legs with no care at all. The snacks we were given returning was better though with some Inca corn which was actually very nice. Again I had mango juice but my brother had tea which was not a good idea as this journey was a little bit wobbly.

Overall Peru Rail’s journey to Machu Picchu was an amazing experience. Everything was just out of the ordinary from the train to the scenery. Its something I probably will remember for some time to come and I don’t think many would come close to the experience ive had.

 

Reference:

Perurail.com