Bus to Puno

June 1, 2010 (Day 14)

After arriving back in Cusco after our late evening train + bus trip from Aguas Calientes on the 31st, we caught a few hours of sleep at our hostel before getting up early in the morning to cab to a gas station near the airport, where we boarded an Inka Express tourist bus to Puno, our last major city before we crossed the border to Bolivia.
The bus departed at 7:30 am and made five stops along the way, providing us with a chance to stretch our legs and check out the local attractions.

Stop 1: Andahuaylillas is where we visited a colonial church, which is called the “Sixtine Chapel of America" for the quality of its artwork. Unfortunately, photographs are not permitted inside the church so I can't share with you the artwork found inside but I can say that there is an interesting mural of heaven and hell.
Even more impressive were the Pisonay (Coral Trees) growing in the main square in front of the church.

Stop 2Raqchi is an archeological site based around the remnants of the Wiracocha Temple.

Stop 3: Sicuani was the site of our roadside restaurant where we enjoyed a buffet lunch.

Stop 4La Raya at 4,335 meters above sea level was the highest point on this bus trip and provided a great view of the nearby mountains.

Stop 5Pukara was the site of a small museum dedicated to Inca ruins. Besides the creaky wooden floor of a nearby church, there was nothing too special to report here, and quite frankly, it was a stop we could have skipped.

We arrived at the Puno bus terminal around 6:00pm.  While waiting for our bags to to be unloaded, Renée and Steph observed a bag of live guinea pigs being tossed out of the bus cargo compartment.  Based on this account, the restaurant photos, and a number of other reasons, I decided to take a pass on the cuy option on restaurant menus along our journey.

We were picked up at the bus station by a member of the hotel staff and driven to our first (and only) actual hotel of the trip. Qelqatani Hotel was recommended and arranged by our hostel in Cusco, and yes, it was relatively nice with its fancy extras like a doorman, porters, shampoo, and a bath tub. But as nice as it looked and its price, it was a bit of a disappointment with its rusty bathwater and paper-thin walls.  That said, the breakfast buffet was comprehensive and satisfying.

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