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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Peru Vacation Day 6: Photographs From The Andean Explorer Part 2

This post contains the rest of the pictures from the scenic train trip from Cusco to Puno aboard the Andean Explorer. You can find my write-up about the train trip here, and the first batch of photographs here.

Scenery from the Andean ExplorerMore mountain scenery from the Andean Explorer. Notice the trees, and the cows in the picture. The land is used for farming, but is not being farmed right now because it is winter there at this time.

Line of Jesus statues outside SicuaniLine of Jesus statues up a mountainside on the outskirts of Sicuani.

Sicuani marketplaceThe Andean Explorer makes its way past a bustling market in Sicuani.

Scenery from the Andean ExplorerAfter Sicuani, the train climbed gradually up to La Raya. This photo gives one an idea of the grades we are talking about.

Scenery from the Andean ExplorerSome snowy peaks as seen on approach to La Raya.

Scenery from the Andean ExplorerThe front of the train with a mountain peak as the background.

Scenery from the Andean ExplorerThis is a view of the snow-covered Vilcanota Knot which is the source of the Vilcanota river, as seen from the train station at La Raya.

Andean Explorer stopped at La RayaA full view of the train stopped at La Raya.

Locomotive of Andean ExplorerA frontal view of the train's locomotive.

Market at La Raya train stationA view of the market catering to train passengers at La Raya.

Church at La Raya train stationA view of the small church at the La Raya train station.

Appetizer for lunchWe were served our lunch right after we left La Raya. This is the appetizer. The meat on the plate is alpaca meat. Unfortunately, it did not taste any different to me than regular beef!

Main course of lunchThis is the main course. It is chicken covered in some kind of vegetable sauce, along with some rice and vegetables.

Dessert for lunchAnd here comes the dessert! Some kind of fruit mousse that was quite tasty.

Scenery from the Andean ExplorerThe scenery after La Raya mostly consisted of high grassy plains with lots of llama or alpaca herds. Notice the general lack of trees at this high altitude. The mountains in the background indicate that this photograph was taken close to La Raya also. We still passed many herds of llamas and alpacas later on, but there were no mountains in the background then. Also notice that the ground is mostly grassland, not used for farming.

Scenery from the Andean ExplorerScenery from the Andean ExplorerSome more mountain scenery not far from La Raya. Unfortunately, the ground became quite flat all around us as we ventured deeper and deeper into the South American altiplano, so there was not much scenery to photograph farther along the route. In fact I was joking with some passengers that we should have taken this train from Cusco to La Raya, waited there for the train going in the opposite direction and gone back to Cusco instead of going to Puno!

Puente MaravillasCars washed in river at Puente MaravillasCars washed in river at Puente MaravillasWe crossed a long bridge called Puente Maravillas just before we reached Juliaca. These photographs show the bridge and people using the water in the river to wash their vehicles.

Juliaca marketplaceA view of another busy market we passed through in Juliaca.

Afternoon snack on the Andean ExplorerAfter we left Juliaca, we were served an afternoon snack. The cookies and sandwiches were pretty good too, just like the lunch. We were also served coffee and tea with our snacks.

When we reached Puno, we were picked up at the train station by our guide. He took us to our hotel (we were booked in the La Hacienda hotel in Puno, very close to the main square), gave us vouchers for our tours for the next day, and then left. We wanted to have dinner, so we set out in search of a good restaurant or grocery store. Unfortunately, we found, Puno is not Lima. There were no good restaurants (the pizzerias we checked did not have any vegetarian pizza, so they were not suitable for all of us) that we all liked. We also could not find a good all-encompassing department store in Puno. We were led to what the locals called a "super market", but it was just a collection of individual fruit stands, butcher stalls, etc. We did manage to get fruits for very cheap in this market.

It is also difficult to find sliced bread in loaves in most smaller places in Peru. We found only different kinds of flat breads in the bakeries here, but we managed to buy a few of them that were quite soft and could be eaten like regular bread. Later we found a store that sold buns (that looked like hamburger buns), but still no sliced bread. No wonder nobody understood us when we told the locals this vacation was the best thing since sliced bread! We also could not find any place that sold spreadables like butter, jelly, marmalade etc. I know they are available since our buffer breakfasts included both sliced bread and spreadables, but we just did not know what to ask for or how to look for them. No worries, though, we had a good dinner of fruits, hot chocolate, flat bread, etc., and went to bed. We were going to be taking a long boat ride on the highest navigable lake in the world the next day!

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