Journey of a Lifetime? The Andean Explorer

Well, I can finally say that I’m sitting in Ollantaytambo, in my very own office, with working wifi (kind of. Maybe 25% of the time), writing this blog. I’ve made it to home sweet home for the next 6 months and I couldn’t be more excited. I think I’m ready to settle down for a while and do things not found in the closest Lonely Planet. I promise to write a post about Ollanta, my host family, Awamaki etc soon but this post is dedicated instead to the fun and somewhat absurd journey I took in order to get here: the Andean Explorer.

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The Andean Explorer is a Pullman train from the 1920’s that runs between Cusco and Puno (Lake Titicaca). It’s beautifully maintained with a dining car, bar car, and outdoor observatory car. The observatory car was my favorite place to be. The last car in the train,  it was made almost entirely of windows (ceiling included), with an open air balcony to look at the receding landscape from. After too much travel by buses it was lovely to be able to stand up, move around and gaze out at the beautiful andean landscape with a light breeze on your face. A 3 course lunch, tea and complimentary pisco sours didn’t hurt either…

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I bought this book about a year ago called “Journeys of a LIfetime” from National Geographic. They list the best ways to travel by land (road & train), sea, and air for the entire world. I love this book and spent hours pouring over it. The Andean Explorer happens to be listed as one of the best train options in the world so when it seemed to fit my travel plans perfectly I couldn’t say no. That being said, the AE is quite expensive. By far the biggest splurge of my trip so far (maybe after Aconcagua). I had to start telling people in Bolivia and Puno that the train was a gift from my parents because every time I mentioned I was taking the train or simply asked where the train station was I got a resounding, “the station is here but it’s very expensive. You don’t want to go there.” Or, “yes very beautiful but very, very expensive.” Thank you for the 900th time, I get the point.

Anywho, the train ride was absolutely lovely in the end. I feel like I got to fulfill a part of me that’s been suppressed with all this backpacking life and I met some people who I never would have met in $7 a night hostels or 28 hour bus rides. There were 16 of us on the train, 2 ladies from Mexico, a couple from England, a couple from Florida, a father/daughter from Texas, Nora from Denmark, a couple from Brazil, and a family of 4 from Australia. Everyone chatted with everyone and everyone was so very friendly and excited to be traveling. There were so many different stories and tales to be shared. The AE also provided on train entertainment which included 2 different types of traditional music and dance, a fashion show of baby alpaca items, and a demonstration of how to make a pisco sour. There was a 3 course lunch and tea offered as well. Really, the best part was the landscape. With no roads around you knew you were getting to see something special.

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And now for the food…

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2 comments

  1. Alex Epstein · · Reply

    You say ae I think alex epstein, read it again an insert my version for a fun play at home game. Love, Alex Ps I met a girl

  2. You do travel in style. How beautiful it is there! And I love the pictures of the families with children in those wonderful colors. As usual, your food pictures make me want a sample of everything and … you know … loved that last one with the crossword puzzles! Keep that mind as sharp as your body is fit. So glad you’re still enjoying it all, even without Andy.

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