Yesterday we had a relaxed morning in Ollantaytambo. We all slept in late and the kids played together quietly. I’m not sure how that happened or how I can replicate it at home. IMG_7934 The hostel we are staying at has a homey vibe and a cute courtyard right outside our window. KB Tambo caters to backpackers but it was a great spot for families, and one of the few places in the area able to accommodate a larger family in a single room. IMG_7940 After showering and packing up, we headed back to the Ollantaytambo ruins to climb to the top . . . which we had promised the kids we would do. That point at the top just under the clouds was our destination. I wasn’t sure we could do it. IMG_8012 We climbed some stairs. IMG_7946 And climbed some more stairs. IMG_7948 We stopped for pictures. IMG_7949 And took a lot of breaks. IMG_7953 Man, the air is thin up there! IMG_7960   IMG_7962   IMG_7965 At long last, we made it to the top! IMG_7974 IMG_7988 I was surprised to find that it only took us about 20 minutes to get to the top. It looked so high from the ground. It was encouraging to know that the kids would push themselves. IMG_8004 The caffeine I gave them at breakfast may have helped. IMG_7992 We decided to follow a narrow switchback around the mountain to then climb down another set of ruins. IMG_7993IMG_7998 The whole journey took about an hour, and was met with minimal whining. Win! I think it was a confidence booster for all of us, knowing we were set to tackle Machu Picchu the next day. The kids were amped as we came down the mountain, and I was really proud of them. IMG_7969 After the climb, we had lunch and grabbed a taxi to the train station. We’d been seeing these motorcycle tap-taps circling the city and the kids were begging to ride one. So even though the train station was only a ten minute walk, we splurged on the fun taxi. IMG_8013 Let’s just say that between our speed-demon driver and the crazy Peru traffic, my prayer life got a boost in that 4 minute ride. IMG_8014 IMG_8019 IMG_8060 Next up: a train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. IMG_8025 Please note the grown man taking a photo of Kembe. The locals’ reaction to Kembe’s hair is going to need it’s own post. IMG_8034 We scrimped on the train ride and bought tickets on the “backpacker” train, and I’m truly not sure why this option was so cheap. I thought it was very nice. IMG_8049 It was a beautiful ride through the mountains and jungle. Kembe was my photographer. IMG_8051 They also gave us free banana chips and chocolate, thereby sealing my loyalty forever. IMG_8052 Kembe is photographing the food, like a good travel blogger. So proud. IMG_8058 We decided to splurge on the hotel near Machu Picchu. I wanted to be well-rested and a guaranteed hot shower after our climb, and was also swayed by the location – Sumaq Hotel being the only hotel with it’s own stop for the bus that shuttle people up the mountain. Upon check-in, they brought us warm towels. We pretended to know what to do with them. IMG_8071 They also brought us fresh papaya juice and sweet potato chips with onion dip. SOLD. IMG_8074 Once again, finding a hotel in the area that had a room big enough to accommodate six people was a challenge. Like KB Tambo, Sumaq also has triple rooms so that we could all stay together. IMG_8081 And chocolates! IMG_8089 After checking in, we walked around a bit to get the lay of the land, and a sneak peak of Machu Picchu. IMG_8091 Photobombed, Peruvian style! IMG_8107 Our room is the top left. The view from our room is the mountain in the photo above. IMG_8109 Sumaq is an all-inclusive hotel and they are serious about the gourmet food. We had an amazing meal there. Well, Mark, the boys and I did. The girls ordered plain pasta and cried because it had a bay leaf garnish. They are lots of fun at fancy restaurants. It was the bay leaf that led to the most dramatic rose ceremony ever most dramatic temper tantrum of the day, culminating in Karis letting an entire 5 star restaurant know that SHE WANTED TO GO HOME. Sorry, folks! Nothing to see here. Just an over-tired 3-year-old. Get back to your sweet potato terrine with avocado and balsamic reduction.IMG_8132 Like the previous day, ice cream solved everything. On to Machu Picchu in the morning. . .