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I wanted to write a quick post detailing the ridiculousness of my efforts trying to buy tickets for the train to/from Machu Picchu.  There is a train station right on the property of the Tambo del Inka in Urubamba, where I was staying, but it runs only once per day and the times were not what we wanted.  There are multiple trains per day from Ollantaytambo, which is about a S/25 (~USD$8) taxi ride from Urubamba, AND the trains from Ollantaytambo are USD$20-$30 cheaper, one way, per person (so close to $100 more for a roundtrip for 2)

I didn’t buy the train tickets before we left, because we were not 100% sure of our plans.  I’ve also heard some o

My 15 steps

  1. First, I tried to buy tickets on my laptop – something with the network / VPN was preventing me from being able to show the CC payment screen
  2. Then I went to the concierge here – they charge a fee to book them
  3. Then I went to the on site train station – they quoted me $328 roundtrip
  4. Next, I went to the business center – went online and found the tickets at the lower prices. tried to enter in our email addresses and the @ sign is not on the 2 – it’s underneath the Q but no combination of keys will make it show up
  5. After a bit of trying that, i go to the hotel front desk and ask them how to type an @ sign – he shows me some keyboard combos as well as suggests copying and pasting it from somewhere
  6. I try all of his ideas but none of his keyboard shortcuts work and the PeruRail form doesn’t allow pasting. While trying to hit buttons, I manage to hit alt-shift-Q which closes my window.
  7. So I have to start over and enter in my info again. Try Googling for it and the 3rd page I see says to just Alt-Gr (right Alt) and the 2 key, which works
  8. I go to pay for my tickets but my card is declined (i assume due to fraud)
  9. I go on to barclay’s website – they have no chat feature and i’m out of the country w/o phone service so i can’t call. i do see a travel request form so i fill that out to let them know i’ll be in Peru from today on and try again – declined again
  10. Figure I’ll try Google Voice – I’ve heard that you can use that but never tried it, so I call and it actually works! The connection wasn’t great – I could hear her (from “the great State of Ohio”) but she was having trouble hearing me.
  11. Eventually we get on the same page and she tells me that all of Barclaycard’s computer systems are down and to try calling back later

So…. that’s where I left it before going out exploring for the day.  I posted this saga on the Points With a Crew miles and points Facebook group (you should probably join that), and got the following feedback

Wise advice indeed…. Obviously I ignored it :-).  We went off to explore the city of Yucay for the day and I sat back down to this problem when I came back.

Comparing Machu Picchu train ticket prices

Ordering tickets directly from PeruRail.com would be USD$280 for the 2 of us roundtrip.  Which is a lot of money but Peru has figured out that there’s really only one way (sort of) to Machu Picchu and so they charge a premium.

As I mentioned above, the train station charged USD$328.

  1. After returning from Yucay, I call up Barclaycard and (hurrah!) their computers are back up.  I tell the operator my problem but she says there is no fraud alert or lock on my account and she doesn’t even see the charge
  2. I try to book the tickets again at the business center when I notice that PeruRail says that they only accept credit cards that are “Verified by Visa” or have “Mastercard SecureCode”.   A bit of Googling seems that this is fairly common on foreign websites to prevent fraud
  3. I go back to the concierge and he checks train prices for me and they’ll charge USD$370.  One “nice” part about that is that they just charge it to my room so I can pay when I checkout (with my Barclaycard Arrival card, of course)
  4. Then it’s BACK to the train station, where I pay $328 with my Barclaycard Arrival card and it all works out just fine.  I’m hopeful that I should not have a problem redeeming Arrival miles for this charge which will be nice!

I know many of you are probably rolling your eyes at me for the amount of work and think that I should have just paid the $370 from the hotel concierge the first time and not gone through all this hassle.  And I get it, I do.  It’s hard to explain my thinking here.  While part of it is just the fact that I like saving money, another part of me ENJOYS bargain shopping and finding “deals”.  So it wasn’t really “ruining” my vacation to be chasing this down – instead it was just another part of it.  A part that many people would not enjoy, I understand.

In any case, tickets are all purchased and it’s off to Machu Picchu!

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