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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
- 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
- Then I went to the concierge here – they charge a fee to book them
- Then I went to the on site train station – they quoted me $328 roundtrip
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- I go to pay for my tickets but my card is declined (i assume due to fraud)
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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)
- 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!