My mom & I are planning to go to MP next May. We're not hiking folk and are definitely creatures of comfort, so we don't mind paying a little extra for nice amenities and things of that sort. We also try to avoid group tours whenever possible and generally prefer to explore on our own - no pre-arranged group dinners or anything of the sort. We won't have very much time - maybe 5 days in Peru total, not counting flights in/out - so I'm trying to lay out the easiest possible route that won't have us spread too thin across too many sites. I have several questions:
1. How much time would you recommend we spend in Cusco on the way in? Day/night? Two days/one night?
2. Would two days be enough in Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu without rushing through it?
3. Is there any real need to go through a tour operator for train/bus/MP tickets? If so, which would you recommend? My Spanish is pretty much at que hora es level, but I presume that wouldn't really be a problem with that kind of tourist traffic?
4. Is there anything else between Cusco/Aguas Calientes/MP that we absolutely MUST see, given time constraints?
5. Finally, are there any particular hotels in either location that we should avoid at all costs?
Thanks very much in advance!