Peru: Lima (Day 1)
The plane landed before sunrise, and we met our tour agent along with our driver, which was unexpected. She got us settled at the hotel and brought us to a cafÃ© to go over the details of the trip. Our hotel, Casa Suyay, is in the Miraflores district, which made it fairly direct for us to walk to the Pacific Ocean. The boardwalk runs along the top of a large cliff, but that morning was foggy and gray so we had poor visibility.
The first park, on top of a shopping complex built into the side of the cliff called Larcomar, has a statue of Paddington Bear. Just that week I had learned that Paddington Bear was from Peru due to a crossword puzzle, so it was fun to come across that. Moving north along the boardwalk we found a park that reminded us somewhat of Gaudiâ€™s Parque Guell in Barcelona. We thought we might find a staircase down to the shoreline below, but after an hour gave up, changing direction towards Pucllana temple.
Pucllana is one of a few archaeological sites inside the city of Lima with excavations beginning in 1981 and are still ongoing. Itâ€™s a massive complex although rather monotonous. Itâ€™s mostly one large temple built tall to see the ocean, which was highly revered prior to Catholicism. Its estimated construction is circa 500 BCE. By the time we made it through the tour (we had to wait half an hour to catch an English one), we had already done a considerable amount of walking and decided to take a taxi.
Taxis are a scary business. The taxi needs to be official (Peru has a similar issue to Mongolia in that random people will try to pick up people for extra cash), and prices need to be negotiated in advance. Our travel agent gave us rates to expect, so we had some knowledge to work with. After some banter we were driven to a plaza close to the main historic plaza, connected by a pedestrian road with lots of shops a bit reminiscent of the haupstrasses we would see in Germany.
By the time we made it to the Plaza de Armas, lunch sounded good. Off a small side road is the Peru Gourmet, where we had a fixed price lunch and a decent array of Peruvian food. Unfortunately, the small square the restaurant is on was also hosting a coffee festival playing, of all music, Bavarian polka. The food museum was only a block away, but we passed it by to look at the national archives building. Through the middle of the building structure is a covered shopping lane, which was a little uncomfortable to walk through but no one bothered us.
Out the other side of the lane-inside-a-building is the back side of the palace. Security did not like me taking photos from that side, so we walked around the front, where another festival was occurring inside the fence. On the other side is the Peruvian House of Literature; a library/cafÃ© in a former train station. Inside were several exhibits for Peruvian childrenâ€™s literature. A block away is the San Franciscan monastery with a tour of the complex including its catacombs. After seeing the Paris and Rome catacombs, we found the tour a little disappointing. Back at the Plaza de Armas a huge processional was under way. Through a Russian, translating Spanish into English, we learned it was the annual procession of Santa Rosa, a popular female saint.
The day ended back in Parque Kennedy with a thoroughly scavenged dinner (ending at a restaurant that only opened a few days earlier) followed by poor sleep due to excessive road noise.
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