Lima,the City Not the Bean

We had a few days to kill in Lima before heading out to Cusco to meet Pam (Alina’s mom), so we decided to make the most of it. First order of business was sleeping in and then stuffing our faces with as much free bread, butter, and coffee as we could handle at our hostel breakfast. After that, we set off to explore the city.

DSC03641WIt was really cool to see all sorts of exercise activities going on in the main square of the Miraflores district, just outside our hostel.

DSC03614WIt turns out that the district puts on an event every Sunday morning to get the population active, including spinning in the park, dance aerobics, mini-vollyeball in the streets, and free use of bikes and rollerblades in a cordoned off running lane around the main plazas. It was great to see so many people out and taking advantage of this.

DSC03606WWe wandered around the central area for a bit, taking in the town hall and local church, and admiring the artists’ market.

DSC03609WWe then decided to head down to the coast for a stroll along the ocean.Lima is really interesting in that it’s situated on a cliff face that drops steeply down to the beaches and the shore of the Pacific. As we were driving south from the airport, with the ocean on our right, I commented that it was crazy that just a month ago we were driving south towards Auckland, with the same Pacific Ocean on our left!

DSC03607WMiraflores meets the ocean at the Lancomar shopping complex, an open air mall built right into the cliff face. It’s quite upscale, but very neat, with different levels and terraces jutting out over the cliffs and just generally architecturally interesting.

I apologize now for the horrible white skies. Apparently for nine months out of the year or something, this is what it looks like in Lima. Fog or haze covers the sky, and there is just no sun. Not to say there aren’t any photons poking through, as our lobstery skins could attest after our first day of walking.

Anyway, we headed off down the coastal walkway, another great exercise area lined with parks full of jogging locals and work-out stations. It’s a refreshing little strip of green at the edge of the big city. We even saw some paragliders trying to catch the feeble winds to whisk them out over the ocean.

DSC03608WOn the beach far below we saw many people surfing in the mild morning waves. It must be pretty cold, and I’m sure they were all in wetsuits. They were clustered around a famous restaurant on a pier, known for its Ceviche (raw fish and seafood marinated in lime and spices). Hot tip: our taxi driver told us it was great, but really expensive, so just go a few hundred meters down the road for other places at much more democratic prices.

DSC03611WAfter a nice long stroll, we came across the Parque del Amor, so named for the large embracing couple that make up the centerpiece of the area. When I first saw it, I thought all the mosaic bannisters were a lot like Parc Guell in Barcelona, and what do you know, our guidebook later agreed with me!

The whole oceanside area was really laid-back and relaxing, and a great way to spend a morning. Or, as we discovered, an afternoon! That’s what you get for eating breakfast at 11:30. Well, not much time left in the day, so we just wandered around Parque Kennedy outside our hostel in the evening, hoping to see something new. And indeed, there was something! There was this sunken terraced circle, and it was full of elderly people dancing the merengue. They were having a blast, and there was a huge crowd of their fellows sitting all around waiting to move on and off the dance floor as the songs changed. They did this for hours! What a fun way to spend a Sunday evening.

DSC03615WParque Kennedy is also famous for it’s semi-feral cats. There are tons, all around the park, and they are fed in the evenings by volunteers. It was fun to watch them come from all over the park at the smell of food and basins of milk laid out for them.

DSC03618WFrom our hostel window we could even watch them occasionally venture outside the park gates and take up positions on the sidewalk or near the road. Alina even discovered who was their king (the one who braved the second circle), and the rules for challenging his power.

Our second and last day in Lima, we decided to head downtown, which was highly recommended for it’s colonial architecture and museums.

DSC03624WWe managed to hop a ride on the new public bus system (it has its own lane on the highway), and were whisked off to the Parque de la Exposition.

DSC03619WHere were the remants of some great spectacle of times past, including the museum of Italian art, and an elaborate gazebo type structure.

DSC03622WHaving explored the parks, including an outdoor theater and lagoon, we headed towards the main square, down a busy pedestrian shopping street (no really, it was busy!).

DSC03631WIt was reminiscent of Rue Neuve in Brussels, but rather nicer in my mind.

DSC03626WAlong the way, we passed through Plaza San Martin, with the typical statue of man on horse. Probably some sort of Libertadore, if my patchwork translation of the baseplate was at all correct.

DSC03627WWandering around, we saw several interesting church facades, and some interesting street art.

DSC03613WFinally we made it to the Plaza de Armas, the main square. It was dominated on one side by the old Spanish governor’s palace, and along the other by the gigantic cathedral.

DSC03633WSupposedly it contains the remains of Pizarro (including bashed in skull), but I wasn’t about to spend $10 to find out.

DSC03635WThe attached convent had some amazing sculpted wooden balconies, which we were to discover are a major architectural feature in Peru.

DSC03640WAfter a busy day of sightseeing, we retreated back to our great hostel, Pariwana,

DSC03642Wand enjoyed an evening of relaxing dinner and free billiards.

DSC03643WGood times. The next day we were set to head on a 22 hour bus ride to Cusco. Can’t wait to see how that goes…

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