It was April 2017 and time to get off Curaçao again!
This time I went with Jurick, one of my best friends who I grew up with in my neighbourhood. In January I saw this particular travel agency having a special price on tickets to Perú, only valid for that one day and you had to go personally to book and pay immediately. We couldn't let this chance go, so I went immediately there after work. Even though I had to wait long, I didn't care. While waiting for my turn at the travel agency, I took advantage to do some correction work for school. And then the flights were booked and paid for!
It was the first time I travelled with Jurick. I arranged everything (hostels, flights, itinerary etc) and he just had to give me the money needed to complete everything. At some point there was flooding in parts of Perú but nothing to worry about as the flooding did not affect the whole country anyway.
With a stop in Bogotá we arrived in Lima
, the capital of Perú just after midnight. It was my first visit to Perú, a country that has been on my list for
a long time. We took a taxi to the hostel, checked-in and went to sleep. The next day exploration started.
Lima has about 10 million inhabitants and besides being the capital, it is also the largest city in the country and the 4th largest of South America behind Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. I noticed that travellers often either skip or stay very short in Lima but the city is absolutely worth staying for a few days. It usually never rains in Lima, with an average of less than 10mm (0.25 inches) of rain a year. Therefore most buildings, especially those built in the colonial era, have flat roofs and lack a drainage system.
After getting a map at the hostel on the first morning, we left by foot and walked towards the Kennedy Park in the Miraflores area which wasn't too far from the hostel. We quickly learned how and where to take transportation to and from the old city centre. Lima has an extensive and good functioning mass transportation system: "El Metropolitano". It consists of buses driving a couple of routes across the city, mostly on an own lane, separated from the rest of
the traffic. We decided to join the so called "free walking tour" of Lima, which is free but tip-based as you tip the guide at the end. It was a good way to see the city and its highlights and most importantly, to get extra information about the history so you know what you're looking at. I'd recommend the walking tour for sure, although it took a little bit long.
The main square and birthplace of Lima is the Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor, with its bronze fountain built in 1650 and the Basicilia Catedral de Lima. It's a beautiful and neat square, often busy and a must see when in Lima. It's where people gather and nearby you have the "Palacio del Gobierno", the government palace where the guards have their daily duty change and it's a formal and official ceremony which always attracts spectators. There was a lot of people and unfortunately I couldn't take pictures of the event. Both the square and the cathedral were built by the Spanish in the 16th century so the local people could gather at the market, and it was also a way to keep the local population under control.
The Spanish have built over former Inca constructions to show their so called "superiority". At places where the Inca's had their temples, the Spanish built their Catholic churches to be able to convert the population to Christianity. Invading other people's land and force them to change their religion and beliefs was a normal thing back in those days, wasn't it? Not too far from the square you can cross the Rimac River and go into the area called Rimac, lying at the foot of the 300m high Cerro San Cristobal with its slope covered by a slum consisting of small, colourful houses. The name "Lima" originates from the name Rimac. We also happened to visit the "Museo del Pisco" where you get a good insight about this national Peruvian drink (made of distilled fermented grape juice) and its production. The museum also showcases about the history and production of cacao and chocolate in Perú. You cannot leave Perú without trying Pisco.
For lunch we visited the Mercado Central and enjoyed a good "Lomo Saltado": Slices of beef with onions, pepper, tomatoes and other herbs served with rice and/or fries. We also had a stroll around the area
of the market and bought some clothes and other stuff; you'll find everything at a very good price. It is a very busy area and we were there just before Easter (Semana Santa) and many were probably doing their last minute shopping.
To experience a little bit of Lima's nightlife we went out in the Miraflores area. We mostly hung around the Calle Berlin where most cafe's and clubs are located. A nice and bustling area but pretty expensive. It was a nice night and we were getting some attention here, especially Jurick with his dreadlocks.
Just a few blocks away from our hostel we also visited the ruins of Huaca Pucllana. It's a pyramid that functioned as an important cultural and administrative centre for the Pre-Inca Lima culture, who inhabited the area between the 3rd and 8th century. There was a guide included in the ticket price which was definitely a plus as it adds a lot of value to your experience by getting good information about the history and the various areas and functions of the complex. The whole pyramid consists of narrow bricks put vertically, with a little space in between them in order
to make them better resistant against earthquakes. It is always fascinating to hear how these people were clever enough to built such structures back in the days. We went to Larcomar where we decided to rent a bike to go explore along the coast. Larcomar is a modern shopping centre located on the top of the cliffs that run along the whole coast in Lima. There are only certain places where you can get down the cliffs towards the beach. We cycled underneath the Vilena Bridge at the Costa Verde area down towards the coast. It was weekend and the beaches were a little busy, with many people swimming, relaxing and surfing. The water is cold since Perú is located right where there is a cold ocean current in the Pacific that passes along the whole Peruvian coast. Therefore swimming was no option for us! Once back at Larcomar we witnessed a stunning sunset over the Pacific Ocean. All by all, we did enjoy our 3 days in Lima and an extra day would have been even better.
The next day we were off to Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport again to catch a domestic flight. Don't miss more
from Perú in the next blog! :-)
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