Day 22 - Walking Tour of Downtown Lima

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October 26th 2018
Published: October 27th 2018
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Only one day in Lima, so decided to do a suggested walking tour of the old downtown area and do a bit of Miraflores if we had time. It was a late start because of our late arrival. We had a small but adequate breakfast before setting out at 10:15. Originally we thought we’d take a taxi into downtown but the owner, Aluaro told us to just take the bus as it only costs 1.5 soles instead of about 20 for a taxi. Also in Lima the taxis don’t use meters and you have to agree (or haggle) about a price, so we thought we’d give it a go. It was just a short walk of about 10 minutes and we saw the 301 bus arriving and rather than wait for the lights, we made a dash for it and made it. The trip took about 50 minutes and did start getting full after we boarded. Our first visit was to Plaza San Martin which has the famous old Gran Hotel Bolivar which in the past hosted many famous South Americans and others such as Robert Kennedy, Mick Jagger and Walt Disney. We went in and sat in the lounge to read our guide books and details about the Plaza, then outside to take photos of the plaza’s surrounding buildings.

Then we walked up Jiron de la Union, pedestrian mall, which has a mixture of old and new buildings but also included the Iglesia de la Merced which marks the spot of the first mass in Lima and was built in 1541.

At the end of the mall is Plaza de Armas, an even larger square with some important buildings facing it like the Palacio de Gobierno which serves as Peru’s Presidential palace. We visited the Cathedral of Lima and had to pay a small entrance fee but it had an extensive collection of religious art and it was fun going down into the crypts.

By now it was 14:00 and we were getting hungry so found this bar/restaurant along the way called Bar Cordano. Funny thing was the waiter gave us a Spanish menu at first because he thought we were locals as there are now quite a few people of Chinese and Japanese descent living here now. He happened to speak good English as well, so made things easier. He asked how we found the restaurant and we replied we were just walking by and then he told us that Bar Cordano was the oldest (or one of the oldest) bars in Lima and was established in 1905. Daisy had a seafood paella type dish and I had Mediterranean style fish.

Then we had a short walk to the Monasterio de San Francisco. We had to wait 20 minutes for the English tour to start and met an Intrepid tour group of mainly Aussies and struck up a conversation with a couple from Colorado. The monastery itself was very impressive but unfortunately you weren’t allowed to take any photos. This was a shame because the first room the guide took us to was a library which had two wooden spiral staircases in the middle and contains 25,000 books and was so amazing, it looked like a scene out of a movie like Harry Potter. We then toured the catacombs similar to the Roman ones with bones collected together or made into spiral displays. At the conclusion of the tour, the guide invited us to visit the church and that in there we are allowed to take photos. The tour is a very interesting and worthwhile activity to do in Lima.

We then walked over to Plaza Bolivar to look at the heavily guarded Congress building and intended visiting the Museum of the Inquisition but found it was closed for renovations, so decided to head back to Miraflores. The bus was very crowded and at first we had to stand but we did manage to get seats periodically as we stood up for more incapacitated passengers but then sat again as seats became available. The funny thing was that we passed a political rally and then a lady next to Daisy made a comment and an argument started with about six people joining in on the argument. We had no idea what they were saying but it got quite heated until the lady who started it finally got off. Plan was to stop at Huaca Pucllana which is an old adobe pyramid but the bus was extremely slow as we were stuck in peak hour traffic so we thought it best to just head back to the central Miraflores, have dinner and pack for tomorrow.

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