A day to explore the city of grandeur

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July 13th 2016
Published: July 13th 2016
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Arriving in the early morning, we looked out of the fogged up window of our overnight bus. The sun was rising and we could make out the shapes and colours of the city as we entered into its heart. Despite hearing the many things this city had to offer; the churches, theaters, archaeological sites and other things of very little interest to us (such as the 24hr nightlife scene) we decided to limit ourselves to a day here. This meant a busy and tiring day of exploration. Always the the last thing you want after a sleepless overnight bus.

Walking through the city we came to realize that Lima was a mish mash of buildings, divided by the enormous but busy roads that criss cross their way across the city. Huge colourful but weathered colonial buildings and European style buildings were dotted all around this city and they just oozed grandeur. This was a stark contrast to the ugly multi-storied cement based grey buildings that stood beside them.

Our hostel was actually an old mansion designed by the man himself - Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame). We couldn't help but be immediately impressed when we saw the building, we couldn't believe that its now part of a hostel. It was very grand for a hostel. Although it was not just a hostel, as other businesses occupied other parts of this historical building. After the architecture, the other thing you pick up on in Lima - is the traffic. It was hectic on some streets, especially the old narrow ones. It was like playing a game of chicken trying to cross the larger roads.

Checking into our hostel, our beds were not ready so we just lounged in the reception until the breakfast room opened up, where we made use of the free breakfast. After procrastinating over breakfast on how long we would stay in Lima for and what we should do that day, we finally put together a rough itinerary. Our first stop was the archaeological site - Huaca Pucllana. This was once an important site of the Incas built around 500AD, made out of small mud bricks. Residents in the area have always knew the ruins were there, (there's a whole modern city built on top of it) they just didn't realize the enormity of it, or its significance. Much of it therefore destroyed, built over or buried under years of soil and trees.

It was fairly straight forward catching one of the local a/c buses there and getting off at the last stop. Walking through this area of Lima in the scorching heat, we looked around trying to find this supposedly large archaeological site in the midst of a built up and bustling city. College students poured out of colleges for lunch, confectionery stalls were parked on every other corner and locals casually rode their bicycles (or the occasional skateboard) in the designated bike lanes.

Where on earth are these ruins?? We thought.

Turning a corner onto a regular road lined with homes and businesses, we finally spotted Huaca Pucllana at the end of the street. It was so bizarre, it looked out of place in the middle of the residential urban area, but there it was. We could just see the top of the tallest stepped pyramid overlooking the nearby homes and buildings.

Inside the complex, we took a guided tour around the site, stopping at points of interest where our guide went through the motions of her job description but failing to engage us fully. We came to the understanding here that the incas hand made all the bricks to build this site, which when you look at it, begs the question "was there not an easier way!?" A lot of bricks were used to build this whole site.

We were also shown burial holes, where mummies were wrapped up and placed in a foetal position - a common practice amongst the Incas for people high in the societal chain. When invaders (the Wari) came and took control of the city they used some of these holes to bury their own dead too.

The skies were blue and the sun was in full effect. Apparently it doesn't rain in Lima, they only get fog every now and then - something to do with its proximity to the sea or something!

After the tour we walked towards the beach to maybe stroll along the coastline. On the way there the look and feel of Lima strangely began to resemble Miami. It had all the popular food chains and towering apartment blocks. We forgot we were in Peru momentarily as we walked past streets filled with bars and restaurants.

Making it to the Miraflores boardwalk we were treated to panoramic views of Peru's picturesque coastline. We were higher up on a cliff with a road below us and the beach was just beyond that. We watched the few surfers out there attempting to tackle the waves as they came one after the other. The park area we were in was beautifully designed with the tiled mosaic seating area and colourful flowers arranged into various patterns. It seemed like a popular spot for locals, expats and tourists to hang out.

Right above us paragliders swooped up and down, disappearing beyond the cliff face before allowing the thermal air to lift them back up above it again. Queues of people awaited their turn to have their stomachs turned. We'd already enjoyed paragliding in Colombia so were just happy to look on this time round. On the way back to the bus stop we spotted a queue outside of a frozen yogurt shop. Seeing so many people emerging from the shop with large cups of frozen yogurt complete with fruits, biscuits, sweets and sauce...

We couldn't resist. It was a pleasant surprise to learn at the till, that they actually had a 241 offer on! Even better.

After a long bus journey in mostly traffic, we'd made it back in the busy heart of Lima. We walked to one of the amazingly designed plazas, with brightly coloured colonial buildings and the huge presidents house protected by a metal fence. At the centre of the plaza was a fountain which local families gathered around and took pictures. We took a seat on one of the many benches dotted around the plaza. An older local approached us and started up a conversation (in his attempt at English), asking us where we were from. Being from Manchester is doesn't take long for the conversation to turn to football. He started then listing a bunch of players from the early 90's from random teams. Although not a big football follower, Chris was able to recognize most of the names mentioned.

The guy then gave us an old Peruvian coin as a 'gift' in exchange for some British money. We told him we had none but he still let us keep the old coins before saying goodbye. Another local who was sat on the same bench the whole time then started up a conversation with us. This time in Spanish. We tried to take this as an opportunity to practice our Spanish. We can proudly say we are beginning to understand a lot more now, although speaking is still bit tricky at times but we think we're making progress. We must've been speaking to this guy for around 45 mins before the sun started to set and the plaza lights came on. He invited us for a drink someplace nearby but we politely declined and continued our stroll of the city before it got too late.

What friendly people though.

Making it to our final point of interest - the Monastery of San Francisco, we wondered around the outside admiring the architecture due to it being closed before heading back to our hostel.

Back at our hostel whilst enjoying cocktails during happy hour, we were treated to a live performance by a makeshift band of a Peruvian guy and a European girl on the panpipes and yukelele respectively playing different types of traditional southern american music. They were joined by another Peruvian on the bongo drums, who then later led an impromptu salsa lesson, involving all the guests. They were all very talented and had us drawn in the moment the rhythmic music and traditional singing began. Such a fun way to spend the evening and to end such a busy day.

Accommodation: 1900 Backpackers Hostel

Transport: Huaraz to Lima - 70 Soles/£15 for 2 people

Date: 27th Jan 2016

Additional photos below
Photos: 39, Displayed: 27


13th July 2016
Buildings of grandeur

15th July 2016
Hand-made building blocks

Adobe bricks!
Oh you Brits, with your stone and wooden buildings, may not know that cities in the New World were often made of mud! Yes, Machu Picchu and the nearby Inca sites are of stone, as are most remaining archaeological sites because adobe (mud) bricks tends to go back to mud after a few centuries. But in dry places like Lima, northern Peru and my California, indigenous people and the Spanish built with adobe because there was no stone or wood. I once helped make these adobe bricks of clay, straw and water, and it's heavy work, but hey, they had lots of workers (willing or not).
19th July 2016
Hand-made building blocks

Re: Adobe bricks!
Oh wow. Thats very interesting. We never knew that about the New World. Seemed like gruelling laborious work making thousands of these small things by hand. Seeing the ruins in Peru was very impressive knowing this.
17th July 2016

Nice story
We were in Lima ourselves a few years ago. I liked your story from there. I now realize that there is plenty more to see and to do in Lima than we took in when we were there. Good to know because it might be that we go back there some day. /Ake
19th July 2016

Re: Nice story
Thank you. We were unsure ourselves what to do in Lima prior to arriving, so only scheduled the one day there. We found it to be a very nice & interesting place. Glad we were able to show you a different side to your previous visit.

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