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November 7th 2008
Published: August 15th 2010
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Coming from Santiago, we were a little worried given we thought Santiago was supposed to be one of the nicer South American cities and was pretty bad, what on earth would Lima be like?!? Upon arrival at the airport we were met by our airport pickup and my mind was at ease - until we got into the car at least. Our driver was crazy as we spent 45 minutes dodging traffic from the airport to our hotel in the nicest district of Lima, Miraflores. The area around the airport was very poor - corrugated iron shelters, street stalls of food, dirty homeless people - then we got to Miraflores and it was all different. Casinos on every corner, security guards at the front of every hotel, bank and boutique shop. The contrast was stark. We dodged the traffic to have lunch near the large Parque Kennedy before taking a stroll down the main drag of Av Jose Larco. At the end of the road is a very large shopping centre overlooking the beach, which is not a surf beach, but a bay. We were also advised not to walk along the beach due to muggings. It seemed very safe in
Anyone got a mug?Anyone got a mug?Anyone got a mug?

Inca pottery collection at the Larco Museum
Miraflores, but I am sure it was only the security guards everywhere that made it that way!

One of the things we were surprised about was the bus system. Little old second hand buses from the US roam the streets all individually owned - over 200,000 buses in Lima all privately run making up their routes as they go. The stop at every corner shouting where they are going and what the fare is - it is complete shambles of a system. We needed some Pisco Sour to help get our heads around it all!

We did the city tour with our very funny, very camp tour guide Ruben. Ruben took us straight to Plaza San Martin to check out the bronze statue of General Jose de San Martin, who liberated Peru from the Spanish (with Simon Bolivar) in the 19th century.

From there we went to Monasterio de San Francisco, famous for its amazing labyrinth of catacombs which was rather creepy and much bigger than those I have seen before in Italy. The ceiling of the catacombs was very low but the building was amazingly constructed. From there we went to the Plaza de Armas with
Huaca PucllanaHuaca PucllanaHuaca Pucllana

After stumbling accross the ancient ruin in the middle of the city in 1981, the Peruvians continue to carefully escavate - how can they tell the difference between dirt and dirt bricks anyway?
its fountain in the middle and presidential palace at the end. What was most striking about the plaza was the police presence as they were preparing for the APEC conference there in 12 days time! Tanks with guns, cops with shields, it was impressive.

We went to the Lima Cathedral which has been rebuilt twice due to earthquakes and is famous for containing the coffin of Francisco Pizarro, the Spaniard who led Spain into South America and conquered the Inca Empire! We didn’t spend long in the church and moved on to the highlight of the trip, Huaca Pucllana, an amazing pyramid type mud brick ruins right in the centre of town, amazingly not discovered until 1981 as dirt had formed over the top of it. The bricks date back to 400AD and the remains of 25 young women were found at the centre of the large temple indicating that it was used for human sacrifice. It is still being carefully excavated.

Our city tour finished in the afternoon with a visit to the Larco Museum, featuring a very strange erotic pottery exhibition, where Ruben detailed exactly what each piece meant in his very camp manner. We were trying not to laugh, but I couldn’t help but think how sad it was that these guys were pre-occupied with sex and not with building weapons to keep the Spanish at bay. After the tour we headed to Lima’s most expensive restaurant, Astrid y Gaston, owned by Lima’s most famous chef, where we had a very expensive but worth it, seafood dinner. In just a couple of days we had lived the high life in Lima and were impressed with what Miraflores had to offer.


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