Lima, Peru - Part 2 (February 2014)

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February 24th 2014
Published: February 24th 2014
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20 February 2014 – Thursday – Lima, Peru

Visit to Historical Centre; Live Jazz at the Jazz Zone – This morning we headed out the door and in the opposite direction from yesterday, toward the historical centre and the Plaza de Armas. (Most South Amrerican cities and towns have a Plaza de Armas, which can be translated as ‘army square’ and which was the place where power was displayed, but they are mostly now renamed Plaza Mayor or Main Square for political correctness.) It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was founded by the Spanish Conquistador, Francisco Pizarro in 1535. Although severely damaged by earthquakes, the 'City of the Kings' was, until the middle of the 18th century, the capital and most important city of the Spanish dominions in South America. Many of its buildings are the result of collaboration between local craftspeople and Spanish colonialists. At its centre is the Plaza de Armas which is a truly beautiful square surrounded by stunning buildings. One of the buildings on the square, now the site of the Presidential Palace, was Pizarro’s house and it was here that he spent the last few years of his life and was assassinated in 1541. It is claimed that as he died, his jugular severed by the killer’s rapier, he fell to the floor and drew a cross and kissed it.

The square is landscaped with palm trees, elaborate lampposts, beautifully-colourful flower beds and greenery. The square’s focus is the 1650 tiered bronze fountain at its centre and the statue of Francisco Pizarro on horseback nearby. There is a cathedral on one side and the magnificent balconies of the Palacio Arzohispal next to it. There are several other attractive buildings with balconies and arched porticoes lining the square, including the City Hall. And there is even a changing of the guard, but we were not early enough to see it.

We had a massive chicken and french fries for lunch at Norky’s, one of many similar Peruvian chain restaurants that are very popular with both families and businessmen. As we were walking up the pedestrianized shopping street looking for a place for lunch, Joan said ‘Let’s look for a restaurant where there are lots of suits having lunch.’ A minute later we noticed half a dozen well-dressed business men in shirts and ties and women with skirts and heels walk past us and we followed them into Norky’s!

We wandered around the historic centre some more after lunch. We crossed the stone bridge over the river and visited a couple of shops there and were warned by both shopkeepers to be very careful and stay on this main street and not to venture into any of the side streets or go any further away from the river, so we just browsed the area nearby and took a few photos and crossed back over the river. We have experienced similar guidance several times during our trip in South America, where the local people warn us if we are straying into an area that might be a little dangerous and where more care than normal needs to be taken. It is as if they are watching over us and helping to make sure that we do not get into any trouble. While we have never felt fearful or threatened in South America (except when crossing the Trampoline of Death), whenever we receive these warnings we immediately heed them and return to a safer area.

We started walking back toward our apartment and walked past many more amazing buildings, like the Palace of Justice and the Art Museum. The hot sun was zapping our energy and we had a jazz gig to attend in the evening so we hopped onto another collectivo that zig-zagged and honked its horn the entire drive down the two-lane, tree-lined boulevard and let us out on our doorstep.

After a shower and a brief nap we hopped on another collectivo back into Miraflores and the Jazz Zone. I was very excited: a live Peruvian jazz in a real club. And I was not disappointed. The band was tight and the music spirited. The leader, Gabriel Alegria, played trumpet and flugelhorn and was accompanied by a tenor saxophonist, Laura Andrea Leguia who had a very pure and clear tone on her instrument. A double bass, acoustic guitarist, trap drummer and a Peruvian percussionist made up the rest of the band. A couple guests joined them for a song each, one a vocalist and the other a peddle-steel guitarist, and these were the weakest parts of the performance. We stayed for both sets and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. We hopped another collectivo to get back to our apartment and fell into bed just after 1am.

21 February 2014 – Friday – Lima, Peru

Today we returned to Miraflores to walk around some more and do some shopping. The highlight of the day was our lunch at Rigoletto.

Trip Advisor Review: We were looking for something Italian for our second lunch in Lima and found this restaurant on a side street in Miraflores and were transported for a couple of hours back to Italy where we have spent much time and eaten many great meals! We shared a starter of fried calamari that was crisp and delicious, served with a slice of lime. Our main courses consisted of crab ravioli that was home made and bathed in a wonderful luscious sauce. The other main course, seafood linguine, contained shrimp, calamari, clams, and a white fish in a tomato marinara. All three of these dishes were excellent. There are two rooms, both very nice. The young waiter was friendly and charming, with excellent English. We asked if the chef was Italian as the food seemed genuine Italian to us and were told that he was Peruvian and had spent some years training and working in some of the top restaurants in Miami and had only recently returned home to Peru to open this restaurant in Lima. Very Highly Recommended

22 February 2014 – Saturday – Lima, Peru

Walkabout Lima suburbs of Surquilla and Barranco. Joan had read about a morning organic market called BioFerria in Surquilla. Surquilla is one of the residential suburbs of Lima. Also in Surquilla are two traditional Peruvian markets: Mercardo I and Mercardo 2. We set out at 9am sharp, hopped on a collectivo to the Ovalo in Miraflores (about 40 cents each) and from there walked over the expressway, first to the Peruvian markets. The markets of Peru sell everything: from fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, to clothes and shoes and hats, locks and all things electrical. Joan loves markets and I love shopping. We wandered around the first market, which was quite small, then walked the few blocks to the second market, which was very much larger. The markets also have a number of small food stalls offering soups and other freshly made dishes featuring fresh fish and vegetables. It was still early so not many people were eating yet, but the smells were rich and plentiful.

We walked through Surquilla a couple of kilometres to the BioFerria organic market. Surquilla is an upmarket residential neighbourhood. The houses are well-maintained and freshly painted. The streets are leafy, tree-lined. It reminded us of Brooklyn, but without the brownstone buildings. It reminded us even more of Brooklyn when we reached the organic market. There were many western families with babies in prams and toddlers on leashes in attendance at the market, and especially inside the park alongside which the market was located. The organic market consisted of the same kinds of items as the market we visited when we were staying in Brooklyn: fruit and vegetables, olives and honey, chocolate and baked goods. We browsed the length of the market, twice, and chose a couple of cakes and entered the park. It was a small park but a hive of activity. There was one group of adults doing tai chi exercises while another did yoga. A couple of Peruvians were setting out a large plastic sheet on the grass and setting up a sign inviting 4 to 12 year olds to a painting session, free of charge. And the park was filled with 4 to 12 year-olds, as well as babies in prams and women with balloon-bellies. There was also an obstacle course of tunnels and ladders and other obstacles for children’s entertainment. Nearby a circle of chairs featured three guitarists and half a dozen percussion boxes and very soon there was playing and singing and dancing there. We sat on a bench and ate our cakes (very dry! – organic food always looks delicious and inviting but often is hard to swallow) and watched all the activities going on around us. We elected to observe instead of participate.

We walked to the coastal suburb of Barranco which also upmarket residential and boasts a beautiful crescent of glitzy, high-rise apartment buildings that sit at the top of the cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This coastal development is a bit like Miami. The buildings are nearly all predominantly glass, well-designed, many with balconies reflecting the setting sun. At the centre of Barranco is a small square of more wonderful Spanish Colonial buildings including one which is the current Spanish Embassy.

Lunch at Bodega de la Trattoria. Trip Advisor Review: This restaurant was a disappointment to us. The service was professional but distant; it was not at all friendly. They are jaded by serving too many gringo visitors. The pizza was small (the size of an average dinner plate) and the lasagna portion was also small, served in its baking dish. There was neither bread nor a side salad served. We left still hungry. It was expensive for what we received. The view of the pyramid, however, was excellent. Not recommended.

Lima seems a very modern and sophisticated city and one which we could easily spend more time in and would consider returning to for an extended length of time.

Additional photos below
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26th February 2014

high rise apartments
i am sure i would be disappointed if i returned. my friends lived on the 5th [top] floor of the only high building in barranco. their building was an eyesore, but it was the best place to live, as you saw not your own but the old buildings and el puente de suspiros [the bridge of sighs] and, of course, the mist.

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