World Cup Fan Park, Plaza de Armas
It felt like a freezer when I got back to Lima after the heat of the Amazon which one of the first points I made to my taxi driver (in my broken Spanish) when he picked me up, I'd prearranged with the hostel for a taxi to come pick me up so at least it was a relatively stress free affair to get back to Miraflores. After a quick check in I decided that it was time to venture into the main part of Lima and get out of Miraflores after being rather lazy the last time I was here. I'd also abandoned the idea of going para-gliding as I'd spent a bit more on my trip to the Amazon than I would have liked (although it was worth every penny!).
La Catedral de Lima
I asked the reception at the hostel what was the best and safest way to get into central Lima and they said by taxi, I probably should have forced the issue with the local buses to try and save more money but knew that time was limited and I didn't want to have to hang around for a bus.
The taxi dropped me off just next to Plaza de Armas where I'd hoped I'd be able to catch the tail end of a World Cup match at the fan park, but sadly just missed it, Spain were playing and won as well so it would have been a good atmosphere. I wondered around taking a few snap shots of the plaza itself, the government building and the cathedral before heading to visit the much lauded Monasterio de San Francisco, unfortunately you can't take any pictures inside so all my photos are off the exterior only.
Fountain, Plaza de Armas
It was a little annoying having to wait for a guided tour as I quite like pottering around on my own, the guide however was pretty informative and spoke good English so it wasn't all bad. The highlights (after visiting a lot of churches and monasteries in South America) had to be the huge Harry Potter-esque library full of antiquated texts, some of which date back to the conquistadors, and the catacombs underneath the church. They speculate that some 70,000 people are buried here in this big labyrinth, it did feel a bit like some kind of death camp how all of the skulls and bones had been laid out, some in piles, some in concentric circles and skulls were stacked to form a pyramid - that is some morbid or twisted person that has taken the time out to do that.
Palacio de Gobierno
On the trip I met an American guy over on an internship who was there with a Peruvian friend of his and they asked me if I'd like to join them as they were planning to walk around the city some more, I agreed and so we decided to go and check out a few other places. Pablo managed to get us into the Inquisition museum for a quick look around as usually it's admission by guided tour only but as they were almost closing Pablo had a chat to the guard on the door and in we went. The building was once home to the Spanish Inquisition and we got to visit the basement where prisoners with kept and tortured, as well as see the various life-size wax works showing various torture methods, just in case you didn't get the idea (not quite as terrifying as the one's at The Tower of London though).
Looking across Plaza de Armas
It was a shame we didn't have a guide for a bit more in depth knowledge on the history of the place, without one we covered the small museum pretty quickly so we were soon off exploring once more. Pablo took us to visit Chinatown where we sampled a bit of street food before walking down the Jiron (main pedestrianised area) to Plaza San Martin, by this point it was growing dark which made the stately looking Gran Hotel Bolivar appear even more impressive. Also in the square we also got to titter at the statue of Madre Patria, the symbolic mother of Peru; the reason for our giggles is that the statue was made in Spain and the sculptor was instructed to place a crown of flames but the word flame (llama) in Spanish has two means so the hapless buffoon sculpted a small Llama on her head instead!
We then jumped into a taxi together to head back to Miraflores so I could get changed and and drop off my stuff.
Monasterio de San Francisco
From there we were trying to decide on food or drinks and for now we settled on drinks at one of the cafe's facing Park Kennedy (it just so happened to be happy hour as well) where we chatted and put over feet up after walking around the city for about three hours straight. Pablo then had a call from another friend and so it was back in a taxi to go meet her and head out for dinner. Weirdly when we did meet her Pablo ended up driving her car (not such a good plan in my book after a few drinks). Dinner was at a place not far from Miraflores, set in a pretty outside courtyard, more wine and good conversation flowed and I tried my best to engage Pablo's friend in conversation with what Spanish I knew though a lot of the time he'd translate instead. After a really great day and evening they dropped me home and we arranged to meet the following day as I gave them my mobile number.
Monasterio de San Francisco, entrance
We never managed to meet up the next day, which was a bit disappointing but I decided instead to have a relaxing day and treat myself to some retail therapy at a a few of Miraflores' department stores as a few items in my wardrobe needed replacing after getting trashed in the jungle. I had to remind myself on more than one occasion that I wasn't to go mad and spend a tonne of money as there was still plenty of time to go before I'd see a wage check again. After being shopped-out I took myself for some people watching and sat in Starbucks that overlooking the park with a hot chocolate; Sunday sees a local artists and handicrafts market in the park and the pieces that I could see looked good quality and pretty interesting, I resist the urge to go over and look as I knew I'd end up buying something and I was pretty laden down as it was.
Ceiling, Monasterio de San Francisco
After the sun started to drop and the temperature with it I retreated back to the hostel and spent a relaxed evening there as it was another early taxi to to the airport again the next day for my flight to Buenos Aires.
In the taxi on the way to the airport I reflected on my time in Peru and the amazing things I'd seen and experienced and the variety the country has to offer. Just like Bolivia the time had seem to have gone just too quickly and I wished I'd had more so that I could explore the less gringo travelled area of the North West as it seemed like there were more treasures to unearth there in places like Chiclayo, Kuelap and Chan Chan to name but a few. I wasn't too sad to be leaving Lima but didn't want to judge it too harshly as it's a city I feel would be best explored with a local so you can really get under its skin, in hindsight I should have arranged a TB hook up!