Well my head cold is really bad – so Gerrit is elected to go on the tour without me. His task is to observe, learn and show me lots of photos. My memory is not quite as good as Pat’s so bear with me as I do the writing for this entry.
The Lima Highlights tour takes us back to the centre of Lima, where we were the night before for dinner. Being Saturday, the traffic is noticeable lighter, which is always good for getting the most actual tour time!
Traffic here is quite organized, the horn honking is polite. Cars are mostly smaller, gasoline is $1.70/l and up. Not surprisingly there are a lot of old VW’s here (they were built in South America well into the 1990’s). I even spotted a 411, hadn’t seen one of those rust buckets since my dad’s recycled itself in the 1960’s.
Architecture is generally Spanish with the usual bright colours and hidden interior courtyards.
One major issue in Lima is an almost total lack of rain fall. This means nothing gets rid of the dust. Termites are also a problem so some buildings show definite signs of decay. Overall though the city is tidy.
Our route takes us along the major road from Callao to Lima, a 40 minute drive. Along the way we passed Plaza ? which is noteworthy for its 5 ‘same architecture buildings’ on the corners. Each is a bright blue. They are now used as private office buildings.
Our main destination is Plaza de Armas, to visit the 16th century La Cathedral. The quake-prone church has been restored several times. Inside are mosaics detailing Pizzaro’s conquests. His remains are in a chapel in the church. The seats around the altar were carved by one person, taking 28 years to finish the task. The results are still stunning.
We then walked past the archbishops dwelling, with very elaborate wooden balconies.
Palacio de Gobierno is where the president of Peru lives. The presence of heavily armed guards and a water cannon truck are hints of his residency there. This plaza also has the city hall. The plaza is very busy during the day, just as it was last night (see previous blog posting).
Our walk takes us along a few side streets, arriving at a small plaza that opens up to the Church of San Francisco Ancash. Beside it is an active monastery that also serves as a museum, Museo y Catacumbas. This contains some stunning 16th century paintings and frescos. Unfortunately no photography of any kind is allowed in the monastery. There are crypts under the floor containing over 50,000 skeletons. The ceilings of the walkway around the courtyard have wooden carvings, held in place by cleverly designed joints. No nails are used! The church does allow photos so we popped in for a few minutes while waiting for the bus.
We then headed for Miraflores, the route taking us past a soccer stadium, more museums and the ruins of an Incan pyramid. (The photo is very poor, I tried to get the shot from across a moving bus!) Miraflores has many parks, the one in the photos is known as The Kiss. The statue is host to a ‘longest kiss’ competition every Feb 14. A minimum 3 hour continuous kiss is required to gain entry to the competition. The tile work in the photo below is amazing. Each section has the name of a couple on it. The walls of tile go for many metres. Just awesome!!
The return ride takes us along the Pacific Ocean, an area where there is a lot of landfill going in to provide more park land and a wider road. In a few years time this ocean area will be a wonderful retreat.