I woke up on day two for Lima Historic Centre more enthusiastic than the day before. The coffee was drawing me to it. I crawled my way out of bed just to notice that the sun was hidden by a thick blanket of clouds and that the temperature has dropped by at least 5 degrees. So much for South American warmth…. In all fairness, it is almost winter here…
Before our departure to wonder in the city we thought it would be a good idea to determine where we were going. We decided on the historic centre. As it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List we could not miss it. Prior to leaving we tried finding some information online on where to go but we were fairly unsuccessful. Hence, we thought we would figure it out as we go.
We got into a taxi and off we went! A note on the transportation in Lima – it is extremely cheap comparing to prices in Toronto. A bus ride is 1 sol (the equivalent of approximately $0.4 Canadian). However, a taxi ride of approximately 20-25 minutes can cost around 15 soles. It is a very good deal minding that the busses are very small and crowded.
Parque de la Exposition
We told the taxi driver we wanted to go to the historic centre thinking that he will leave us somewhere in front of a big building. We failed. He stopped right after he exited the highway, in front of Plaza Grau. One would say this is a good thing, but in front of us was a huge roundabout with hundreds of cars passing at crazy speed, behind us was a wall, left and right we couldn’t see any great architectural monuments. Yet, it was our decision to explore. And so, we did. We found the Park of Exhibition which is actually right next to the Art Museum. Not a bad first guess. Due to the time constraint we did not visit the museum, however the park provided plenty of beautiful views. .
After our exploration within the park, hunger struck us as never before. So, we went around to find a decent place to eat. In our wonders we encountered a shopping mall and it was as if we discovered America! Shopping malls have food courts, which have somewhat affordable food. The interesting thing that makes this mall worth mentioning is the fact that it was set up half inside and half outside. For example, only half of the food court had a roof. I thought this to be very strange as I had rain in my minds. That was before I found out that in Lima it rains maybe one day a year… In order to satisfy our food curiosity, we tried the Peruvian brother of McDonalds – Bembos. I definitely recommend it for the occasional fast food enjoyment. Much more than I would recommend any other fast food place. Bembos FTW!
As “good” tourists that we are we didn’t do much research before leaving home. With no map at hand and no google at our fingertips we started losing hope that we’d find this historic centre. Yet, we didn’t give up. We took a break to think and meditate. We sat on some stairs and watched cars passing by and people rushing. It was one of those moments when in movies one become peaceful and soothing music plays in the background. On the contrary though, I was starting to get irritated and the only sounds I could hear were cars honking as if they were a flock of deaf birds and people walking around being loud., From a visual perspective even the two trees on the horizon seemed to be annoyingly out of place. As beautiful and peaceful the day before was, this day was becoming suffocating. Luckily, any meditation is meditation. We found the solution in asking the Sheraton hotel for a map. You can’t go wrong with a multi star hotel.
Walk towards the Lima Cathedral
We found our way to the historic centre and gradually started to discover the cultural and artistic aspects of Lima. This came at a great contrast with the craziness that we saw earlier. As we were walking our way towards the Lima capital we discovered free photography expositions hidden in the hallways of many buildings, beautiful parks with people enjoying their day, a car-free avenue full of restaurants and shops, and I even found a Starbucks for my litre coffee fix.
The Historic Centre
The Cathedral of Lima is a great objective on any traveller’s “to visit” list. Situated next to Plaza Mayor or Plaza de Armas, its structure asserts itself as a colossal monument of culture. In addition to the cathedral we also stopped by the central library and a historical site with ruins from the 18th century. What impressed me was that all historical objectives that we encountered were open to the public with no charge. This made me think that people in this country are proud and happy to have their culture and history on display.
Parque de la Muralla
This beautiful small park was the last stop in our historical centre adventure. It was built on top of ruins from 18th and 19th century and it faces the gorgeous San Cristobal mountain. As we were in this park, we decided to rename Lima to the Couples Capital of South America because in a span of 15 minutes we managed to count over 35 couples. The park resembled a shore boardwalk, however it was covered by red flowers shadowing those who were taking romantic walks or were just enjoying the view like us 🙂
Pacific Ocean Day 2
As we did not get a chance the day before to actually touch the Pacific Ocean, we decided that we couldn’t leave Lima without doing it. So, off we went back to the Larcomar Center to determine how we could climb the high shores down to the beach area. We found some stairs going down, which later we discovered to be the Tsunami evacuation route, and down we went step after step. As we were going down we could feel the breeze and the salty smell of the ocean more than from the top. We reached the ocean and we just fell in love. Surfers were in the water enjoying the big waves, people were walking on the shore, waves were coming loud next to us bringing foamy water as if they were trying to wash out the pebbles that covered the beach. For someone like me who loves the sea, it felt magical.
We ended the day at a local restaurant with a seafood specific. And it was delicious. We had the famous traditional drinks, Pisco Sours, while enjoying delicious sea food and fish. The day ended successfully!
My conclusion is that Lima is an interesting, cultural, artistic, and romantic city. However, it is extremely polluted, it has insane traffic, and it is very crowded. If I ever end up going to Lima, I would love to see how it looks during the summer, when the weather is warmer and I assume the beach is more active. xoxo