Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lima, Peru!

On Tuesday, October 1, our evening flight into Lima was very uneventful. Nice!  TAME  has good, comfortable seats with lots of leg room. AND, a hot meal. When was the last time you had a hot meal in coach on a flight?

Once landed, through customs and baggage in hand, we came out into the real world and were met with a huge crowd. After sweeping back and forth for someone waving a sign with our names we spotted my name on a card. Yeah!!

In short order, we were in our car and being whisked off into the huge city of Lima!  9.5 million people!!!  The traffic is insane! Crazy nuts with wild chaotic rules but they work.  Still not as bad as Italy but crazy all the same!

We arrived at our Hostal Miraflores Inn way too late to even think about going anywhere. Actually, when we pulled up in front of our place, there were no markings and no way to tell you were at a Hostal, as it looks like a home on a normal neighborhood street. Strange.


After a pretty restful night, Mike and I headed out to explore. We walked and walked, of course. The main street of Calle Larco in Miraflores, our neighborhood, was in the process of total renovation so it was difficult walking. We finally made it to the waterfront on the Pacific Ocean after passing tons of modern stores and many casinos. This area could be anywhere in the modern world. What was surprising to us was how much colder it was in Lima, further south and at sea level on the ocean, than Quito, Ecuador at 9,000' elevation. I was thrilled to have my alpaca sweater! This is their spring and the weather is very chilly and overcast all the time.


Entrance to Mardi Gras Casino.

Main Park along the Pacific Ocean.

Would you believe there's a big ocean out there? And, shopping down below.
 
Anyway, the weather reminded very much like the month we spent in Salinas, Ecuador. It was completely socked in with very low overcast skies so we couldn't even see the ocean or barely, at best. Also, there was supposed to be a shopping area by the plaza but we never saw anything. So we sauntered down the street and found a Pizza Hut to have lunch at as we didn't see much else. That's ok, the Pizza Huts in Lating America are like real restaurants and I even had French press coffee!!

I had received an email from a friend we met in Quito on the bus tour who happens to own a travel agency in Lima. We had arranged in Quito for her to put together a short trip to the Peruvian Gallopagos since we couldn't go to the actual islands. It turns out her office was only a short block away from where we were eating. So after lunch, we walked down to her office.

What a beautiful building!  Turns out it's a historical old home that was once part of the cathedral across the street. She met us with 3 of her staff who had worked on our personal trip. Well, we couldn't have been more impressed!  We will be leaving on this trip to go south of Lima the day after returning from our Machu Picchu week trip. So stay tuned for the reports on that adventure!

A goal of mine that day was to take a taxi and make our way into Old town, which is quite a ways from Miraflores, to go to the "eye glasses" area. There is a 5 block area that is totally designated to nothing but optical shops. They even have hawkers out on the streets to try and get you to come into their shop!  Amazing scene!

After going into several, it became clear that the information I was given about designer frames being only $10-$20 was not quite true. Yes, there were frames for that price but I wouldn't waste my money on them as they were quite flimsy. However, I did prevail after many stops and found a pair of purple metal and a pair of black & white ones for about $50. Also, I found that not much stood out as being different from the ones I already have. I further prevailed in buying a pair of very inexpensive pink & white sunglasses for about $8. My plan is to have my prescription lenses put in them in Nicaragua, when we have more time. 

By this time it was getting dark so we caught a cab back to our place. We then walked back into the main part of our district and found a delightful alley with many restaurants and bars. Our first stop was at a Piano Bar, the Candado, where we had a drink and listened to some very nice music by a much appreciated piano player. The place was very old world charm.  
 



 
From there we made our way to another pedestrian plaza and had dinner overlooking the fountain and people watched. Love doing that!



We had made arrangements to take the city bus tour so we had to be up early on Wednesday. We took longer getting ourselves together so we ended up taking a cab instead of walking. A VERY good thing as we had no idea that we had to go underground to buy our tickets. Yup! Underground!  Turns out that where we thought there was supposed to be shopping was actually UNDER the plaza park on the waterfront. Since it had been so overcast and we couldn't see anything, we never walked to the edge. 

Well, at the edge was cliffs. Huge cliffs with the sea below!  And, there was a whole shopping center below us with lots of shopping and restaurants!  That's where we had to buy our tickets for the bus. We made it with only minutes to spare. Thank goodness!

What a great way to see a city!  We've so enjoyed all of our city bus tours. A fun filled 4 hour trip throughout this huge city!  

Our first stop was in the Barranco district, which is where all of the rich from the City of Lima used to come stay in their summer homes and is very historical also. A nice hour of walking the old section of the neighborhood with many photo ops along the sea.












This is the sighing bridge. Tale has it that if you make a wish, take a deep sigh, and then walk all the way across without breathing, your wish will come true!




A summer home.

Grand Boulevard in Miraflores.






On our way to Old Town, we passed an Inka ruin right in town and lots of other beautiful sights.





 
Old town Lima is beautiful in its own way. Our observation is that Lima is very grimy and dusty from all of the car emissions and the fact that it's very dry. All of the buildings and signs were filthy and needed cleaning so you could even see them. Most signs were hard to read because of all the dirt. 









Our first cab driver called this the Hall of Injustice! LOL Doesn't matter where you are!

Office building for many lawyers.





Main Plaza Cathedral.



 
We made our way to the main plaza only to find that the changing of the guard was happening at the Presidential Palace. Yup, another video of,the event. Video of Changing of the Guard: https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6279505











 
The Mayor's Building.








 
Completing the trip where we started from, Mike and I decided we had plenty of time to enjoy a nice lunch overlooking the cliffs to the sea below. And, then a bit of window shopping before walking back to our Hostal to check out and then to take a quick taxi ride to our hotel where we were to join our group to being our week's trip with the ultimate goal of visiting Machu Picchu.

So our journey continues in South America and we feel extremely happy to be seeing such wondrous places!
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