Mar 072013

We had two full days to visit Lima, and decided to roughly split them up and use day one to explore the older part of the city and the historical centre, and use day two to visit a museum as well as walk around the newer and happening Miraflores district.  We started out late morning (after a midnight arrival the night before we were in no rush to get going!) by grabbing a cab to the Centro Historico and the Convento de San Francisco church.



Outside the church:


After touring the inside of the church, we waited to take a guided tour of the monastery.  We only had to wait around 5 minutes for an English tour, which ended up being mostly a private tour since we were with a large group of Koreans who didn’t really understand the guide.  The most impressive part of the tour was the old library, filled with handwritten books from a couple hundred years ago.  Unfortunately no pictures were allowed in the monastery, because the library was especially cool.

The tour continued down into the crypts under the church, where thousands and thousands of skeletons/bones were arranged.  Bones were neatly stacked in piles lining the sides of the walking path.  Some of the alcoves full of bones were filled with specific families or benefactors, while others were just generally reserved for notable members of the church who had died.

After the tour we strolled around the old city for an hour or so, before deciding we needed to stop and get water and refreshment…and by refreshment I mean a couple of cold local beers.  It was early afternoon by this time, and we were definitely ready to get out of the hot afternoon sun for a bit.  After a short stop, we kept walking through the old part of town, and came upon a more local church where a wedding was just ending:


Another view of the plaza outside the church:



After walking a bit longer we’d gotten hungry, and decided to try and find somewhere for a small lunch.  We picked a random small restaurant that seemed to have quite a few locals in it, and were very glad we did.  We had the first of what was to be many ceviches and pisco sours, and they were absolutely delicious.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get the name of the place so can’t recommend it.



Well-fueled, we continued our walk through the old town, and visited the Museum of the Inquisition which had been recommended to us by the tour guide at the San Francisco Monastery.  She said it was one of the most interesting sites in the area, and unfortunately – it was quite disappointing we thought.  Some rather silly diorama type displays of torture and such, but overall quite disappointing, and most of the explanations were only in Spanish.

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We’d been walking for a bit, and decided we’d keep going since we wanted to end our afternoon by the plaza outside the Sheraton hotel.  Fortunately, we found a place to grab coffee and people watch as we sat outside the plaza.  It was a very lively area, with lots of activity on a Saturday afternoon.  We actually had quite a hard time finding somewhere to sit, but once we did it was great.


At this point, we were near the Circuito Magico del Agua, which TripAdvisor called one of the top attractions in the city.  We decided to walk a little bit to find the entrance, so we could see what time the water shows were at for the following evening.  To get there, we ended up walking by the rather odd-looking national stadium:


After checking the showtimes we headed back to the Westin for cocktail hour, followed by an amazing dinner at Restaurant Central, which I’ll review in my new post…but it was an absolutely amazing dinner!

The following morning, we hailed a cab (again, sleeping in until mid to late morning) and asked him to take us to the Museo Larco.  Unfortunately, the driver was quite confused and didn’t know the museum by that name, and took us to the Larcomar shopping mall instead.  Ug!  After a bit of chatting, showing him on google maps, we finally figured out how to explain to him where we wanted to go, negotiated a new price, and were off!

After another 30 minutes or so we arrived, and the grounds of the museum were very nice:  (I wanted to say they were lovely, but that sounds a little too English garden, you know?)

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The museum had an amazing collection of mostly pre-Incan artifacts, most of which were in absolutely amazing condition and dated back hundreds of years.  There were two main exhibits, and we ended up finding the exhibit on pre-Incan erotic art first.  Some rather strange stuff in there, focused around the idea that returning seed to the earth promoted the cycle of life…or something like that!



There was another part to the museum that basically told the story of the people of the area before the Incans arrived up until the time of the Spanish conquest.  One especially interesting statue in this part:



As many amazing artifacts as there were, when we were about to exit there was a gift shop and another huge few rooms filled with extra artifacts which had not been put on display.  The sheer quantity and quality was amazing; enough to fill a museum on its own:

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From the museum, we grabbed a cab and asked us to bring us to the Parque John F Kennedy, which was listed as interesting in its own right, but also was on the way to the chocolate museum and the place we wanted to have lunch.

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We got to the chocolate museum after around a 10-15 minute walk, but it looked totally uninteresting, so we opted to continue towards lunch.  We’d chosen Pescados Capitales based on the fantastic reviews it received on TripAdvisor, and weren’t disappointed.  We arrived around 3pm for lunch, and still had to wait over 30 minutes for a table.  The entire restaurant is al fresco, but covered by tents so you’re kept out of the sun and get a pleasant breeze.  The menu was fun and whimsical, and this week they had a special Pope’s Resignation menu in honor of Pope Benedict’s resignation:



I decided to have the special ceviche, and it was amazing…along with a couple more pisco sours of course!

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At this point, we decided we hadn’t seen enough of Miraflores, so headed towards the shore to walk back to the Larcomar shopping mall (sound familiar from the morning?) along the water and take in the area.  There were some amazing views of the ocean along the walk:

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When we got to the mall, we got an oceanside table at the Havana Cafe, and watched the sunset:



We grabbed a cab back to the Westin, and did happy hour in the executive lounge again while waiting to head to the water show.  A short taxi ride, and we were there.  A few thoughts:  the show itself was not memorable, and I though sort of disappointing.  Don’t get me wrong, it was interesting, but certainly not amazing. Perhaps the best part was people watching, since there were thousands of people there to see it.  It was also the first place it struck me just how much shorter people in Peru are.  Being 6’3, I felt like an absolute giant!

A great shot of my friend Nick taking a picture of the fountains:

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We then took a cab to La Rosa Nautica restaurant, which was right on the water and had been recommended by a friend:




We’d had a late lunch, and that combined with happy hour at the hotel we weren’t terribly hungry, but there’s always room for more pisco sours and ceviche, right?!

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The restaurant received mixed reviews online, but we were very happy with everything we tried.  After dinner it was back to the hotel and straight to bed, as we had a relatively early flight to Cuzco the following morning!

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