Friday, June 13, 2008

Lima, a monumental city

Lima was a pleasant surprise. I had heard from others that it was not worth much time but we found magnificent plazas, architecture, parks, churches and restaurants. When we first arrived in Peru we stayed for two nights in a very small hostel near the airport, the Pay Purix Backpacker Hostel in Callao. This is the port city for Lima and in fact for all of Peru.

Honoree had made the reservation on and when Scott and I first arrived we were a bit nervous. The exterior did not look like a hostal to us. There was no sign and it was in an industrial area. It turned out to be small but quite charming and we really enjoyed Eddie, Dennis and their mother, our hosts. When Honoree and Walt arrived the next day we took a local jeepney into the city and spent a day touring.

Lima was the Spanish capital of much of South America for a long while and the financial center for the vast amounts of gold and silver that left from there back to Spain. So there are endless beautiful churchs and public buildings. The architecture throughout the city is lovely and full of rich detailing. There are many pedestrian walkways and streets as well, some covered with glass ceilings as seen here.

Good housing stock as we say. And it is a vibrant busy living city now and appears to be thriving. The riverfront has been turned into a lovely park with bicycle/walking paths, vendors/cafes and lots of people enjoying it. In this picture you can also see the old city walls on the left. Later in the day we walked down to another enormous park near the Museo de Arte

(around the same size as Boston Garden and the Commens) where every day from 6PM on there is live music. We sampled the Peruvian national drink, Pisco Sours, and watched the show. These taste somewhat like a Marguerita but are served in a wine glass with a foamy egg white top, dolloped with bitters.

The body of the drink is pisco (made only in Peru from grapes and somewhat like brandy), local limes and sugar. It is delicious! That is our bartender and two pisco sours in front of her! The singers and dancers who performed did salsa pop renditions that could best be described as Latin Janet Jackson look a likes.

The four of us left the next day for our long trek in the Cordilla Blanca near Huaraz. But after that we returned to Lima for three days before our train trip to Huancayo. Brenda Free and John Magruder joined our group there and have been with us ever since. Here they are having a lovely lunch.

We visited Miraflores, an affluent section of Lima and found a fascinating photo art/environmental action exhibit in the park there. Blown up photos taken from the air of some of the most beautiful places in the world were contrasted with essays describing the envionmental perils
they face. While there four charming college students stopped me to talk. They wanted to practice their english and ask me questions about my stay in Peru. They were really pleased to hear I loved the Peruvian cuisine and surprised to hear how much of it we had all sampled - even guinea pig!
This time we stayed right in town at the Posada del Parque, located in a quiet cul de sac lined with trees and a small park. The hotels living areas were packed with antiques and our rooms were comfortable, but they had a penny pinching way that we found annoying. Breakfast was not included and overpriced and we

only ordered a taxi from them once; it was three times what we would pay flagging one down. Still it was a pretty spot so we returned there after our three days in Huancayo for one night before leaving for Arequipa. That day we revisited Miraflores and this time

walked down to the Pacific Ocean front which has a dramatic cliff along the shore with a long beach below it. We saw surfers out in the water and paragliders taking off from the cliff edge.
At the very end of our stay in Peru we returned to Lima for one more night. This time we stayed at the Hotel Clifford a few houses down from the Posada del Parque. This is the nicest place we´ve stayed during our trip, but not the most expensive. That was the Casita des Pequenos in Agua Caliente, our least favorite hotel!

We returned to Miraflores on a search for a Peruvian cookbook. Scott has been looking for some time and we found one packed with receipes instead of mostly pictures but in Spanish. He is going to deceipher them this summer. Again we walked down to the Ocean and along the cliff path. A huge shopping center has been built into the cliff with many restaurants and cafes. Even the food court has seating with views of the water. Afterwards we went inland to the Parc Kennedy where live bands and piped music played while many couples danced and lots more watched. Peruvians have a lot of fun! The street scene throughout the country is lively and participatory.

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