Friday, December 10, 2010

Off to Lima!!

My apologies for not getting my updates out to you all sooner - we've been buried under snow here in London and I just finally got it back to work on Thursday! Not that I'm complaining about the bit of extra holidays I had, but it's kinda nice to get back to a regular routine.

We woke up early one last time in Cuzco and gathered in the lobby of the hotel. After our exhausting last couple days at the homestay and then Machu Picchu, the majority of the group had gone to bed early. We all headed out to the bus one last time and took off...

Completely forgetting Lisa, one of the girls from Toronto!

We made it partway down the street before we realized she was running to catch up, pulled over and let her on. D'oh!! She climbed aboard, we apologized profusely, and off to the airport we went. Carolina worked her magic and got us all seats near the front of the plane where there was more leg room. We checked our luggage, went through security and waited to board.

The flight itself wasn't overy exciting, we enjoyed a small snack and I'm pretty sure half the plane was watching Just for Laughs. We arrived in Lima in one piece, gathered our luggage and went to our shuttle to the hotel while Carolina went to go check us in for our flight back to New York the next evening.

I have to admit, upon arrival in Lima and on the drive to the hotel I wasn't totally sure how I felt about the city. At first glance, that's all it is - a city. Billboards everywhere, chaotic traffic and a lot of poverty. We had a city tour planned for the afternoon, but along the way Barbara gave us some information on the city itself. She showed us the river, the Rimac, for which the city is somewhat named. River is sort of a misnomer though - there was barely any water in the river!

The scenery did improve as we got farther from the airport however. We drove along the coast which is being completely overhauled and made into parkland, and as we approached Mira Flores, the area where our hotel was located, the buildings became more modern and less run down looking.

We arrived at the hotel and went into the lobby - such a nice place!! Hotel Britania was the name and it was gorgeous! We were given our room keys and we all dispersed with the plan to meet back in an hour to go for lunch at a little sandwich place Barbara knew about. Our bags were delivered to our rooms (how's that for service!) and we changed into more summer appropriate clothes since the weather in Lima was warmer and more humid that Cuzco. Watched some TV (the only English show on was Ghost Whisperer... I should have avoided TV all together) and then went back to the lobby, met the group and headed toward La Lucha.

Barbara gave us the run down of what there was to eat, from things like chicken, to pork, to ham etc. I tried the chicharron which was good but I'm glad I didn't ask what it actually was (pork rinds..*shudder*). The place also had AMAZING french fries, which we all ordered or shared with the group.

We couldn't linger too long at La Lucha because we had to meet our guide for our 3h city tour at 2pm. We went back to the hotel, grabbed our stuff from our rooms and got on the bus. Our guide's name was Celes and he had all kinds of interesting things to tell us.

  • the population of Lima is about 9 million - 1/3 of the country lives here
  • there are 43 districts in Lima
  • Mira Flores, where we were staying, is primarily the tourist district
  • Love Park, the park overlooking the water, used to be really trashy but they have since revamped it and created the park in memory of those who had committed suicide there. The idea is to "love life"
  • The Incas built Huacas (sounds like wakas) where they would scarifice things to the sun gods - women, seafood, etc. 
  • When the Spanish arrived in 1530 they didn't fight against the Incas - the civilization was in conflict and the Spanish used this to their advantage and turned the sides against each others.
  • Lima doesn't get very much rain - it's often very cloudy however. Therefore the roofs are generally mostly flat. Once, in the 70s it rained for 11 hours and everything flooded. The only houses that were okay were the European style ones that had sloped roofs.
  • Pizarro picked the location of the city for a port and wanted to name if the City of Kings - Lima is a result of the mispronuciation of Rimac, the river that runs through the city. 
  • Gustaf Eiffel, builder of the Eiffel tower, designed the first metal building in the city - an art gallery
  • Public transportation in Lima is terrible - there is minimal organized public transport, a result of the previous president's decision to import old japanese cars and leave people without a lot of jobs. 
  • Peru was one of the last Spanish colonies to gain independence, since all the money/resources was located there. It was due to other S. American countries stepping in that they were able to fight the Spanish and gain independence.
Our guide showed us the main square in the city and man was it gorgeous!! Such a difference from the slummy type areas we drove through on our way to the hotel. The buildings were bright yellow and very colonial type architecture - mixture of French and Spanish design. 

We also visited the San Franciscan Monastery, and the catacombs below - really really interesting! Over 25K people were buried there at some point, which is pretty incredible. I was really sad I couldn't take pictures - the library located inside was a sight to see - sky lights and spiral stair cases, rows and rows of books. It was breathtaking!

After the monastery, we went to get on the bus, but before we could get on we were approached by a guard who wanted to tell us a joke - in English. We laughed and then he told us another. Pretty sure someone got the second one on video. 

The tour ended back at the hotel around 5pm, giving us enough time to shower and get ready for our goodbye dinner. Dinner was to be held at Huaca Pucllana, a restaurant that was located beside one of the huacas that existed in the city. We all met in the lobby and walked to the restuarant where we were met by Justin and a couple other people from the GAP office. 

Dinner was, as we'd come to expect, amazing. The night was warm and the views of the huaca were pretty fabulous as well. After dinner we all got in taxis and spent a night on the town, with Matt from GAP as our guide - he seemed to know all the great places to go and showed us a great time as promised!

Got to bed late, as often happens with a night out, but thankfully had a whole day off to do whatever we wanted before our shuttle to the airport at 8pm.

Only one more day left in Lima!! Stay tuned to see how our last day went

No comments:

Post a Comment