It was time to leave beautiful Huaraz, we were headed for the desert Oasis Huacachina but thought it best to break up the travel time with one day in Lima. Having already spent 4 days there at the beginning of our trip neither of us were overly excited about the prospect but thought we might check out Museo Larco. Well that’s not quite how our day panned out, but if you follow the same itinerary you’ll be in for a cracker!
5.30am Arrive in Lima: We took the Movil Tours night bus from Huaraz to Lima which cost 65 soles to take a seat in 2nd class. We booked the seats right at the front, extra leg room and a great view (if you dare to watch). Now, when you arrive in Lima the 1st stop is in the Northern suburbs, about 15km from the centre. We eagerly jumped off the bus, grabbed our packs and asked about the cost of a taxi from one of the drivers who was in my face before I could even get down the steps. 50 soles… That didn’t seem right. I tried to negotiate him down to 15 and in the process finally understood the fact we needed to get back on the bus. From the right Movil Tours stop the taxi was only 10 soles to Miraflores.
6.30am Wander around Miraflores looking for breakfast: We stayed at Puriwasi Hostel, which was OK. Typical backpackers, Lima is expensive so we were in a 6 bed dorm (yay). Luckily our beds were ready when we arrived so we could shower and get out to explore. Because our plan was to go to the museum we decided to find a cafe with wifi to figure out public transport. Well things were well and truely on Peru time, we couldn’t find an open, reasonably priced cafe that wasn’t Starbucks or McDs anywhere! During our aimless wandering Steve mentioned that the Museum was 30 soles to get in… I think that is far too expensive so we changed our plan and decided to walk to Barranco and check out what is supposed to be “Lima’s coolest suburb”.
7.30am Walk to Barranco and stop for arepas: This is a nice walk, there is loads of cool street art and architecture to check out along the way. We were hoping to find a good place to stop for breakfast so we were STOKED to stumble across a little arepas joint! God damn we love these Venezuelan corn bread delicacies. This little hole in the wall cafe is owned by an american dude who is super friendly and gave us loads of advice on what to do with our day. They also make killer arepas and delish Oreo Frappes! For 2 arepas, a frappe and a coffee we paid about 40 soles but it was totally worth it.
9am Check out Lima’s coolest suburb: Everything they say is true. This area of Lima has inspired artists and musicians and walking around you can see how. Wiki refers to it as Lima’s most romantic and bohemian district, it has the most beautiful colonial buildings, loads of parks and trees and a great mirador overlooking the ocean. The name Barranco is Spanish for ravine, so you can imagine the lay of the land. There is a walkway leading down to the ocean that runs through the main part and one of the main attractions is the famous uente de los Suspiros, or Bridge of Sighs that crosses the walkway and this little area is a great spot to chill.
10.30am Get cultural with a photography exhibition: MATE (Mario Testino Museum) is a small but delightful museum dedicated to Peruvian photographer Mario Testino. Because we are excited to learn more about photography at the moment we were very inspired by our visit. Mario is world famous for his portraits of celebrities, and boy has he shot some of the big names! Kate Moss features heavily in the exhibition and there is also a special room dedicated to gorgeous, makeup and jewellery free, candid looking shots of Princess Di which featured in Vogue just before she died. This talented photographer seems to have a way of breaking through the ego of his subjects and connecting with them through the lens. The museum is located in Avenida Pedro de Osma 409, Barranco, and the cost of the entrance is S/.15
12pm Take public transport to the historic centre of Lima: We decided to jump on the metropolitano which is a relatively new thing for Lima. It’s a gas powered bus on it’s own road which is partitioned off from the normal road and costs 2.5 soles. Now the kicker is that you need a card which costs 5 soles, luckily there was a nice old man at the station who let us chuck a fiver on his and blipped us through.
12.30pm Walk from central station through Limas historical centre: Don’t go to Lima and skip a visit to it’s UNESCO listed, historical centre. I know this sounds silly but I actually had no idea how pretty Lima was! John at the arepa joint, showed us some images on google of the catacombs at San Francisco Monastery so we walked from the central station and we were blown away by the beautiful architecture.
1.30pm Visit the San Francisco Monastery: I would highly recommend a visit to this breathtaking church and monastery, the paintings and the architecture take you into another world and you can feel the history as you wander through. The cost to get in was 10 soles each which includes a guide as you can’t explore this place independently, any kind of photography is also forbidden (heartbreaking). As you enter the 1st thing you see is the hand carved, Nicaraguan cedar ceiling over the left hand stairwell. It is a round geometric design and has the a remarkable resemblance to an orange skin, however it is designed to represent the night sky. The stairwell takes you up to the convents world renowned library. Holy crap, over 25,000 ancient texts in all languages (including the 1st Spanish dictionary) this library is the most enchanting room I have ever seen. It felt like it may have been used to inspire the set of Harry Potter! The rest of the tour takes you through the monastery and the church, the art on the walls is your run of the mill, scary, gothic, religious depictions. Saints holding their own heads, crazy scenes of mass hysteria. We even noticed one guy licking another guys wound. Weird.
The catacombs are crazy. Discovered in 1943 they contain thousands of skulls and bones, the crypts and tombs were used as the public burial place up until the 1800s when the public cemetery was finally opened. They think around 25,000 people were laid to rest here and now their bones are organised by type and arranged in aesthetically pleasing patterns.
4pm REST: We were pretty pooped by now so we caught a cab back to Miraflores for 15 soles and had a little lie down.
Dinner in Miraflores: There are SOoooo many restaurants to choose from here, we decided to wander down Calle de Pizzas and take a more touristic option. It’s fun, the restaurants all have their best spruiker out front assuring the quality and offering a free pisco sour. We chose a place with 10 sole litre steins of beer and settled in after an epic day in Lima.