Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Travel Tuesday, Torture and Tombs in Lima

Lima, the capital of Peru was surprisingly diverse and beautiful. There are two main areas of the city, there is the old centre where all of the colonial buildings and sights are, and then there’s Miraflores and Barranco which are the modern, wealthy, residential areas. Surprisingly, it’s right on the coast, so you can go from cathedral to beach in just 20 minutes.

We stayed in a hostel called Barranco's Backpackers Inn. This was one of my top 3 hostels of the trip. The shared dorm room for 6 people was spacious and lovely with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the sea. The mix of people made staying there really interesting, we met the funniest and most memorable people from the trip. Old and young all living and chatting together. Our favourite character of all has to be Pedro, an old Dutch man who had been travelling for years and looked like Saruman from Lord of the Rings. He was very relaxed and always had a good bit of advice, or an interesting story to share. If you ever visit Lima then you should definitely stay here.
Lima
Barranco turned out to be the right choice of area for us. There were beautiful old buildings, colourful flowers, a plaza that was always filled with people chatting and playing, lots of nice coffee shops and restaurants. Add to that that you’re just a 5 minute walk from the beach and it is the perfect place to have a city stay.
Lima
Lima
Lima
Lima
Lima
You can walk around the coast to Miraflores, another popular area which is a shoppers paradise and you can get your fill of familiar food here with nearly every fast food chain imaginable. Tucked away in Miraflores are the ancient ruins of Huaca Pucllana. These ruins are pretty impressive when you realise that they have stood the test of 2 invasions, from the Incas and the Spanish. I’m not quite sure what it was about these particular ruins which made them leave those when they pillaged everything else!
Lima
Lima
Lima
Lima
My favourite thing about Miraflores was the park packed with cheeky wild cats. They hid in the flower bushes and would jump out if they saw someone with a tasty looking sandwich or someone that looked particularly comfy. It appears that Nick looks welcoming too…
Lima
Lima
Unfortunately this is when my second illness episode started and my first night in Lima I had to go to bed really early and I didn’t stir until the next morning. Feeling a little better, we decided to counteract our binge on Western culture in Miraflores by going to the old centre.
Lima
We started by watching the change of guards which happens every day at 12. It’s pretty extravagant, and what’s more, it’s free! Nick was more entertained by this poor dog who had been dressed up by his owner.
Lima
Next, we visited the catacombs, and underground crypt with hundreds and thousands of bones. They think that upto 75,000 people were buried there. This was closed as a burial site in the 1800s after it was filled with victims of the plague. The bones had been arranged into fascinating shapes which added to the creepiness of being in a mass burial site. To do the tour of the catacombs you have to do a full tour of the church of San Francisco, but it is definitely worth it!

Needing a breath of fresh air after being in the staleness of the catacombs we grabbed some lunch and took a walk around china town. Feeling ready again we braced ourselves for the Spanish Inquisition museum. This was really interesting for me as I’ve always heard people say ‘what’s this, the Spanish Inquisition?’ but never really thought about the true meaning of it. We discovered that only 32 people were killed in Peru over 250 years. The Spanish left the indigenous people to it as they believed that they didn’t actually have souls. The unfortunate 32 were killed on suspicion of being Jewish. The museum entry is free, there is a guided tour and you can go underground to explore the old torture chambers.

We got back to our hostel that night after a heavy day, so decided to treat ourselves to a burrito from a really nice Mexican restaurant. Try and find it in Barranco if you go, although it has no signs outside and looks like a canteen inside. The food was very very tasty!

The next day I was back to feeling ill, and only had the energy to roll down to the beach and lay there most of the day. Not a bad life, eh?! Unfortunately the illness didn’t get any better after this, Nick fell ill that night and the rest of our time in Lima was spent taking it easy, napping and skyping.

I’m just glad that we had our two action packed days so I felt like I didn’t miss too much of the city.


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