Sunday, June 17, 2018

Hola Lima

I'm sure this isn't quite true, but it seems that no leisure traveler who ventures to Peru primarily dreams of seeing Lima nor likely winds up finding it the favorite part of their trip.

In this way, the massive city feels akin to Dublin, Rome, Madrid and Delhi, capital cities rich in history and tourist attractions, but a bit too large and cosmopolitan to seem truly exotic or as beguiling as other locales within their countries.

Still, although Lima dates to 1535--as it was founded after Peru became a Spanish colony--and therefore isn't quite as old as many other cities in its country or Europe, Asia, etc., for those of us from the United States, any chance to see stately edifices from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries is pretty cool.

Somewhat similarly, seeing ornate churches probably isn't as spiritual or emotional an experience for me as it likely is for others--I'm Jewish, largely agnostic and dubious of grandiloquent cathedrals amid considerable squalor, past and present--but simply in terms of beauty, I saw some splendid ones today. (Interesting, I'm reading Dan Brown's Origin novel, which so far includes repudiation of organized religion as a major theme.)

Lima's primary Cathedral sits on the Plaza de Armas--the city's grand main square--along with the Presidential Palace and other stately buildings.

I went there this morning, as part of a City Tour of Lima, booked through and run by Viajes Pacifico. The host was friendly and informative, and this proved a fine introductory excursion.

We also saw (but didn't tour) Huaca Pucllana, an adobe and clay pyramid within Lima dating to the first few centuries AD (long before the current city was established) and spent a little time in the Museo de Arte de Lima.

Also in the Centro area near the Plaza de Armas--where a large TV showing the World Cup reminded of a different kind of Peruvian religion--the Convent of Santa Domingo was really beautiful (so much so that I nearly lost the group taking pictures).

Not on the tour but a reason for me to remain in Centro was the Monastery of San Francisco, with a magnificent church and a guided tour including the catacombs, full of once buried skulls and bones.

After a return to my Ibis Larco hotel in the Miraflores part of Lima and a little nap, I've walked 2 blocks to Larcomar, a shopping mall embedded in a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It's pretty cool, and has a nifty art exhibit featuring a Liman artist named Fito Espinosa.

I have dinner reservations at La Rosa Nautica, a noted restaurant sitting on a pier that juts out into the ocean. The seafood is said to nearly equal the view.

Will head there in a few and likely not recap again tonight. Tomorrow I fly to Cusco, first step in closing in on Machu Picchu.

I'll be back in Lima at week's end, and while I feel I've seen the main sights, I'll be staying in a different hotel that should provide a new perspective if nothing else.

Plus I have reservations at two of the top-rated restaurants in South America.

Based on my one day in Lima, I would say that in terms of sightseeing, photographic splendor and overall vibe, it isn't the equal of Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City, the Latin metropolises I've been to before.

But much as I truly enjoyed my time in the gateway cities mentioned at top, I've been delighted to get to know Lima a bit.


On the Plaza de Armas, a college student asked if she could interview me about travel. The talk proved a fun reminder of how many amazing places I've been fortunate to visit. 

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