peru

Travel Diary: Lima, Peru (Day 2)

When people go to Peru, most of them hope to hike the Inca Trail or see Machu Picchu. Lima is just a pit stop. Just like the rest of the world’s capitals, it’s busy, dirty, and congested. And for foreigners, being alone in a crowded, unfamiliar city like Lima can be scary. But for me, it’s what makes it more interesting. Beyond the grit and noise of the city are sites that would leave you enthralled.

This was going to be our last day in Lima before flying to Cusco so we decided to make the most of it.

On our second day, we explored three locations:

Like the day before, we used Uber to get around and chose Parque del Amor as our last stop for the day, which was fortunately only a few blocks from our hostel.

Huaca Pucllana

Huaca-Pucllana-Peru
Huaca-Pucllana-Peru

Located in Miraflores, Huaca Pucllana was a pre-Incan community that dates back to 100 BC. Made from clay pyramids, it served as an administrative site where ancient Peruvians and chieftains would convene and do their religious ceremonies. When Huaca Pucllana was discovered in 2008, they found remains of two adults and one child, who were believed to have been sacrificed.

Since then, Huaca Pucllana was turned into a museum where visitors can see exhibits of ceramics and other artifacts that were also found on the site.

Plaza de Armas

Plaza-Mayor-Lima-Peru

Lima’s Plaza de Armas is probably the most memorable place we visited during our stay in the capital. The whole complex was surrounded by stunning old Spanish architecture painted with bright yellow, pink, and baby blue hues; and wooden doors and balconies with masterfully carved artworks.

Plaza-Mayor-Lima-Peru
Plaza-Mayor-Lima-Peru

Also called Plaza Mayor, it houses the Government Palace which also serves as the official residence of the President of Peru, the Municipal Palace, Palace of the Union, the Archbishop’s Palace, and the Lima Cathedral – both of which you can visit for a price. Inside the Cathedral you’ll find 14 side chapels dedicated to various saints.

Basilica-Cathedral-Lima
Basilica-Cathedral-Lima
Basilica-Cathedral-Lima
Basilica-Cathedral-Lima
Basilica-Cathedral-Lima

But what makes the Cathedral so fascinating is what lies underneath. Apart from being home to the tomb of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish explorer that conquered Peru, you’ll also find the crypts and remains of the past cardinals – which freaked me out a little bit, to be honest. The path going to the tombs was dark and cold that it felt like a mummy is going to come at us anytime soon (lol).

Basilica-Cathedral-Lima
Basilica-Cathedral-Lima
Basilica-Cathedral-Lima

Parque del Amor

Our final destination for the day was Parque del Amor or Park of Love. It is actually situated on a cliff, overlooking the Bay of Lima which is a well-favored spot for surfers. Throughout the area, you’ll also see mosaics with lines from Peru’s famous poets. The romantic atmosphere of Parque del Amor makes it a go-to place for couples young and old, especially on Valentine’s Day.

Plaza-Del-Amor-Lima

After exploring Lima for a couple of days, we reaffirmed our belief that the city has a lot to offer to travelers. Learning about the capital’s rich culture and history was such an amazing experience that I gained a new perspective on Peru.

Stay tuned for my Cusco and Machu Picchu travel blog!

Read Day One of our Lima, Peru experience here.

Travel Diary: Lima, Peru (Day 1)

lima-region-peru

When people think of South America, drug cartels, violence, and guerrillas automatically come to mind. But those misconceptions do not even come close to the real South America. The continent may not be postcard perfect like Europe, but it is teeming with history, culture, and natural beauty – a true backpacker’s paradise.

For months, my hubby and I prepared for our first trip as a married couple and when it came down to choosing which country to visit, we decided to go with Peru.

Home to a section of the Amazon rainforest and one of the oldest civilizations in the world, Peru is more than the World Heritage site Machu Picchu – the famed Incan citadel perched on top of the Andes Mountains. Peru’s capital Lima alone offers a wealth of sites and attractions for many kinds of travelers.

The city boasts different types of architecture, from Renaissance-style cathedrals and towers to neoclassical chapels and buildings. And because Peru was a former Spanish colony, Baroque style balconies can be seen in various parts of the city.

It’s also interesting to note that Lima is a Sister City of Manila, Philippines, my home country. They share many cultural and linguistic similarities due to the Philippines’ 300-year-long history with Spain. But that’s a story for another time.

Before arriving in Lima, we were pretty much aware of the security situation in the city, as well as the terrible traffic. But having lived in Manila for more than 5 years, I think Lima is not as scary and stressful as many make it out to be. 😉

We were, however, extremely wary of getting ripped off by taxi drivers, so we used Uber throughout our stay in Lima. The last thing we wanted was to get in a sticky situation with the locals, we felt using the app would be the safest option. Booking an Uber ride wasn’t a problem (or so we thought) since most of the places we ate at had WiFi.

But for the most part, our stay in the capital was quite pleasant. It also helped that I can pass as a Latina and my hubby speaks good Spanish so we didn’t have a lot of trouble exploring. In fact, it was fun seeing the bewilderment on their faces when they talk to me in Spanish then I would respond with “No hablo Español,” and my husband would speak for me. It was like I could hear them thinking how can this Chinese-looking guy speak Spanish but not this chica? :’D

On our first day in Lima, we toured the following sites:

MATE – Museo Mario Testino

One of the greatest treasures of Peru is not a place but a person. Mario Testino is among the world’s most prolific fashion photographers, having shot almost every famous person you can think of – from A-list celebrities and supermodels to none other than the British Royalty.

museo-mario-testino

Perhaps his most iconic work is his portraits of Princess Diana, which he shot for Vanity Fair in 1997. Those pictures turned out to be the last portraits the world will ever see before the Princess’ tragic death the same year. These portraits, along with a replica of the Versace dress Princess Diana wore during the photo shoot, are now displayed in MATE – Museo Mario Testino in Barranco, Lima – Testino’s hometown.

mate-museo-mario-testino

My personal favorite, however, is Testino’s portraits of Peruvian locals from Cusco, donned in their colorful traditional attire. Named the Alta Moda series, the collection exquisitely depicts the heritage and culture of Peru.

mario-testino-alta-moda
mario-testino-peruvian

If you look closely, you’ll notice intricately embroidered symbols and geometric patterns on the subjects’ capes and skirts. These symbols hold a very special meaning for the Quechua, the direct descendants of the Incas in Cusco, Peru.

After visiting MATE, we decided to grab lunch and explore some parts of Barranco district. If there’s one thing that unites Peruvians, it’s their love for color. This part of town is honestly so Instagram-worthy, I think I snapped a photo of every establishment in the area (lol). From the libraries to the cafes, every building is painted its own bright color.

barranco-lima
lima-barranco

Parque de la Reserva

After lunch, we headed straight to Parque de la Reserva in downtown Lima to catch the popular light and water show, called the Cirquito Magico del Agua. We paid 4 soles each to enter the park – not bad considering the various activities you can do inside. We arrived quite early for the show so we spent most of our time lounging and people watching.

park-of-the-reserve

It was interesting to see the similarities between Filipinos and Peruvians. They’re so laid back and so affectionate towards family and friends, which made me miss home a little bit.

I wish I took photos of the water show but I was so fascinated by the whole thing, taking pictures didn’t cross my mind. This is the same fountain, taken both during the afternoon and at night before the show began.

The show ended at around 8PM. It was still quite early, but wandering in the dark in a foreign country can be scary. After eating dinner at one of the makeshift restaurants outside the Plaza de Reserva complex, we looked for a cafe with WIFI to book an Uber. Unfortunately, we got lost and ended up on a sketchy street. We were scared shitless so we decided to go back to where we started and eventually found a restaurant that allowed us to use their WIFI.

We got home safe and sound. And despite what happened, we were excited as hell for the next day’s adventure.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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