Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Few Days in Lima

It’s been a couple of years since we visited Lima. We’ve got some good friends and family there, and we kept telling ourselves and them that we’d visit but you know how that goes…unless you make the time it doesn’t happen, so that’s what we did.

Usually we arrive at the Lima airport late in the evening, around 10:00 PM or so. On this day the plane touched down at 9:00 AM. We couldn’t check into the Miraflores hotel until 3:00, so we had some time to kill. If you have time to spare the Lima airport is not where you want to spend it. There’s nothing to see; main terminal seating is very limited, and outside of the food court there is really only one real restaurant…by that I mean with comfortable chairs and people who come to the table to take and deliver food and drink orders. Anyway, we‘ve been there so often and pulled so many over-nighters there that we know every nook and cranny of that place.

The ubiquitous taxi drivers were there to greet us, offering to deposit us at the hotel door in Miraflores for 60 soles ($20.43 USD).  Not too long ago the rate was 50 soles. We had only shoulder bags for luggage, and with lots of time Maribel suggested we ride a bus. I’m glad she did. We had to walk two blocks from the airport to the bus stop.  Maribel had previously lived in Lima and knew that we needed to look for a blue bus with ‘Benavides’ shown on the side as one of the destinations. The bus dropped us off at the Miraflores ovalo (round-about) an hour later; about twice the time of a taxi. The cost for both of us was 2.4 soles ($0.81 USD). We saved some cash, and I saw parts of Lima I hadn’t seen before.

I was disappointed to see that cats have overrun both the Miraflores Central Park and adjacent Kennedy Park. I don’t particularly like cats (although Siberian tigers are my favorite animal), and I like even less the strong cat odor as we walked through the parks.

Maribel’s brother and his son met us in the park. It was too early for lunch, so for something to do we rode the Mirabus for an hour. It really doesn’t show you anything…not like other tour busses I’ve ridden. We did stop at a huge archeological site – Huaca Pucllana which I didn’t even know existed. I need to do some research on that. The only other attraction was a lengthy ride along the ocean front, where the driver pointed out things like the La Rosa Nautica Restaurant, Love Park and the Larcomar shopping mall. We’ve been to those places before but the bus gave us a different view. There is a Wong grocery store in the mall that is new since we were last there. I was impressed with how tastefully they’ve blended a grocery store into an upscale mall.

Following the bus ride we had lunch in one of the many restaurants of Calle de las Pizzas. I’ve forgotten the name, but it was the first one on the left as you enter the street from Diagonal Ave. I chose it because it looked clean and had a wide variety of offerings on the menu…not because the woman at the door urging us to enter had “great legs”, as Maribel’s brother accused me of.

The days went by quickly. We had a nice lunch at the La Baguette Restaurant with our friend Alan, and also got together with Mark and Anna Maria, who took us to the Nicolini Automobile Museum. What a great way to spend a half-day. Several of those cars I could personally relate to. There was a 1946 Nash in the garage waiting to be restored. That was our family car when I was a young boy. And there is a restored 1956 Olds 88 that differed only in color from one that I owned (I bought it used shortly after I started working). I still prefer the looks and styling of those 50's cars over anything made these days.

There are still some museums and colonial churches in Lima that I haven’t seen, and some attractions that we’d like to see again. We didn’t get to the Plaza de Armas, where I’m told some changes have taken place since our last visit. We talked about returning to Lima as we rode the bus to the airport.

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