Tairona Inca: Colombia and Peru in 2 Weeks
Day 6: Arriving in Lima, the capital of Peru, country 59! Quickly exploring Lima on a layover before flying to Cusco.
There was nothing special about the first class Avianca operated TAM flight from Bogota to Lima, though the food was decent.
I landed in Peru around 8:30 a.m. Plenty of time before my 1:55 p.m. flight to see Lima!
Immigration was a breeze. Country 59 check!
At the information desk I asked for a taxi and their response was “do you want a safe taxi?”
I exchanged money then hired a “green cab” to take me around town. They were quite expensive for Peru at US$50 for a 2 hour tour. But the car was an upscale black Hyundai sedan with tinted windows.
Plaza de Armas
The square in the center of Lima is also the starting point of the city. Many important buildings surround the square of the historic center that has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO .
I started at the large Cathedral of Lima, went inside for a peek, then walked around to the Government Palace. Riot police huddled together relaxing on their shields.
They have a changing of the guard at noon, but I didn’t have time to stay. Archbishop’s Palace of Lima, the Municipal Palace, and the Palace of the Union also surround the square.
We went into town and to the square. We got off for twenty minutes to walk around and take pictures. There was heavy security.
My driver was waiting for me. The next stop was the Monastery of San Francisco. Unfortunately he took me to the wrong church and after a wrong turn into some shady neighborhoods he found the correct location.
Monastery of San Francisco
The monastery was build in 1672 – 1774 and severely damaged in an earthquake in 1970.
After purchasing a ticket, the only way to see the inside is by a guided tour. I explained I had a flight to catch and soon enough a lady came out to start the tour. One of the first points she mentions is that there are no pictures on the tour.
First she took me to the top floor to view the inside of the church.
Then we went into the famous library where they had these huge books composed of animal skin pages. It contains around 25,000 ancient texts including a bible from 1571. With the spiral staircase, the whole scene looked like something out of Harry Potter.
Downstairs we saw different paintings and murals on the walls.
Our last stop was my favorite one, the catacombs. Here there are mass graves of an estimated 70,000 people. It was first used as a cemetery for the monks, but then became one for the town. In 1808 the Lima city cemetery was created which ended the burials at the monastery.
The underground tunnels were very eerie and cold. Walking through the catacombs and viewing bones and skulls in the mass graves as the echoing voice above of the priest conducting mass is a harrowing experience.
After the tour, I found my driver nearby and went back to the airport. It was already 11:30 a.m. so I didn’t really have enough time to see Mira Flores.
Back at Jorge Chávez International Airport, I relaxed with a Cusquena beer in the Caral Vip Lounge.
Can’t wait to see Cusco!