We stopped over in Lima, Peru on our way to Bolivia for Christmas so that I could see a friend of mine (shout out to Alex and his wife Claudia!!) that I haven’t seen since 2009 in the states. We were only there for a couple of days, but we saw a lot of Lima and loved it. Neither of us had ever been to Lima, nor knew what to expect, but by the end of the couple days we were both wishing that we had more time to spend there!
Parque Del Amor
One of the first places that our lovely host took us was very near to his place in Miraflores called the Parque del amor. This park overlooks the ocean and holds the famous statue “El Beso” constructed by Victor Delfin in honor of the kissing contest the mayor used to hold in the district. Oscar, Alex, and I walked around the park and read some of the love quotes that were written on the walls, took some cheesy photos and enjoyed the view of the ocean. This park also holds a lighthouse at the end of the walkway and is the place to go if you want to go paragliding over the city. I for one definitely did not do any paragliding as my fear for heights would never allow it!
These ruins were discovered in the 1940’s and are currently still being excavated. The entrance is 12 soles; however if you bring a valid student ID then you only have to pay 5 Soles. The only way to explore the ruins is by a guided tour in English or Spanish and they take you around the ruins and explain various things about the Lima people and their culture, what the archeologists have found, and how the ruins were found. One of the most interesting things that the guide told us during our tour of the ruins was that the surrounding neighborhoods and houses are actually sitting on ruins that have not and can not be discovered since they are buried beneath private property. This fact made my mind go wild during the rest of our time in Lima thinking that any random hill or open area could have ancient ruins hidden beneath them. I have seen a lot of ruins in various countries, but this is one of the most impressive ruins I have seen because of the fact that it is located in the center of the city and it is currently being excavated. It was so amazing to see the portion of the ruins that have been excavated right next to the portion of the ruins that had not been excavated yet. This is a must see in the city of Lima!
Parque De La Reserva
We discovered this park from a quick search of Lima online and decided that it was a must see. Alex’s wife Claudia graciously accompanied us to the park. We arrived to the park around 7:30pm and were told that the main attraction, the Magic Light show, was not running due to construction but all of the other fountains were functioning. The cost to the park is 4 Soles per person, which is a little more than $1. The park has 13 fountains in total varying from those that are accompanied with music to those that are interactive. Our gracious hostess told us that in the warmer months of Lima, people will come to the park with their bathing suits and spend the day splashing around in the water. The park was absolutely beautiful itself with the water fountains; however with Christmas arriving as well the entire park was decorated with Christmas lights, which made it even more beautiful. This park is an absolute must to visit when in Lima and don’t forget to visit both sides of the park! The underground tunnel can be easily missed, but you don’t want to skip whats on the other side!
John F Kennedy Park (aka Cat Park)
Every country in Central and South America has parks and plazas dedicated to different events, people, and places; however I have never seen a park such as John F Kennedy park in Lima. The story goes that there used to be a large rat problem in this park, so the mayor at decided that a few cats would fix the problem so he got a few cats and put them in the park. Once all the rats were gone, the cats stayed and began to reproduce. The cats never left the park because the people of Lima bring them food and water pretty much on a daily basis so they never have to leave the park. This park is filled to the brim with cats laying on chairs, hidden in flower beds, and climbing fences and trees all around you. It is an absolute phenomenon that you will not see anywhere else.
Monastery of San Francisco
The Monastery of San Francisco is one of the most impressive, historical, and creepiest places we have been to thus far on our trip. As we had not planned much for our trip to Lima since we were visiting friends, we were pleasantly surprised to be taken to this location. The entrance is 10 Soles and includes a guided tour in English or Spanish. The tour includes a view of the very impressive library that holds 25,000 ancient books. The tour guide does not allow you to take any pictures otherwise I would have an impressive photo of the library that I wish I had in my own home! The tour also included the church, various rooms where meetings were conducted, and the ever impressive catacombs. I had never experienced any catacombs myself and it was one of the most exciting things I have seen! The catacombs were discovered in the 1940’s and it is estimated to have over 25,000 bodies laid at rest underneath the Monastery. I was surprised at how extensive the catacombs were and just how many rooms there were in existence. Some of the rooms were completely dedicated to only one part of the body, such as one room that held hundreds and hundreds of femurs.
Plaza Mayor (Plaza De Armas)
The Plaza Mayor is a very impressive park surrounded by the Cathedral of Lima, Government Palace, Archbishops Palace of Lima, Municipal Palace, and Palace of the Union. The Plaza itself is very beautiful, but the surrounding historic buildings add so much history and beauty to the Plaza that there is nothing like it. If you take a few moments to just look around you will see cholitas selling items, couples kissing on benches, businessmen and women rushing to meetings, and you may even see the President exiting and entering the Government Palace. Take a few moments to relax in this Plaza and soak in the surroundings; we did and we got to see Santa ride by on a motorcycle!
Cathedral of Lima
The Cathedral of Lima is located in the Plaza Mayor and holds 14 side chapels, grand entrance, catacombs beneath, paintings, and the tomb of Francisco Pizzaro, the conquistador of Peru. The entrance is 10 Soles which does not include a guide; however it gives you the freedom to explore the cathedral on your own and at your own pace.