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Exploring Lima

Cathedral, Plaza de Armas, Lima
Cathedral, Plaza de Armas, Lima
We walked down the pedestrian street to go to the Plaza de Armas. On the way, we peeked into the Iglesia Merced, which introduced us to the beautiful ornate style of churches the Spanish built. There was a Mass in progress, and we were blessed to stay. We learned that throughout Peru, the sanctuaries were only open when there was about to be a service. You could tour the treasuries, the monastery gardens, but the sanctuary doors would be locked.

We wanted to see the changing of the guard at the government palace. It was very colorful and entertaining. The band played for a long time. I was interested to watch all of the Peruvians who were there to see their national attraction, including school groups. There was a church between the Cathedral and the Archbishop's Palace, which was stunningly beautiful. Then we moved on to the San Francisco Monastery, where there was a tour. The beautifully carved choir was outstanding. Catacombs don't thrill me too much, but it was all still interesting throughout the church. I couldn't help noticing how worn and smooth were the steps and the floors....

We were looking for the Casa Torre Tagle, an 18th century mansion, which is used for a government agency, so couldn't go inside, but the carved stone entry and wooden balcony are gorgeous outstanding examples of those arts. We had a very good lunch at a restaurant across the street. . .(neglected to write the name. . . it wasn't in the guidebooks, but recommended by the security guard outside the federal bank down the street.) The special was 'chaufa', which we discovered was chicken fried rice! With all the well-dressed businessmen in the room, we were surprised they did not accept credit cards.

Later in the afternoon, we took a cab to the Rafael Larco Herrera Museum to see that outstanding collection of Peruvian artifacts, reminiscent of the many touring exhibits I've visited at the Smithsonian over the years. The galleries were very well done, with fantastic things to see, but I was especially amazed by the storage rooms! He collected way more than they have room to display, so they leave the storage rooms open: shelf after shelf, floor to ceiling of ceramics from the various periods. Anyplace else, any one of them would be in a showcase. The array was just astounding.

I always enjoy the street scenes, glimpses of how they do life. All the stores of a type are grouped together, a few blocks for stationary, trophies, hardware, 'funeraria', etc. There were lots of street vendors, including whatever someone had to sell today. While we were stuck in traffic (common in Lima), a man was in the street selling his armload of screwdrivers! My favorite was the street vendor near the hotel selling hot fresh potato chips. The sweet potato ones were very tasty.

We had dinner at the hotel. The restaurant wasn't busy at first, but then folks, couples started meeting there in an 'after-work' mode. . .it felt local. The food was fine.

Now you're going to ask here, and throughout, why we often ate in our hotel, especially in Lima with its currently trendy culinary scene. First, that simply wasn't the focus of this trip. With our varied itinerary, and all of the hiking gear we didn't have baggage space for dress clothes. Looking forward to the trek, we were very cautious about what we ate. I couldn't reconcile 'don't eat the lettuce or drink the water' with gourmet dining. The hotel dining rooms were convenient, comfortable, and reasonably priced. The food wasn't the most adventurous, but it was very good, and we never had a bad meal.

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