Wednesday, October 8, 2014

2014 - Peru Day 17 (Lima)

Today we explore the downtown area of Lima. This morning we found out that our hotel includes a breakfast buffet! Breakfast includes various fruit, yogurt, eggs, sausage and more.

One side of the breakfast buffet
The other side of the breakfast buffet
I borrowed a friend's Lonely Planet book and followed the itinerary for the discovery walk which would begin at Plaza San Martin and end up at Chinatown. Through our hotel we coordinate a cab to take us to Plaza San Martin which cost us 18 soles. While driving, I noticed that the street light system is pretty neat. There are countdown timers for both red and green lights all the time. This means, as someone who's on green, you know how much longer you have left. If you are on red, you know how much longer the wait is.

Green light with 33 seconds left
Red light with 17 seconds left
It was like we traveled to Europe when we arrived at Plaza San Martin. All the buildings that I remember from are gone and it looks like a colonial city. It looks nicely made, but it just seems really odd and out of place.

Plaza San Martin
From Plaza San Martin, there is a pedestrian street (Jiron de la Union) where there are lots of shops that you can wander although we were a bit early (roughly 11am) and not all the shops are open yet. Mainly clothes and shoes are sold here. I imagine it would be full of people later in the day. This street would take us to the next point of interest which is Plaza de Armas.

Pedestrian Street
Iglesia de la Merced (church between Plaza San Martin and Plaza de Armas)
We were fortunate enough to arrive just in time for the 'Changing of the Guard' which takes place at Plaza de Armas every day at noon. I have seen this in Ottawa and it was interesting to see there, but here, it seems like a VERY big deal. The guard is actually on horseback and they have a full band on horseback as well. It seems like a very big production. Takes about 30 minutes, worth a watch if you happen to be there.

Changing of the Guard
Changing of the Guard band
Jumping at Plaza de Armas
Reminds me of Burano, look at the colourful houses!
Today we finally got the chance to try some of the various street vendors that I have seen. Well, it was really just me who wanted to try them and Allison wanted me to try them after our tours in case I got sick. So, I tried as many as I could! I got a slice of pineapple at a fruit stand (1 soles), a churro off a street vendor who just wanders the street with a tray full of them (1 soles), and a cup of pink (strawberry) foam jello (2 soles). I enjoyed the pineapple and Allison enjoyed the churro, the pink foam is skippable.

Fruit stand, 1 soles per fruit slice
Churro vendor, 1 soles per churro
Quail egg vendor (didn't try these)
Pink foam jello
When we finally made it to Chinatown, it was the Chinatown that we expected with Chinese food! When we visited the Chinatown in Ottawa, it felt poorly named since every restaurant served Vietnamese food, should be called Viet-town. Based on the Lonely Planet book, we ate at Salon Capon. We ordered dim sum here, tastes like dim sum, nothing special. 4 dishes cost us 35 soles.

We found ourselves!
Yes, there are only 3 dishes here.
Did he follow me from Italy?
From Chinatown, we headed towards the Magic Water Circuit (El Circuito Magico del Agua) which is the number 1 attraction in Lima. Along the way, we passed by several parks (Parque Italiano and Parque de la Culutra) and an outdoor mall. They are nice to walk by, nothing interesting that makes me suggest visiting any of these places. The walk from Plaza San Martin to Magic Water Circuit was probably about an hour given that we stopped at the parks and mall for pictures and to wander.

Food court of the outdoor mall
Onto the Magic Water Circuit! This is a park this holds 13 water fountains, costs 4 soles admission and holds the Guiness World Record for 'world´s largest fountain complex in a public park'. Is it worth a visit? I would say yes if you are in Lima but I wouldn't make a trip to Lima specifically for this. The fountains are nice and it is a pretty large park. In the evenings, there is a laser show at one of the fountains which is really just a projection with music displayed again the water fountain. Allison was expecting something similar to Las Vegas' Bellagio and was disappointed. I got bored pretty quickly after I realized it was just going to be a projection for 30 minutes.

I think I took a wrong turn somewhere...
Under a water fountain!
Rainbow fountain
I teleported to Wonderland!
My personal favourite fountain. One of main patterns.
After the fountain, we headed back to the hotel and would just wander around and figure out what to have for dinner. When you leave the park, you get swarmed by cab drivers and I realized that I was going to get screwed again. I assumed the cost would be similar to how much the cab cost from the hotel to Plaza San Martin (18 soles). The initial offer was 25 soles, after some haggling I got it down to 20 soles.

By the time we got back to the hotel, we were tired and just wanted to eat anything. We stopped by the local Pizza Hut to have a pizza. With our limited Spanish, we ordered a pizza and drink, although we ordered the wrong size and ended up having to go grab some KFC after.

Sorry Jang!
Tomorrow, we travel back to Toronto.

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