City Tour of Lima
We booked ourselves a city tour of Lima on a bust tour that took the whole day. We left at 9:25 for the museum tour first, then the city tour in the afternoon. In the morning, there were only 6 of us so we didn't get the full size bus. The tour was also in Spanish and English, meaning every part took twice as long. We started out at the Archaeology Museum and were greeted by swarms of adoring fans all screaming "Hello!" when we exited the van. The museum was interesting,
but would have like to have spent more time in the more colonial/contemporary history of Peru and less on the ceramics of pre-Incan cultures. After a quick run through of the museum, we headed off the gold museum. Very interesting pieces, all gold, that included the ear rings and gold crowns of Incan kings worn at major ceremonies. There was also a vast display (over 45,000) of ceramic pots that were used as offerings when people died. They all looked like new and featured some very weird depictions such as a vulture eating an adulterers eye as punishment.
Then, off to the impressive erotic art gallery featuring ceramic offerings of people in various sexual acts. Interesting (tee hee hee). After the sex pottery it was time for lunch. On the way to lunch, the tour guide began to demand, and rightly so, that we pay for the trip. Tara and I had converted all of our money into soles thinking foolishly that this was the currency that Peruvian companies would prefer. Unfortunately, they quoted us an exchange rate for soles that was 35% higher than if we had paid in U.S. dollars. Finding somewhere to exchange the money was a bitch and the crazy guide even suggested I just hand $200 US over on the street to a money changer in an "official" vest. No way in hell were we doing that so we forced them to drop us off at the nearest bank. It just so happened that the bank was a Scotiabank (a little reminder of home) and we got a much better exchange rate. And to think, I closed down my account at Scotia for an Ipod shuffle at TD (oh yeah, better hours, locations, convenience, service, etc). The lunch started out well, mainly because I was so pissed off from trying to exchange money, but then I noticed a short curly hair in my food (barf). That was quite the appettite suppressant. It was to watch the staff take away the food and pretend like what we saw had never happened. I filled up on desserts, thanks to Tara loading my plate and we got ready for out city tour in the pm.
This time we were on a much larger bus filled with people from all over the place. The bus took us past another archaeological site (yes, another one). The country must have just started excavating because these sites were literally everywhere...even in a city the size of Chicago! We then continued driving to downtown Lima where the grand palaces and huge sports stadium were. Big, beautiful colonial-style buildings were everywhere. Each one was a gift from some country in honor of 100 years of Peru's independence. They are very proud of their one sky-crapper which was 20(!) stories high. Gives you an idea of what Lima's downtown financial district looked like. The buildings were are all very nice. It sort of felt as though we were going back in time when we walked down to the Central Square (Plaza del Armas). Standing in the city square, we were surrounded by huge colonial buildings, pigeons, cops and people staring at the water fountain. It's hard to believe that a country as poor as Peru could have such a beautiful and historic downtown.
Downtown we again visited a museum which featured more Incan gold,
ceramics and paintings. It thing that everything we saw in this museum we had seen in the previous museum. Maybe they were just sharing all these things to make a few more bucks. We then took the bus to a giant Spanish cathedral that had a huge set of catacombs underneath. We were told that we came at a good time because there generally weren't earthquakes this time of year and that the Church was unlikely to crush while we were underneath. The Church was covered in beautifully restored frescoes on nearly every wall. It was interesting to see all
the bones and skulls perfectly preserved and organized in separate vats. I'm not exactly sure why the Spanish did this and the best explanation I got was "los Espanoles estaban locos".
With the tour over, we then hopped in the bus for the long ride back to Miraflores, fighting traffic all the way there. After a long day of touring, we ordered a bottle of wine, chicken, rice and patatas fritas and ate it outside on our balcony. We ate at around 9pm, but that's when people generally ate here. With our bottle of Chilean wine, we played crazy eights on the rooftop until the wee hours of the morning.