After our beach interlude and boat trip it was back in the car and head north to Lima. Over the past 5 months we have been avoiding the Carretera Panamericana (the main drag) as much as possible. It’s a major highway like all others anywhere in the world and stopping at the many toll stations along the way is a pain, not to mention the general lack of interesting scenery. However, not taking this direct route to Lima would have meant a couple of days of additional driving without anything significant to show for it. So, it was up and along the coast we drove, 230 km’s of not much until we got within 50k’s or so of Lima. Massive billboards line the highway and the traffic starts to build, and we slow to a crawl and sometimes a stop! With a population of 12 million, traffic problems are no surprise really! However, by late afternoon we had found a cheap hotel with secure parking in Barranco, an area thick with restaurants and bars and not far from the coast – what more could we ask for?
Lima used to be a place travellers avoided. It has been through some tough times in the past but has made major municipal improvements and created much safer areas where tourists can stroll and enjoy what the city has to offer. We spent the morning walking the area around the Plaza de Armes, visiting La Catedral de Lima and the Monasterio de San Francisco. The catacombs in the Monasterio are the site of an estimated 70,000 burials – that is a lot of bones believe us! The library has an estimated 25,000 books, thousands of them dating back to the 1500’s. Ailsa was aghast at the lack of any conservation plan to protect the texts from further deterioration.
We spent the afternoon walking along the Miraflores cliffs, enjoying this lively and entertaining area before a feed of papas fritas and beer around the corner from our hotel. A very quick and pleasant day in Lima.