We arrived mid-morning to a bustling airport and busy traffic as we made the drive in a taxi to Miraflores, the area in Lima in which we are staying. Miraflores being a slightly upscale area (by which i mean not slummy) centred around a pleasant city park (Kennedy Park) and extending down to the sea. Our accommodations - the Hostal El Patio - are delightful. Simple but comfortable rooms around a colorful and charming patio.
Miraflores is a pretty long walk through some not so interesting areas to the centro historico, so we have been taking taxis to that area. On day one, after settling in, we taxied to the Plaza San Martin, and then commenced walking around central Lima. Many large, stately buildings in classical styles with the unmistakable south american colors (yellow, mostly). The area around the Plaza de Armas is particularly lovely.
We walked the streets, checking out churches and side streets and stopping to photograph the guards at the national palace. The streets were busy with traffic and pedestrians and people selling random toys, candy, and other odds and ends. We walked over to the Monasterio de San Francisco, still a working monastery, but with a beautiful church and grounds to tour. Underneath the buildings are catacombs, filled with bones and crypts. (No photos allowed.) Though they were neither as labyrinthine or bone-filled as those in Paris, i still dug them. In certain areas we were directly below the cathedral and small vents above us let through light and the sound of the mass carrying on.
After that we headed back to Miraflores and to Kennedy Park where we looked at some art on display and marvelled at the number of cats. Kennedy Park is an unofficial cat sanctuary. The place is filled with cats - beautiful, healthy looking cats roaming free, napping, sitting in trees....
We had dinner on a pedestrian street just off the square after which I went for walk and smoked a cigar before bed.
Some initial observations. Lima is certainly a lot fancier than Quito or Bogota. By comparison, it is clean and feels far safer and less dodgy. Very few children begging (unlike Quito) and there are not soldiers and armed guards on every corner (unlike Bogota). Very little graffiti. No packs of tough looking stray dogs. It's very nice and i have enjoyed looking around, but i would rank it as somewhat less interesting than those other cities (since i prefer my cities on the dodgy and dangerous side).
Very little english is spoken, but thankfully my Spanish (what little i know) has come a long way. (Thanks to Duolingo & Sesame Street.) Betty Lou knows only two phrases - "i am a woman" and "with cheese" a but she says them beautifully.
The weather is perfect; a bit cool in the mornings and evenings, and warm in the afternoon.
Smoking? Well, it seems that Lima has gone the way of much of Europe and North America: no smoking indoors or on restaurant patios. (Although as i write this i am on the patio of a cafe, so there is some flexibility.)
And that was day one in Lima. We did also get some tickets to a bullfight, but that deserves its own post.