It’s more or less a day of transit for day 6, with 2 flights that will eventually have me in Rio De Janeiro at the end of it. However, I still woke up fairly early. Went to have my breakfast on the second floor of the hotel and there was a small buffet table but with a big balcony that showcased the beautiful view of the Plaza de Armas of Cusco historical town.
Once I was done, with the short amount of time that I had left in Cusco before my flight to Lima, I took a little walk around the historical old town in the chilly morning.
Felt a little regret for not being able to visit the cathedral at the Plaza de Armas as the interior would have been quite nice. For the moment, I could only see from the outside since the cathedrals were neither open or if opened, had a service going on and tourists were not allowed.
I made my way to San Blas and saw the cobbled street and the buildings that were built on Inca rocks, which I thought was interesting, an integration of modernity with historical foundations. It wasn’t many things going on at that time in the quiet street as it was still pretty early.
After the short walk to San Blas (with some Pokemon Go time to catch Pokemon exclusive to South America), I returned to the square and spent some time sitting at the plaza and enjoyed being in the moment. Googled for things to buy and then there was a recommendation to visit the market, so I walked that couple of minutes to San Pedro market. It was a market under one roof, separated into two sections of wet and the other dry. The market didn’t seemed too crowded at this time though I saw a man carry an entire pig on his shoulders bringing it to a store.
Was still roaming around till I came to a store and found it selling quinoa and chia seeds, exotic food where over in Singapore was termed as healthy alternatives whereas the locals here eat daily. Asked mommy (over whatapp) if she wanted it and bought a pack. I also bought local dried sweet corn (remembering that delicious appetiser which I ate when having lunch in Ceviche Seafood Kitchen restaurant at the Plaza de Armas and loved it so much) to bring home. The quinoa was 2pesos and the sweet corn was 7pesos per kg.
As I walked back, I randomly walked into a pharmacy to check if there were masks available for purchase (since it was sold out back home during the Covid19 pandemic but hadn’t really arrive at the shores of Peru) and this one had stocks, unlike those around Plaza de Armas! I checked with the staff if there was a limit and he said no so I asked for 7boxes, as that’s what my family members back home wanted. These were going at 40pesos per box of 50 which was pretty decent but since there were 7, it became rather bulky for me to lug them home. Fortunately I brought along a foldable bag.
Quickly I returned to the hotel and did some repacking. Checked out only at around 9am since it was just 15mins ride to the airport and I figured I had enough time for my 1050 flight to Lima.
Took a taxi just outside the hotel as advised by the hotel staff that it would be perfectly fine to do so. The driver asked for 20pesos which was twice the amount the hotel staff advised me and so I asked for a reduced price and agreed to 15pesos as I didn’t want to waste too much time or look for trouble.
Sure enough, I was there in about 15mins and went to check in my luggage. Proceeded to the gate as it was a small airport and made my way to the lounges located one floor below, avoiding the crowd on the floor above. I was happy to find a rather empty cafe called Altomayo cafe at that floor below and it came with rather comfy seats! After settling in, I ordered an Americano for 8.5pesos and relaxed there till it was time for boarding.
When it was almost time, I made my way back up and heard that they had called a few names and one of which was mine. Went over and was given a new ticket with mine that I was holding torn up. Got an upgrade to business class, and I couldn’t be any more thrilled to have it for free! Priority boarding and larger seats, nice! Comparing to a standard flight business class though, this may pale in comparison but it’s free for the 1.5hrs flight so I wasn’t complaining, so thank you Avianca!
Touched down in Lima airport and exited the airport to find someone with my name on a board. I was surprised as I had requested for a 2pm meetup as I planned on getting some lunch upon landing at the airport. I needed to withdraw cash from the ATM as well but after a few exchanges in a part- Spanish-part-English conversation this person who was the driver and calling the guide, named Enrique, over the phone to confirm, we boarded the car and was on our way to central Lima.
The journey there, to say the least, was horrendously gridlocked with traffic going everywhere! The skilled driver however got me there in one piece. We chatted with whatever English he knew and I was thankful that he was rather friendly and conversant and I learnt more about him and his family throughout the journey. He even played Singapore’s music on Spotify and had Bluetooth that over to the stereos – cool move.
We arrived at Lima’s Plaza San Martin and that’s where we met Enrique. I got off and there was where my day tour of Lima started. He was a guide who could speak English, and was pretty fun to go along with as he mixed the facts with some sarcasm which was quite funny. Introducing the buildings around the lovely square (which included a building that was recently burnt down) and after a photo, we walked along a pedestrian only shopping street, called Jirón de la Unión, in a bid to find an ATM (athough just next to the square were some forex counters that had the best rates around from USD to Pesos, kinda like our Raffles place forex in Singapore, but I didn’t bring USD as all my cash were in the YouTrip card).
Along the way I learnt about the buildings with the balconies on the 2nd floor of the buildings that also landed the heritage status for this location of Lima. I treated him to a Starbucks frap since he mentioned that Peru’s coffee was being used in the Starbucks there while we were walking along and I wanted to see if there’s any difference. There was a promo and it ended up around 18+pesos for both fraps, which was quite comparable to what I pay for in Singapore.
Then we continued along and found a bank in which there was a short queue for atm and I queued for it. Unfortunately this was the globalatm machine that had the highest fees for using the atm but since I only needed to withdraw just one more time from here, I just proceeded.
Continued on and the street brought us to the Plaza de Armas. Here was again a square surrounded by many buildings, one of which belonged to the Mayor of Lima and another the presidents’ residence (Palacio de Gobierno). Then as we walked to the side of the residence, he pointed out that the room facing the oldest bar of Lima across the street was where the president lived, jokingly.
Nonetheless, we walked into Bar Cordano and looked at the old photos on the wall, showcasing many previous politicians eating at this bar. The popular foodstuff here was the bread with pork slices so I ordered that for lunch, again I also treated the guide, for a total of 30pesos for 2. The pork sandwich was quite nice I thought.
After this, we boarded the car and went on our way to San Francisco church (Monasterio de San Francisco) (not San Francisco of USA) to visit the catacombs and the church. St. Francisco was a much revered person and this church and the gallery was for him. There was no photos allowed while visiting the catacombs and I was warned by the stuff when I took one at the entrance. However, with the guide, I was able to bypass the queue and went in ahead. It was an interesting tour of this building, with Enrique explaining the construction of how it would withstand earthquakes, the paintings on the wall, especially with the Peruvian last supper and it’s differences. After that, we proceeded on to the level below to the catacombs and there we saw the construction of the catacombs and how it was a mass grave for so many people as there weren’t any cemeteries before. Walking below the church I was transferred back in time to how things were in Lima back in the past.
Last visit was to the church above and it was on this day that many people came to offer flowers to St. Francisco. We went into the church and I was amazed at how the interior was so different from other churches with the moorish design of red and white. We exited after a while and along the street while we waited for the car to pick us up, some of the ladies sitting there by the food cart were laughing away when they saw me, saying that I might be a Covid19 carrier, explained by the guide. I supposed it was expected to a certain level that maybe all Chinese were from China and therefore I carry the Covid19. Anyhow it wasn’t a big thing for me.
The car then brought us to the next area in Miraflores, called the Huaca Pucllana (double “l”s are pronounced as “J”s) where this was built by the tribe pre-Incas and this was where I learnt that Peru was not only ruled only by Incas! The temple was built like steps and the construction was so stable that it could withstand earthquakes. As this was a fenced up area requiring tickets to enter, we just stood outside which I could already see and took a photo before leaving without entering the site.
Then it was to the Love Park (The Parque del Amor) of Miraflores (one pf the safest city within Lima) where there was the statue of the The Kiss (El Beso). The park reminded me of the Gaudi park in Barcelona with the tiled designs and wavy shape forms. The place had a good sea view and definitely boost an incredible sunset over the ocean view. We weren’t staying till sunset and left, the car dropped me off at the Lima White House hostel, whereby the owner was also the person who arranged this private tour for me. I paid the guide 155pesos (the remaining amount on top of the initial 33USD I paid over PayPal to book the tour) and entered the hostel.
I enquired if it’s possible for me to take a bath there as it was going to be a long time before I could do so due to an overnight flight to Rio de Janeiro for the night. They didn’t have any spare rooms but was ok to let me take a shower at the common shower for 10pesos in which I gladly paid for it. Quickly took my bath before heading out for dinner.
In the Miraflores area, it was deemed one of the safest area around since it was where all the people of the highest class lived. Sure enough it didn’t feel unsafe as I made my way to one do the Chifa restaurant, one that sold Peruvian Chinese fusion food. The Peruvian Chinese was one of the earliest immigrants to come to Peru and as the driver advised that the food was good, I had to try it for myself.
Using google maps, I easily found one and as I entered the restaurant called Hong Kong, I was greeted by a senior staff there who saluted me, and I saluted back to reciprocate. It was a funny moment though. Later I realized he did the same to anyone who walked past as a way to get their attention. I ordered fried rice with chicken and was given a free bowl of noodles soup with Wantan. The noodles were ok but the fried rice was kinda salty. The dinner costed 38pesos in which I just paid 40.
I took some time to walk towards the shore as there was a shopping mall there, called Larcomar, just to find out how it would looked like. As I approached, I saw a huge building of Marriott hotel but couldn’t find the mall. As I approached to the sea, I realized the mall was the building built downwards from the street level into the cliff and from the outside it looked pretty modern. I was more attracted by view of the sun almost setting and took some photos as I walked along the coast heading back to the hostel.
Back at the hostel, I booked my Uber to the airport and it was estimated to be an hour ride from Miraflores. Since the payment was done by card, I need not worry about 42pesos there because I was also low on my cash. The driver took awhile to arrive and when it did, the hostel lady staff helped me to communicate to the driver on where I was headed to before bidding farewell as I got on my way.
I fell asleep during the one hour journey there and woke up 20mins from arrival. The initial destination was placed just outside the airport but I asked to be dropped off at the departure which he did so without complaints.
Lima airport had quite a large duty free store but I didn’t get anything from there thinking there would be more of such closer to the gate. Unfortunately it was not so and I entered a Britt store that was closer to the gate and bought some Peruvian chocolates there which my wife requested. The staff showed that the chocolates were really produced from Peru with that Peru logo and that assured me that it must be ok (cos why would I buy chocolates made somewhere else?).
After that, I boarded the Avianca flight (no more upgrades this time around) and tried to get some sleep.