Saturday, 25 October 2014

Lima and Arequipa, Peru

Peruvian Literature House, Lima
In the late evening of October 12th 2013, we arrived to Lima, a city with a population of 12 million, lots of traffic and pollution. Our hostel, Open Guest House, arranged a taxi to pick us up which is definitely a good idea for late arrivals in this metropolis. Lima is not the safest city in South America, so caution is required. Our hostel was in the Miraflores district which is one of the safest and more developed zones. The hostel was average. There are many bars and restaurants in this area, which is great if night life is your priority. 

Central Lima

The next morning visits included some Inca ruins, markets and the beach front. The weather was cloudy but we were told that it never rains in Lima. A fascinating attraction in Lima is the Magic Water circuit in the Parque de la Reserva. It is a spectacle of 13 interactive fountains that offer entertaining shows of water, music, light and laser effects. It has been named as the “world’s largest fountain complex in a public park” by Guinness Book of Word Records. 

Volcanoes around Arequipa

It was a pleasure to take a VIP night bus to Arequipa after a day in this busy and polluted city. Bus is a great option to travel in South America, especially in Peru. We travelled with a company called Cruz del Sur and had an excellent service. Comfortable, reclinable seats and tablets to watch movies were part of the luxury treatment. They also served free meals and drinks. It was just like a business class flight. The journey to Arequipa took 16 hours. It is definitely worth paying some extra money to travel with a reputable company.

San Camilo Market
Rocio from Marlon’s House greeted us at the terminal. She was a great host and it was a perfect place to stay in this beautiful town. After a cup of coca tea on the roof terrace with a view of the Misti Volcano, and a good chat with Rocio about things to do in Arequipa, we were ready to discover another fabulous city. Surrounded by three impressive volcanoes, El Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu, the second biggest city of Peru has a unique baroque and mestizo architecture. In 2000, the central core of this historical city made it to Unesco World Heritage listing. Most important tourist attractions are La Basilica of Arequipa, La Plaza de Armas (the main square), the San Camilo Market and the Convent of Santa Catalina.

On our first night, we caught up with Marian whom we met at the Zoorefugio Tarqui. After a delicious and cheap dinner, we enjoyed our well deserved pisco sours, which is a traditional Peruvian cocktail made with local brandy, pisco, egg white and lemon juice. After a couple of rounds, we said goodbye to Marian who was catching a bus towards Cuzco the next day. It was wonderful to see her after a month and we were sure that our paths would cross again somewhere in South America.

The following day, we joined a free walking tour, which was a good way to find out more about the history and architecture of this striking town. During the tour, we met another traveller from Portugal, who told us about his ayahuasca experience in the Amazon jungle which got me slightly interested.

Colourful streets of Santa Catalina

On our last day in Arequipa, we visited the incredible Convent of Santa Catalina. The 16th century convent remained a mysterious world until it opened up its doors to public in 1972. Today, it is the most visited tourist attraction from the Spaniard era. It is like a small city with amazing colours, simple but beautiful architecture and years of history. Each street is painted with a different vibrant colour. There are still some nuns living there and we got a good understanding of their simple lives. You can easily spend a couple of hours in this magical environment.

After 3 wonderful days in this intriguing city, it was time to discover the Colca Canyon.     

Convent of Santa Catalina

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