I love cities. I bloody, bloody love them.
I arrived in Lima at 8am. It was a gloriously sunny day.
My hostel – Hotel Espana – was one of the most charming places I’ve ever stayed.
It was three storeys of curiosities, packed with huge pre-Raphaelite paintings and faux Roman classical sculpture, culminating in a gorgeous rooftop garden, complete with tortoises, trailing greenery and talking parrots.
It was also very cheap and even the dormitories had their share of classic art.
Sometimes in life, you get to have an utterly perfect day. This was my day in Lima.
1. Breakfast on the rooftop. Bread rolls and butter, blackberry jam and good coffee. Yum.
2. Went to nearby San Francisco monastery. Beautiful. Only went to see the library, because some books date back to the Spanish conquest. Wasn’t disappointed. Library was perfectly preserved with ancient spiral staircases reaching the highest shelves. Ducked out before the catacombs. Don’t like dark, damp, death-filled places.
3. Coffee in the main plaza to plan rest of the day. Gorgeous in the sunshine.
4. Wandered to Lima Cathedral, but was Sunday and full, so walked over to Presidential Palace instead. By sheer luck, saw Changing of the Guard. Hunted entire plaza, but couldn’t find Francisco Pizarro’s statue (see here).
5. Walked south, past several gorgeous old churches, until I reached the smaller San Martin plaza. Admired San Martin and statue of woman with llama on her head. Still gloriously sunny so had a quick rest on a bench.
6. Continued walking south, past the fabulous justice buildings, until I reached the park. Had an ice-cream, because, well, was still sunny and was in a park.
7. Went to Lima’s art museum. Awesome. Modern art was surprisingly good. But particularly enjoyed the exhibition about the restoration of Luis Montero’s enormous painting, Funerals of Atahualpa (the last Inca).
8. Delicious two-course lunch nearby. £3 including juice. Bargain.
9. Couldn’t resist first Pisco Sour cocktail on the balcony of the faded but charming Bolivar Hotel.
10. Walked back to the hostel, hung out with the tortoise and listened to the radio while the sun set.
11. Later visited Lima’s record-breaking fountain gardens, all pretty with their coloured lights shining through them and classical music. Managed to avoid getting wet.
12. Went back to the main plaza, listened to choir singing Christmas hymns on the steps of the cathedral. Ahhh, how festive. Late dinner + lashings of red wine.
Lima = Awesome.