aka In Search of Paddington.
Sooo… my feet got itchy and I booked myself a flight; jetting off on my travels again, 2 days later. I’d recently ticked off Central America; so I opted for South America this time. (Further my massacre of the Spanish language, in an attempt to stick a few more pins in the map).
My first port of call, as you may have guessed, is Peru. I landed in the nation’s capital (Lima) y’day. If you’ve had the pleasure of making my acquaintance, you’ll know that I prefer to drift and make things up as I go along. So given my wanton disregard for any form of preparation, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to find that I may have to hold off on hiking the Inca Trail. ;o(
Whilst I should still get to see Machu Picchu this time round, I may not get to hike the trail there. Which kinda takes the icing and the cherry off the cake. Seems the Peruvian government limits the numbers of hikers, to minimise erosion of the paths. (Furry muff). You have to book months in advance and now is pretty much the high season. Maybe some of the tour companies have block booked and have places free? If not, perhaps I can book for the end of my trip, before flying back? Either way… cross ya digits for me.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to see if I can track down Paddington bear instead… or maybe some of his relatives. I know Michael Bond tells us: he’s from darkest Peru. But the weather so far has been pretty grey… so perhaps I’m getting close ;o)
Lima is a sprawling city as you may imagine; (given that it’s the country’s largest, with a population of almost 10 million). But I’m sure it has its charms. In fact, I took my first amble around a sizeable chunk of it today and liked what I eye-balled so far. The natives are certainly friendly.
I’d holed up in a reasonably priced posada in Magdalena del Mar, when I arrived; but wanted to check out the Miraflores and San Idriso regions. So I expended a fair amount of shoe leather, just to get there and back. (Well OK… sandal rubber). Me dogs are positively barkin’.
Today, I was mostly just getting the lay of the land, as it were. So I haven’t seen too many historical landmarks yet. But I did see the usual gamut of churches and parks; met some very nice locals and even managed to pick up a Peruvian SIM card along the way.
I’d read that you usually have to show your passport and fill in a ton of paperwork. But I guess I stumbled into the right Supermercado. The nice chappie behind the counter just dug into a drawer and pulled out a suitable SIM. Then proceeded to trim it with a pair of scissors. Micro to nano conversion complete. Only cost about $5 for the SIM and $9 for 500MB of data. Get in!
Where were we? Oh, yeh: churches and parks. I saw one particular church that I’d like to return to, namely: Santa Maria Reina. Funky architecture and looked like the stained glass windows would be stunning. But for some reason it was closed on this particular Sunday? How bizarre, how bizarre.
3 parks in particular stood out for me…
Parque Central de Mirafores was bustling, had some great paintings on display from local artists (kinda like a mini Montmartre) and for some bizarre reason was frequented by a hoard of cats. Gaggle of cats? Flock of cats? Not sure what that was all about. Felt like I was an extra in a Disney movie ;o)
Parque el Olivar was a polar opposite, in terms of occupants. Very peaceful, laid back and family oriented. Perfect for a nice Sunday stroll. This one appears to get its name from the large number of olive trees it contains. But the park also has some vibrant flower beds, a couple of ponds with some nice decorative touches and a massive stock of coy carp.
As luck would have it, I also stumbled onto Parque de la reserve, my absolute favourite, just as the sun was going down. (Well I assume it was going down. Its was a pretty grey day, truth be told. But it got dark, just at the right time). This park is chock-a-block with the most beautiful fountains I’ve ever seen. Very animated, colourful and even accompanied by music (and the odd laser effect here’n’there). Another treat for the whole family. (Only paid about $1.20 to get in).
Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings ;o)