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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Peru Vacation Day 2: Half-Day Tour Of Lima City

I provided a quick update on day 2 of my vacation earlier. Here is the full report.

On this day, the morning was spent on a half-day city tour of Lima. The afternoon and evening were free for us to use anyway we wanted. We were supposed to be picked up for the city tour at our hotel between 9 and 9:30 AM. So, we had to be done with breakfast and be ready by then.

Hotel San Agustin Colonial, Lima, LobbyHotel San Agustin Colonial, Lima, LobbyHotel San Agustin Colonial, Lima, wooden ship in lobbyHere are a few pictures of the common areas of the hotel. Notice the antique furnishings, the paintings on the walls, etc. There was an old wooden ship model on display in the lobby area of the hotel too.

The breakfast provided by the hotel was very sumptuous. It is not like the typical continental breakfast included with the room in many US hotels. This was a full breakfast with bread and sides (eggs, butter, several varieties of jams and jellies, etc.), sliced meats and cheeses, coffee and tea, different types of juices, cereals with milk, etc., etc. It is very substantial and filling. The breakfast was served in a restaurant overlooking the street on the first floor of the restaurant, with a bar attached to it.

Hotel San Agustin Colonial, Lima, buffet breakfastHotel San Agustin Colonial, Lima, buffet breakfastHotel San Agustin Colonial, Lima, buffet breakfastHotel San Agustin Colonial, Lima, barHere are some views of the buffet breakfast, and the bar attached to the hotel's restaurant.

We were picked up at 9:30 for the city tour in a small van, and transported to a big tour bus. Our guide on the tour was Jose. He spoke both Spanish and English since there were a lot of tourists on the tour who spoke only Spanish.

We did not actually get out of the bus in most places during this tour. It was mostly sight-seeing from inside the bus. We first drove by an ancient ruin called Huaca Pucllana located in Miraflores. Indigenous peoples started building Huaca Pucllana in 400 A.D. This huge construction, made from small handmade, sun-dried brick, is 22 meters high. Admission is free (but we did not go in, we just drove by).

Huaca Pucllana, LimaHuaca Pucllana, LimaCouple of views of Huaca Pucllana from the outside.

We then drove through the very high-end neighborhood of Lima called San Isidro. San Isidro is famous for its olive trees. There is a park in San Isidro that conserves about 600 of these colonial olive trees that date back 450 years. Many houses in San Isidro have electric fences on top of their compound walls.

Olive Press, San Isidro, LimaPark in San Isidro with an old olive press.

After that we drove to downtown Lima. During the drive, we passed by several interesting sights such as the Walter Grau memorial statue, the bright red Venezuelan embassy, and Plaza San Martin. Plaza San Martin is one of the largest and most impressive squares in Lima. It was inaugurated on July 27, 1921 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the independence of Peru. The square is named after José de San Martin (1778 to 1850), who was a hero of South American independence. The Gran Hotel Bolivar is an historic hotel located on Plaza San Martin. Built in the 1920's, it was considered one of the most luxurious hotels in Peru at one time.

Venezuelan embassy, LimaThe bright red Venezuelan embassy in Lima. Many buildings in Lima are very brightly (one could even say, garishly) colored. Our guide explained that since Lima is overcast most of the time, coloring buildings brightly was the limeño's antidote to depression caused by the lack of sunlight!

Plaza San Martin, LimaPlaza San Martin, Lima.

Gran Hotel Bolivar, LimaGran Hotel Bolivar, located in Plaza San Martin, Lima.

Our next stop was the main square or Plaza De Armas of Lima downtown. Plaza de Armas is a general term used in Peru to denote the main square of any city. Cusco, Puno and countless other cities in Peru also have their own Plaza de Armas. I will continue with that in the next post since this post has become too long already!

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