Lima, beauty in a 12 hours stopover
September 17, 2018
One of the funniest ways to get to know a place is through a stop-over.
The way I see it, you can squeeze a city in just a few hours and enjoy the best of it; of course we will always be short, but even so, we are hardly disappointed and in some cases, we want to return with more time to discover it.
Little, very little time and a lot, a lot of traffic in one of the most disordered cities in transportation in Latin America.
Considerations for 12-hours-stopover
I had several things in consideration before enjoying my only 12-hours-stopover in Lima:
- Schedule of arrival and departure.
- I knew that Lima is chaotic at vehicular traffic level, so look for transports from the airport to the city, find out the travel time and duplicate it on the round-trip.
- Knowing that I had about 6 hours to enjoy the city, I looked for a free walking tour, but as I didn’t find it I decided on one that suited well with the times that I had (the Lima Colonial and Modern Tour of Miramar Tours, with a duration time of 4 hours).
- The currency of Peru is Sol Peruano (U$1 = S3,3); for my stop, I preferred to pay by credit card, instead of exchanging money in local currency.
Arrival and Transportation from Airport
Once I arrived at the Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima, I sealed my passport, which is not paid at the entrance, but at the exit with the Tarifa Unificada de Uso de Aeropuerto (TUUA), which is a fee of US $ 30.75 it can only be paid in cash (for some reason, I haven’t paid it when I sealed the exit in the passport, maybe it was because the office was no longer open).
Luckily, I did not have to dispatch my baggage again so I went directly to look for my Airport Express Lima (I bought the round-trip ticket for $ 15, but you can buy the ticket at the moment). Every hour a bus leaves between 6 am and 10 pm (it is important to check the schedules on the website).
The Airport Express is parked about two-three blocks from the Airport; They promised Wi-Fi, but I did not have the happiness of being able to use it. The seats were quite comfortable, there were some brochures with longer tours to do in Lima or in nearby cities, as well as to access Cusco and Macchu Pichu. There is a shelf for leaving small suitcases or backpacks on top of the seats. The driver’s attention was friendly and he was very predisposed to give recommendations, especially with places to enjoy Peruvian cuisine.
I got off at the Hilton Hotel stop (since my tour would pick me up at this stop), I arrived with enough time to take a walk on José Larco street, buy handicrafts, have a delicious dry sirloin steak with authentic Peruvian ají de gallina and enjoy the landscape with the eternally gray sky and the combis so characteristic of Peru (they are small public transport buses in which you travel like canned sardines) that are colorful but not very safe; in fact, I did not feel it because I was a short time and in limited areas, but Lima is often an insecure city in which one has to walk very carefully, especially at night, on public transport and in places that are not very crowded.
My tour in Lima
At 2:15 p.m., the Tour Team picked me up in a minivan and after several stops, we started the tour from Huaca Pucllana, an archeological adobe site that dates from the time of the year 500 b.C. I did not enter since this visit was not included in the tour, and I haven’t enough time to discover it, but it is possible to visit it. It has a museum inside where Incaic history is told.
We begin by taking a walk through the Mucen Museum, which has archeology rooms with pre-Inca and Inca objects; everything that is exposed was found in the tombs. There is a room where pre-Columbian gold metallurgy is exhibited, which is kept in the vault of the Museum, which was previously the National Central Reserve. There is also a painting room, with prominent artists such as Pancho Fierro, Ricardo Florez, Julia Navarrete, and Fernando de Szyszlo, among others. The building was inaugurated in 1922 to be the headquarters of the Reserve Bank of Peru for more than 50 years; it was not until 1979 that the National Museum was declared.
Historical Quarter: Plaza Mayor of Lima and Cathedral
Then, we continue the visit through the Historical Quarter, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1991, with 116 blocks that remain original by 65%. We were able to appreciate the Plaza Mayor of Lima (or Plaza de Armas of Lima), with its classic wooden balconies that date back to the colonial era and that can be seen exhibited in all buildings surrounding the Plaza and its imposing Cathedral, which was unsurpassed in 1552, but which had great extensions throughout its history.
Convent and Church of San Francisco
After several photos and to enjoy the beautiful colonial architecture, we went to the Convent and Church of San Francisco, which dates back to 1672 and is still active. There are the famous catacombs that worked until 1810 and houses about 25,000 bodies under his Church, this part is not allowed to take pictures.
To close the tour, we went to the Parque del Amor which is on the Malecón de Miraflores; from there you can observe the Pacific Ocean in all its immensity.
Right there, at the Larcomar stop (one of the best-known shopping in Lima) is where the bus used to return to the airport.
Finishing my stopover in Lima
My stopover in Lima ended and my desperation began; the Airport Express Lima stop was not correctly identified, the schedules are not respected (due to the tremendous traffic) and once I was able to get on the bus, it took us about 4:30 hours to get to the airport, without Wi-Fi service to check traffic, and I arrived just 10 minutes before boarding, with heavy stress through the clouds.
Lima is a beautiful city, with a lot of history to discover, architecture of varied eras, characteristic and tasty gastronomy. The 12 hours that I met Lima was enough for me, at least I think so today, but I am pretty sure that as time goes on, I will appreciate more my stop-over in Lima and I will try to return and give her a new opportunity.