Lima has cats Cusco has dogs

One of the experiences we wanted to gain from travel was to meet local people. Our first days in Lima got us off to a good start although our final encounter before leaving the city left us in a ponder.
Our hotel in Lima satisfied three important essentials – comfy bed, good food for breakfast and friendly service. The variety and quantity of the buffet breakfast allayed my fears that we might go hungry on our first day.
We were staying in a suburb of Lima called Miraflores which was described as one of the better ones. Turning left would take us a short walk to the Pacific ocean. Turning right was the city centre. We had planned to spend only a few days in Lima so our first priority was to see the city centre.
We headed off equipped with a street map supplied by the hotel but soon realised that it only covered the centre of Miraflores. Our sense of adventure was soon being put to the test..and so was our navigation skills!
I spotted some high rise buildings which I thought could be the centre and worth aiming for. It wasn’t long before we were expressing concerns to each other that “this area looks a bit off-the-tourist-beaten-path”. We needn’t have worried though as everyone we asked directions from were helpful with cheery smiles and waves.
Passing the high rise buildings, (which were not the centre!), and a modern shopping centre with familiar chain stores, we reached the historic central area.
The walk had been much further than we thought and we were in need of refreshments. Bowls of mixed fruit with yoghurt in a small cafe caught our eye and the price pleased our purse.
Recharged enough for sight seeing, we followed well placed tourist signposts to the main square with the cathedral. The Basilica cathedral had numerous chapels all with intricate decorative sculpting and beautiful works of art. The main square, Plaza Mayor de Lima, was surrounded by grand ornate Baroque style of buildings and the Presidential Palace which was guarded by special soldiers at the front and at the far side by a tank!
Nearby San Martín Square, had groups of people listening to speakers and reminded us of “Speaker’s Corner” in London.
The historic area had pedestrianised shopping streets which gave us a good chance to do one of those things you do on holiday…. window shopping to compare prices with back home. We found a bar and enjoyed a hearty fish soup with everything in it including fried egg and rice – a meal in itself.
It was then early evening and the city had become crowded, the traffic crazy and we couldn’t face the long walk back to the hotel so we broke one of the rules of safe travel and flagged down a taxi. Despite the jaded state of his vehicle the driver got us through the congested roads without bother.

On our second day we stayed local in Miraflores and went for a stroll to take a view of the Pacific Ocean at Larcomar where we found a modern shopping centre which opened out to the sea. The area had upmarket hotels including one fronted by a waterfeature with lots of turtles. We also found parks with lots of cats. At first we thought they were stray cats but they were more like street cats which were fussed by everyone. We got talking to a local person who told us people tolerated the cats and , on learning that we were heading to Cusco, he warned us to watch out for dogs. As we headed back to our hotel we pondered his caution “Lima has cats, Cusco has dogs”.

 

Where we stayed: San Augustin Exclusive Hotel, Calle San Martín, Miraflores, Lima.

Date of visit: September 2016

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