We landed late in Lima, breezed through customs, and were so early in arriving that our taxi driver had not yet arrived at the airport. After some nervous pacing at airport pickup our driver arrived and off we went to 1900 Backpackers Hostel. We chose the hostel because it is housed in a mansion designed by Gustav Eiffel and was located directly across from Lima's largest museums and parks, and within walking distance of the major bus lines.
Sadly, even a mansion designed by Gustav Eiffel will be a sad place if no one cleans it. Although the building and the setting were fantastic, I've rarely been in such a dirty hostel. The walls, the floors, and even the ceiling had reminders of the many backpackers who came before. UGH. In addition, the ancient building had no soundproofing and ventelation windows opened to the inside of the house, not the outside. Our night was full of drunk Australians and French people enjoying the hostel party scene. For me this is one of the worst parts of travel. Nothing can overcome the heebyjeebies of not wanting to take off your shoes or let your stuff touch the floor or the annoyences provided by drunks.
However, there's no arguing with a bed at 2am and despite the unpleasent room Blake and I determined that we'd have an excellent day. We woke late, and walked across the park to catch a bit of Lima culture. In a bit of bad planning/luck on our part, all the museums in Lima close on Mondays. Whoops. We'll have to visit the National Museum on our next swing through the city. To compensate we walked around the park, tried a bit of the local street food, and enjoyed watching Limenos. There are many people in modern dress, but just as many dressed in traditional clothing. The women are most notable in brightly colored skirts, knitted knee sockes, beaded and sparkly cardigans, and very fancy bowler hats to top off the outfit. Millenry is alive and well in Peru. Many also have a brightly colored scarf tied around their back/shoulders, and more often than not you can see a little pair of legs sticking out. Strollers are very rare here.
We took care of a few errands and bought our bus tickets to Huaraz. We decided to stay one more night at 1900 Backpackers despite the nastiness because it would allow us to catch the early bus at 7am. Thwarted in seeing museums we decided instead to check out the cathedrals in LIma. We felt very lucky that the museum of religious art, housed in the former cathedral of Lima was open. You walk in and to your right are the authentic bones of Fransico Pizzaro. He's both celebrated and hated here in equal parts, revered as a founder of modern Peru and despised as the sneaky, despotic conqueror of the Incas. HIs tomb in surrounded by gorgeous tile mosaics. The rest of the museum is filled with artifacts which reflect Peru's past as the source of Spanish wealth during the colonial era. Each nave was filled with a different retable, each more intrecate and detailed than the last. We decended into the crypt and viewed some very old bones, and emerged in the back of the cathedral. The rooms where priests once prepared for mass now house the magnificently embroided vestiments, fine silver and gold objects for preforming mass, and a collection of the most magnificent nativities I've ever seen. We really enjoyed our time exploring.
After our day we wanted to enjoy a nice meal and some pisco, and went to a highly reccomended restaurant called Quierolo. Our drink order went fine, with a pisco sour for Blake and an egg free pisco sour for me. Then things took a funny turn. We ordered the house specialty plate designed to be enjoyed with a nice drink. It was based on cheese, olives, and something called "Salchichas", which we were told were sausages. Turns out "salchichas" are hot dogs, which I suppose do count as sausages. Not exactly the charcutarie we expected, but dinner is dinner and we ate our hotdogs up.
We left Lima early the next morning for Huaraz, home to the magnificent Cordillera Blanca where we planed to do our very first trek of the trip. Santa Cruz trek, here we come!