Updated: Sep 16
What to do in Lima, unusual activities or not. It was for me the second time that I found myself in Lima (first time in 2014) and I discovered a city completely different from my first impression. Let's discover my highlights.
This neighborhood is by far the best to visit during your visit to Lima. You will be captivated by the modernity of this port city. When you arrive by plane in Lima, you will see from the window a beach stretching for miles with a highway running along it. It feels like being in Malibu! But that's more of an illusion, because just a little further out lies the desert and arid plains of the continent. Continuing, we find the Andes mountain range. The view is unusual! The first thing you want to do is obviously take a walk near the beach. It is hot in Lima, we do not expect it. The promenade is specially designed for tourists and shopping, there is a little Kuala Lumpur vibe, Michaël tells me! And there are the stores of the biggest brands in the world, it surprises us. Anecdote from 2014 is that my bag had been lost in plane transits and I had to shop for a spare kit to help me out on my first visit to Lima. Thanks to the insurance, but we can't make up for the time lost doing this job! Five years later, in 2019, I was finally able to explore a little more of Lima than its underwear stores... I'm kidding! Still, my friend Val had tried surfing while Alexe and I had just enjoyed the waves and the good weather.
I especially knew that the view was incredible in the evening, and this is the plan that I wanted to have the most from Miraflores...
Eye that Cries & Huaca Pucllana
During my research, there is a monument that intrigued me called “the eye that cries” (Ojo que Llora). It is a statue that honors the victims of terrorism in Peru with a rather original design. I also found that it was in line with the theme of my documentary, which is to reflect on the judgment that has been made and is still made on the difference of the other or of cultures throughout the history of North America. South.
As I have often mentioned, travel means constantly compromising with the unexpected and I demonstrate this once again in the following lines. We begin our exploration of this region of the city, which we particularly like. We were then at the intersection 28 de julio and avenue Arequipa. The streets are colored with vegetation and parks and monuments appear on all sides. There is no shortage of cycle paths, as well as play areas for children. Gorgeous! El Ojo que Llora is located in the El Campo de Marte park. For some obscure reason, the monument is fenced off and we weren't able to get a closer look at the exhibition! It is the case to say it, we were sad (hahaha)! But in reality, we were satisfied all the same to have looked for the monument because it allowed us to discover this corner of Lima that we really appreciated. Would I put it in my must-do list in Lima, for example? You could do without it if you're short on time!
Close by, however, be sure to visit the Exhibition Park, a green space hosting the Lima Art Museum.
Still on the unexpected side, there was also the mysterious monument of Huaca Pucllana, the remains of an ancient pre-Inca pyramid dating from the years 200 to 700 AD, which was very close to our accommodation. Believe it or not, the day we decided to visit it, it was closed, we hadn't looked at our schedule correctly (the establishment is closed on Sundays and Tuesdays)! Fortunately, the pre-Inca and Inca pyramids are not lacking in Peru, so it hurt us less to have to cross out this activity. General admission: $4.60.
A museum in a submarine
The “Museo Abtao” is the first ship-museum in Latin America. Getting there was an adventure in itself, and I strongly advise you as tourists to go there by Uber, because you will have to go through a very disadvantaged neighborhood around Lima. The two Uber drivers we had ordered (independently) took turns ordering us back and forth to close the windows and lock our doors as we passed through the nearby barrio. If it's locals claiming it, you have to believe it, I guess! Arrived on the scene, the ticket office is a bit difficult to find and hidden behind a mirror glass, so no possibility of seeing if there was someone to welcome us, no clear sign indicating the museum either. It was with luck that we saw someone speaking to the window and we understood then that it was there that we had to buy our tickets. Although we had asked several people to direct us, it seemed that there was perhaps a lack of will to inform us well… do not be discouraged! The visit costs as little as $4.60, including a 30-minute explanatory video, the opportunity to observe Peruvian navy artefacts and of course, a visit to the interior of the Abtao submarine. We were amazed to realize how spacious the interior was compared to our perception of the exterior! The guide was also a passionate and made us at the end a simulation of a state of emergency! It was definitely an experience worth the trip, as it takes at least 30 minutes by car to get there from the tourist center of Lima, very close to the Naval Museum of Peru, in the city of Callao.
70 000 graves
In Lima, you absolutely must pass by the Basilica and Monastery of Saint Francis of Assisi, a few minutes from Lima's Plaza de Armas. You will be able to take a most unusual tour of this convent which venerates Jude the Apostle (the brother of Jesus and not Judas the traitor) and visit the catacombs which contain approximately 70,000 human bones! No jokes! We didn't count them but it was very close (hahaha!).
The only negative point (but which is very understandable) is that I could not film inside! But the 45-minute tour, which will be offered in English or Spanish as you wish, also costs $4.60 and the guides are very knowledgeable and professional. The Basilica is also, apart from the catacombs, a work of art in itself and many mysteries are hidden in the frescoes on the walls... Here and there, the guide points out faces that have disappeared, seeming to have been erased by the hand of a ghost; pieces with a singular energy; a last supper table whose dishes are replaced by typical Peruvian dishes (such as guinea pig or potatoes!); he also shows us another intriguing picture of the Devil accompanying Judas!
And what about all those skulls, femurs, ulna and radius, which line the basement of the monastery? Not only is it rather incredible that this first cemetery in Lima was not looted, unlike the many ancient cemeteries in Peru (come to think of it, maybe it was, I don't remember that has been mentioned), but it is also the way the skulls and bones are arranged that intrigue, so as to want to create geometric shapes: the skulls in the center of a sun of arms or legs for example ...Yes, you understand as I do, that this means that someone moved these bones to create this tourist attraction… or that someone moved the still decomposing limbs to place them this way before 1808, date at which the first exterior cemetery of Lima was founded… it is unclear which is worse. But you will see that in Peru, over time, it has become customary for us not to ask ourselves too many questions!