Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pisco! Sour! -- Callao/Lima Peru – March 25, 2014

We are back!  Last time we were delayed because of fog and we were delayed by over four hours so we didn’t end up doing our tour with Taxi Lima.  This time I needed to make it up to Renato and arranged a 7 hour tour for 8 of us.  This is a spot we had been looking forward to.

We docked early, and once again this is a large industrial port.  We don’t dock in Lima we dock in the district of Callao, which in itself is a large city and is right beside Lima.  Together the area has over 10 million people in population.

We were given a letter a few days ago from the Captain warning us of the dangers in Callao of muggings and petty crime and to use caution when travelling around Callao and the port area.  Of course many on board freaked right out and many were not even going to get off the ship. 

I was a little disappointed to hear this and felt that these people are really going to miss out.  I am also surprised that head office did not offer the same serious warning of petty crimes for Rio, Buenos Aries, and Valparaiso where petty crime is also rampant.  And we encountered people who were robbed here.  But please use caution wherever you travel.

Like many other industrial ports we had to take a shuttle from the pier to the port gate.  But unlike Buenos Aries and Valparaiso this port does not have big buses they have only small vans to transport all the people. 

We got off at 8:30 to give us enough time to get to the pier gate for 9, but when we got off the queue was just forming and we were near the front but it still took over 45 minutes to get to the gate.  And I would say the line was about 200 people when we finally got in the van.  This has been like this for a few years and I have to say was the only big negative for this city.  We are standing out on the pier in the direct sun and long waits with no clear direction. 

The ship did offer a free shuttle to the San Miguel Plaza Shopping Mall that started at 9:30 and ended at 8:30.  This was free but I have a feeling this was added last minute when the warning came out, but not a 100% sure.  Why they couldn’t of moved more people just to the gate I don’t know. 

Note the Princess tours loaded onto buses right at the pier and didn’t have to deal with this issue.  But because we were on a private tour we had to take the small shuttle.  Hindsight I may have arranged for Renato to pick us up at the shopping mall, but not sure if Princess will have the same shuttle in the future.  Either way if you are on a private excursion make sure you take into consideration the long lines for the van to the gate.

Renato of Taxi Lima was waiting for us.  We had a bit of a wait for the van cause his normal van was involved in an accident and he was getting another one. 

The van arrived and we all pilled in.  We were a group of 8 and it could of accommodated two more but that would have been very tight.  As it was I think if I did it again I would of done with 6 people to make transportation a little more comfortable.  But thankfully we are all good friends and we managed fine.

Our first area was visiting the area of Callao.  Here the houses are painted a minimum of two colors it really has character.  We stop at a beach area and then our next stop is at a lovely park.

We drive along the water to the Mira Flores District to the Nazca Lines Park.  Here the gardeners have recreated some of the Nazca Lines in flowers in this huge garden.   The views are stunning too.

Next stop is Lovers Park with the iconic statue of two lovers.  The statues is surrounded by a stunning mosaic wall that provides glimpses of views thru the openings.  Here we encounter four huge Princess tour buses and the only place we felt we were crowded with tourists.

Renato stops at a shopping mall.  At first I didn’t want to see this cause heck we see malls all the time and this mall has similar shops as to home, even a Starbucks.  But I resisted. 


But this mall has it’s parking underground and the whole thing is on the side of a cliff with an amazing view of the ocean.  The architecture is amazing and in the end we were not here long and it was quite interesting.

Renato of Taxi Lima with Jasper

Next stop is lunch that is situated in a lovely square and doesn’t look like much from the outside but it is HUGE.  The restaurant is called Rustica and for lunch they offer a Peruvian buffet that costs us around $11 US per person and I have to say was well worth it.

Many of us order Pisco Sours – research you know.  We need to compare the two countries’ versions of Pisco Sours.  After trying them both I prefer Lima’s version.  I even try a chocolate drink that has Pisco in it too and that was darn good.  In the end the boys have numerous Pisco Sours and a new chant was started.  One person says Pisco the remaining say Sour, Pisco!  Sour!  Come on say it with me.

The food was to die for and so different than the other South American Countries.  Renato comes up with us to the buffet and explains the dishes.  I tried many new items today, including Chicken Blood stew, which was sort of like the Argentinian Blood Sausage but better I thought. 
Here in Peru they use spice --- FINALLY. 

We go up for seconds and we are stuffed, but I did save room for a bit of dessert.

Back on the road the large meal is slowing us down but thankfully Renato is on top of this.  We are now in the Chorrilos District  area, we started on the upper area and now we are down on the lower area.  Beautiful beaches, amazing statues, and we can see the open air church and the illuminated cross here too.  Also in the distance we can see Lima’s version of the Christ Redeemer statue that was built by some Brazilians.

We are now making our way into the downtown of Lima and the traffic is noticeable heavier, bumper to bumper in fact.  But the architecture is stunning.

The driver drops us off and Renato starts showing us on foot all around. 

When we arrive in the main square I glance up and left, right, all around – WOW.

The Cathedral, these stunning Colonial Balconies, The House of Inquisition, The Congress Building, the Government Palace and the huge square.  He explains each building and wish we could spend more time here but we know we will be back and we will explore more then. 

We are now on our way to a private home that his friend manages and lives at.  The home was built in 1740s and it is the largest residential homes in the city.  We enter this huge door into a large courtyard.  Renato explains that the large doors are because visitors would arrive with horse drawn carriages and the doors had to be big enough to accommodate.  The large stair case to the left is wide to accommodate the large dresses the women use to wear. 

Today the lower floor is occupied by some private organizations which pay rent and help to offset the cost of the upkeep. 

We make our way upstairs to the area that was once the actual residence.  A large room that they call the ballroom use to conduct large dances here.  Again a big wow!
We are directed to the wooden balcony, very ornate.  Boy are we fortunate, I am pretty sure most tours do not get to see things like this.

Back out into the courtyard balcony, we are head up a very narrow staircase.  It was like this because in case of invasion you could protect yourself at the top of the staircase and since the staircase is so narrow only one person can go up at a time it was easier to defend. 

We are now on the third level and the views from her blow me away.  There are a lot of abandoned buildings around and you can now see how large the city is.
Up another level to a small look out and well can I come up with another word for wow.

Here is a picture of the house we were just in and you can see each level.  At the end we were at the very top with the domed roof.

Back in the van and we need to head back to the ship. It has been a long day and we have seen a lot.  But we have so much more we wish we could of seen.  We need to come back here and spend more time, maybe a week.  I know for sure we would be contacting Renato for assistance.

He was very professional and helpful.  He responded to emails efficiently and even helped us answer other questions about Peru.  He arranged for tours for some others on the ship who had found his services thru my blog from two years ago too.

Back at the dreaded gate!  We wait about ten minutes for another shuttle van.  Boy wish they would improve this.  Even showing some skin and putting our thumb out doesn’t help.

1 comment:

  1. Lima looks amazing!! Great photos Vickie! Really enjoying your blog!