Sunday, March 27, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011 – Callao, Peru – Partly Cloudy – mid 70s

Distance traveled from Arica, Chile: 591 Nautical Miles

The ship is docked in the port city of Callao (“Cah-Yow”).

Callao, Peru from Ship (Small) 

Lima, founded in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro, is in the top 20 of large world cities with a population over 8 million people (metro population of 10 million people). 

We are on tour today: Lima Highlights Tour.  Our tour guide is Rina and I am in the jump seat (the bus is full).  The traffic is beyond description in Lima – traffic lights and stop signs, while present, are not part of the traffic control system.  Drive anywhere you need to go and stay on the horn. 

It is a short drive from Callao (which is pretty nice for a port city) to the capital city of Lima.

 On our way to Lima (Small) KFC and BK in Lima (Small)

All the comforts of home

A monument with flags from around the world sits on one of the city’s parkways

Lima Flag Monument (Small)

Ironically, this city – where no traffic lights are obeyed – has a very sophisticated traffic light system.  There is a countdown clock next to the light which gives you the seconds before it turns red (see below).

Hi Tech Traffic Lights Lima (Small)

The bus passed a wall of murals each depicting a region or city in Peru.  The one for Callao is shown below.

Murals of various Peru Locales (Small)

The Argentine Embassy is a pink building (an homage to the Casa Rosata?).  The mansion that now houses the embassy was a gift from Argentina on Peru’s Centennial.

Argentine Embassy Lima (Small)

Nearing the city center, we see an enormous baroque style government building, which now is totally empty.

Empty Govt Baroque Bldg (Small)

To get to the Plaza Mayor (Central Square) we have to merge into a two lane street from a five lane major boulevard.  Every car, truck, and bus is involved in the merge, even those in the far left lane of the five lane street.  It is so crazy that I took a picture of this monumental traffic snarl.

Eight lanes to two Lima (Small)

To keep the motorists entertained while they are gridlocked, a street entertainer does cartwheels between the cars.  Look carefully below and you can see his legs in the air. 

Performance Art Lima (Small)

The bus does not stop at the square housing the statue of Jose de San Martin (the Libertador) due to a lack of parking room.

Jose de San Martin Square (Small)

The bus does stop at the Plaza Mayor, the historic center of the “Old City”.  There is a major police presence here (mostly armed with AK-47s – I asked one of the guards) because the square is home to the Government Palace (you cannot even take a picture of the palace).  The SWAT unit below sums it all up.

Peruvian SWAT (Small)

Cathedral Main Square Lima (Small)

The Cathedral of Lima

One of the side streets bordering the Plaza Mayor (below) contains restaurants and some shops.  The granite monument (far below) is dedicated to the indigenous peoples of the area.

Main Square Lima (Small) 

Tanta Restaurant Main Square (Small)

 Granite Monument to Indigenous Peoples (Small) 

We walked as a group through a vendor area to the Archbishop’s Palace.

Vendor area Main Square Lima (Small)

Lima Cathedral (Small) Lima Cathedral 1 (Small) Lima Cathedral Gardens (Small)

Top and Center:  Archbishop’s Palace – Plaza Mayor; Bottom:  The Palace’s Garden area.

I did not go into the Palace because I stayed with some passengers unable to make the climb to the upper levels. 

The tour was running a little behind schedule so the guide asked the passengers if they would like to stop at University Park or go directly to the upscale neighborhood of Miraflores.  Two passengers wanted to go to the University so the bus planned to stop for five minutes for some quick photos.  The rest of the passengers would stay on the bus – I went with the two passengers and the guide.

University Park contains a building that was the original home of San Marcos University (founded in 1551).  San Marcos University was the first university established in the Americas.

 Approaching San Marcos U (Small) San Marcos U (Small) San Marcos U2 (Small) San Marcos U3 (Small)

From Top:  Approaching University Park; the original home for San Marcos University; the courtyard with original tower, another courtyard.

Back on the bus, we pass the Museum of Italian Art (below) and the new stadium (under construction) that will seat 80,000 spectators,

Lima Museum of Italian Art (Small) New Stadium 80000 (Small)

The final stop on the tour is the residential and shopping neighborhood of Miraflores.  Condos in Miraflores run from $400,000 to $1,000,000.  An interesting fountain can be seen as we near Miraflores.

Foutain near Miraflores (Small)

Our destination in Miraflores is the Parque Del Amor.  The park overlooks the Pacific Ocean – today, fog keeps this being a perfect photo op. 

The park is in an area near the Marriott Hotel and condos.

Miraflores Condos (Small)

The park has two main attractions.  The first is a mosaic wall  (below) that runs from the park entrance along the cliff edge.

Miraflores Park (Small)

Miraflores Sculpture (Small) 

The second is a statue – Amor – that looks like it is made of terra cotta that embodies the theme of this park. 

Amor Statue (Small) Amor Statue2 (Small)

The Parque de Amor affords great views of the Pacific Ocean (three following pictures).  It is a great area for surfers.

Pacific Ocean from Park (Small)

Pacific Ocean from Park1 (Small) Pacific Ocean from Park2 (Small) 

The bus takes the coastal highway back to Callao.  The cliffs do not look too stable and there are landslide warnings posted.  Peru has been hit by several major earthquakes so I asked the guide about homes built on the cliffs.  She told me they were damaged and are now empty (but they are safe).

Cliffs on the way to the pier (Small) 

Tsunami Warning Miraflores (Small)

Safety First – A Tsunami Evacuation Sign

We got back to the ship for a late lunch and then spent the rest of the day in the Solarium.  I also tried out the hot tubs and the thalassotherapy pool (chlorinated sea water with jets), which was very nice.  After dinner we caught our favorite group, the Baires Quartet in the Rendezvous Lounge.  The lead singer is on the same dinner schedule as we are since she is in the Ocean View Cafe with us every evening.

 Baires Quarter Rendezvous Lounge (Small)

Tonight is Variety Night at Showtime.  Performing were Travis Turpin, Top Shelf, and Julian and Celia (the acrobat fliers).  A good show but I wish Travis had sung more Broadway stuff.

Following the show, we listened to the West Side Strings (from the Ukraine) in the Cova Cafe – they are good but too much of their stuff is classical.

West Side Strings Cova Cafe (Small)

A nice day – need to spend more time in the thalassotherapy pool from now on.

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