Lima wasn’t a city on the top of my must-visit list. We’d listened to and read a lot of negative things about the city and we ummed and ahhed about whether we should spend any time there at all after our Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, or just get straight out of there and back home to Buenos Aires.

 

But that all changed when we actually arrived in the city and jumped straight into a Lima City Walking Tour with Jhony. Our plan had been to stay in Miraflores and explore that area, but when I found Jhony’s website I thought, what the hell, let’s give it a go. He showed us a side of the city that I know we wouldn’t have found ourselves – and perhaps, given what we’d read about Lima, we wouldn’t have even ventured out to discover it at all.

 

Central Lima is usually described as a pretty unsafe place to walk. With Jhony, though, we felt fine and, honestly, the descriptions of the city as risky seemed a little over the top to me.

 

We started out in Plaza San Martin, the ubiquitous statue of General San Martin dominating the square. Here we saw groups of people engaged in political discussions, apparently the only place people are legally allowed to do so. It was fascinating to watch people debating so intently.

 

Lima city walking tour

Plaza San Martin

 

Lima city walking tour

Political discussions in the plaza

 

Next up, it was time for a pisco sour, and what better place to enjoy the cocktail than its alleged birthplace, Hotel Maury.

 

Lima city walking tour

Hotel Maury

 

A little unsteady on our feet after only one of the potent cocktails, we weaved through the peak-hour crowds, admiring the beautiful buildings and understanding exactly why the historic centre of Lima is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Lima city walking tour

Detailed buildings in downtown Lima

 

Lima city walking tour

Downtown Lima

 

Lima city walking tour

Intricate details found in an old residence in Central Lima

 

Lima city walking tour

Peeking through the gate of an old residence

 

Lima city walking tour

Shoe shiner at work

 

Lima city walking tour

Colourful buildings in downtown Lima

 

We continued by foot through Chinatown and into the market, where we were at times overwhelmed by some of the more confronting foods on offer. I haven’t published any of the more interesting items on sale (think brains and bulls’ testicles) to avoid squeamishness!

 

Lima city walking tour

Fruit and vegetables at the market – including corn of course!

 

Lima city walking tour

I’m a little worried about how these guys are going to end up…

 

Lima city walking tour

Poultry for sale

 

Lima city walking tour

Fish market

 

Lima city walking tour

Pigs’ feet

 

Lima city walking tour

Picarones, doughnuts made of sweet potato and usually covered in honey

 

Sprinting before it closed, we explored what was probably my favourite part of the tour: the Monasterio de San Francisco. I wish I could have taken more photos in here but it wasn’t allowed. The inside of the monastery is incredibly beautiful, and it also houses hundreds (possibly thousands) of ancient religious texts in a gorgeous library lined with bookshelves. The most interesting part, though, are the catacombs that house more than 75,000 bodies. Many of the remains are exposed and you can walk past them through small tunnels.

 

Lima city walking tour

Sneaky photo taken inside the monastery

 

Lima city walking tour

Inside the monastery

 

Lima city walking tour

Inside the monastery

 

Lima city walking tour

Exposed bones in the catacombs

 

Lima city walking tour

The monastery

 

We ended the tour in the Plaza de Armas, where the cathedral and other buildings were beautifully lit up in the dying evening light.

 

Lima city walking tour

Lima city

 

Lima city walking tour

Downtown Lima

 

Lima city walking tour

Plaza de Armas

 

Lima city walking tour

Plaza de Armas

 

It was a reminder to me never to judge a city based on other peoples’ reviews, and to get out and explore it – often best done with a local expert.

 

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