Thursday, January 2, 2014

Turibus..El Bus de Lima!

On our second day in Lima the fam and I decided we needed to do some touristy things and what’s more touristy then riding a city sightseeing bus? The company we chose is called Turibus and is a double-decker yellow tour bus that provides six tour options all leaving from the Larcomar Mall area in Miraflores.

We selected the four-hour “City Tour Turibus”, which is marketed in the pamphlet as follows:  “Discover the best of Lima with style! Through an exciting tour four meters high of the bohemian district of Barranco. We will also visit the most important attractions of Lima’s Historic Centre: the San Martin Square (Plaza San Martin), the Main Square (Plaza Mayor), and the Convent of San Francisco and its Catacombs.”

Our tour began at 2:15 and the first stop was the old fishing district of Barranco located just south of Miraflores, right along the Pacific Ocean. We saw two main attractions there. La Iglesia la Ermita and Puente de los Suspiros. Legend has it that Peruvian fishermen who were lost at sea saw an illuminating cross through Lima’s thick, dense winter fog one night. It is believed this cross helped them find their way back to shore, and a church (Iglesia la Ermita) was built at the location the fisherman saw the cross. Unfortunately during a war in 1881, Chilean troops nearly burnt down the church leaving it’s roof shattered to this day.
Iglesia la Ermita

Just a short walk away from the church is the Barranco landmark, Puente de los Suspiros, or the “Bridge of Sighs”.  This is a very special bridge to the inhabitants of Barranco as it withstood a war and several earthquakes. It is said that young couples used to meet at this bridge and it is tradition that anyone crossing the bridge for the first time does so while making a wish and without taking a breath. If you can manage to make it across the bridge without breathing, your wish will come true. Well, we all tried this, and let’s just say that Dad is the only one who will have his wish come true. Click here to watch a video of Peruvian musician Chabuca Granda performing her song “El Puente de los Suspiros”, inspired by this bridge for lovers.  

The familia after walking across the Bridge of Sighs 

Puente de los Suspiros
After hoping back on the bus we headed toward Lima’s historic city center. Plaza San Martin was our first drive by. This square is one of the largest in all of Lima and represents Peru’s independence. It is dedicated to General Jose de San Martin who was one of the leaders of independence and declared Peru to be an independent nation on July 28, 1821.

Plaza San Martin

Driving a little further we headed to Plaza Mayor, where the President of Peru resides. Think of it as our White House. Prior to our little bus excursion, my parents and I actually strolled over this way and were able to watch the changing of the guards. There was more pomp and circumstance then I’ve ever seen. The entire process lasted well over an hour, and Big Ron definitely has some footage that captures the moment. Our tour guide gave us the low down on the plaza, which is not only surrounded by the Government Palace, but also the Cathedral of Lima, the Archbishop’s Palace, the Municipal Palace as well as the Palace of the Union. This was a both a fancy and very historical location to say the least.
center of the Plaza

Government Palace

Changing of the Guard

Our final stop on the Turibus was a visit to the Convent of San Francisco and it’s Catacombs. The church had beautiful architecture, and was filled with ancient paintings, gold furniture and a vast amount of mosaic tile. The highlight of this visit was a walk down to the Catacombs, which were discovered in 1943. This part of the tour was the most cryptic with over 25,000 bodies laid to rest there; the walk through is definitely not for the claustrophobic. Needless to say I think we were all happy when we saw the exit sign in front of us. 

Convent of San Francisco 

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