As the locals say: feliz 28 de julio! Today was our last full day in Lima, so we took the chance to check out the main downtown sites. Turns out there wasn't actually that much to see other than the expected town squares and cathedral, though we still had a good day. Since it was independence day, there was a lot more going on than usual, and almost every building was covered in Peruvian flags.
Our first stop was Parco de la Muralla (literally Park of the Wall), which is a park surrounding the old colonial walls to the city. We had a wander, and visited a small museum there, which gave an overview of the city, and contained artefacts from the period 1500 - 1700. The video advised that the future of Lima is 'up to the locals' and that they must embrace and welcome tourists. So far we have felt very welcome, so it looks like they are taking this advice on board!
From the park it was only a short walk over to Plaza Mayor, which is one of the two main squares of the city. The square is traditionally considered to be the centre of the city, and is the place where the city was founded in 1535. It is surrounded by grand buildings, including the city's cathedral and a number of palaces. Due to it being independence day, most of the square was taken up by an outdoor festival, which featured singers and traditional dancer. While taking all this in, we were lured into a bar on the square by a man who admired the beer on Marc's tshirt, and rightly guessed we were both willing to drink one. Here, Marc sampled one of the local delicacies: Cuy, which is what we commonly call guinea pig. Marc ate the majority of it, though I had a bite just so I can say I tried it. We both decided that despite it sounding cliche, it more or less tasted like chicken - something we are both rather familiar with!
After finishing up, we walked down the Jiron de la Union, which is a pedestrian street of shops and restaurants, linking Plaza Mayor to Plaza San Martin, the second large square of the city. Apparently this road used to be an affluent aristocratic area, but has since deteriorated and become commercialised. Our main mission while on the street was to find Marc a belt, which it turned out was a somewhat elusive garment, with many jeans shops simply not selling any. After a longer than planned search, a belt was purchased, and we completed the trip to Plaza San Martin. The square's namesake is the statue in the middle, which features Jose de San Martin, who liberated the country in 1821.
Having completed our tour of the main city sites, we headed back to the hostel where I am now writing this before we have a nap. Tonight is apparently going to be a big night out to celebrate independence! We will of course be joining in...
Photos of the day: View from Parque de la Muralla of a favela on the hillside, Marc enjoying a horse, and his Cuy, traditional dancers in the Plaza Mayor, and the bustling Jiron de la Union