Cusco, got off to a rocky start!

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I knew writing about Cusco was going to be a challenge, a welcomed one, yet still daunting.  Throughout the months that followed my time in Peru and Bolivia, there’s been a monkey on my back niggling at me.  The inevitable time would come when I’d be writing about my near misses and utter enjoyment in these countries.  A part of my anxiety was, and still is, the overwhelming information about these countries and Inca’s.  Whereas with many other places I’ve been to, my knowledge was reasonable before arriving.  Peru, the Inca’s and Bolivia were like starting from scratch.  I thought I knew about the Incas, but from very early on in Peru, I realised I knew next to nothing; starting with my visits to Huaca Pucllana and Huaca Huallamarca.

Whereas my posts would normally follow what I did on each day.  Far from being due to a lack of information about Cusco or it being boring or bad, on the contrary, it’s the exact opposite!  In fact, there is so much to see and do right on Cusco’s doorstep that I made it my base for nearly two weeks (cumulatively over 2 stages)!  For Cusco I may have to deviate to some degree; otherwise I’d end up writing an anthology about it!

That being said, I’m going to split Cusco into two parts…I think.  First, will be Cusco in general.  Second, will be Cusco at night (mainly around Plaza De Armas).  This format may not make sense now but will further down the line (…I hope!).  Between Cusco Part 1 and 2 I’ll do separate posts of the day trips I made to towns and historical sites.  Who knows, maybe there’ll even be a Cusco Part 3!

Cusco, arrived with a bump

Flying from Lima to Cusco only takes an hour and twenty minutes.  Still, I never enjoy early flights, mine was at 7:10 so not too bad, though I needed to wake up at around 4:15.  The thought of arriving then trying to make my way to my accommodation wasn’t very appealing.  Solution; my hotel/hostel, which I’ll get into more detail later, offered an airport pick-up making things nice and easy.  Not something I usually do; I know that sounds like I’m contradicting myself because I did the same thing when I got to Lima (my comeback to that was because I arrived in Lima so late ?)

Flying into Cusco is cool!  Usually descending through the clouds, the ground is still fuzzy far below.  Not so coming into Cusco.  As we broke through the blanket of clouds, we were flanked on either side by mountains towering up to eye level.  The ground low enough to make out every detail down to the colour clothing people wore.  Flying through a valley you come face to face with the longest mountain range on the planted, the great Andes!  It felt ominous flying so close to mountains cushioned either side with their snow caps, a little bumpy too.  As we exited the valley, we banked tightly to the left shortly before landing; the plane veering off like a child playing with a model aircraft.  We landed as the plane rocked from side to side with the crosswinds and bounced along the runway – let’s just say I’ve had smoother landings!

Jorge a.k.a Coco, was at the airport ready to collect me.  A friendly pleasant man welcoming me to Cusco and offering some advice whilst making our way to the car.  Summarising; take the first 2-3 days easy to help acclimatise to the altitude.  I took his advice as a local’s chit chat that come with normal pleasantries meeting visitors for the first time.  Oh please I thought!  I felt fine arriving in Cusco, I’ve done thousands of kilometres of hiking from deserts to sea!  More about that later.

The airport isn’t too far from where I stayed, about 5km.  But, 5km was enough for us to be side swiped by a truck at a roundabout (traffic circle for some countries ?)…how lucky, the passenger side, my side!!  Thankfully we were in a 4×4 and the damage was minimal; more noise than damage with the side mirror being broken.  Whilst the police arrived to take statements Coco flagged down a taxi to take me the rest of the way to his hotel/hostel – he paid.  An eventful way to start my arrival in Cusco, no one was hurt, thankfully.  Hmmm…would Cusco be a replay of Koh Samui I thought to myself (whilst nervously laughing inside ?)!?

Cusco

Like I said the sideswipe wasn’t bad..still make arriving in Cusco a little more “edgy” hahaha! Cusco, Peru

Cusco, a thumping and nauseating start

Check-out at El Tuco is 9:00am; that’s the earliest of anywhere I’ve ever been.  So, when I go there my room was ready.  I had a little breakfast (handful of nuts, ½ a protein bar), then a short snooze ?.  I woke up before noon feeling ok, thinking I’d spend most of the day doing some planning, by supplies (a few snacks and water) and head out for a short recce.  It didn’t take long before noticing how tired I was, and that was just going to by snacks and water!  I was missing that oomph and spring in my step.  Thinking back now, I only realised that my first impressions of Cusco weren’t great; due to the state of my mind and the location wasn’t ascetically pleasing – different to the touristy part of Cusco, more a “locals” part of the town.

I wasn’t “feeling” it walking about (at my usual brisk inquisitive pace), so I headed back to my accommodation to do some planning; putting my lack of motivation down to not eating properly, drinking enough water and lack of sleep.  The beginnings of a headache were also on the onset, which would make sense for the reasons just mentioned.  Not think much of it, there was no harm in taking the day off to plan my few days in Cusco to make them productive.  Throughout the day I ate very little, I had no appetite (a banana and my breakfast) but drank lots of water (not from the tap!).  By nightfall my head was getting worse – the nights in Cusco can also get very cold; especially if you consider the variance between day and night.

My head was now clouding my thoughts.  What I needed was a proper meal, a good night’s sleep and tomorrow I’d feel right as rain.   When in Rome do as the Romans do!  Coco directed me to a local restaurant, less than 50m away.  My first meal in Cusco, was interesting.  Nothing to do with the environment; the local hangout filled with families, great atmosphere with no tourist.  Ah, authenticity I thought!  Well, authenticity can come with unexpected surprises!  After a helpful waiter explained the menu to me, I order – I needed food in my system.

Uhmmm, the food was ok, honestly, not to my taste but nothing wrong with it whatsoever.  It was either the thought of needing food in my system (though I wasn’t hungry) or my clouded mind (which had now become distractingly hazy) that put me on autopilot to eat what was in front of me).  Scooping through the soup, I did get a little shock after a few mouthfuls, when what looked like a baby’s hand filled my spoon…a chicken’s foot!  It didn’t deter me; I pushed the claw aside and I finished my meal.  My head wasn’t right, the meal hadn’t help.  In fact, my head just got gradually worse, with a familiar taste at the back of my throat combined with a cotton mouth…here comes a migraine with full force!

Cusco

My first meal n Cusco: A chicken foot…not something I was expecting in my soup!

With the onset of a migraine (I hoped just a headache, but knew better), I had a very early night.  To summaries the next 36 hours…bloody terrible!!!  Not eating, sleeping and drinking enough the prior 24 hours may have exacerbated the symptoms and sped up the onset of altitude sickness, causing the migraine.  My brief recce walking at normal pace couldn’t have helped either.  My head pounded through the night like a Zulu warrior drum joined with hot and cold sweats.  This carried on into the next day.  I still had no appetite, only eating a banana and forcing myself to eat a protein bar – and a box of headache tablets (not recommended for anyone to do!)!  I only go out of bed to go to the toilet, spending the rest of the day crawled up in bed.

Time passed without my knowledge, I had no idea how long I had been there for, nor if it was day or night.

Day two was a hazy horrible blur; like the state between being asleep and awake, except this included a nauseating pounding head. I forgot to add…my visits to the toilet is code for diarrhoea!  By my second evening things started to subside.  The herd of elephants that were jumping on my head the previous 24hrs were now trotting.  Morning two, I felt good enough to have some breakfast.  Coco told me he had popped his head into my room the past 36 hours to check on me.  I felt glaze, like my body and mind were separate entities – a normal feeling for me after a bad migraine session.

I gingerly ate breakfast.  Coco had seen this sort of thing many times with visitors, hence his advice when I landed.  Foolish and a little arrogant of me not to heed the advice of a local!  Lesson learnt!  I would use this advice for the remainder of my time in Peru and Bolivia.  I’ll cover more about altitude sickness and adjusting later on.

Rough start to Cusco, but still positive

Contrary to what I said earlier, I’m going to change my thoughts how I’ll write about my time in Cusco.  Instead of wracking my brain and making this post 5 or 6 pages long, I’m going to start afresh on Cusco Part2.  I’ve overthought my time in Cusco and that has brought about procrastination, what to write, in what order etc etc., next post will be positive!  I learnt so much and enjoyed my time in Cusco, that’s why I’ll leave the nice parts for the follow posts.  Arriving at a new location and having a rocky start isn’t great, but as before (Aswan, Koh Samui, Tokyo as some of the examples) rocky starts normally have eventful journeys and great endings.

Yes, I know this post is bland, minimal pictures too, fear not (?) the rest of my time in Cusco is as colourful as a rainbow…and I’m not just taking about the pictures!  This disjointed post is also because it has taken me more than a month to write it – for too many reasons to get into!  Starting afresh is the only way I can think of to give Cusco its due.

So, bear with me for now, the real Cusco will follow!

Cusco

The view outside my accommodation, not the most aesthetically pleasing. Bear with me till my next posts, Cusco get much more colourful and wondrous

Huaca Huallamarca, Lima, Peru – Part3

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Huaca Huallamarca in Lima was the only thing on my to do list for the day.  This was my last day in Lima before heading to Cusco, I hadn’t booked my flight nor accommodation yet!  I enjoyed my time in Lima, but the urge to get closer to seeing Machu Picchu was driving me to leave.  Lima and its surroundings certainly has a lot more to offer than what I’ve said, and what I’d seen.  That includes pre-Inca through to the Spanish era.  Cusco was the capitol city of the Incas, so heading there is like finding the source of the Nile.  Lima was great, but I was itching to move on.

My last day in Lima

The night before was a Football World Cup warm-up game between Peru and Scotland.  Seeing dozens of Scots wearing kilts in Lima seem so out of place.  For a country that isn’t well known for sports, this was a big deal for Peru.  That fact they had qualified for the World Cup was a fantastic achievement!  With the warm-up game garnering as much excitement as if they had won the competition!  Peru’s national colours of red and white flooded Miraflores!  Every bar, restaurant, café or any place with a TV was bursting from the seams.  People packed the pavements jostling about to catch a glimpse through winds and doors.

Huaca Huallamarca

Huaca Huallamarca – Lima, Peru

Huaca Huallamarca

Many off Peru’s less famous sites have very little information about them.  Even when visiting and reading and reading their information pamphlets they only cover the bare surface.  For instance, if you read about Petra or all of Egypt’s site you are overwhelmed with detail; from dimensions, materials used, who, when, where and how.  In Peru, this is not the case.  Even after scouring the internet the knowledge only touches the surface.  To some degree it lends more intrigue to the site, mostly it frustrates me.  So little is known about Peru’s archaeological sites, even the huge ones (of which there are many), let alone the people who built and used them.

For one, there are little to no records of how the Inca communicated – except orally.  Not like the Ancient Persians, Egyptians or even the Aztecs.  The latter offering very little till recent times, after deciphering their elaborate hieroglyphic picture grams.  The Inca, for all their magnificent structures covering a vast area, have left near nothing to help us decipher their lives.  No written scripts, documents, carvings etc. leaving little as a point or record of reference.

Location and getting to Huaca Huallamarca

The temperature was mild, the sky was a murky dusty grey, a thin layer of hazed clouds blanketed the sky.  Later in the day there was some drizzling, bringing in a slight breeze to cool the afternoon.  No heavy rain, not even a need for a raincoat though it did hasten my walk back to Miraflores after visiting Huaca Huallamarca.

Google Maps confirmed I was going in the right direction, with my mind questioning its accuracy or if I had typed in the correct place.  To say Huaca Huallamarca is in the middle of a residential area is no exaggeration!  Go one block in either direction and you would miss this 2000 year old pyramid hidden in the neighbourhood.  Sitting snuggly surrounded by up-market apartments in plush tree lined streets, lies the 2200-year-old, Huaca Huallamarca.

Huallamarca takes centre stage with a footprint of one block of the neighbourhood.  This restriction in size is no coincidence that it happens to be the same size as a block.  If it weren’t for concerted conservation efforts, I bet Huallamarca would have been bulldozed to build more swanky houses or apartments.  I can only imagine what lies beneath the residential area surrounding Huallamarca.  Maybe it is lost forever, destroyed to build this lovely neighbourhood…who knows.

Huaca Huallamarca

Huaca Huallamarca – Lima, Peru

Huallamarca

Huaca Huallamarca – Lima, Peru

Structure and layout of Huaca Huallamarca

Huaca Huallamarca was expanded at least three times between 200BC and 200AD.  These stages give it a step pyramidal outline with three platforms and then the large ramp linking them.  From what I’ve managed to gather, the ramp has had considerable reconstruction work done to it.  This formed part of the conservation efforts which now enables easy access to the three platforms without damaging the main structure.

For this next paragraph I’m not as confident in the accuracy of what I’m saying.  At the top top of each platform/step (presumably before the next level was built) are rooms, passageways, enclosures and patios some with smoothly plastered walls painted white and ochre yellow.  When and where these structures start and stop looks like a jigsaw puzzle now!  They confused the hell out of me trying to figure out what is what!  Being able to see the original plaster and colours helps the imagination bring the site to life.  These vast areas of white and yellow must have reflected the sun to be seen from far away – maybe that was the whole idea!?

Huaca Huallamarca

Taken form the first level, excavation work in progress. Some of the original ochre yellow plaster still visible) – Huaca Huallamarca, Lima, Peru

Huaca Huallamarca

A great example of the different stages of Huaca Huallamarca (taken from the second level). Below are some of the buildings and passageways that were on the first level – Huaca Huallamarca, Lima Pery

History of Huaca Huallamarca

Occupation of Huallamarca covers a period of over 1500 years.  Starting in circa.200 BC the site had three distinct occupation periods, each with distinctive uses of the temple:

  • 200BC-200AD.  The structure was built using adobe bricks, similar to Huaca Pucllana. I’d say the difference is that as Huallamaca is much earlier the adobes look more primitive; the adobes look more like basic mud bricks than those used in Pucllana – not to mention there are no gaps between the adobes like those in Pucllana.  This is the period of the temple’s inception.  It’s not fully known how long the site/area was occupied prior to construction, nor the population size – at a guess at least a few hundred years. Like I’d mentioned in my post on Huaca Puclllana, there were a number of indigenous tribes living here for hundreds of years.   Over time they amalgamated (at least to some degree) culminating in the expansion and arrival of the Inca Empire in circa. 1400 AD.  Everywhere you read, Huallamarca stated use is as a public building, exactly what its’ purpose was isn’t as clear.  It must have been of great importance and significance to be used for more than a thousand years…but what the hell for!?
Huaca Huallamarca

Huaca Huallamarca – Lima, Peru

Huaca Huallamarca

Huaca Huallamarca taken from first level – LIma, Peru

  • 900 – 1300 AD.  Huallamarca use as a public building ceased leaving it abandoned.  During this time Huallamarca was used as a cemetery by the Ichma and Chancay tribes (my guess is for people of social prominence).  They buried their dead on their haunches; legs bent with the thighs against their chest – like a foetal position but sitting upright.  The body wrapped into a tight bundle using multiple layers of cloth . A face painted on the outside or a wooden mask was used.  Both the painted version and mask have large eyes; they are disproportionately large.  To me they look like happy eyes, where that is intentional, I have no idea.  I often think that these little details were never a mistake.  I can’t see how a civilisation could build such a large precise structure and not have the perspective (repeatedly over hundreds of years) to create a face with disproportionately large eyes – my thoughts anyway.
Huaca Huallamarca

A replica burial scene (second stage of occupation/use) – Huaca Huallamarca, Lima, Peru

Huaca Huallamarca

Another replica burial scene found at Huaca Huallamarca – Lima, Peru

Huaca Huallamarca

Replica burials which are a hallmark of stage two of the use of Huaca Huallamarca – Lima, Peru

  • Thirdly, is the Inca period, primarily during 1400AD – 1532AD. Following on from the previous period, the Inca’s continued to use Huallamarca for rituals, however their methods differed.  Just like Huaca Pucllana, they used the area for offerings to the golds.  Burying large vessels containing anything from textiles to food.  It was a short-lived period respectively, after that came the Spanish Conquistadors…the rest is history hahaha!  Historic Centre of Lima ?  Huaca Huallamarca is not a grandiose structure per se, that’s is you don’t put it into context.  Simply put, during it’s time of construction it must have dominated the area.  Taken considerable resources both materials, human capitol and time during a period where the population would (may) have been living a comparable subsistence lifestyle.
Huallamarca

A burial mask found during excavations at Huaca Huallamarca, exhibited in the onsite museum – Lima, Peru

Huaca Huallamarca

An offering vessel still in situ – Huaca Huallamarca, Lima, Peru

Huallamarca On-site Museum

Huallamarca’s on-site museum may be tiny, but dynamite comes in small packages.  Used as a display for some of the finds at the site, and as it’s 20m away for the site you get the feeling of being involve and in touch with its history and research.  Walking slowly it only takes 10-15 minutes to see and read everything on display, it offers more insight than the pamphlet and leaves more room for thought to.  With pottery, actual skeletal remains from burials found, this museum is as close as you’ll get to those who live and died in the region so many hundreds of years ago.

Huaca Huallamarca

A pot/bowl found during excavations at Huaca Huallamarca, exhibited in the onsite museum – Lima, Peru

Huallamarca

Skull from a burial fond during excavations at Huaca Huallamarca (material/cloth still visible and tightly wrapped) – Lima, Peru

Miraflores

It was my last day in Miraflores, an uneventful afternoon except for wandering about enjoying the energy of the neighbourhood.  I had set quite a bit of time aside in the day to make plans getting to Cusco and my accommodation, leaving a few hours to relax and do nothing.  Once I had arranged my flight and accommodation sorted, I headed to J.F. Kennedy Park/Parque Kennedy and Miraflores Central Park/Parque Central de Miraflores to walk about and watch the people.

Parque Kennedy is a community park; by that I mean it’s not just a pretty park, it forms part of the community’s everyday life.  Walking around you get the sense that this really is the neighbourhood’s garden…and they love it.  With a mixture of colours, monuments, displays (permanent and temporary) it’s an eclectic mix with a welcoming feel.  It was a nice relaxing way to spend my last afternoon in Lima, giving me the opportunity to watch more than explore.  A graffiti mural that was started on my first day in Miraflores was almost finished, not 100%, even so it was nice being able to watch the work mature over the three days.

Miraflores

Miraflores Central Park – Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Miraflores

Miraflores Central Park, even the local cats enjoy the park 🙂 – Miraflores, Lima, Peru

My thoughts leaving Lima

At the back of my mind I was a wee bit disappointed with Huallamarca and Huaca Pucllana.  These were my first two Inca sites and they were underwhelming to what I had read and seen about the Incas.  Obviously, with visions of Machu Picchu etched into my mind, these sites were primitive.  I’d hate anyone to go to Lima and not go see them because of what I’ve said, I love ancient sites no matter how “glamourous” or not they are.  If I didn’t have more time in Peru, I would have been happy with what I’d seen.  However, it’s like only seeing the step pyramid in Saqqara, knowing you will soon be seeing the Pyramids of Giza, or even Dahshur for that matter.

Lima gave me the chance to see pre Inca sites; just as I had done at the Noble Tombs in Aswan – Egypt before it dominated the Ancient world. Machu Picchu was a dream becoming reality. Little did I know; I’d be seeing so many other places before that would blow my mind.  My Inca journey had only just started.

Miraflores

Parroquia La Virgen Milagrosa / Virgen Milagrosa parish (taken from Miraflores Central Park) – Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Miraflores

A temporary display in Miraflores Central Park. I have absolutely no idea what this is about or who the characters are; – I think it’s part of a video game – Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Miraflores

Miraflores Central Park, a truly communal park – Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Miraflores

A large vessel, reminded me of Xhosa pots in South Africa, this one likely more representative of indigenous/Inca design – Miraflores Central Park – Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Miraflores

The near finished article of a street artist in Miraflores (I took an earlier one which I posted in Part 1 of my time in Lima) – Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Huallamarca

Huaca Huallamarca – Lima, Peru

Huaca Huallamarca

Partly excavated part of Huaca Huallamarca (taken from the rampart) – Lima, Peru

Huaca Huallamarca

Buildings likely linked to the Huaca Huallamarca, however the exact use/function isn’t known – Lima, Peru

Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

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The Historic Centre of Lima was on the agenda for day two, known locally as Centro Historico.  Obviously, the historic centre has a strong Spanish influence, with the Spanish conquering the region in the 16th century and making Lima its capitol of the region.  With the arrival of the Spanish came the end of the Inca Empire; the largest pre-Columbian empire in the Americas.  Peru was held under Spanish control until it claimed independence in 1821.  However, it would only fully obtain its independence in 1824.  Between these dates is known as the Peruvian War of Independence, of which the Battle of Ayacucho proved to be the decisive battle.

Getting to the Historic Centre of Lima

All of the reception staff at my hotel (Hotel Las Palmas) were very helpful giving me directions to get to Lima’s historic centre.  When possible, I prefer to walk, or take public transport.  It gives me a greater personal sense of the place, the people and the vibe.  I had to get a bus less than 100m North of the roundabout/traffic circle Miraflores Central Park (I have a picture of it in my previous blog post).  The 302 or 303 takes you from Miraflores all the up to the Centro Historico, simple – taking about 45-60 minutes.  To tell the truth, I always get slightly apprehensive using public transport, especially the first time – the more I use it the apprehension subsides.  As my time passed in Peru I use it so many times it became second nature, like I was in London.

On a slight tangent

Reason for my anxiety is simple; in places where I am familiar i.e. Europe, I’m confident that should I take the wrong bus/train I can easily get back on track.  In addition, I’m more au fait with good and bad areas; not just by name but can more easily identify them visually.  All cities have good and bad areas, that’s not me bad mouthing Lima.  Furthermore, in Europe and Africa it is more likely that more people will know English making it easier to get clarification on where I am and where I want to go.  These disquiet feelings are my problem and have no reflection on the city and the people – of any country for that matter.

I hold my hands up when it comes stereotyping, even though I’ve worked on this for more than 20 years!  Unfortunately, it is so easy to associate poor with “unsafe”.  This way of thought is so contrary to my experiences whilst traveling e.g. Thailand and Vietnam are prime examples.  Peru and Bolivia made me feel guilty of these remnant stereotypes I was harbouring deep down.  I sure hope that by the time I’ve finished writing about my time in Peru and Bolivia that I do it justice.  Their countries are filled with beautiful sites and people.  That’s not to say I wasn’t cautious and continue to be so when I travel.  What I can say with utter certainty, is that, my view of the world has changed.  I’ve learnt lessons of the mind and heart that will live with me forever.

Anecdote – Sim card

I tried to get a sim card for my phone in Miraflores without success.  Even with the suggestions from my hotel I couldn’t find anywhere selling them.  The other suggestion was to try around the historic centre, success!  My UK Vodafone sim is free to use in many countries, not all.  In the countries where I pay for additional charges, I get sim card as soon as possible; it’s so easy to wrack up a lot of unnecessary costs, especially data costs.  Claro had a cheap sim and I was up and running in under 10 minutes – it took going to three stores, but they were all close to each other.  There must be a place near Miraflores, I just didn’t find it.

Historic Centre of Lima / Centro Historico

The Historic Centre of Lima centres around Plaza Mayor de Lima.  It used to be called Plaza de Armas, it’s the oldest public space in Lima.  Arriving there you could be mistaken for thinking you’re in Seville or some other Spanish town.  Though the journey on the bus to Centro Historico takes you through the “real” Lima.  That’s not a euphemism; the rest of Lima is a mix of the old (early 20th century) and new, the everyday commuters getting through life like any other city.  It’s like comparing the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona to the rest of the city.  Here, quaint yet lavish buildings (16th-17th century) painted in vivid colours (lots of yellow) boarder the lush green grass of Plaza Mayor de Lima.

Plaza de Mayor

Plaza de Mayor/Plaza de Armas – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Background to Lima

Lima gets its name from the word Limaq; the name given to the region by the indigenous people – though the origins of the word Limaq isn’t known, it acquired the it over time.  It was Francisco Pizarro who established Lima as the capitol of the city which grew into what we know today.  After the Peruvian War of Independence, Lima became the capitol of the Republic of Peru.  As the capitol city, Lima Metropolitan Area is is inhabited by 1/3 of Lima’s population, around 9 million people.

Before the Spanish conquistadors, Lima was occupied by the Ychsma group of indigenous people, who were incorporated into the Inca Empire.  It was Francisco Pizarro who defeated the last Inca Emperor, Atahualpa, affectively ending the Inca civilization.  This defeat didn’t initially deter the Inca’s from mounting counter attacks afterwards, however these would prove to be futile; a combination of the Spanish technology, along with the Inca’s being beset by disease brought to their shores by the Spanish.

Lima’s key dates

1687 – A large earthquake struck the city destroying most of the city.  This coincided with economic challenges/competition from other South American cities like Buenos Aires

1746 – Lima is hit by another earthquake.  Along with the devastation economic changes/reforms meant the city lost control of much of its economic income, most notably the mining in upper Peru

1821 – Declaration of independence signed leading to the Peruvian War of Independence, culminating in independence in 1824

1940  – Another big earthquake strikes destroying most of the city (predominantly built with adobe and quincha).  At this state the population was around 600 000.  Rebuilding commence attracting people from the rural regions of the country.  The new city expanded, radiating out with the Historic Centre as its epicentre

The sites of Historic Centre of Lima

The area is packed with interesting sites, mostly clustered around the circumference of Plaza de Mayor of Lima.  Standing in the plaza you can do a 360-degree spin and every building you see is of significance.  Summing up my day, I knew there wasn’t enough time to see everything in one day.  Also, not everything was open nor is everything open to the public.  That being the case, I could have easily sat in the plaza for hours simply watching the people.  I’d say for anyone who is restricted for time, you can get as much enjoyment walking about and taking in the sites around the plaza.  The colourful and ornate buildings are quite beautiful.

About the buildings, their architectural signature is their balconies; a charming feature of artistically carved wood.  They jut out of the building like an afterthought, making them a focal point to express the owner’s wealth.  Around the plaza are the most elaborate buildings, but this style of dotted throughout the peripheral roads with some absolute gems.  Considering Lima has been hit by 3 large earthquakes the historic centre looks untouched since the 16th-17th century.  Surrounded by its colonial past, the people of Peru have embraced this history adding a touch of their own.  Peru is not a wealthy nation, they are proud, very proud.  This area is kept in mint condition, with lush lawns, exceptionally well-maintained historical buildings and public spaces filled with an effervescent vibe.

Plaza de Mayor

Plaza de Mayor / Plaza de Armas – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Archbishop’s Palace of Lima

Officially the residence of the Archbishop of Lima, therefore it is also the administrative headquarters for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lima.  Contrary to it’s looks the building isn’t that old, it was opened in 1924.  The confusion is in its styling, keeping with the theme and look of the rest of the buildings around Plaza Mayor de Lima; neo-colonial architectural.  It has been located in the same place since 1548 (I think), exactly why the old building was demolished I don’t know (even after doing some research – if anyone knows do let me know please).

From an ornated yet earthly exterior, the interior could be more strikingly different.  Through the main entrance you are awash with bright yellow, framed with white cornices and architraves.  Separating the yellow and white is dark varnished wood balustrades and pillars.  Cascading down from the second floor to the entrance is rich red plush carpet – like the rose line leading from the sky down to earth.  The entrance is flooded with light from the huge skylight above.  Not just any skylight, a stunning French stained glass piece of art; large enough and beautiful enough to grace any basilica.

Historic Centre Lima

Archbishop’s Palace of Lima – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Historic Centre Lima

Inside the Archbishop’s Palace of Lima – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Historic Centre Lima

Stunning French stained glass skylight inside Archbishop’s Palace of Lima – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Basilica Cathedral of Lima / Lima Cathedral

It too has gone through many changes; not only because of earthquakes.  However, the cathedral has been here since 1535, it’s first incarnation completed in 1649.  Like the Archbishops Palace the exterior masks a light and airy interior, with more toned-down colours.  The choir stalls that surround the main altar are up there with some of the best cathedrals I’ve seen; beautifully detailed craftsmanship.  With the ceiling of timid blue and vaulted roofs geometrically lined with dusty golden architraves.  The centre piece main altar quite understated with limited gold and what looks like opaque white marble.

Historic Centre Lima

Basilica Cathedral of Lima / Lima Cathedral – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Historic Centre Lima

Main altar and choir stalls of the Basilica Cathedral of Lima / Lima Cathedral – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Ossuary

Not always accessible in churches, the ossuary is predominantly used to bury the Bishops.  Within the bowls of the ossuary are a few odd exhibits, whose explanation for there presence is now long lost.  Far from being dark and damp, the ossuary’s white walls and floor are a contrast to its display. My guess is that it was painted in more recent times, because some of the older more recent finds have the earthlier colours of naked brick, concrete and dirt.  Quite a few skeletal remains have been found, from a married couple, single burials and coffins containing small children and babies.  Exactly who these people are is not longer known.  Churches kept good records of who was buried within its wall’s, but these documents are lost.

If custom is the guide, to be buried within the church usually meant you were a priest, wealthy or of very high social standing.  One of the displays, is a glass box with numerous skulls stacked on top of each other.  Where they came from, who they belonged to, or where the rest of the skeletal remains are is not known.  What I found most touching was the crypt full of young/child/baby coffins.  These small plain boxes contain the dainty figures of such young people.  The pride and joy of their parents still lying where they were laid to rest – here I am hundreds of years later looking at what they saw that final fateful day.  Their baby’s death tearing through their hearts, now a tourist attraction – I’m not sure what to think about that.

Historic Centre Lima

Inside the ossuary of the Archbishop’s Palace of Lima – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Historic Centre Lima

A crypt of sort filled with children and infant coffins in the ossuary of Archbishop’s Palace of Lima – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Historic Centre Lima

Found in the ossuary of Archbishop’s Palace of Lima, this is an interesting 16-17th (?) century prosthetic arm – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Plaza de Mayor / Plaza de Armas

I’ve already mentioned Plaza de Mayor a few times, it used to be called Plaza de Armas etc.  Yes, it’s a focal point of the historic centre but also played a pivotal role in Lima’s history.  From its inception in 1535 it was one of the biggest and most grand plazas in the Spanish empire, including within Spain.  Lima became a city from expanding from its epicentre, Plaza de Mayor.  Here public executions were held where gallows became the focal point in the centre of the plaza.  It was also here that the Spanish Inquisition held tribunals, and where the first heretic was hung from the gallows.  In the very least if the accused wasn’t hung, he/she would perform their public penitence here.

Plaza de Mayor is where the first public gas lighting in the city was installed; around its perimeter. Now, where the elegant water fountain takes centre stage is where the gallows used to stand.  Being a bit morbid, if I went back in time, I’d be taking a photo of a hanging person or persons. Standing in the middle of Plaza de Mayor is where current Lima began…for all its good, bad and ugly past, this is where the current began.

Plaza de Mayor

The fountain in Plaza de Mayor/Plaza de Armas, where the gallows used to be – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Plaza de Mayor

Plaza de Mayor/Plaza de Armas – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Sites I didn’t get to see i.e. go inside

  • Basílica y Convento de San Francisco / Basilica and Convent of San Francisco – I was very keen to see the this, but when I got there the queue was at least 200m long. After standing inline for 30 minutes I had moved forward by a few steps.  Needless to say, the queue was moving slower than a snail with a thorn in its foot!  If the sun wasn’t scorching, I’d have changed my mind, but I’ve seen many churches/cathedrals/basilicas…missing one wouldn’t be the end of the world
  • Palacio de Torre Tagle / Tagle Palace Tower – Not for want of trying, I really wanted to see Tagle Palace Tower unfortunately it is only open to the public on certain days – not the day I got there! Built in 1715 by Don José Bernardo de Tagle-Bracho y Pérez de la Riva, 1st Marquis of Torre Tagle (treasurer of the Royal Spanish fleet).  No expense was spared in building it, with materials coming from Spain, Panama and Central America!
  • Minor Basilica and Convent of Nuestra Señora de la Merced / Basilica and Convent of Nuestra Señora de la Merced – the oldest church in Lima, dating back to 1535. Its baroque exterior flanked by pastel peach-pink towers makes it impossible to miss.  Closed when I was there, which didn’t stop me from spending a few minutes studying the entrance from outside.
Historic Centre Lima

Basílica y Convento de San Francisco / Basilica and Convent of San Francisco – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Historic Centre Lima

Palacio de Torre Tagle / Tagle Palace Tower Historic Centre of Lima, Peru – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Historic Centre Lima

Minor Basilica and Convent of Nuestra Señora de la Merced / Basilica and Convent of Nuestra Señora de la Merced – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Cerro San Cristobal

Whilst wondering about the historic centre killing time before heading back to Miraflores, I ended up in Parque De La Muralla.  Nothing special as a park, but up ahead was Cerro San Cristobal.  A volcanic looking hill in the middle of what some refer to as Lima’s favelas – it’s not really.  Having only been in Peru a few days, the place seemed very flat.  Maybe Cerro San Cristobal was there as a reminder of what I would experience later during my time in Peru…and the hill ahead is only 300m above sea level – absolutely nothing compared to what I would encounter further down the line.

Lima

Cerro San Cristobal Hill near the Historic Centre of Lima – Peru

Before heading back to Miraflores I headed to a few parks I had seen on the way here. Park of the Exposition and Park of the Reserve.  Both large public spaces with fountains and a few museums.  I’ve wracked my brain and looks at my pictures but can’t remember which museum I went to!  It’s bloody irritating!  Anyway, it was enjoyable getting away from the tourist hotspots.

Looking back at it now, I should have given more time to exploring the Historic Centre of Lima.  One of my days was wasted at my first accommodation, still very glad I moved.  Honestly, with such a strong Spanish influence in structure, architecture etc. I lost interest in exploring more.  My time in Europe, especially Spain had saturated my head with the creme de la crème of what Spain has to offer.  Make no mistake, I loved my time in Spain.  Peru to me is the Inca’s, that’s why I was here, that’s what I wanted to see.  Yesterday’s visit to Huaca Pucllana was the start of that mission, tomorrow I’d add to that!

Posting my pictures

Once I’ve posted this I upload the photos (including additional pictures that didn’t make the blog post) two days later to my Batnomad Facebook page.  Take a look, and you are welcome to share them or the blog – Thanks

Historic Centre Lima

The photographic studio of the Courret Brothers, founded 1865 – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Lima

I don’t know what this was, it’s now used as a market, still have beautiful architecture – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Historic Centre Lima

A side street just off Plaza de Mayor, fill or pretty buildings – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Historic Centre Lima

A side street just off Plaza de Mayor, fill or pretty buildings – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Lima

More so what Lima looks like; taken a few roads from the Historic Centre – Lima, Peru

Historic Centre Lima

Municipal Palace of Lima – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Historic Centre Lima

Municipal Palace of Lima, built 1939 – Historic Centre of Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru – Huaca Pucllana and Miraflores

Gallery

Before getting started on Lima, Miraflores and my visit to Huaca Pucllana I need to jump back a little.  Peru and Bolivia were without doubt the highlight of this part of my trip, a whole 2 months! For the purpose of being as succinct as possible (not my strong point), I’ll summaries my journey to Lima.  I ended my last post (Sydney, Manly and surroundings) explaining why I’d write about New Zealand further down the line.  This was made possible by changing my round the world ticket.  Had I known it was so easy to do so I would have many times before.  How good would it have been to stay longer in Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand?  I could have included Laos and Cambodia…no use crying over spilt milk or what could have been.  With three simple emails Star Alliance change 4 of my flights with no charge.  Later, on two separate occasions I’d change two more flights, again easy peasy – no charge again!

Getting to Lima

Back to my journey.  From Auckland I flew to Houston, from there I flew to Lima, Peru.  I had to stay in Houston for one night because I changed my flights, that wasn’t in the original booking.  Being in Houston for 24 hours didn’t give me any time to site-see.  My body-clock was in disarray because of the flight and time differences.  It’s a 13h45m flight; I left Auckland at 19:30, arriving in Houston on the same day at 16:10 – that’s a sure way to confuse the body and mind!  All this is my way of saying I wasn’t in the mood for walking about Houston.  I slept, ate, slept, had breakfast then headed back to the airport for the 6,5 hour flight to Lima.

Instead of my usual planning I arrived in Lima at 23:00.  I say that because I prefer to arrive at a new location/country during the day.  That way you get more bang for your buck and it’s safer.  This all came about as a result of me changing my flights.  Whereas I would normally use public transport to get to my accommodation, on this occasion I made arrangements with my hotel for a taxi.  It was cheap and worth taking the effort way when half asleep and late at night. Before I left New Zealand I did my research on locations in Lima; Miraflores seemed perfect so I book three nights at Miraflores Suites Centro.  You would think the name of the hotel would mean it’s in Miraflores, no!?  Well, it is but just, on the very edge of Miraflores away from everything!

Frankly my location put a dampener on my arrival in Peru, leaving me in a regretful state.  The hotel (I use that word very loosely) were nice and friendly, but the location was nowhere, the room was dreary at best.  Honestly the location sucked.  If you don’t like something, change it, and that’s exactly what I did. Thankfully I need to catch up on writing, and spent the next day looking to move. I had booked for three nights…I left after two.  They say a change is like a holiday.  In my case a change kick-started Peru and brought back the excitement to my travels.  I was now in Miraflores, central…the real Miraflores! ?

Lima

How’s this for a colourful wall! A pub/bar over the road from my hotel in Miraflores – Lima

Miraflores

Miraflores, Lima

Miraflores

Arriving at my new hotel Hotel Las Palmas immediately put all my concerns to rest.  Woohoo I was now in the Miraflores, the real Miraflores!  My “new” Miraflores was vibrant, shops and restaurants around every corner with a real buzz of activity everywhere.  Whereas the only restaurant at my other accommodation was a takeaway pizza restaurant, with nothing else to see except a busy main road.  Enough moaning.  It goes without saying I was super happy with the new location!

Miraflores is the cool part of Lima, about 10km from the historical centre of the city.  Less than 100m from my hotel was John F. Kennedy Park (sometime referred to as just Kennedy Park), the epicentre of Miraflores.  I’m only going to touch on the bits and bobs of the area for now, adding more in another post.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention, Lima will be a three-part blog.  Previously I’ve mentioned (only once or a dozen times ?) that I like street art/graffiti, here in Miraflores there was plenty of it, good quality too.  What the laws are regarding graffiti I have no idea; by that I mean I saw three people working on murals out in the open in broad daylight!  Eventually I approached on of them, André; a graffiti artist from Germany who goes by the name of Boogie.  Didn’t chat long, just complimented him on his work and the usual quick chit chat.

More importantly my new accommodation was very close to two historical sites, both primarily pre-Inca Empire.  I was in Peru to see Inca ruins so being close to them made me excited.  Without beating around the bush, my only regret in Lima was I didn’t get to see the ruins of Pachacamac; wasted time in my first accommodation.  Even so, I saw so much in Peru I have absolutely no regrets.  Resuming what I was getting to, I’ll add more about Miraflores in Lima Part 3.

Miraflores

Cool cafe around the corner from my hotel, even more cool wall mural – Miraflores, Lima

Miraflores

A graffiti artist at work. I’ll include the finished work Lima Part 3 – Miraflores, Lima

Miraflores

This is at the North end of Miraflores Central Park which is over the road from John F. Kennedy Park. The former marks the start of activity in Miraflores – Lima

Huaca Pucllana / Huaca Juliana

Getting there was easy, a nice 1.5km walk giving me time to see the local neighbourhood away from the tourist hotspot of Miraflores.  Before the Incas became the largest pre-Hispanic Empire in South America, the area was populated by many already established cultures.  One of these was the Lima Culture, which can be described as Quechuan.  Quechua or Runasimi (which means “people’s language”) is a rather broad terms used for indigenous languages in the Peruvian Andes region.  It’s part of the family of indigenous South American languages, spoken by the most people; between 8-10 million people speak a Quechuan language – about 25% of Peru.  Luckily the languages survived and still used in South America today (especially Peru), disputed the Spanish Conquistadors best efforts to banish it.

Back to the Lima Culture and Huaca Pucllana.  To understand the lack of information about the Lima culture you need to look at remnants of the archaeological sites…lack of.  Of those that can be seen today, they are nestled into the city at random between residential areas and the city at large.  For a culture that thrived for circa. 600 years (100 to 700 AD) there is little left to see and therefore learn about.  Most of the Lima culture has been build over by the present sprawling “new” city of Lima.  That which does remain shows tantalising similarities to later Mayan and Aztec cultures ranging for religious to architectural.

Huaca Pucllana

Some large plazas one in which large offering vessels were found. Good view of the layers of adobes – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Reenactment of a ritual involving a large vessel. Clothing, material and colours of the mannequins reflect what has been found from archaeological works – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Locals call the temple Wak’a Pucllana; in Quechaun “wak’a means temple.  I’ll cover more about the Lima Culture in following post, particularly about my visit to Huaca Huallamarca; another pyramidal temple.  Returning to Huaca Pucllana, it’s a complicated archaeological site reminiscent to a game of jenga. What compounds to the state of the site, is its varied use/purpose by different cultures and particularly neglect in more recent years.  Into the 1980’s, the site was used as a rubbish dump, parts had been destroyed to build houses and the local kids used it as a BMX track.

The group (mandatory) tour I took seriously aided my understanding of the site; if it weren’t for that I would be lost!  The site is built of adobes; sun-baked bricks made of clay, straw and small gritty stones/pebbles.  Laid like a bookshelf; vertically with gaps between each adobe.  These spaces are not for aesthetics, they help the structure be seismic resilient (ingenious!).  Between each layer of bricks is a layer of clay to make the surface flat for the next row of adobes and glues the layers together.  In short, it looks like a massive bookshelf of light-brown books and wood.

Huaca Pucllana

Part of Huaca Pucllana administrative section, those post are original (would have held up the roof) – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Main pyramidal platform at the back, a range of smaller plazas in front – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Timeline, layout and uses of Huaca Pucllana 

To understand why Huaca Pucllana was built and its uses over hundreds of years I’ll try put a timeline together.  How accurate this is up for questioning considering the limited information.  If anyone does read this and disagrees please feel free to let me know.

  • Ceremonial and Administrative center for the Lima culture between 200 – 700AD
  • Huaca Pucllanaas seen today has three main parts:
    • Temple / wak’a; the biggest part of the site and a huge rectangular flat top pyramid
    • Plaza; a large flat rectangular section at the front base of the wak’a
    • Adjoined structures; thought likely to the administrative buildings for the temple and community
  • Huaca Pucllanawas enlarged over the years.  There are seven distinct layers/platforms, getting smaller as you go higher.  It seems at their respective times the top layer was always rather flat.  The first (bottom) layer has just about vanished (destructed) for the reasons I mentioned previously).  It reminded me somewhat of the mastabas in Saqqara and Dahshur
  • Included in the second layer is the large plaza, a few porches/patios with roofs, post holes, altars and hundreds of little holes; used as repositories for offerings (probably)
  • For the third, fourth, fifth and sixth level it repeats much of the second.
  • The sixth level is currently under excavation.  It has extensive damage caused by the Wari tombs
  • Around 700 AD the Huaca Pucllanalost its purpose/use
  • Sometime between 500-700AD the Wari Culture became prominent in the region.
  • By 800 AD, the Wari social elite were using Huaca Pucllana as a cemetery
  • After the decline of the Wari people, many of the local groups united.  Collectively referred to as the Ychsma; their capital was Pachacamac. This left Huaca Pucllana quite deserted, except for a few local people who tentatively kept up some of its traditions
Huaca Pucllana

Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Hatun Plaza (the largest) in front with the main pyramid – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Taken from the second platform (I think), large plaza to the left, administrative section straight ahead – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Human sacrifices

Huaca Pucllana may look like a dusty old heap now, yet behind (beneath to be precise) its façade lies a gruesome and bloody past.  Both the Lima Culture and Wari Culture used human sacrifice to satiate their god’s needs.  During excavation relating to the Lima Culture, many human remains were found.  These form part of sacrificial ceremonies.  Of the skeletal remains found, most are of young women.  These sacrifices seemed to take place at the start, during and ending of a new temple platform.  Along with human sacrifices, large intricately decorated vessels were broken, likely during big ritual banquets.  At these banquets, seafood seems to be prominent, especially shark.

I’ve already mentioned the how the Wari people used Huaca Pucllana.  The deceased was wrapped in many layers of cloth, included within their burials was one or many infants to serve as companions in the afterlife.  The most elaborate burial found to date is that of a “Great Priest”.  His burial included six costumes decorated with reliefs referring to Pachacama, along with sacrificed children.  If that wasn’t macabre enough, he was buried without his head.  Probably to be used after his death in ceremonies to invoke his spirit, or something of that nature – no jokes!

Huaca Pucllana

Some of the smaller plazas and where some of the ritual vessels were found – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Making our way to the top of the pyramid – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Looking back at the pyramid from the third/fourth platform I think. The length of the pyramid goes maybe 200m beyond – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

My thoughts on Huaca Pucllana

It’s a huge site, the largest courtyard is 500m long – most of it was built over in the 20th century.  I’m glad to see the Peruvian Government has now put a lot of effort into excavating and protecting such a cultural and historically significant site.  Entrance to the site is by guided tour, something I took at first to be a bit irritating.  That being said, our guide was truly informative and humorous, without shying away from controversial topics like the human sacrifices.  He even went so far as to castigate his ancestors for predominantly sacrificing woman.  All in all, our tour guide was great; he made sense of the site adding to the experience of visiting Huaca Pucllana.

Ah yes, another reason they insist on guided group tours is to ensure conservation of the site.  This aids in preventing idiots damaging the site intentionally or unintentionally. Our guide knew his stuff, and his English was very good too, not to mention his pace of going through the site.  Huaca Pucllana was my first taste of ancient/historic South American culture and history.  From the dusty adobes a new world of intrigue and excitement ignited inside me for what lay ahead for me in Peru.  I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I love the fact that an old site like this can go through so much turmoil, especially neglect, and still have so much to tell.

What adds to Huaca Pucllana’s challenge to decipher is the myriad of intertwining passageways.  Obviously back in the day these would have made more sense.  They linked the administrative buildings to the temple.  Some would have been accessible to the general public, others restricted to officials.  Others would have been solely for people associated to the temple and maybe the highest of society elite.  Just like in many religious sites throughout world and time, there may have been places that only the so called “high priest” would have had access too.  One of the things I was most impressed with, other than the sheer size of the temple, is the remains of some of the original wood posts.  These would have held up the roofs of the buildings.  It’s astonishing they are in situ!  What we see today is as close to what the builders saw when they planted them.

Huaca Pucllana

Entrance to the Plaza of the Ancestors (third platform) – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

A Wari burial on the top of the pyramid – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Western side of the main pyramid – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

Another angle of the Western side of Huaca Pucllana pyramid – Lima

Other intrigues of Huaca Pucllana

Both the Lima and Wari cultures fully appreciated nature, especially the life source of water.  The area is close to the sea, a tortuous twist being so close to water that cannot be used – this is a dry and barren region.  Little remains of the complex water management system created to sustain the community.  In its peak, this region would have sustained a large community meaning agricultural cultivation on a massive scale.  Water was a central theme in their rituals and sacrifices; the vessels were painted with water scenes, the food eaten during these rituals was predominantly seafood too.  As with so many places throughout the world, they become deserted due to political changes or natural changes, it seems Huaca Pucllana falls into the latter.

To reinforce the diverse use of Huaca Pucllana over the year.  Excavations found four Chinese tombs on the side of the temple.  This is a reoccurring theme at many huacas/wak’as throughout Peru.  No bodies were found in these four tombs, leading archaeologist to believe they were never used.  There is no confirmed reason why the Chinese buried their dead in the tombs; the only theory is that their religion differed to the locals – by that time dominated by Catholicism.  Since many of the Chinese were agricultural workers, their proximity to the temples may have played a part.

Huaca Pucllana

Unused Chinese migrant tombs on the East side of the main pyramid (about half way up) – Huaca Pucllana, Lima

Huaca Pucllana

What would have been clothing of a high social status individual found at Huaca Pucllana – Lima

On a downside, little is known about the Lima Culture and others pre their reign.  Most people are more interested in their famous neighbours, the Inca.  Though, you cannot mistake the similarities of the Lima Culture and that of the Inca, Aztec and Mayan’s.  These pre “famous” civilizations like the Lima are the foundations of which great nations were built…yet they don’t get the credit.

Day 2 in Lima I headed into the historic centre of the city – I hope to get that post out soon.  Peru started off a tad slow, but was already proving to be as interesting as I thought it would be.  If you like I’m always keen to get any feedback on my blog?  As always feel free to share the post or my Batnomad Facebook page or photos.

Lima

An actual Noddy delivery van I spotted in front of my hotel in Miraflores 🙂

Miraflores

Virgen Milagrosa Parish Church by John F. Kennedy Park (sometimes referred to as Kennedy Park) – Miraflores, Lima

Miraflores

Some urban art work in progress – Miraflores, Lima

Miraflores

The German graffiti I met in Miraflores – Lima

Lima

I just liked this picture, took it coming back from Huaca Pucllana – Miraflores, Lima

Miraflores

Another artist at work in Miraflores – Lima

Lima

My first meal in Miraflores. That is the oddest prawn I’ve ever seen let alone eaten! – Miraflores, Lima

Sydney, Manly and surroundings

Gallery

For the best part of three days I hovered around Manly, only heading into Sydney central once.  That latter venture was under a bad hangover and feeling as rough as a goat’s knee.  I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol and hadn’t has a night out in many months!  A small boy’s night out, Craig, his brother Gavin and I…great to get out even with the following days consequences ?.  Catching up on writing dominated many of my days.  Thinking about how much I’ve still to write I shudder…9 months’ worth (writing this from San Francisco).

Given that my activity after Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge was sporadic at best, this post will be a jumble.  Below is a mix of days, including my usual walking…lots of walking and a drive about with Craig and Alie as my guide.  For all the reasons I’ve mentioned forgive me for the lack of excitement and adventure in the post.  Without further ado, let me commence with my last instalment of Sydney, followed by my first trip to Christchurch, New Zealand.

My thoughts on Manly 

No wonder Manly has become a sought-after area over the past 15 years.  Regular ferries from Circular Quay (Sydney CBD) to Manly Wharf get you to and from in 30 minutes, a scenic route too!  For what you get, property prices are eye popping high!  This hasn’t deterred a wave of people moving to the area, keeping its charm and family orientation.  Early evenings have a community feel, with all ages enjoying the Wharf or Manly Beach.  From friends having beer, to families picnicking or just watching the sea and beautiful setting.  As my time in Sydney passed it reinforced exactly why so many of my friends and family have moved to Australia.

Manly has a distinctly different feel to Sydney CBD even with its close proximity.  Like a small beach town, it centres around the boulevard between Manly Wharf and Manly Beach.  For such a small place it has a large variety in restaurants, coffee shops, many offering organic produce only.  On the weekends there is a small market near the boulevard.  Selling home-wares and produce just to add to the “village” feel.  Manly is populated with 1930’s-1970’s houses and apartments and roads lined with large trees.  I can imagine the place would have been dreary some years back before the frequent ferry connection to Sydney’s CBD.  These days Manly’s old properties with their large rooms are highly sought commodities.  Given the village feel, access to many beautiful beaches, family centric, located to many nature walks and quick link to Sydney’s CBD…it’s no wonder Manly has become such an attractive spot.

Manly

Cabbage Tree Bay by Manly Wharf. A real family orientated place – Sydney

Another thing that surprised me about Manly, it’s very cosmopolitan.  Craig and I walked along the promenade a few times, sat chatting by Manly Wharf, had a stroll with some of his friends on Many Beach.  Every time you’d hear accents for around the globe.  Contrary to my stereotyping of places that have a village feel, Manly has an eclectic population.  From British, Brazilian, South African, French, Italian, Spanish, Kiwi, Portuguese, German, USA and of course locals.  Listening as people passed by, you could be mistaken for being in London, New York or Paris.  Here, people from all around the world enjoy the easy-going nature of Manly positioned perfectly between city, nature and beaches.

Sydney

A perfect picnicking spot on North Head with Sydney in the distance

Sydney

Taken from North Head a solitary sailing boat with Hornby Lighthouse just visible behind and to the right – Sydney

Manly

Sunset from North Head – Manly, Sydney

Q Station Sydney Harbour National Park

South East of Manly is Q Station Sydney Harbour National Park.  Along with great views of the city, especially at sunset, it has superb views of the hundreds of coves.  You can take a drive around or do one of the many purpose-built walks – for short to about 10km…and it’s safe.  Now a serene natural area, Q Station Sydney Harbour National Park (quite a mouth full of a name!) has an interesting and checkered and past.  What is now Quarantine Beach, is where some of the earliest contact and “constructive” interaction with Aboriginal clans occurred.

If suspected of carrying a contagious disease/s, ships arriving in Sydney were quarantined (with or without reason). Interestingly the word “quarantine” originates from the Italian words “quaranta giorni” meaning “forty days”.  This term of “forty days” started in Venice in the 14th century; ships sailing from plague affected destinations were ordered to anchor offshore for 40 days, only then were they allowed to disembark or offload.

Manly

Part of the Q Station Sydney Harbour National Park. There are plenty of purpose build pathways putting you right in the thick of nature – Manly, North Head

Manly

Still part of the Q Station Sydney Harbour National Park. Shelly Beach below and Manly beach in the distance – Manly, Sydney

Quarantine Head was the longest continuous quarantine station in Australia, for 154 years (1830 – 1984).  Seems this modus operandi has continued somewhat with their airport staff…anyone who’s been to Australia may be able to relate.  Anyway, I walked around the circumference passing Cannae Point, Quarantine Head, North Head, Blue Fish Point and Shelley Headland Upper Lookout. If I saw something interesting, I headed inland, returning to the path.

Without doubt you could spend many days exploring the area.  From indigenous rock carvings (now in perilous danger of being lost to the elements), a museum (North Fort Artillery Museum), the army barracks and old military defences dating back to 1870.  During the 1930’s and into WWII Sydney’s fortifications were drastically bolstered.  North Head was a strategic defence point hence the military barracks and dense scattering of gun and cannon points.  There are tours of military tunnels, I didn’t partake I was content with meandering about taking in the sites.  I, like most of the people I encountered during my walk, where there just for the fresh air, nature and scenery.

Manly

Along the pathway of the Q Station Sydney Harbour National Park near Shelly Headland Upper Lookout. I think the latter is the cliff up on the right. – Manly, Sydney

Manly

Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve right next to Manly Beach

Meeting up with an old work colleague

Knowing many people in a city/town is frustrating when you have limited time (you’re on holiday and they are working doesn’t help either).  That, along with visiting whilst others are working and busy with their day to day lives makes seeing people a challenge, sometimes impossible.  Nonetheless, I did manage to see a few people including an old colleague of mine from many years back when I worked in Kingston-upon-Thames.  Great to see Jesus Brillantes.  Though I was nursing a hangover and looking worse for wear, it was good catching up.  From his own recent challenges (brain tumour), he has recovered with an inspirational story, zest and insightful outlook on life – well done Jesus!

Sydney

My old work colleague Jesse with his cool dog Rafa. This is the morning after a big night out, I was feeling as rough as a goat’s knee. Great to see and old friend – Sydney

Sydney

St Mary’s Cathedral; founded in 1881, consecrated 1882, the naive was completed in 1928 and the spires in 2000 – Sydney

Sydney

Archibald Fountain / J. F. Archibald Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park – Sydney

Macquarie Lighthouse / South Head Upper Light

My tour guide (Craig, Alie and Cemeron – the latter getting excited by anything passing the car window ?), took me for a ride of the peripheral neighbourhoods.  Like Manly, the areas are dotted with coves and creamy sandy beaches – more than I could count.  Without doubt, this whole area is for people who love the outdoors, no matter your fancy.  There’s a sense of communal order for the greater good; everything is clean and well maintained.  Not restrictive nor stifling.  More so a sense of appreciation for their surroundings and wishing to keep it that way.

Along our afternoon trip we passed the Macquarie Lighthouse.  This was the location of the very first lighthouse in Australia.  Along with that title is that of the longest serving lighthouse.  The first began operating on 30th November 1818.  With the current incarnation built in 1883, it still holds a commanding demeanour with a graceful illuminating elegance.

Sydney

Macquarie Lighthouse / South Head Upper Light – Sydney

Bondi Beach and Bondi Icebergs Pool

Ah yes, the famous Bondi Beach.  I don’t know what I was expecting, beaches have sea and sand; Bondi Beach has plenty of both hahaha!  Somehow the name to me is synonymous with surfing or the epicentre of Sydney surfer culture.  Bondi Beach is huge, and far from being a surfer only beach.  It might not be the epicentre of surfer culture; it could however be the epicentre of Sydney’s family beach.  We didn’t stay long, the water was on the chilly side too, so I didn’t go for a swim unfortunately.

Bondi Beach is cool, with the turquoise waters accentuated by the Bondi Icebergs Pools.  This place must be a blast during the summer months for everyone!  The water may have been a tad cold for me, it didn’t stop hundreds of others basking in the sun and swimming in the sea and pools.  Next time I’ll definitely take a dive in no matter the weather!  A random thought, even during the hotter days, Sydney wasn’t as humid as I thought it would be.  On the contrary, it wasn’t humid at all, definitely my preference.

Sydney

Bondi Beach and Bondi Icebergs Pool. What an idyllic location for a swimming pool, as picturesque as you can imagine – Sydney

Sydney

Bondi Beach, the water was a bit chilly for my liking but the water looks so inviting – Bondi Beach, Sydney

Manly Scenic Walkway

There are always free things to do no matter where you go.  I for one like to walk (not that I’ve said that hundreds of times ?).  It slows things down, allowing me to see the world from a different perspective and often seeing things I would otherwise miss.  Manly Scenic Walkway is just such a place.  The full Manly Scenic Walkway is a 10km walk along the seaside (mostly) from Spit Bridge to Manly Wharf.  You don’t need to do the whole 10km, but if you do, I highly recommend taking water along, I didn’t pass any shops.  To say the route is scenic would be an injustice.  Along with the stunning views of Sydney in the distance, remote secluded beaches, coves and viewpoints there are many places of interest too.

Manly

Shell Cove at the start of Manly Scenic Walkway – Manly, Sydney

Manly

Manly Scenic Walkway – Manly, Sydney

Manly

Cave Shelter on the Manly Scenic Walkway – Manly, Sydney

Some of the key points of interest include an Indigenous Cave Shelter, Aboriginal Shell Midden, Grotto Point Lighthouse, Indigenous Stone Art, Dobroyd Head along with the countless beaches and bays.  Of the most interesting to me was the Indigenous Stone Art.  I tried my best to get photo’s that showed the engravings into the stone on the floor, except they came out terribly – can’t see or make out a thing!  They are out in the open, though cornered off to hinder people from walking on them.  Left out to the elements I can’t see them lasting much longer.  They need to be preserved, something needs to be done soon.  There are many engravings, however they are difficult to see with the naked eye.  Still, historical engravings/art should be preserved.

Manly

Manly Scenic Walkway – Manly, Sydney

Manly

Manly Scenic Walkway, just one of the many secluded little beaches along the way – Manly, Sydney

Manly

One of the dozens of lizards along the Manly Scenic Walkway. I don’t know what type of lizard it is, if you know let me know please – Manly, Sydney

My overall thoughts about Sydney

I’ve never had the urge to go to Australia.  Not out of any animosity, it has just never been an attraction to me.  I suppose I’m more drawn to archaeological sites that tickled my brain when I was young like Egypt, Machu Pichu (I’ll be writing about that soon), Petra etc. etc. Sydney without doubt reminded me very much of South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town).  I finally see and appreciate why so many South African’s have moved to Sydney and Australia as a whole.

After Sydney I headed off to Christchurch, New Zealand, to see my bother and sister-in-law.  Taking advantage of being in the far end of the globe, same hemisphere and quadrant I didn’t know when or if I would ever be in the “hood” again.  New Zealand is nowhere from anywhere, the chances are I’d be in the neighbourhood again were slim…of how life can surprise you!  As life does, it threw me a curve-ball, meaning I ended up back in New Zealand 9 month later!  Keeping that in mind I’m skipping New Zealand for now and jumping to the next destination, Peru!  Another of my dream destinations since I was a child, Machu Pichu to be precise.  So, I hope you enjoyed my brief stint in Sydney.  I guarantee Peru brought great ups and downs, adventure, shocks and excitement.

PS. I’ll be adding these pictures and those that didn’t make the blog onto my Batnomad Facebook page shortly – feel free to share if you like them

Manly

Taken along Dobroyd Head (I think) along the Manly Scenic Walkway – Manly, Sydney

Sydney – Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge

Gallery

Sydney was my next destination, so I’ll be covering the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.  I was heading there not specifically to see the city.  Exploring Australia would take time I did not have (at least I thought so), nor the time it deserves.  Sydney wasn’t a random choice; my friend Craig and his wife Alie (Alison) had a baby girl the year before, Cameron.  Realistically, chances are high I may never be in the neighbourhood again, this gave me the opportunity to visit them.  Knowing many people throughout Australia from family, friends and ex-colleagues, I wouldn’t be able to see them all, which was a shame.  This happens every time I visit South Africa too; it’s impossible to see everyone during each visit.  Even so, I would try to see as many in Sydney as possible, though I’d be satisfied in just seeing and meeting Cameron.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House, a buzz of activity

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

My journey getting to Sydney

In my previous post on Hiroshima I alluded to an eventful journey to Sydney.  Following on from that, I nearly didn’t get there out of my own negligence and complacency!  Starting with me forgetting which airport I’d be flying to Sydney from!  The night before my flight I thought I was flying from Osaka to Sydney, wrong!  In fact, I would be flying from Osaka to Tokyo first, from there onward to Sydney, no big deal in that.  This additional flight from Osaka would be what saved my skin!

I’ll try my best to be as conscience with the turn of events.  Whichever way I explain what happened, I come out looking like a muppet!  Shinkansen’s run frequently between Kyoto and Osaka & Osaka Airport.  Once again, I used my trusty JR Pass which was met with distain by the ticket inspector at Osaka Airport Train station.  My ticket had expired!  To be precise, it expired two days ago.  I had bought a 7-day JR Pass, which meant its last valid day was when I went to Himeji Castle.  Thankfully the ticket inspector at Himeji Station wasn’t as vigilant.  The Osaka Ticket Inspector wasn’t happy at all.  Whilst I repeatedly apologised, he vigorously scrawled many times across my ticket with his red felt tip pen.  In no uncertain terms he ensured I or anyone else would now know the ticket had expired.  I wasn’t going to argue with him, I paid for my Kyoto to Osaka ticket (can’t remember the price) and walk on as the Ticket Inspector kept watch.  That was a taste of things to come.

I couldn’t check-in on line, however with loads of time on my hands and a long journey ahead I got to the airport early.  Thinking I’d check-in then chillout in one of the lounges.  Check-in, that’s really when the fun began.  All Nippon Airways (ANA) staff, you are saints!  Check-in was going smoothly, until the lady asked me “do you have a visa?”.  “I don’t need a visa, I’m on a British Passport” was my reply; thinking back now, my response must have come across as obtuse.   Yup, in my complacency I forgot to check if I needed a visa for Australia.  Which I did!  Here I was at the airport looking at best like a rookie traveller!

To summarise the events that followed:

  1. I needed to apply for an E-Visa – Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) online, this could take 24-48hrs
  2. My flight to Tokyo would stay as is. The next flight would have to be pushed back a day, or even two.
  3. The lady, now joined by her senior colleague, apologised that I may have to pay extra for this new flight. Apologised!?  It was my fault!
  4. Whilst standing at the check-in counter I was already online with my ETA application; a tedious pain when using a mobile/cellphone. The two ANA ladies were on the phone to get more information for me.
  5. About 20 minutes had passed, I was still on-line getting nowhere fast. After who knows how many calls, the two ladies had an update for me:
    1. There was a travel agent at Tokyo (Haneda) Airport who could assist with my visa. Catch was they closed at 19:30; my flight only landed in Tokyo at 19:30
    2. The two ladies had already started to book me on an earlier flight to Osaka
    3. They OK’ed it for me to take all my luggage as hand-luggage (reminded me of my flight from Da Nang airport!)
    4. Carefully explaining to me where I need to go when I got to Tokyo Airport. From the terminal I was landing in I had to make my way to another terminal.  One of the lady’s even drew me a map to ensure I knew where to find the travel agent.
    5. I dashed to my new flight which was about to leave, arriving as the last passenger. Seated on the plane, I was sweating with nerves and speedy heartbeat!
    6. Plane landed, hand-drawn map in hand, backpack strapped on..I was ready to start running!
    7. As I exited the plane an ANA representative was standing there, placard in hand with my name on it!? He seemed rather confused, telling me his job was to ensure I got onto the correct bus to take me to the other terminal.  He waited outside with me until the bus arrived (free terminal shuttle bus).  Repeatedly telling me to get off at the second stop and exactly how long it would take.
    8. My hand-drawn map was as accurate as Google Maps! I arrived at JAL ABC (the travel agent), filled in my form, paying about £50 if my memory serves me correct.  Well spent money considering the alternative of paying for another flight and accommodation!
    9. Time was ticking by. Needless to say, I was still anxious with no guarantees I would get my e-visa in time to catch check-in.
    10. Within less than and hour I had my visa! WOOHOO!! Having more than enough time on my hands I skipped over to the check-in counter

When I got to check-in the gentleman was somewhat aware of my situation.  I asked him to call his supervisor.  He was reluctant at first, enquiring if he had done anything wrong or if I had a complaint.  I insisted on speaking to the supervisor assuring him it was for no fault of his.  When the supervisor arrived, I commended the two ladies at Osaka Airport.  Thanking them for going far and beyond their duties and doing so with professionalism and a smile to match.  Caused by my own stupidity, if it were not for the two ladies it would have cost me, a lot!  Again, thank you ANA and the two ladies at Osaka Airport.  On a separate note, my only regret was not taking the names of the two ladies.  Everything at the time was such a rush nor was my brain functioning!  Yes, I did write an email to ANA’s customer service thanking them.

…back to Sydney

My second day in Sydney

Skipping my first day because the first was taking up with catching up with sleep caused by jetlag.  That, along with catching up with Craig, Alie and meeting Cameron, they live in Manly.  Getting to Manly from the airport covers quite a bit of the main sites.  Catching the train from the airport to Circular Quay, here you exit and arrive slap bang in the middle of Sydney.  With the Harbour Bridge on the left and Opera House on the right.  A 30 odd minute ferry ride from there takes you to Manly.  Riding from the ferry terminal to Manly is itself a lovely journey to take.  On my second day I would head back to the ferry terminal to explore the bridge and opera house.  I’ll take more about Manly in a later post.

Sydney

Sydney CBD viewed for the fery on the way to Manly Bay

History of the Sydney Opera House

Opened in October 1973, the process from “idea” to opening took 33 years!  Prior to the opera house, theatrical performances were held at the town hall.  However, Sir Eugene Goossens rallied for many year to have a purpose built venue to accommodate large performances.  From inception starting in 1940, Goossens finally obtain enough support by 1954.  Jørn’s design was chosen through an international competition starting in 1955, ending in 1957; 233 applications were submitted from 32 countries.  Construction commenced in 1959 to be completed in 1973.

Sydney Opera House

The architectural symmetry – Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House with Sydney Harbour Bridge

Exactly why it took so long to finish is a combination of stories.  As a start, the original design was for 2 theatres/halls, this was changed to 4 halls; Concert Hall, Opera Theatre (now called Joan Sutherland Theatre and an additional three stages now called Drama Theatre, the Playhouse and the Studio.  In addition, many other changes were made to Jørn’s design including cladding, paving, interior walls etc. etc…you get the idea.  All these changes boiled over in February 1966 with Jørn resigning.  Reading about the history and background, it seems there were a small minority who disagreed with how Jørn worked.  They went out of their way to make his life as difficult as possible which culminated in Jørn’s resignation out of frustration.

Sydney Opera House

The “Spanish Conquistador Helmet” roof tops of the Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Great shapes and angles – Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

No wonder the Sydney Opera House is famous, it is a visual spectacle.  A remarkable building which broke from architectural norms of the times…even today’s norms.  The parasol like roof tops with peaked rims reminded me of Spanish Conquistadors helmets.  That and at a distance the sails of an old Chinese merchant sailing ship.  Or that of an excited cockatoo’s head feathers.  Either way, it’s an interesting structure no matter what the imagination conjures up.  Comparatively in my opinion would be the architect Frank Gehry, who was only 11 years younger than Jørn Utzon (the opera house’s architect).   Maybe Gehry saw the Sydney Opera House and that inspired his designs.

Sydney Opera House

Don’t know why but I liked this picture – Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

The sun glimmering off the rooftops of the Sydney Opera House

I was wearing sunscreen, so hardly a cool autumn’s day.  Instead the sun glared down, with an occasional welcomed gentle cool breeze.  Some clouds scattered the sky, the breeze like a silk screen; fading the sapphire blue sky with a misty hue of gentle grey.  Arriving at the opera house I either had the sun blinding me from one side, the other side shadowed by the flared parasol roofs.  Ambling around the building you don’t need to be an architectural student to appreciate, it really is striking.  Sometimes architecture is different just for the sake of being different, almost showing off.  Whereas the Sydney Opera House is totally unique, still putting function before form.  Additionally, it still sets standards today in design, aesthetics and sure artistry 46 years after its doors opened.  No wonder it’s a landmark of Australia and architecture globally.  What a striking, elegant and timeless structure.

Sydney Opera House

Like tips of a predator bird the rooftops of Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

like a Japanese hand fan, the roof tops flare out reflecting against the sun – Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

It definitely has a resemblance to and old Chinese merchant sailing ship – Sydney Opera House with Fort Denison on the left

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Besides the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is equally synonymous as Sydney’s signature landmark.  Towering above its surroundings, forming a backdrop no matter where you are in the city.  Walking along from the opera house, past the ferry terminal onwards to the bridge is a hustle of activity.  I’ve been to a few large central business districts in cities based next to the sea, Sydney however is different.  I know see why people rave about the place.  Property is very expensive, comparable to London, maybe a little more expensive if you can believe it!  I digress, back to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I was very keen to hike to the top of the bridge arch.  From there I can imagine what the views must be like.  Yes, I said “imagine”.  One disappointment I had with Sydney, the only might I say, was the price to climb to the top, AUS$179 per adult!  That’s ridiculous!  To put things into perspective, to visit Valley of the Kings would cost around AUS$8.4.  If you wanted to see Tutankhamun’s tomb too, it would cost an additional AUS$8.4.  That makes climbing up the bridge more than 10 x the price to visit the Valley of the Kings and the most famous tomb in the world!  Looking back, I sure the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the most expensive tourist site I’ve come across.  Out of principal I decided not to such a ridiculous amount to climb a bridge.  Instead I climbed up one of pylons.  Moving on, enough moaning ?.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge taken from the pylon at the top of the museum

 History of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Inspiration for the bridge came from the Hell Gate Bridge in New Your City.  Like the Opera House (not as bad), building the Sydney Harbour Bridge was a long process; construction starting in July 1923 and its inauguration in March 1932.  It joins the CBD of Sydney with the North Shore in grandiose style.  Far from being as stylistic as the Opera House, the bridge is function over form, but still in great engineering style.  I lived in Newcastle for two years, another great city known for its bridges – these two bridges are not related.

From the ferry terminal or on the ferry it doesn’t look that big, but it is, it’s bloody big!  It’s chunky in all proportions.  Holding the world record for the widest long-span bridge until 2012 (Port Main Bridge in Vancouver).  Here are some of its statistics:

  • Total length – 1 149m
  • Width – 48.8m
  • Height – 134m
  • Pylons – 89m high
  • 6 million handmade rivets
  • 79% of steel was imported from England

Each end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge has two pylons, in essence these are for aesthetics purposes having no structural purpose.  They were used to create a more uniform look and in keeping with their Hell Gate Bridge inspiration.  These days the pylons are used, one is a small museum of the bridge (the pylon I climb to the top of.  Another is used as a centre for traffic control, two on the North side have ventilation for the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.  Views from the South-eastern Pylon (the Museum Pylon) are fantastic!  I was much happier viewing Sydney from the top of the pylon than paying for the views from the top of the arch.

Sydney

Sydney CBD taken from the top of the pylon of Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge from below

Without doubt the Sydney Harbour Bridge is well worth visiting.  And, if like me you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to hike to the top, the “Museum Pylon” is certainly worth it.  Like I said, I was slowly beginning to like Sydney.  It has a beautiful setting, great architectural landmarks and a very positive vibe.  I know that’s not much for one day, even so I think I’ll leave things there.  Another four more days in Sydney awaited, and I was looking forward to them!

Sydney Opera House

There’s an art nouveau about the design – Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

It might be 46 years old but it’s still has a futuristic style – Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Fort Denison

Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour, built 1857

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge from below

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge taken from the ferry