Category Archives: My non-trip in the time of coronavirus

My non-trip in the time of coronavirus #5: Lima, Peru

One of the reasons my son was happy to go back to Lima was that he’d be able to visit Centrale Restaurante, famous as No 6 in the list of the 50 best restaurants in the world. The plan was that he and Jesse would go there for lunch, while Nana minded baby Nina. We even made the reservation for 8th April.


Source: Wikimedia.  Centrale Restaurante


Kitchen, Centrale Restaurante

Actually, I must admit that the food looks rather amazing.  Here’s a video, if you like videos of food:

Now, what could I do with Nina while they are gourmeting at the restaurant?  Pop her in the pusher, I think and head off to the  Amano Pre-Columbian Textile Museum in Miraflores, where we were going to stay. It was established by the Japanese businessman Mr. Yoshitaro Amano who began collecting pre-Columbian objects that had been discarded by tomb-raiders. He founded the Amano museum in 1964, one of the first purpose-built museums in Peru. The museum was remodelled after 50 years, after gaining the financial support of the Japanese Embassy, Sumitomo Metal Mining and the Miyasato company.

(Ah, that’s right- there’s a long history of Japanese in Peru.  there was that Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, wasn’t there? Oh dear, that didn’t end well. It seems that he’s still in jail for corruption)

Let’s have a look around the museum.  There’s a virtual museum here, that I found that Google Arts and Culture

It takes you chronologically through the different Peruvian societies up to and including the Inca, showing their skills in textiles. It’s quite striking when they start using brilliant colours. I assume that these are authentic- it’s amazing that they survived.

My non-trip in the time of coronavirus #4: Lima Peru

Well, we should have been in Lima by now. I’m very glad that we’re not there now. But in good news, it looks like Nan, whose blog I have been following at Le Chou Fou is finally making it home to America.  She hopes.

But let’s pretend that we are there in a non-coronavirus world. No doubt I would be keen to see the Plaza Mayor. All Spanish-founded cities have a very similar ‘old centre’ because in 1523 King Charles I of Spain mandated the Procedures for the creation of cities in the New World with a square plaza, surrounded by a grid. As with other such plazas, it was originally called the Plaza de Armas and it had a church, and a government building. Apparently, if there was an attack, this square would be the place of refuge, and guns would be supplied from here.

The Plaza Major (Plaza de Armas) in Lima was founded by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535. It has a cathedral, a government palace, the archbishop’s palace, the municipal palace….you get the picture.

Apparently Pizarro himself carried the first log for the construction of the Cathedral on his shoulders. The first Cathedral was a rather primitive, adobe building  and it was rebuilt several times due to earthquakes.  Pizarro’s tomb is in the Cathedral today.

When Peru proclaimed its independence in 1821 , Jose de San Martin paraded around the plaza with the new flag. Before then, the square had been used for executions, a bull ring and as the site for the Inquisition.

Actually, a lot of the buildings in the plaza are quite recent, built to replicate colonial buildings. The Archbishop’s Palace of Lima was completed in 1922, the Government Palace was finished in 1938 and the Municipal Palace was completed in 1944. I feel cheated.

Let me check out the Archbishops Palace.

And let’s go into the Government Palace.

There’s lots of changing of the guard and marching around.  (Don’t bother watching the whole 3 minutes. Nothing happens)

Wow. It looks very deserted and shut-down now. (The man is saying that they should have shut down earlier).

Perhaps I’m better off at home. I don’t like the look of those guns.

My non-trip in the time of coronavirus #3: Valparaiso, Chile


Well, we were supposed to go to Valpairaso yesterday. I went there last time I stayed in Santiago (see my blog post at the time) and I was disappointed then that I didn’t get to see the poet Pablo Neruda’s house, La Sebastiana, in Valparaiso because it wasn’t included on the tour I chose. I had thought of doing a pilgrimage to his three houses this time but that fell through – so I’ll do it now from beautiful Macleod.

  1. La Chascona.  This is the one that I saw in the middle of Santiago. You can read my blog post about it here.
  2. La Sebastiana in Valparaiso – well, here’s a video about it.  I went on those strange looking hill trolley cars too. Neruda obviously had very fixed aesthetic tastes, because the two houses are very similar.  Actually, there were big fires in Valparaiso right on Christmas last year at about the same time that the Australian east coast was burning.  You can see footage from the fires here and here.  I wonder if they’ve rebuilt – and if so, how.
  3. Isla Negra – wow- he sure knew how to pick a house with a view.  This is the house I’d want to live in.  You can see the house from the outside using drone footage here and here’s a video taken inside the house (and no, I can’t follow what the guide is saying either- too fast for me!)

If you’re asking “Who’s Pablo Neruda?” here’s his Wikipedia entry.   And here’s one of his most famous poems “Tonight I can write the saddest lines”, read aloud in translation.

My non-trip in the time of coronavirus #2 London

OK, so I’m not in Peru but I’m in Melbourne sitting in front of my computer (actually, had our trip gone ahead, we would still have been in Santiago).

So where shall I go today?


Whitechapel High Street 1905 Source: Wikimedia

How about the East End of London? in particular, the Jewish section. The Memory Map of the Jewish East End is a fantastic digital resource that takes you to Whitechapel and Spitalfields which had a strong Jewish presence from the 1700s onwards, but particularly in the first half of the 20th century. This site has two views: the first uses the Ordnance Survey of 1913, and the other view is the most recent Ordnance Survey, where the lanes and small streets have been swallowed up by larger buildings.  There are four themes: education, community, business and religion. When you click on the coloured features, up pops a modern picture of what is there now then if you select ‘read more’ you can see pictures from the past, some explanatory text and some oral history excerpts.

Hours of fun!

And here is one of the creators of the site, Rachel Lichtenstein writing about it:

My non-trip in the time of coronavirus #1 Lima, Peru


Well, it’s the 3rd of April and I should be folding up the laptop, packing my case and taking up my passport all ready for a trip to Peru tonight.

Nup.  Not going to happen.

So, where shall I go instead? Well, given that I was planning to go to Peru, I have decided to drop in on Nan Bauer, an American food writer who is currently holed up in Lima Peru, unable to get back to America.  As I write, she’s up to Day 18. Scroll back to her Day 1 Covid-19 in Peru, and you’ll read about her mad rush from Cusco back to Lima, hoping to get out before the border closed.

If I’m a bit grumpy about a cancelled trip, lost deposits etc, I just read her blog at and I feel a whole lot better…..