After a well earnt nights sleep in Cusco we headed off to the airport for our late morning flight to Lima. It was a little over an hour to Peru’s capital city, flying over the vast Peruvian mountains for the last time.
I had read mixed reviews about Lima, ranging from a dangerous and dirty place, to one of old historical charm not too dissimilar to Barcelona. I guess I would make my own conclusions.
The Miraflores area of the city had been recommended to us numerous times before and during the trip. On advise from our hostel (Miraflores House – http://www.hostelworld.com), we got our taxi from the Green Taxi company who had a desk in the main arrivals hall. Lima is notorious for bogus taxi drivers targeting tourists, so we willingly obliged to this advice.
Our first impression of Lima was one of smog and poverty, particularly around the airport which was very much a ‘slum’ area.
After around a 30 minute drive we reached the Miraflores area. It was obvious this area was more affluent with designer shops and coffee shops in abundance.
The surroundings of Miraflores House however showed that this area still had an edge to it, as we buzzed on the huge wooden security gate to gain entry.
We were greeted by our host Francis, a larger than life middle-aged man, who was born in Peru to French parents. He was a great host who loved his food, so we got lots of good recommendations during our stay. Showing us a map of Lima, Francis was quick to point out a red line which circled the city. We were just a few miles from the nearest point. ‘Do not cross the red line area, or you will not get back alive!’ We again, duly obliged.
That afternoon we didn’t stray too far from Milaflores House. There was a Indigenous market a 10 minute walk away, so we went there and bought a few souvenirs.
On Francis’s recommendation we ate in a Peruvian-Italian fusion restaurant that evening. The combination worked well, with the richness of Italian cuisine but with a Peruvian spicy twist. Our food was washed down with a glass or two of wine, it was our last night after all!
Old Historical Lima:
Our flight home wasn’t until 8pm the following evening, so we decided to get the bus up to the old historical part of the city. Making sure we got off the bus well inside the red line borders, the journey only cost us a few pence.
This part of Lima certainly had a different feel to it than Miraflores and other areas we’d seen, it definitely had more of a European feel. We saw the Changing of Guard outside the Parliament building, visited a Chocolate Museum and saw the Catacomb Cathedral.
We headed back to Miraflores early afternoon to finish our packing, then had a late lunch. We visited another one of Francis’s recommendations, a local Peruvian Cafe. Here we sampled some tapas size dishes, including Seafood Ceviche, which was deliciously fresh with lots of chilli, along with some Peruvian beer of course!
To summarise Lima, the food was amazing, but probably after being spoilt by the rest of our trip, I wouldn’t rush going back. If you were using Lima as a ‘stop over’ place like we did, I would definitely recommend staying at Miraflores House.
Thanks for the Memories South America!
It’s always a bitter-sweet feeling as the end of a trip approaches, which most of you will relate too I’m sure. The sadness that an amazing trip is almost over, yet excitement at the thought of catching up with family and friends, relaying tales of adventures. This trip certainly had lots of these!
What stuck with me throughout the trip, was just how vastly different the countries we visited were. It often felt we were on a different planet, never mind in a different country.
So many people have asked which place was my favourite on the trip, and it’s impossible to choose just the one. From the Samba dancing in Rio, to the remoteness and awe of the Bolivian Amazon, the historical and cultural cities of La Paz and Cusco, and the stunning Bolivian & Peruvian countryside.
Even the unpleasant moments like falling off a mountain bike, two dodgy border crossings, altitude sickness, and getting lost in Rio’s dusky, edgy Lapa district, make for good stories!
South America is a continent of vast natural beauty and heritage, not without troubled pasts and high poverty rates. I always feel privileged to have the freedom, opportunity and means to travel to different parts of the world, experiencing new cultures. It is certainly something that I will never take for granted.
My next trip will certainly take some taking to beat that!
(South America trip, May 2016)