Our plan to spend three weeks in South America and explore three countries (Peru, Bolivia and Chile) has finally come together.
After a smooth flight from Miami, we had an even easier time clearing customs and immigration. In the days prior, we were checking all we could find about Peru’s ever changing entry protocols. Some documents we had but weren’t needed, we were definitely over prepared. What came next, we were totally unprepared for, the taxi scam. On exiting the airport, we couldn’t find our pre booked taxi, then this “nice gentleman” offered to help. We had a phone number for the taxi agency but no sim card in the phone (the airport sims are very expensive so we were going to get one later.) The gentleman offered to call our taxi but in hindsight, I think he was just pretending and called one of his associates. “The car broke down” he said but I can take you. At this point, in our frustrated and tired state, and wanting to get to our hotel, we totally forgot to ask the fare which turned out to be about four times the regular price. Lesson learned!
Driving the streets of Lima is something that has to be seen to be believed. On the way to the hotel, we drove through side streets and alleys, turned the wrong way on one way streets, drove into oncoming traffic on two lane streets, I’m pretty sure we jumped a few sidewalks. Traffic signs are just a suggestion it seemed. We arrived safely and checked into our hotel, the Santa Cruz which is in a great location and is the starting point for a lot of Peruvian tours. It’s a simple, basic hotel with no heat. We spent two nights there. After settling in, we decided to check out the Magic fountain. This was one of the attractions we’d seen online so we arranged a taxi and headed out. Our driver didn’t seem to be too sure of the location but we figured it out in the end as we tried to converse in our best broken Spanish. The area was vibrant with many families, couples and food vendors out in force. The water and light show was awesome.
There was a nice Italian restaurant just across the street from our hotel where we stopped in to get our first meal in Peru after returning from the Circuito Magico del Agua. Something familiar was very welcome, we would have plenty of time to try more of the local fare.
After a good night’s sleep and a not so great breakfast, we decided to make to most of the one full day we had in Lima. Staying in the Miraflores district put us within walking distance to lots of amenities including the Malecon which is the clifftop path that runs along the coast. A lot of runners, bikers and dog walkers use this area as it is very scenic. We took a leisurely troll through Parque Chino, Parque del Amor which bears a striking resemblance to Park Guell in Barcelona, Parque el Libro just to name a few and checked out the many restaurants, shops and beautiful overlooks. After our morning walk, we grabbed taxi with the intention of making it to Plaza de Armas to see the changing of the guard.
The traffic in Lima is intense, you just fit your vehicle anywhere you can, no one seems to get upset, they just go with the flow. We’re constantly checking the time, we’re going to miss it for sure. At this point it’s probably faster to walk. On arriving at Plaza de Armas, we noticed a very strong police presence. Apparently, all sorts of protests take place in the Plaza so police are always on alert. As far as the Guard changing goes, not sure if we missed it or it simply wasn’t happening anymore.
After walking around the Plaza and it’s vicinity, we stopped into a small cafe for some coffee and cake.
Some interesting finds around the city.
Lima is a city with so many parks so after our small lunch, we hailed a taxi and headed back to the quieter side of town. We explored Kennedy Park (named for the US President) also known as cat park because of all the felines that reside there. It all began, so we’re told, when a priest from a nearby church started feeding the stray cats in the area. Soon, residents who no longer wanted their cats would drop them off at the church. With a spay and neuter program in place, the cats roam freely about and locals and visitors are in love with the idea.
At the far end of the park, there were the usual food stalls and souvenir shops. Like in most cities when you walk around, you’re usually rewarded with some pleasant surprises like when we stumbled upon this traditional Inca dance performance.
We left the Cat park and walked back to the Malecon. We were in search of the Paddington Bear. It was getting late in the evening and we didn’t want to miss our group meeting at the hotel so we had to hustle a bit. Lima seems to be somewhat of an underrated city where travelers use it as a stop over before heading off to Machu Picchu or some other trek but we could’ve easily spent another day there.
As we made our way back, some guys were setting up for para gliding off the cliff.
We found the bear.
After walking about twelve miles throughout the city, we made it back to the hotel in time for our meeting. Our big regret is not having more time. We barely scratched the surface of things we wanted to see and do. Barranco, known for its street art scene, for example was on our list but unfortunately didn’t make it there. We left Lima with a new found love for the place despite the rocky start. Next up is Cusco and Machu Picchu. Follow us as we take you along for the ride.