Well, what can I say? Our first 2 days in Lima have been great! I’m so glad we started our big adventure here – the people are so friendly and it has been really easy to get around and do a bit of exploring.
We were definitely thrown in at the deep end though.
After arriving at the airport, we must have looked like two rabbits in the headlights when we were yelled at by 6 Peruvian ladies all touting their taxi companies. We managed to cobble together some sentences and get ourselves a taxi for $18 USD to our Air BnB in the Miraflores district. Even better, we got into the swing of it and had good chat with Erick our taxi driver, who we bonded with over his love of “Los Beat-less” when they came on the radio.
Our Air BnB wasn’t great and it’s only redeeming feature was its location (15min walk from Parque Kennedy and the Metropolitan bus line), but for £16 a night we can’t really complain.
Miraflores itself is known to be popular with tourists and gringos, mainly because it’s one of the safer parts of Lima. To be honest we didn’t really see much of the area other than Parque Kennedy (a nice chilled out park). We had good intentions of seeing a bit more but then came a moment of perfect timing when a tour guide approached us and said a free walking tour of downtown Lima would be starting shortly – did we want to join? Er, yes!
Alejandro our guide with Tours 4 Tips took us to the old part of the city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Plaza de Armas de Lima is beautiful, surrounded by yellow buildings, the cathedral and the president’s palace. We were even lucky enough to see the changing of the guards at the palace which happens every day at noon and is pretty cool to watch.
The streets surrounding the plaza are also really quaint and we spotted some great handicraft shops, restaurants and Bar Cordona, the oldest bar in Lima. Being typical gringos, we decided to jump on the bandwagon and buy alpaca sweaters, bargained from 40 to 32 soles – I definitely don’t regret this decision because I now have the cosiest jumper EVER!
The tour ended with a free taster of passionfruit Pisco sours (when in Peru…), which I blame for my decision to have a trio of seafood dishes for lunch.
Anyone who knows me knows that although I like fish, I’m not a fan of shellfish or weird things like squid. Nope. Not for me thanks. So of course I immediately regretted my decision as soon as I had ordered. Silver lining? One of the dishes was cerviche, the local speciality of raw fish cured in line which Alejandro had told us was really great at this restaurant.
And Alejandro was right! It was really good – fresh and zesty, and it had a meaty texture like chicken. I’m a fan… although I’m still not a fan of shellfish, which failed to impress me in the other two dishes (thanks Joe for ordering the extra sweet potato to help me out!).
So what do you do after your first taste of Peruvian food? Visit the catacombs of course to see the remains of thousands of people…!
Ok so it sounds grim, but our visit to the San Francisco church was actually really good. For 10 soles (about £2.50) each we got a guided tour of the inside of the church, the rooms and courtyard to the side of the church, and down into the catacombs.
Top tip – make sure you join the right group if you’d rather have the tour in English. We discovered half way through our tour that the group behind us was the English tour and had to sneakily ditch our group for that one, which made for some awkward moments when then kept bumping into our original group.
The inside of the church was beautiful and the catacombs weren’t as spooky as what we’d thought they would be (although seeing thousands of skulls, femurs and tibias all separated into huge graves was a bit weird). Apparently 20,000 people were buried down in the catacombs, which from what we saw, I can well believe. I also noticed that not many of those people had Joe-sized heads (Joe has a pretty big head).
After a lazy morning catching up with sleep and laundry, we decided to tackle our first proper travel challenge – getting bus tickets. We did pretty well navigating the Metropolitan express bus line and after 10 minutes wandering aimlessly (then checking Google maps), we found the Cruz del Sur bus station. Cruz del Sur do inter-city busses and from what we read online, they’ve got a good reputation for safety and comfy busses.
We had high hopes of sorting out our tickets for the next few journeys – Lima to Ica, Ica to Nazca, Nazca to Arequipa (an overnight bus) then Arequipa to Cuzco (another overnight bus).
And, drumroll please…. WE TOTALLY NAILED IT!!! Our Spanish teacher back at home would be so proud.
We decided to celebrate by heading to the Barranco district for lunch and a cerveza or 2. Barranco is just south of Miraflores and easy to get to using the fast Metropolitan busses.
We found a traditional Peruvian place called Songoro Cosongo for food, and although it was a bit pricier than what we had seen in downtown Lima at around 34 soles for a main, the food was yummy and the restaurant was really quaint.
I was also pleasantly surprised by Barranco. I’d had no idea what to expect but the whole area was really chilled out and pretty, with loads of colourful buildings, nice parks, and cool street art. We also saw the Bridge of Sighs (which we had no idea about because Joe couldn’t remember) and went for a wander to a viewpoint of the beach and coastline.
We were just about to head back when we made the best discovery of the day – a gelato parlour!! I think I must have died and gone to heaven. The guy who worked in Crem de la Crem was so nice and gave us free tasters (love a freebie, especially food). Joe had an amazing carrot cake ice cream and I chose the dulche de leche (perfect for a sweet tooth) and uva borgoña (Peruvian grape) flavours, which were both so delicious! Best decision we made all day!
We then went back to Miraflores to celebrate my brother’s birthday by having some local cervezas in a Peruvian microbrewery called Jaya. Happy birthday Ali, we had an IPA in your honour!
Where are your favourite spots in Lima? Leave us a comment below! Follow us on Instagram @pitkinswithpassports for more of our travel photos.