After 3 pretty spectacular weeks in Colombia our journey takes us to Lima. It’s warmer than Bogota and by the sea, which are two big plusses. Our hostel had arranged a cab for us and our route home followed the coast with the ocean sparkling with golden street lights, very pretty.
When researching Lima we understood two areas are best for finding accommodation – Miraflores and Barranco – and there seems to be debate as to which is best. Hands down, I’ve no idea how this debate is even a thing. Miraflores has big roads, big buildings, with honking cars left right and centre. Barranco is small, romantic, bohemian and with distant hints of the Cote D’Azur. We knew we’d hit bullseye as soon as we arrived. Barranco’s main square is beautifully lit and its magical lights lead you gently towards the ocean. Cute little restaurants, decorative pathways and plazas, and tasteful gardens and plants, eventually guided us to a restaurant nestled upon a cliff – Acantilado de Barranco. A plate of amazing ceviche later with warm fresh bread and we were ready for bed. Our bellies are oh so grateful to have tasty bread again; Colombians have a weird habit of eating sweet and overly soft bread which didn’t quite work with our European palate.
Our home for these 3 days was Casita Libertad, a lovely house owned and run by Maribel who rents out her spare rooms. She has a few dogs who we met on our first evening; one was barking as we arrived, she was wearing dungarees and a chequered shirt so we can only think she was happy to see a couple of fellow lesbians. Maribel was super helpful and lovely, our best host yet, and we squeezed plenty of useful tips from her. First off, she introduced us to a free walking tour around Lima’s old town. For a couple of hours ourselves and another couple dozen foreigners were guided round the streets by a young local who gave us a quick overview of the city’s history and gave us a few interesting nuggets to share with you:
– 30% of the county’s population lives in the capital.
– Lima is on the river Rimac. When the Spanish conquistadores invaded these lands over 550 years ago, they misprononiced it Limac. This gave birth to the capital’s name.
– Peruvians consider themselves as mixed race, fact which is portrayed through their food culture too. They eat Panettone for Xmas (Italian influence), ceviche is their national dish (Japanese influence) and local speciality is Anticucho, basically skewers of beef heart (indigenous influence).
– Pisco sours are everybody’s drink of choice. It runs through the country’s blood which is why 13 years ago they established a National Pisco Day which they celebrated by having Pisco coming out a fountain in the main square of Lima. This has now been stopped, I wonder why…
We saw people decorating the streets for Santa Rosa de Lima (holiday celebrating the city’s patron Saint), we saw some oldish buildings and some newer buildings, went into a church, and had a free taster of Pisco sour. Lunch was a classic menu del dia for all of 9 Peruvian Soles (£2.20), featuring ceviche, Papa a la Huancaìna (potato dish with a cheese sauce – meh), a chicken milanesa (schnitzel) and lomo saltado (beef stir fry with chips). It is here we met 3 Brits who became our friends for the day and took us for a stroll in Miraflores. The one thing Miraflores wins over Barranco is its cats. Ohhh yes, in Miraflores there’s a square literally filled with cats! Apparently there once was a mouse infestation in a church and the cats were brought in as pesticide. It worked, and the cats liked it there so much they stayed.
Our evening took us to a cute local restaurant where we were serenaded to by a band and where we had our first (and not last) proper encounter with Pisco Sour. Lip smacking yum! We liked them so much that on night 3 we had one too many in our lovely local, Bucanieri.
Our time in Lima was otherwise spent tasting the local flavours (sugary Inka Cola and amazing sandwiches at La Lucha in Miraflores), exploring a few Inka markets (and restraining ourselves from buying alpaca jumpers and colourful inka patterned shoes), checking out the shops (and not restraining ourselves from buying a couple of cheesy tshirts), attempting to see an archaeological relic (which we found out was shut after spending an hour walking there), going to the cinema (the hour’s walk drained our poor legs so needed to recover by watching Margot Robbie and Cara Delevigne in Suicide Squad), and going to a cultural / historical / sexual museum on everything indigenous.
It has been good so far, and have a feeling Peru is only gonna get better.
Ciao for now! X