Most of the information I had read about Lima on the internet was, “Don’t waste your time going to Lima.” But how could we not? After traveling so far, we couldn’t just pass up Lima like it was some small town instead of the capital of Peru. Patrick and I decided to spend five days there instead of a week. Too bad, because we could’ve easily have spent the entire week and more. Lima is a large, vibrant city and easy to get around. The size can be overwhelming; it’s twenty times bigger than Paris just to give you an idea.
We arrived at our Airbnb and we weren’t disappointed, the apartment was exactly like the photos. (Not always the case.) We were staying in the heart of Miraflores, the chic part of Lima; think Saint-Germain-des Prés back in the 60s and 70s when it was the place to be. Everything we needed was just a few feet away: restaurants, bars, banks, supermarkets, boutiques, casinos…they were all there.
Patrick and I had a yummy lunch that our host had prepared and then we went out to explore. A ten minute walk from our place took us right to the beach and a gorgeous (no other way to describe it) shopping mall called Larcomar. The shopping mall was one of the nicest upscale malls I’ve seen anywhere and what a view.
On our way back to our place we stopped in one of the casinos to try our luck at the slot machines. As usual we didn’t have the Midas Touch that my mom has when she plays. She always leaves the casino with more money than she came in with. Too bad Patrick and I can’t say the same.
The old historical center of Lima is simply gorgeous. The buildings are colorful and with a mixture of different styles of architecture, but what struck me most was how clean everything was. No litter on the streets and with a population of nearly 9 million people it was surprising not to see homeless people or people begging on the streets.
There were ruins right in the middle of the city, the Huaca Pucllana, but we were “ruined out” by the time we got to Lima so we did a quick tour and then went in search of other things to do. In Barranco, the Bohemian district we visited the Puente de los Suspiros (the Bridge of Sighs). It’s a walking area with bars and restaurants and young hippie types selling their handmade jewelry. The best time to visit is right before sunset.
Another must see is the water park, The Magic Water Circuit (Circuito Mágico del Agua). What makes this attraction so popular is the interaction with the water. You not only enjoy seeing the fountains changing colors to music, you can become a part of it. Be sure to bring a towel and a change of clothes because you’ll need it.
There were so many things to see and do and so many bars and restaurants to try and rate the best Pisco Sours. (I know, I know!) But what I took away from our trip to Peru were the people. I’ve never met nicer people anywhere. They were, every last one of them, so kind and helpful. It didn’t matter who we stopped to ask for directions, everyone took their time to help us. If they didn’t know the answer, they called up a friend on their cellphone to see if they knew.
If we stopped people to ask if they could take our photo (we’re horrible at selfies) they not only took our photo, they offered advice on the best restaurants and things to do in the area. People from all walks of life, from police officers to professional people coming out of government buildings, to bus drivers and just people on the street.
On one bus ride, I asked the driver for directions to see the Virgen de Guadalupe church. He didn’t know, but a few other passengers started to help. No one knew where it was, but before we knew it, we had a discussion going with about ten people. All of them trying to find that church. The consensus was it was better for us to get off the bus and find a taxi. Patrick and I exited and a lady got off as well and told us she would get us a taxi so we wouldn’t get ripped off and she would negociate the price. Where else do people do these things?
Maya Muses: Many thanks to the people of Peru for making our trip unforgettable! We miss your beautiful country more than you know.
Photo Credits: All personal photos except Miraflores Photo