After wrapping up work in Quito, I had two weeks planned in Peru with Lindsay. The first stop of the trip was in Lima, Peru’s capital city. We began and ended the trip here, and it was a great way to bookend the trip. After living in Quito’s altitude of over 9,000 ft., I was excited to spend time in a city that sits at sea-level with nice fresh air. While taxiing to the hostel, the drive passes the beach…and while Peru is better known for its grey and foggy clouds rather than its blue skies, the views contribute to the city’s laid back vibe. Once Lindsay arrived and we settled in, we set out to see Lima.
If you visit, your next step after booking your flights should be to book your reservations. You may even be better off doing it the other way around. Lima is one of the restaurant capitals of the world; if you don’t believe me, check out what Bloomberg has to say. It features great street food, and a few restaurants on the top 50 restaurants in the world list (Central (No. 4), Maido (No. 13), and Astrid y Gastón (No. 30)). While we didn’t plan far enough in advance to grab a meal at one of those locations, we did not have trouble finding great food elsewhere. Our first meal was a two-parter, where we ate Ceviche at La Mar and then went to El Pan de la Cholla for a follow-up sandwich. The bread really made the sandwich unique and has a special crunch to it. The meal at La Mar truly stood out to me, though.
Chef Gaston Acurio is the brain behind La Mar, and I could definitely taste his dedication to well done ceviche. Ceviche is different in Peru than in Ecuador. In Ecuador, it is more of a soup with a tomato/lime broth, while in Peru it is more of a sashimi-styled dish and well-seasoned in a zesty sauce. Several people have moved to Peru from Asian countries, and this influence on their food was evident. There are several fusion restaurants, and we visited another Chef Gaston’s restaurant Madam Tusan later in our trip. While not related to the wax museum, it is a Peruvian Dim Sun restaurant. If that sentence doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what else will.
Lima offers plenty of activities to enjoy between meals. We were in the Miraflores area, which was residential with plenty of restaurants and located next to the Malecon, or sea wall. The Malecon takes you on a walk along seaside cliffs, and gives you a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean. Block off a morning or afternoon and enjoy a stroll through the green parks. On a good day, you’ll see people doing yoga, hang gliders, and lots of dogs. If you’re feeling adventurous, then go hang gliding yourself. It’s only around $50.
For Lima’s downtown, I’d highly recommend looking into the Free Walking Tours offered. The price can’t be beat, and they do a great job showing some of the hidden gems in the city. Several parts of the city’s history have been preserved, and the museums have some great artifacts if you’re interested in the rise and decline of the Incan empire. Similar to Quito, the main draw are the ornate churches. The Cathedral in the main square even has the grave of Francisco Pizarro.
At night, we visited the fountains near the city center, where the water blends with a light show to close out a beautiful night in Lima. But did I mention they have lots of casinos in Lima? Yeah, so I didn’t end the night at fountains, I dragged Lindsay to a Peruvian Casino. Because no matter the language, I can always understand a Blackjack Table. Lindsay had never played before, but thanks to some great coaching and beginner’s luck she ended up making money. The even bigger surprise was that I made some money too…maybe my luck is better on the south side of the equator? Probably the Coriolis Effect or something? Because we are such thrifty travelers, our winnings would fund our day trip to the Rainbow Mountains. More about Peru (including Machu Picchu and Cusco) next week, #VidaLaVic