Arriving to Lima, we did not have expectations to be greeted by a beautiful city. Whilst tourists always praise the charm of Cusco, the same can't be said for the capital city. It is a working city populated by 8.4 million people and not a place specifically catered for travellers. Due to several earthquakes, there is not one distinctive type of architecture as the city has been repaired and reconstructed. There is no signs of the Inkan history as this was torn away by the Spanish when they invaded. By consequence, Lima does not have a distinct personality visible like other capitals around the world.
Despite this we enjoyed our 4 days in Lima and extended our stay. This was for two reasons. Firstly, we stayed in the area of Miraflores, the upmarket area of the city. Here we rented a 17th floor apartment with two friends we'd originally met in Mendoza, Kevin and Helena. The apartment had views over the city and on a very rare clear day you could see the paragliders over the bay. We had all the creature comforts we needed in this area including coffee shops, a shopping centre, restaurants and bars. Very cultural you say but after 4 months travelling, every so often we come with wide arms to cities that have elements that remind us of home. Granted it did not feel like Peru but we more than enjoyed our first night at the cinema watching Mad Max.
The second key reason was the food. We were told there is no better place for cerviche than here and it was true. We got a chance to try out making it ourselves when we booked on to a Peruvian cooking class. Now I'll admit I was nervous, I'm not a good cook at the best of times and here I was ready to have all my flaws highlighted in front of a group of people. We arrived to the house of Victor who was taking our class. Slightly cocky (I guess you would be if you'd worked in top restaurants around the world) but funny, we knew we were in for an entertaining couple of hours.
We've now learnt cerviche is not too hard to make, Rory and I will be ready to put on a Peruvian cooking night for anyone who wants to come round when we're back (I'll probably still be sous chef). However, watch a video we took of me make a pisco sour might put you off. I'd say l did less shaking, it looked more like a slow dance routine and there may have been a bit of yolk in the glass. Rory on the other hand was more like Tom Cruise himself and was banging out different flavours. I tried to drink his rather than mine. The course finished with lomo saltado, similar to a beef stir fry with chips and it was delicious (we watched rather than made this one ourself).
The rest of our time was leisurely spent. Locally born, we went to the renowned photographer Mario Testino's museum, MATE. Dragging the boys along they actually enjoyed the exhibition, which displayed plenty of famous celebrity portraits and also a section on Inkan dress. We went to a brewery, Borronco brewery where the beers are all made in Peru. We also went 'out out' in Borronco (the arty district next to Miraflores) with a Scottish couple Elliot and Kyna joining us. Blending in extremely well, the 6 of us attempted salsa with the locals. We bar hopped and by the end of the night we all thought we had Latin hips... The next day less so.
That brought our time in Lima to an end and we were on to our last stop in Peru, Mancora on the coast and in the sunshine!