We originally booked 2 nights in Lima and unintentionally ended up staying 6!
We stayed in a hostel with 2 friends, Sam and Rory, in the suburb of Barranco which is the bohemian district. It is set on a cliffside overlooking the sea with colourful houses, old mansions and plentiful cafés and bars. The city is comprised of several suburbs, similar to Sau Paulo in Brazil. Barranco is the next suburb along from the popular commercial and tourist area of Miraflores. Although we spent 6 days in Lima we ended up spending most of our time visiting the copious amounts of bars and casinos scattered in and around Miraflores.
The city is set on the coast of Peru with a view of the sea from our doorstep. As much as this sounds idyllic, unfortunately Lima is quite a grey and polluted city with overcast and mist the majority of the year. Miraflores is populated with urban high rise apartments, gourmet restaurants and up-market shopping malls. It definitely didn't feel like we were still in Peru. The majority of the locals are Hispanic with pale skin and middle class appearance. This was good for us as we no longer stuck out like obvious backpacker "gringos"!
Lima is renowned for being the Peruvian food capital. Being the foodies we are we got to try all sorts of cuisines we had been craving for a while; burritos, sushi, china town, and even Dominoes pizza! China town was a fascinating and chaotic experience, the streets were filled with people selling every imaginable commodity from animatronic dogs to colourful toilet seats. The atmosphere was buzzing and the smell of Chinese food was everywhere.
On our last day we managed to explore further than Miraflores and visited Downtown/Central Lima via the free city walking tour. On our way to the walking tour I witnessed a man having a "number 2" in the middle of the street and then Nick was approached by a toothless tramp who aggressively demanded he give him 50 cent. Downtown definitely felt a lot more sketchy than the modern Miraflores. We arrived at midday in Plaza De Armas to see the changing of the guards at the presidential palace. It was a goose-stepping fanfare ceremony with a military brass band and lasted around 30 minutes. From there we explored the beautiful colonial architecture around the rest of the plaza. Lima was capital of the Spanish Empire in South America and the plaza is now a UNESCO world heritage site due to the former colonial importance. It has some of the most important government and religious buildings in Peru. The tour guide took us to the best churro place in the city and for some free pisco tasting. That evening we also visited the water fountain park attraction, Circuito Magico del Agua. The park is filled with 13 colourful illuminated and interactive water fountains. Some of the displays were choreographed to music and laser lights, they were quite impressive.
After our somewhat lackadaisical stay in Lima it's finally time for sunshine on the northern coast. I am heading to Mancora beach with friends whilst Nick heads to the Cordillera Blanca for some mountaineering. He will join me after his trek for some r&r, which I'm sure he will need after climbing a mountain.