It was a long haul from Ushuaia to Lima involving two flights and three take-off and landings.We were only in the air for forty minutes before our first landing at Punta Arenas but this was the most scenic part of the journey with mountains, fiords and sea beneath us. We were unaware that the flight involved this stop let alone that we had to get off and reboard the plane. But it made sense because the immigration formalities were much easier here than in Santiago. The next leg was a longer flight and we had only occasional glimpses - volcanoes and coastline - of the stunning landscape below. Santiago was where we changed planes and at the very busy gate for the Los Angeles flight via Lima were surprised and pleased to be upgraded to business class seats. Now, this is the first time we've been upgraded (other than on a Croatia Airlines flight to Zagreb many years ago) and it certainly gave us an insight how the other half lives. We were like kids in a toy shop playing with the seats that turn into beds and massage your backs, TVs with around 40 films to choose from, menus giving us choices of starters, main courses, deserts, cheeses, wines (that we were able to sample), whiskies and all the rest.We sat back smugly enjoying our pre take-off Champagne although we suspect our cabin attendant, Eduardo, knew were new at this game!It all over far too quickly and about 4 hours later we were landing at Lima. Not long after getting off (at 1am) E realised he'd left his glasses on the plane and although a quick search was made before the plane took off for LA, they weren't found. Quite simply business class seats have far too many places to stow belongings but we suspect they fell down into the seats as we were playing with them!!Lima was warm, but not as hot as we'd expected, and it was a relatively easy taxi journey to our accommodation in the Miraflores area of the city.We've never seen so many casinos which, floodlit and glittering, line the main highway. After the long journey it was good to get into our room and to bed.Casa de Baraybar is in a quiet street only one block from the Pacific Ocean. The seafront in this part of the city is delightful with well kept parkland running along the clifftop as it weaves its way up and down the coast.Our first full day and it was warm and sunny (the T shirt and shorts weather was very welcome) as we explored Miraflores, first along the seafront then into the main streets of the town. We then made our way to Huaca Pucllana, a huge pre-Inca mound made of adobe bricks.It was closed (probably because of the run-up to Christmas) so we didn't get into the attached museum, but we were allowed in a little way to have a look.Not much is known about the Huaca but it's believed to have been built in the shape of a frog, which was the symbol of the rain god.A little later, as E was having a much needed haircut M popped in to the nearby LAN office to report E's specs lost on the plane and to ask for a more thorough search to be done, so here's hoping.By this time, about 6.30pm, it was dark (a bit of a shock after being used to long light nights for so long now) so we headed back to our B&B to freshen up before popping out to the local Chinese for dinner.Very good it was too, and cheap - we'd forgotten how inexpensive Peru is especially when compared to the hugely expensive prices in Patagonia and all places south.Miraflores is quite a distance from Lima centre and we were advised that it would be very difficult to get to as the city would be in chaos with hoards of Christmas shoppers and masses of traffic.Taking a bus was 'too complicated' they said, best not to go there. Well, we couldn't come all this way and not see Lima itself we said, so they reluctantly said yes, we could go by taxi.So away we went, with strict instructions about the unsafe areas to avoid and best bits to see.Lima is indeed a fine city with lots of grand buildings and elegant plazas in a mix of Spanish Colonial and French styles.We strolled around the main square, Plaza Mayor, which houses the Government Palace, Town Hall, Archbishop's Palace and the magnificent Cathedral, and along the busy main shopping streets to Plaza San Martin where it was time for a seat and a cooling thirst quenching drink.A walk back to and past Plaza Mayor took us to the magnificent San Francisco church and its amazing Moorish style interior.A drink and a bite to eat in El Cordano, one of Lima's last surviving traditional bar come restaurants rounded off a fine day out.Christmas Eve, and we decided to spend the day at the Anthropological Museum and the nearby Larco Herrera Archaeological Museum situated in the next suburb of Pueblo Libre.After negotiating the price with a taxi we'd flagged down (M is getting quite good at this having got five soles knocked off last night's fare) we were dropped off outside the Anthropological Museum only to find it closed.Naturally enough most places seemed to be closed on Christmas Eve, even the restaurants, most of which were only open until 5pm.As we'd booked a table for 4pm at Francisco's just around the corner from our B&B we swithered as to whether it was worth it to trail around to find the Larco Museum.On the other hand it seemed a pity to have come all this way for nothing so we set off to follow the blue line on the pavement which would take us there.We arrived about fifteen minutes later and it was open - yippee - but we only had about 10 minutes before we had to head back to Miraflores.It wasn't therefore worth paying the 30 soles each entry fee, but we did enjoy a quick (and free) browse round the erotic ceramic exhibition - very enlightening!In any event the museum was worth seeing for itself - a lovely white Spanish colonial style building in beautiful gardens with the most vibrant and colourful bougainvillea.It is privately owned and contains the largest collection of pre Inca artefacts. Dinner was followed by a quiet night in although the rest of Miraflores seemed to be having a whale of a time with fireworks blasting well into the night - which is how they celebrate the coming of Christ.Christmas Day - our third away from the UK - was a low key affair and another quiet day for us, which was very welcome.It was lovely to have nothing to do and nowhere to go for a change.Eventually we stirred ourselves to step out for a brief walk along the promenade before getting ready for our Christmas Lunch at nearby El Senorio de Sulco, reputedly the best restaurant in Lima.And richly deserved it is.We opted for the buffet and stuffed ourselves full of the most delicious ceviche, fish, chicken, pork ,beef and puddings - you name it - all washed down by regular supplies of Pisco sours, wine, whisky and coffee, before staggering back to flake out for a couple of hours to recover. Our nightcap was a bottle of bubbly with some Pisco chocolates.Not the traditional Christmas Day we used to enjoy but as we keep reminding ourselves - it is a hard life!Tomorrow we head north to Trujillo.
Eric & Margaret xxx