Lima, the capital city of Peru lies on the Pacific coast, and is one of South America’s largest cities. Arriving, I was undeniably a nervous wreck. Horror stories from home of muggings and kidnappings had convinced me that this is what happened to any female solo traveler. (Isn’t it funny how relatives can plug you with unrealistic news stories without having ever travelled to the place themselves?) Excited to visit Machu Picchu, Lima was originally intended only as a stop over on a long haul flight. Instead, Lima turned out to be one of the most incredible cities I have ever unintentially explored, and I fell completely under it’s spell.
For accommodation, we always favour couch surfing or AirBnB to a hotel, purely because it’s a great way to integrate yourself into a culture. My Peruvian AirBnB hosts Maria and Diego were both so welcoming, and helpfully recommenced places to go, eat and explore in my short my 4 day Lima stop over. Their stylish and modern apartment bordered the districts of Barranco and Miraflores, which are two beautiful areas, both unique despite sitting side by side.
Barranco is bohemian and incredibly romantic, perhaps due to it’s resident artists, musicians and photographers. Morning coffee? Head to Sofa Café on Jirón Centenario 189 for locally sourced coffee, gluten free waffles, cuddle-up sofas and a friendly laid-back atmosphere. After drinking 3 cups of delicious Peruvian coffee, visit popular spots including ‘Puente de los Suspires'(the bridge of sighs) and the main Plaza with its grand library. Beautiful brightly painted, slightly chipped buildings will surround you, and if your lucky, you may even get serenaded with ‘La Bamba’, something I enjoyed very much! Theres nothing like dancing on the street with complete strangers on your first day of exploration when your a very long way from home!
Later that day when the sun had set I ventured out to find ‘Isolina’. Well known and popular with the locals, Isolina serves beautiful traditional Peruvian cuisine. There was so much choice on the menu (including some alternative ingredients I don’t think you’d find cooked in a restaurant anywhere in the UK) I opted for ‘Papa Rellena’, potato stuffed with minced beef, boiled egg and olives.
Miraflores is perhaps the most popular and upmarket district in Lima. Sprinkled with Flowers and luscious greenery, you can enjoy its clean paths, relaxed vibe and hire a bike to cycle along the coast.
I stopped for lunch at ‘Mangos’ at Lacromar shopping centre and tried the infamous Peruvian dish ‘Cerviche’. A white fish cooked by the acidity of the lemon juice its served with white butter beans and baked corn. Delicious!
I suggest that you visit the historical centre of Lima BUT be prepared. This place is extremely hectic! Taxis, police and military guards and tourists seem to swarm with an organised chaos, but if I can handle it, you will be absolutely fine. It’s worth it to see the charms this city has to offer, and stunning architecture will surprise you at every corner.
On my last evening I went to ‘Parque de las Aguas’ or the Magic water circuit which as the name suggests, is a huge circuit of water fountains, larger in fact than the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas! Its four Soles per person which is about £1 and it remains in my top 10 experiences in South America! The water shows are on at 7:15pm, 8:15pm and 9:30pm, they last about 20 minutes. In between the water shows you are free to wander the vast park and get soaked playing in the interactive fountains!
Despite the constant grey haze of weather that hovered over Lima during my short but sweet visit, it was an incredible experience of South American culture. To whomever makes a disapproving remark about visiting this corner of the world, we say largarse you should never judge a book by it’s cover!