Big Bustling Lima, known in travel circles for not much and famed for crime. We arrived on an overnight Z-bus from Huaraz which involved three hours of The Amazing Spider Man DVD selection screen blaring at 2am and a screamed Spanish conversation going something like
Driver: What? WHAT?
Sarah: There’s too much noise, please, no more television
Driver: WHAT?? We are all trying to sleep in the front!
Sarah: Yeh?! There is NO sleep here! None! NONE! NO MORE TELEVISION, NOW!! PLEASE!
With our Finnish friend Ville the three of us grabbed a taxi from the bus terminal, as it’s unwise to attempt navigating the public transport system at 5am in the morning with the terminal so far from the area of Barranco where we were staying. Considered Lima’s bohemian district, it’s home to the cities designers, artists and musicians, which is why we chose it over the casino filled tack of Miraflores.
Pulling up at Kaminu Hostel in a small ravine under the Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs…under the bridge…get it?), the staff were happy enough to allow us to check in so early in the morning, giving us time to catch up on a few hours sleep. The provided breakfast was again the standard – bread, jam, butter and coffee – though having it served in the open air kitchen on the vast rooftop terrace was a bonus.
Barranco (which takes its name from the Spanish word for ravine) was to be our home for only two days before we flew to Vancouver for a wedding, so we started exploring by concentrating first on Miraflores and working our way back. A polished turd, Miraflores is also known as Gringolandia, and it shows. Tourists jam the uninspiring sidewalks with English the most overheard language.
Our main reason for venturing here was to look at a few tattoo studios as we wanted to add to the growing amount of ink already emblazoned on our bodies. Most of the studios were close together with one exception, Tattoo Art Ink. Lodged in a shopping center across from the main park in the heart of Miraflores, it came recommended by a shop assistant earlier in the day. We were more than a little disappointed though to discover the talked-up artist was basically going to rip off another artists designs direct from the web, copying them like for like. We left the idea behind.
Strolling through the Parque Kennedy, also known as ‘the cat park’ as it’s inhabited by most of the cities stray cats who are fed and watered by the locals on a daily basis, we admired some of the paintings for sale by local disadvantaged children. From the park it’s a short walk across the street to the famed La Luncha sandwich bar. Munching down one of the Mixto Serrano’s was difficult, as the avocado keeps oozing out though the piles of ham, cheese and tomato, though they do the trick providing why this place is such a hit with tourists and locals alike.
Miraflores also has it’s very own Mercado Artisanal, with the posh looking market having everything one requires in the way of souvenirs. There’s a great collection of soft alpaca wool blankets (how authentic we don’t know), paintings and other repeptitive items, though it’s possibly the best of it’s kind in the country.
Afterwards we strolled to the Parque Amor (Love Park) whose centerpiece is the suffocating sculpture of two people embracing in a kiss. A strangled piece designed by Victor Delfín, it inspires the words chunky, awkward and solid to leave our lips. Walking along the Malecon de la Reserva as the sun lowers in the afternoon sky, para-gliders use the onshore breeze to float along the cliff top.
Walking a short way along the seafront below, several local surfers try to convince us to join them for a lesson. Watching those already in the water fight with swell coming in from all directions and closer than we’d ever seen, there’s no way we were paying to join them. The unusual conditions culminated in the handful of cheerful sunbathers being drenched by an unexpected high wave which flooded the beach just after we left it.
Having an evening rendezvous with a friend working in the Dragon Fly Hostel, we head back south to The Barranco Beer Company, a venture start in October 2013. Sleek with it’s timber façade and lofty and spacious interior, you can sit back and enjoy your brew whilst the staff slave away working on the next batch of thirst quenching beer in large vats behind two walls of glass. Bullseye Amber, Hefewiezen and the IPA are all full of flavour and hold their own making this a great stop before a night out.
Dragging ourselves away from the great beers, we headed up to the hostel to meet up with Chloe, an English friend we’d first bumped into in Utila (Honduras), followed by Tamarindo (Costa Rica) before crossing our final paths here in Lima. The Dragonfly was having a BBQ on it’s rooftop terrace overlooking town, and the bar also happened to serve craft beer by Peruvian outfit Nuevo Mundo. A few beers later it was over to the party hostel Flying Dog, with its great social area, pool table and an older English gentleman who’s always up for a good chat propping up one end of the bar.
Nursing mild hangovers, the next night we headed out for the staple, a burger. A short walk from the hostel across the Parque de Barranco you’ll find a cheap mama & papa style burger joint called Suki. Cheap and filling with your fries stuffed into your burger, we stuffed our burgers into our mouths whilst watching a random passing parade of an illuminated Virgin Mary statue. One word of advice for reason’s we will leave up to your imagination…DO NOT get the chicken burger!
A few doors down we wandered past what appeared from the outside to be an Italian style NYC deli, complete with huge roast pork joints behind a glass counter. Juanito Bar, popular with older locals, feels like they’ve been doing this a long time, which is why we couldn’t resist a second course. Highly recommended!
With the void still not quite full, we followed our sweet toothed Finnish friend to Blu (Jr. 28 de Julio 202) for some of the most tastebud tingling gourmet ice cream we’ve ever had (highlights are lucuma – a strange local fruit, hazelnut and maracuya/passionfruit).
Now it’s a nights wait in the hostel followed by a grueling flight schedule of three flights commencing at 4am, taking in stopovers in El Salvador and LA, finally arriving in Oh Canada the following afternoon.
For more photos of Lima check out our Flickr page.