Even though I’ve been back for a while I am reliving the sadness that it’s almost the end of the trip as I write this. (Luckily I will soon be on the third continent of this year’s five continent travel extravaganza 🙂
Arriving in a foreign place is always such an adrenaline rush but departing is difficult so I try to do something significant and memorable to mark the final travel day. I doubt I will ever top blowing kisses in the pitch dark stillness of the Serengeti with a Masai warrior but I try 😉
Since Lima is not risk-free I paid the dollars to have the hotel organize a driver for me when I returned from Cusco. Yet another charming Peruvian man 🙂 Julio was widowed and we talked about his job, the challenges of raising a teenage son alone and – of course – dancing 😉 A lovely introduction back to Lima – and this time I was confident I WAS headed to the hotel!
I had booked the Miraflores Park, which is also run by Orient Express. I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about the hotel or the neighborhood – and from my computer screen in Canada, Lima seemed very foreign.
But now that I was arriving for the second time I wished I’d booked something local. It felt like I was trapped in a glamorous tourist compound. The hotel is right next to Larcomar – not exactly the Peru of intricately woven blankets and alpaca scarves in every colour of the rainbow.
Luckily I had walked all over Miraflores on my first visit so I grabbed a map and hit the streets to find some locals and get a sense for the real Lima.
My first mission was to go back to my old neighbourhood. There was a shop full of mouth-watering cakes near my first Lima hotel but on my initial visit I had arrived there at breakfast so was a good girl and had some delicious French toast with fresh tropical bananas instead of cake. But who says you can’t have cake for breakfast? It was worth the walk across town! If you also have a weakness for cake, check out La Mora Pasteleria & Cafe.
Fortified – and needing to walk off the calories – I began an aimless wander in a new direction from the kilometres I logged on my first visit. That’s how I discovered Avenue de la Paz. Definitely recommend it to get a snapshot of Lima – and modern Peru.
I didn’t get to spend enough time in the country to really develop an understanding of 21st century Peru. But wandering away from the other tourists and talking to locals every chance I got did provide fascinating glimpses. As the young girls in Colombia told me boldly, “we’re emerging!” 🙂
I haven’t been to Ecuador yet but it does seem that the Andes are embracing the era of the internet and the smartphone and creating opportunities for a new generation with aspirations of a more inclusive and prosperous South America.
I live in a world of shiny things where people lead easy lives yet find ways to complain about their privileged lives without much perspective on the reality of daily life for most of the world’s population. There are a lot more people living on a couple dollars a day at best than stressing whether their bonus will be grand enough to maintain their millionaire lifestyle.
Don’t go to Lima for the weather! It was grey and drizzly for the vast majority of the time I spent there.
But great food will lift your spirits! I wish I’d been able to explore more but did have a couple more outstanding meals before it was time for departure.
The first night I played it safe and ate in the hotel. The restaurant is called Mesa 18. It is an intriguing mix of world class Japanese food and luxe Peruvian cuisine. It feels a little bipolar but I had one dish of each and both were sublime!
For my final night, though, I wanted something truly memorable. I had spent some time at the previous hotel scrolling through restaurant options on the computer in the lobby. I found one that didn’t seem too far from the Miraflores Park – and boasted the kind of menu I would gravitate to in Vancouver. Rafael.
I always like to know where I am going after dark in a foreign city – so I did a daylight recognisance trip to identify just how many blocks the restaurant was from the hotel – and the best route to get there – easy to remember, full of people, emblazoned with working streetlights…
Once it got to Latin dining time, I headed out. I arrived to a lively scene for a Monday night. Since I haven’t learned to speak Spanish yet, communication was limited. But I soaked up the atmosphere – and the delicious inventive nouvelle Peruvian cuisine.
When I was looking for the links for this post, I discovered that I AM really good at finding restaurants in foreign locales… according to the Telegraph, I found 2 of the 5 best restaurants in Lima – without reading the article 😉 but you might want to…
My final Pisco Sour for a while. A walk home to the hotel through the streets of Lima teeming with people living “la vida dulce”.
I was back on the compound. But I knew I wasn’t the kind of girl who belonged there. I was “that girl” – the crazy redhead roaming around Peru without a tour group and, as a result, being seduced by a new country and its people. I will be back… and you should go 😉