Our visit to Lima was short and sweet. We selected a hip little loft in Barranco, the “bohemian” neighborhood, to call home. Located South of the main city center, we found Barranco to be wonderfully relaxed and quiet, with tons of cute cafes and small shops.
We landed at the airport quite late, and after determining the taxi situation was a complete shit show, we called an Uber (Travis, you win again) to our Airbnb. Our adorable hosts (an anthropologist and an architect) welcomed us to the loft with a bottle of Malbec, tiny cakes, and little helpful handwritten notes (in English!) sprinkled throughout the space.
We popped across the street to a wood-burning oven pizza restaurant, carbo loaded before bed (?) and then went home to pass out.
In the morning Patrick hacked the TV to activate Netflix (!!!) and I spent the morning watching Pulp Fiction. I have a serious TV addiction, and after going FOUR WEEKS without watching TV I was in heaven. Finally we were like, ok we’re in a new city we should probably leave the house, so we walked down to the Barranco Beer Company. Patrick ordered one of the most giant focaccia sandwiches I have ever seen (it was delicious) while I munched on a salad (boring) and tried the beer sampler. I hate the taste of beer but I love the concept so I’m trying to teach myself to like it. Meanwhile Patrick is patiently teaching me about the different compositions of each type of beer (as far as I can tell they either have too much hops or not enough?) while I still think each type just tastes like… beer.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the neighborhood, ducking into shops and cafes to cool down. Oh, did I mention Lima was 90 degrees and super humid? As soon as I got out of the shower I would immediately start sweating again (sexy, I know).
We went for an early dinner at Cala, oddly one of the only two restaurants on the water. Despite the BUMPIN bar downstairs (on a Monday?) the restaurant was DEAD so we scored a water-front table on their patio. We ordered Pisco Sours (apparently there’s some drama between Peru and Chile on who invented pisco) and they were okay. I haven’t had a Pisco Sour in a few years (I don’t love cocktails with raw egg whites) but I remember them being better. I had some delicious shrimpy ricey thing (I know you’re not supposed to eat shrimp abroad because they’re filled with the most ocean germs but I just love those little dudes so much I can’t help myself).
Tuesday was touristy day, with the first stop at the San Francisco cathedral and catacombs. We scored an English speaking tour guide who lead us on a speedy walkthrough of the incredible cathedral. This place had everything; a beautiful historic library, hand-painted tiles imported from Italy, intricately tension-set carved wood ceilings, gold-leafed walls, and giant oil paintings hanging outside (they have to be restored every three months?!). We walked through the catacombs which were INSANE. This multi-level underground maze of graves, passageways, and massive pits connected via a system of tunnels was mind-blowing. I’d never seen anything like it. Recently, a team of archeologists collected the thousands of skeletons, sorted the bones, and arranged them into orderly designs. I guess seeing a bunch of piles of similar bones is less jarring than seeing piles of complete skeletons? But the idea of archeologists arguing over what type of pattern in which to layout the bones (“Chevron, no, spiral!”) makes me cringe.
From there we walked to Plaza Mayor to check out the Government Palace and City Hall. The buildings were impressively beautiful and the palace guards wore very regal/silly uniforms like the guards at Buckingham Palace.
Next, we sweated our way over to the Mercado Central, Lima’s largest market. It. Had. EVERYTHING. Every type of fruit, vegetable, fish, meat, cheese, pastry, juice, spice, grain, cooking utensil, plastic bag, pet food, party supply, and a ton of other stuff I’m forgetting. Walking up and down the narrow aisles I wanted to buy everything and so instead I bought nothing.
I settled into one of the busy little lunch stalls and had ceviche (fresh raw fish cured in citrus juice), aji de gallina (slightly spicy, creamy, yellow chicken stew served over rice and potatoes), and some VERY sweet, cold tea. I felt like a local, I was the only obvious tourist I could see, and my whole lunch was $5.
We cabbed to Love Park, a beautiful art-filled spot with views of the ocean. We sat and watched the paragliders fly over the ocean and debated whether or not we should take the plunge. We decided instead to get crepes at this impressively branded French crepe kiosk, and they were delicious. Every time I watch a crepe being made I still think of Amélie.
After stuffing ourselves full of hot, delicious dough and cheese we walked along the waterfront down the Miraflores boulevard to Larcomar, a giant new development full of shopping and snacking. I was able to pick up a new pair of jeans (mine old ones were DONE) and we lazily explored the rest of the shops. After a long walk home we were very ready for a siesta.
Dinner that night was a short walk away at the Sofa Cafe were we sampled local flavors like chicha morada (a sweet drink made from purple corn, pineapple, cinnamon, clove, and sugar) and lomo saltado (marinated strip steak stir fried with onions, tomatoes, peppers, served with fries and rice). After walking home we were ready to call it a night.
The next morning Patrick woke up with a cold, so we decided to have a stay-at-home-day. We spent the day lounging around reading, trip planning, doing research (me) and coding (Patrick).
We ventured out in the afternoon to Molle, a bistro/cafe/flower shop/gelateria tour de force for some lunch. It was super cute and we would have loved to have gone back six more times. After, we walked down to Starbucks; the universally familiar oasis of air conditioning, good wifi, and Oprah chai. Once we were sufficiently chilled we went to MATE, Mario Testino’s photography museum in a beautifully restored classical mansion. The museum is a progression of tiny rooms featuring giant prints of his most famous photographs. Most impressive was the largest room at the end dedicated solely to his work with Princess Diana. The room also included one of her couture gowns. “She was so tall!”, Patrick exclaimed, standing next to the mannequin. Tall people always notice these things. She was 5’10”.
We got takeout for dinner and enjoyed a lazy night in, focused on Patrick kicking his cold.
The next morning we packed up and headed to the airport. I loved our time in Lima, and would definitely return to see more of the city. Maybe when it’s a little bit colder. 🙂