It is funny to me that we assumed that we wouldn’t like Lima and skipped it entirely the first time through. We had to return because it is the transportation hub for not only the country but for this region of South America. Surprisingly, we ended up liking it so much that we stayed there altogether for 10 nights. I felt right at home in the little bohemian neighborhood of Barranco. We developed a routine there, taking frequent strolls to our favorite spots. Lima is a gastronomic paradise. It was hard to leave the wonderful food and tranquil atmosphere we discovered.
One afternoon I awoke from a nap and told Kurt we were going on an adventure. We left our hotel room and walked to the Puente de los Suspiros just as the sun was setting. I had no real plan besides this. We discovered a man painting a mural with a bird inside of a head. It reminded me of a Portlandia episode, “Put a bird on it”. We wandered around some more and found ourselves in an art gallery set in a historic mansion. My favorite part was the antique chandelier adorning the entry way. Later that evening we stumbled upon BLU, an italian owned gelateria. It was the best gelato we had anywhere in South America. The Roman owner knows what she is doing and even gave us some tips for our upcoming trip to Central America.
On our last day in Lima, we spent the day in the Miraflores neighborhood. We saw the Kennedy cat park. I had never seen such relaxed cats. I saw many people laying in the grass which seemed unsanitary. We passed the church in the park which had a Virgin on an exterior wall. A man stood out front praying. A cat hid in the bushes encroaching the shrine. We sought a vegetarian restaurant but found they were all extremely heavy in fake meat. Serendipitously, we stumbled upon a comic book themed grill. We were served grilled “tollo” with french fries, rice and salad. We later learned that “tollo” is houndshark, a small bottom dweller that feeds primarily on crustaceans. It was quite tasty, one of the best meals in Lima.
Absolutely the best meal and the most expensive of our entire trip was at AmorAmar. You would never find it if not looking for it. It is located in an old colonial building surrounded by fences. On the main street, it is enshrouded in a large black screen. You have to enter from the back alley. Once inside, it transforms into a modern, gastronomic paradise. I ate sea bass with mariscos and Kurt had a lamb leg with meat that literally fell off of the bone.
One day we tackled shopping at Gamarra, an enormous clothing market taking up blocks of real estate in central Lima. We stumbled upon a delicious local restaurant where Kurt ate a large plate of arroz con pato. I had a delicious fish dish. I bought South American style jeans and a unique blue dress.
It was great meeting up with a friend and local to show us around. We met Victor in Pucallpa some months before. We thought we had seen the center of Lima when we went to Plaza Grau, an enormous plaza surrounded by six lane traffic lanes where we were nearly run over by a charging bus. Victor took us to the cathedral and judicial building at night and to plazas in the surrounding area. We had no idea that Lima was so grande. It is a stunningly beautiful city. It was a holiday so less people were out but it was still very crowded. Limeños love the night life and the evening constitutional. We saw street performers, unique street food and even a group doing a religious ceremony for Pachamama outside of one of the most posh restaurants in the neighborhood.
We spent one evening with Maggie and ate gourmet veggie burgers. The place was very similar to Hopdoddy in Austin. Maggie and Cory were in town for a few days before leaving for the jungle. It was great to see them in Perú one more time.
We discovered the Metro, a bus that parallels the freeway but has its own lane. This saved us much time and money as we took the public transportation up to the city center and back. The helpful Peruvians were always kind enough to let us give them some change to purchase our rides on their cards.
I read about peñas, evening variety shows featuring local costumes and music that are very popular in Barranco. We inquired about ticket prices at one club. It was apparent to me very quickly that this was a total tourist trap. We walked away figuring it was something we probably wouldn’t enjoy when we heard some blaring pop punk music coming from a colonial home. The band had a sound similar to Cruiserweight. Curious, we ventured forth and peaked in. Turns out, it was a church. We were invited to join the crowd as the pop punk band led us through an Evangelical Christian service. It was a blast!