Peru: Lima

Written by | City Break, Peru, Vacations

A picturesque and crowded city, with almost 10 million inhabitants

Lima is a South-American city with 10 million inhabitants, comprising almost a third of the population of the Republic of Peru.

We arrived in Lima at the end of April, namely at the beginning of the dry season in this country, by flying with Air France, after a flight that lasted about 16 hours, including the layover in Paris.

It should be noted that there are two options to fly to Peru from Bucharest: with Air France, with an intermediate layover in Paris, or with KLM, with a layover in Amsterdam.

For my departure flight I chose Air France, and I returned with KLM, so that I could make an informed comparison between the two flights.

In our opinion, the KLM flight is incomparable to Air France.

Although they mainly use the same Boeing 777 aircraft, the Air France aircraft was at least 20 years old, judging by the software of the individual entertainment equipment.

For frequent flyers, the aircraft could be classified as a piece of junk, probably assigned for third world countries.

It’s a demerit for the French airline, also emphasized by the uptight attitude of the flight attendants, who, as the aircraft, have well passed their youth.

However, KLM lives up to its reputation, the equipment and aircraft being of the latest generation. Moreover, flight services are much better perfected and more varied, and flight attendants are nicer.

So, if I were to make a recommendation, it would be to make KLM your first option for travel.

First impressions

Jorge Chavez Airport is located in Callao, a sort of Lima’s Otopeni, and it’s very similar to our Henri Coanda.

When exiting the airport, you quickly realize you’re entering a new world: traffic is a nightmare, and traffic rules are complied with extremely ‘partially’.

They have these so-called ‘Kombi’, some sort of minibuses (similar to the bedraggled Turkish dolmuș), that are always over-crowded and forever cutting you off, juggling from one lane to the other.

The owners of these minibuses are called ‘suicidal drivers’ by professional drivers, and passengers basically take part in each death race.

While going up a hill, one of them pushes the others from behind, in order to fit, another one sits near the lateral window, on the right, where he waves a small sign, out the window, indicating where the damn thing is going.

Moreover, everybody honks relentlessly, probably to indicate their presence and avoid accidents.

We checked-in at the hotel, located in Miraflores neighborhood, one of the most beautiful and tourist-friendly districts of Lima.

Getting there, we couldn’t help but notice the huge difference between the central and touristic area and the ‘normal’ area, so to speak, affected by poverty and the lack of resources. This is one of the strong signs of social polarization that is specific to Peru and other South-American countries.

On the other hand, Miraflores, like other select districts of Lima, such as San Isidro, Barranco, Central Lima or Pueblo Libre reveal to the traveler the beautiful part of this city, where you enjoy living and have safe streets that you can walk on, both during the day, and during the night.

The other part of the city is not recommended for night strolls, specifically if you get closer to the peripheral neighborhoods.

As in the other poor neighborhoods, in Naples, for instance, in Italy, or in the city centre of Athens, it is really dangerous to go out wearing jewels or valuable clothing since you would soon become the target for the numerous pickpockets wandering the streets.

Nonetheless, in Miraflores neighborhood, which we covered mostly, I never felt in danger, in any way, since almost every street was patrolled by the metropolitan police or by agents of the ‘tourist police’.

During our brief two-day trip, we visited several landmarks, which we recommend.

A visit to Surquillo Market

Of course, there are many markets in Lima, but the most famous one for its local food products is Surquillo Market. It is located in the touristic area and, for his reason, it is the best supplied one, having customers all day long.

This is a covered market, where traders show their most varied local or imported fruits and vegetables, fresh fish and sea food, spices, local powders and herbs, quack remedies or medicinal teas, significantly abundant.

Obviously, we were interested mainly in local fruits, of which we tasted the ones that looked more appealing. We were particularly impressed by a green-colored fruit, that grows only in the Andes, namely chirimoya, and is absolutely delicious. I highly recommend it!

Plaza San Martin or the Independence Square

This market is one of the places with historical value for Peruvians, located in the central part of Lima.

Right in the center, on a high pedestal, lies the equestrian statue of Jose de San Martin, who declared the independence of Peru from the Spanish colonists, in 1821.

The square was opened in 1921, upon the celebration of 100 years of independence, and it is surrounded by buildings that host restored theaters and hotels.

Plaza Mayor or Plaza des Armas

When visiting Lima, you should, at least, take a peak at Plaza Mayor or the Large Market, as it would be called in English. It’s also called Plaza des Armas, because the central market of any city colonized by Spaniards bore this generic name.

This grand market amazes with colonial architecture, sophisticated buildings and, particularly, carved wood terraces, which are true works of art.

The central cathedral of Lima

Facing Plaza Mayor, the central cathedral of Lima dominates the viewer, with its height and grandeur. Its erection started in 1535, the cornerstone being set by Francisco Pizarro himself, the Spanish conquistador.

For this reason, maybe, in a separate chapel of the cathedral, located on the right side of the main entrance, his tomb can be found.

The murals describe, in detail, Pizarro’s assassination by Diego de Almagro, in 1541. The bronze box where the head of this famous conquistador was buried is exhibited here. This is a ‘creepy’ perspective of this bloody page of the Peruvian Republic history.

Saint Francisc Monastery

Close to Plaza Mayor you will find Saint Francisc Monastery, one of the oldest settlements of this type in Lima. Together with paining and a famous library, the monastery includes, in its basement, a series of catacombs where several thousand people were buried.

Larco Museum

Larco Museum is one of the largest private museums in Peru specialized in pre-Columbian history. The number of artifacts exhibited here is phenomenal, the museum also having storage space open for visitors.

We liked the museum and its patio very much. There is also a restaurant terrace which is highly appreciated by the visitors, serving local or international cuisine dishes.

Larco Museum has allowed us to set an initial contact with the civilizations that developed in this geographic area, throughout several thousand years.

Their large number (some I never heard of, for instance, the Cupisnique civilization) and the finishing level of artifacts dug out by archaeologists and displayed in this museum has amazed us and truly opened our appetite to explore, as soon as possible, the history of this wonderful country.

A visit to Larco museum is a ‘must have’ if you happen to pass through Lima!

Walking on the high sea front of Miraflores neighborhood

Do not deny yourself the pleasure of at least testing the waters of the Pacific Ocean when visiting Lima.

Most definitely it is a mandatory experience, but, after such a long travel, you must be hungry and here comes the question: which would be the most pleasant place to eat?

We chose La Rosa Nautica restaurant, located somewhere in Miraflores neighborhood, on a dock that stretches far, on the sea. Our guide had told us this was one of the most famous restaurants in Lima, thanks to the fresh fish and sea food specialties they prepare based on Peruvian recipes.

The cuisine did not disappoint, but they seemed to be a bit pricey. The view, however, fully rewarded us, so, after lunch, we left to explore the high sea front of Lima.

The promenade stretches up-high, almost 100 meters above the sea, on the tall and steep shore. To get there, there are some sort of pathways, with hundreds of steps crossing part of the Pan-American highway.

From above, the view is breathtaking. We witnessed the sunset on the Pacific, and the pictures my wife Corina took will leave you speechless.

Here are some of the pictures, just so you get the point.

We stayed in Lima for only two days and we did not manage to see all that it has to offer. Still, the city seemed very appealing to us, with a distinct landscape, a mixture of danger, madness, traffic, history and the sublime.

We fell asleep late, at night, with mixed thoughts, eager to continue our journey, on the next day, on our way to Puno, the access point to Lake Titikaka and the isolated communities living here.

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Last modified: 11 October 2019

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