We landed in Peru courtesy once again of Air Europa, it was pretty dismal, and was marred with lack of sleep and seemingly being seated in the middle of a 35,000 foot high crèche.
Nonetheless, we grabbed a cab to our hotel and opted for a licensed one. This was to prove a smart move, as after 20 minutes of driving we were in a very dodgy neighbourhood, with thieves and vagabonds a plenty. Despite this, I couldn’t help but smile when we saw a very drunk Peruvian running laps around a bush. It was a strange start to South America, but being so tired we weren’t too fussed.
We arrived at Hotel Bayview to find the receptionist asleep and the front door locked (this is normal for hotels here – the locked bit anyway). After a quick window knock we were informed check in wasn’t until 1pm, which we knew, but it was worth a shot.
We headed into Miraflores, the suburb we were staying in, and saw the ocean from atop our hillside. We then went to a spanking new shopping centre, Larcomar, and bought ourselves 2 new SIM cards for Peru. We also found a nice Incan market where I purchased a hat and Gemma a jumper, both items for 60 soles, or about £13.
The afternoon brought a welcome sleep in our comfy new hotel room, and after planning to sleep for just a couple of hours, we woke to a pitch black Lima, and after a little panic realised that it wasn’t 1am, but 7pm. I hadn’t updated the time on my phone, and Lima is totally dark from 7pm onwards.
Panic over, we headed downstairs for our welcome gift, a traditional Peruvian drink, Pisco sours. It is pretty strong and certainly warms you up, but Gem could only manage a swallow. I did the noble thing and bought her a different drink, and finished hers.
We wandered into Miraflores to find it very much alive and kicking. Everything from launderettes to banks were open, and bars, of course. There is a walking only street called Pisa Street (spell check!) which is known to be the best for drinks and atmosphere in Miraflores. We were accosted every 5 steps, which I don’t mind when they have something to offer, but they all just say ‘pizza, pollo, happy hour’ and that frustrates me because when somebody talks to me I feel it rude to ignore them.
67 ‘no, gracias’ later, we found an empty place with nobody street grabbing. Naturally, we entered and bought a couple of overpriced drinks, especially my 2 pint bottle of beer. An added bonus of this place was that the Peruvian version of the Masters was on (an English over 35s football league for retired players). It was only when a member of staff rushed out to say hello did we realise that they do have a street grabber, he was just in the loo. Never mind.
We finished our bevvies and headed out to explore some more of Limas bustle. We found ourselves looking at a fish and chip shop, Peru style. I had scampi and chips and Gemma had fish and chips, altogether costing round £4.50. I loved it, and so did Gem at first. They love oil here, and despite its initial taste, the grease forced her to hand the remnants to me for vacuuming. It was all fresh and made to order, can you imagine the price in our capital, London? I was impressed.
The next day started slowly, with a well deserved lie in and fresh fruit breakfast. We were off to the center of Lima and as such filled the daybag with food, drink and the camera. Lima seems to be eternally cloudy, but not cold, contrary to Gemma’s complaints. We got a cheap taxi from the hotel, and left at 11.15, after being told it takes 30 minutes.
We arrived at the town center at 12.15, thanks to traffic. Drivers are crazy here, and it is dog eat dog on the road.
Fortunately the changing of the guard had only just started, the main reason we came to the very center. It seemed to be a much grander affair than ours, and we enjoyed the show. Unfortunately, the SD card let us down and we have lost the pictures from this, but I assure you it was great! The city center has plenty of beauty, only slightly let down by the poor air quality (car fumes).
Not one to stay on the beaten path, I persuaded Gem to come for a walk slightly north of the center and before long we found ourselves slightly off the map (read: lost). This was good fun though, I even grabbed a 20 pence apple strudel off a street vendor.
We found our way back to the center eventually, and stopped at a small cafe for a bite to eat. I had ceviche, the national dish. Basically its small pieces of raw fish, with raw onions, sweet potato and lots of vinegar. Lots. It was lovely, but having said that I am the worst food critic going, I love most things edible.
Speaking of food, we went hunting for clothes that night back in Miraflores, and as usual found an eaterie instead. It was a doorway with stairs leading to the next floor and a tiny sign that I noticed by accident. I tried a fake meat saltado, which was nice even though the fake meat wasnt meat like. Gemma had a cheeseless pizza with veg, and it was delicious, despite how it might sound! We did find some shops though, and Gemma bought a tee for bed, and I bought a jacket because it was cheap and I wasn´t sure what the temperature would be like in Machu Picchu, a few days from now.
The next few days we took in Parque Del Amor, more food (at La Fondue and Almazen amongst others), some bars including Corner Sports Bar, Playa Waikiki, Redondo and Carillo and the beautiful magic water fountain. We had our only negative experience of Lima at Parque Del Amor, basically a man approached us and tried to sell me a bracelet. When I said no, he told us to go away, in much worse language. I laughed and said okay, and we left. Laughing is not recommended, I think it made him angrier! I would definitely still recommend seeing Parque Del Amor.
After the meal at Almazen we were running late for our flight Lima to Cusco. Food is our Achilles heel. I flagged 5 taxis, all of whom couldn’t take us there because security at the airport only lets licensed cabs through. Eventually we cut our losses and got a cab back to the hotel and ordered one from there. It arrived after 10 minutes and we jumped in, panicky.
I managed to get my message across in broken Spanish that we were flying in 45 minutes and the driver had informed me that the cab would be 60 soles, a huge price for Peru. I said ‘sisento es bien si usted rapido’ which was my effort at saying 60 is fine if you´re quick. Fair play to him, he drove like the wind, we got beeped and flashed 3 times more than usual and somehow made our flight. We gave him 70, lifesaver.
Maybe it was because we had not long had a 12 hour flight, but the 90 minute flight to Cusco flew by, pardon the pun. We were met by Cusco Transport owner, Lino, outside the airport and gratefully accepted his offer of coca tea. The altitude made it hard to breathe. Our 90 minute taxi was from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, where we would be for 2 nights. The views were incredible.
We arrived at our hotel, El Albergue, in time for a nice meal, even if it was a bit pricey. The hotel tries to be eco friendly, which is great, but we used more water trying not to be burnt or frozen that I think the solar powered shower is a bad idea. Machu Picchu tomorrow, sleep needed!