Jet Lag Journal: Lima, Peru
Over the New Year’s I finally crossed off another long-awaited bucket list trip: Peru. And while the entire trip was an ‘Amazing Race’ kind of travel ordeal what with multiple modes of transportation, the constant feeling of being on the move, and the length of time we spent traveling, it was all worth it in the end to have the experience of not just Machu Picchu but Lake Titicaca as well. We spent very little time in Lima, the capital. Merely a day at the beginning and then 6 hours on the tail end of our trip. And while there were a ton more restaurants I would have liked to try and a few more neighborhood stops I would have liked to go to, I thought the best way to explain this part of the trip is to give you a “Top Tips List” of Lima. Without further ado, here they are!
1. Do understand that Lima is a large, sprawling urban city–pretty much like Mexico City (if you’ve been there, then you completely understand). That means if you’re going to take cabs to your destinations within the city (which is what I suggest), plan on at least 30 means from point A to point B, unless you’re literally going one neighborhood over. The traffic is pretty bad, and what might seem close on a map, just isn’t. Oh, and be prepared for heavy diesel fumes permeating throughout.
2. Lima’s central plaza is pretty–but it’s also like every pretty South American capital city, I’ve found (this being my third now. . .) and while it’s great to take a quick stroll through the square there really is no need to stop and roam.
3. But just off the plaza, and a quick 5 minute walk is the monastery and catacombs that you should definitely stop in to see.
4. Do plan out your day by which neighborhoods you’re going to visit and try to group restaurants and activities within one neighborhood. This will help on travel time between places considerably. And there are a slew of Lima neighborhoods. I would say, pick three that you have as your “must-see” and see what you can accomplish with that. I recommend starting with these three: Miraflores, San Isidro and Barranco.
5. Do treat yourself to an “upscale” meal because if you’re paying attention to the dollar’s conversion, you’ll notice that a dinner at an “expensive” restaurant in Lima will be half of what you’d pay in the US. And if I were you, I’d give Malabar a whirl.
6. I didn’t have as much time for shopping as I’d like, but there isn’t a ton to do in general in Lima (you really go to Lima for the food), but do not miss out on visiting Dédalo. The store is situated in an old mansion, and each room is filled with artisan crafts from ceramics, jewelry, clothing, paintings, and games. And there’s even an adorable lil’ café in the back courtyard, should you need a rest with some caffeine.
7. After stopping at Dedalo, do walk right next door to the beach. The house literally sits at the end of a cul-de-sac that overlooks the coastline. I was able to catch this magical sunset on my last night below. . .
8. This might seem like a no brainer: But bring and wear sunscreen. Something I continually forget is while you don’t think the sun is strong, or feels all that strong, it is. And Peru and Lima sit at such a high elevation that the sun burns all that more stronger on your skin. I was only in direct sunlight for a couple hours one day, and by the end of the night, you would have thought I spent 8 hours at the beach. I was burnt to a crisp and felt ridiculous, this was only on day one! So do yourself a favor, bring more than your typical daily powder’s SPF. Your skin will thank you later.
9. Do go for a churro! You kinda have to while you’re there. Don’t be a hater on a fried dough pastry. Otherwise you’re missing out on a typical cultural food experience.
10. Get a darn good map of the city. If you’re going to take it upon yourself to get around from district to district without a guide, then get the best map you can. I had not-so-memorable experiences before in Mexico City, and then again, in Lima with maps. Just have one handy, and forget about feeling like a tourist. You’ll save yourself ample amount of time from walking and rewalking the same streets to your destination.
Do get yourself to Lima and have a couple grand food experiences. Don’t be worried about the language barrier. And just embrace this South American capital city by the sea. (Oh, and great news, contrary to the title of this series, there actually isn’t any time change, if traveling from the east coast, so no jet lag!)