Why did we only give ourselves one day in Lima? And why didn’t we realize that one day was Sunday?
We got in Saturday night with only enough time to check into our hotel, run to the beach to watch the sunset and grab dinner. The sunset was amazing. We got a seat on a seawall with locals and tourists alike that were there for the same reason. The waves were vigorous and made for some gorgeous photos. It was the perfect welcome to Peru. For dinner, we landed at Pardos, a chicken shop that was known for its Pollo a la Brasa which is essentially rotisserie chicken with spices, we think it’s the same as going to Applebee’s in America for a burger. Of course we also had to get Peru’s famous Pisco Sour and Chica Morada (purple corn juice, it’s actually really good!). The chicken was was juicy and the skin was crispy and flavorful. It came with French fries, salad, and Aji, a yellow chili pepper sauce that’s just spicy enough, which of course we both loved. Dean also tried Anticuchos de Corazon which are grilled beef hearts. He said it tasted like super concentrated beef and would definitely get it again. Four foodie Peruvian Bucket list items down! We figured we’d call it an early night since we only had one day to pack it all in.
Finally a soft bed!! We needed it so bad. Once we figured out how to keep the a/c on all day and night the room was almost perfect. The location seemed to be great. It was in Miraflores, the higher end residential and tourist neighborhood that leads to the Pacific. It’s a generally safe area of the city but not too far removed from ton of restaurants and shopping and about a 10 minute walk from the beach. The only bad thing about the hotel was the WiFi. Absolutely horrible.
While Lima is on the ocean, the city is lined with humongous cliffs down the beaches. So while you can get there, you have to go down a ton of steps built into the cliffs, and when you’re ready to leave… you have to go back up. A. Lot. Of. Steps. We did that on the first night. That sucked. Dean loved it though!
In most, If not all, South American/Spanish countries and cultures almost the entire city shuts down on Sunday’s. We should have thought about that as that’s what happened to us in Barcelona!
We decided to head out and do everything as we planned regardless in hopes some things would happen to be open. Man are we happy we did! We started at Mercado Numero Uno. Yes, that’s it’s name! Luckily, not only were people there but they also had a special organic market going on outside. Inside, fruits and vegetables lined the market as like the one in Bogota, but it always interesting to see what kind of foods other cultures eat. Lots of nuts and snacks in this one! Once we got to the chickens and meats, however, the smell got too bad to bear. Man, that smell. Indescribable. It is always fun to see the locals going through their daily routine, and being immersed in is all part of the experience of exploring a city for us.
After the market we decided to check out the Plaza de Armas. This is the central part of the city where the government palace, and beautiful Spanish churches and architecture are abundant. Something special seemed to be going on as all the streets were closed off and tons of people filled the square. The locals were at the gate yelling “Pepe” in hopes “Pepe” would give them a wave. Still not sure what was happening, or who exactly Pepe was, but we loved it! We were able to walk up and down the streets of downtown freely and check out all the cool areas of Lima. Since it’s Chinese New Year and there is a very large Asian population in Peru, we got some Chinese food for lunch! In Peru, the Chinese restaurants are called “Chifas” and there are probably more in Lima than in NYC. After about 15 minutes of trying to figure out what everything meant on the menu, we settled on sweet and sour chicken for Dean and chicken with noodles in a brown sauce for me. Muy Bueno!
From there, and after a short nap, we were off the Plaza de Amor which was right near our hotel. This was a park right on the edge of the cliffs for people to just hang out and relax. There was a huge statue in the middle of two people kissing which was awesome! There was also a sidewalk that lined the edge of the cliffs so we were able to walk up and down with perfect views of the water. There were people jumping off the cliffs and paragliding, a lighthouse at the end and tons of people there with their families and dogs(did we mention there seemed to be about 3 veterinary clinics on each block? People love their pets here). A perfect thing to do on a beautiful evening!
When deciding what to have for dinner, we kept seeing a place called Manolo pop up from fellow travelers, A churro (Spanish/Latin fried dough) shop. Done and done! We read about how amazing the churros were there and decided it didn’t matter what they had for dinner but that we’d go if even just for those. When we got there we saw that they were also known for their sandwiches. We sat outside in front of the case displaying the churros (why we are the two Fat Americans) Dean got the Manolo, their signature huge sandwich stuffed with ham, cheese, pickles, chicken, bacon, roasted red peppers, lettuce and tomato. I got chicken and cheese (I know, I know, I let him have all the fun! If we call it Pollo y Queso does it sound more exotic?). Then it was time for the churros. So good!! We got one of each flavor, dulce de leche, vanilla and chocolate. They were completely stuffed with the filling so when you bite into them it all spews out from unexpected places. Hands down we both called the win for Dulce de Leche, the others were good, but sweet, salty crispy and molten churros can’t be wrong!
Some more walking around led us to discover Parque Kennedy and it was nice to walk around there to digest. It was surprising how many people and families were out enjoying the night on a Sunday at 8pm! It made a great end to a great day. Lima, we’ll definitely be back for you!
Monday morning, a dilemma. Dean really wanted a tipico desayuna (breakfast) of Peru, Chicharron criollo. A hearty sandwich filled with fried, boiled pork, pickeled red onions, Aji sauce, mayo and roasted red peppers all on a crusty freshly baked roll. A quick search led us to one of the best in Murafloes, La Lucha Sangucheria Criolla. We still had an early flight to catch, but stepping up to the counter, we got fast service, and a friendly server happy to practice her English with us. Wanna take a guess who got what? Yep, the famous Chiccharron for Dean, and me… you guessed it Pollo! Both sandwiches satisfied the craving and fueled us for our rush to the airport to catch our flight to our next destination, Cusco and Machu Picchu!
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