Lima is a city sort of hits you in the face right out of the gate. We arranged a car to pick us up from the airport. It was a little on the pricey side, but we were warned before arriving that the taxi system in Lima is a little crazy. Pretty much anyone can be a taxi driver and the drivers aren’t regulated. So, you have to negotiate a fare and hope the driver brings you to the right place. Nine times out of ten, this is probably fine, but given our rickety Spanish we thought it was best to go with the arranged car.
Lima is a city of eleven million people. And there is no real transit infrastructure other than buses, mini-buses, combis, and taxis. So, as you might imagine, that equals a lot of traffic, pretty much all the time. Traffic lanes are suggestions. Honking is required. I often wondered if there were different honks for different things. Like, “Get out of my way,” “Do you need a ride?” “Hurry up!” I’ve been to many big cities, but Lima was something completely different.
So, what did I think of all of this chaos? I loved it. Here are my three favorite things from our two stints in Lima:
Chris and I like to get off the beaten path and figure things out for ourselves when we’re traveling. But, it’s also our style to do the tourist thing from time to time. So, on our first day in the city we hopped on a bright red double decker bus for three hour tour of the city. We drove through Miraflores, San Isidrio and into Lima Centro.
The Plaza Mayor in central Lima is impressive and beautiful. The plaza surrounded by the Catedral de Lima and the Palacio de Gobierno. We were able to see the changing of the guard at the palace, which happens at 1:00 each day. A tour of the cathedral was arranged as part of the bus tour. Francisco Pizzaro’s remains are in an intricate mosaic covered chapel which you visit as part of the tour. Massive roundabouts, stuffed streets, stunningly beautiful and historic architecture, and a bilingual guide made for a great first morning in the city.
If you only have a short time in Lima, a bus tour is definitely worth your time.
Valentine’s Day Surprise
Many of you know I did not swoon over our time Chile. I was relieved to get to Peru. After more than two weeks of no sleep because of the cacophony of Chilean nightlife, I was exhausted. Thankfully, Chris could not have picked a more lovely hotel for our first two nights in Lima – Hotel Runcu in Miraflores. It was clean, quiet, and the hospitality was top notch. They brought us chocolate and cookies on Valentine’s Day. Sometimes it’s not the sweeping views or rich history (of which Lima has many), it’s a plate of sugar cookies when you’re recovering from weeks of sleep deprivation.
We wholeheartedly recommend this place if you’re traveling to Lima.
Parque del Amor
A post about my adoration of Lima wouldn’t be complete without the Parque del Amor, or Love Park. I read online later about the story of this park, which I think is awesome. One of Peru’s famous poets Antonio Cillóniz supposedly inspired the creation of this park after observing that cities do not build monuments to lovers, only warriors. (Most South American cities have statues of war heroes or other significant military figures in their main plazas or squares).
Chris and I were in Lima on Valentine’s Day and so he indulged my idea of walking from our hotel along the ocean to see the famous “El Beso” statue and the park. I wish it could say it was the most ultra romantic part of our trip, but it wasn’t. We understand now why our travel guidebook said, “Watch out!” if you venture over to this park on Valentine’s Day. There were couples holding hands, girls with bouquets of flowers and balloons, families, you name it. There were people everywhere! While it wasn’t necessarily romantic, it was fun to see Peruvians celebrating the holiday in their beautiful urban park.
We did catch a stunning sunset over the Pacific Ocean, but after that we fled the crowds to grab a bottle of wine and some snacks to enjoy from the comfort of our lovely hotel.