South America

Lima: First Impressions of Peru

Flight dramas:

I arrived in Lima – the capital, very early in the morning, after a very long and dramatic journey, no thanks to American Airlines! I cannot continue without having a little vent, so here it goes: DO NOT under any circumstances fly AA – most staff were incompetent and rude. Flights get delayed due to bad weather, which is out of human control – I get that. However, the fact that delay upon delay upon delay occurred due to the incompetencies of AA employees – is simply unacceptable!! Ok now moving along with my adventure….

First impressions:

After I went picked my backpack up from the carousel and cleared immigration, I managed to make my way over to the “Green Taxis” stand and order a cab to Miraflores – the “posh, affluent” area of the capital. As my cabbie drove on, Lima was slowly starting to wake up. But then I freaked out! All of a sudden the cabbie turned off the main road and began to navigate through the back streets of the capital. My mind began to race, as he had insisted that I place all my bags in the boot – luckily I had my passport, wallet and iPhone on me. We then ended up on a road that ran parallel to the Pacific Ocean (days later as I shared this story with the other people on the tour, the exact thing happened to them…). In his broken English, he then started to explain the redevelopments that were happening along the shoreline. I began to relax as he simply tried to explain our surroundings and be a “tour guide”. Looking at all the houses and apartments as we drove past, I noticed that they ALL had wire on top of the fences with security cameras and guards. My first impression of Lima definitely was not great… after driving for about 35 minutes; I paid the cabbie 50 soles as we had arrived at the Ibis Miraflores. For any of you who are thinking of going to Lima, I can definitely recommend the Ibis – it’s in prime location (only a 5 min walk down to the Larcomar and the coast) plus its clean with good service AND doesn’t cost a fortune…

Main Square:

The changing of the Palace guard was taking place as we approached the Plaza de Armas, which was the main square. A lot of well-groomed horses with uniformed men parading around with a marching band… The catacombs of the monastery of San Francisco were both ghastly and cool. There were bones EVERYWHERE! I actually had a nerdy moment (its natural, I’m a scientist), I began to examine the femoral neck lengths and the shape of the bones… it was weird that the skulls were all perfectly arranged in circles in pits – a little creepy if you ask me… our guide was really nice, so when we asked him for a good place for lunch he said that he’ll walk us seeing as though he also was hungry.

AWESOME coffee:

Lima has definitely got some awesome coffee! My friends tell me I’m a bit of a coffee snob, so I know what I’m talking about 😉 Make sure you check out Bisetti in the Barranco neighbourhood (the Bohemian quarter) of Lima – I went there on multiple occasions, its even got a separate room called “The Lab”, so they really know what they are doing. There is also another amazing café in Larcomar, called Arabica Espresso Bar which I think is owned by the same people as Bisetti – serious coffee here… they do cold drip coffee with funnels and instruments – looks almost scientific! I also tried a Lucuma smoothie – its some sort of Peruvian fruit and it was oh so delish!

GREAT seafood:

Ceviche is a must – it’s basically very similar to sashimi but its cooked with the acidity of key limes. They also make different sauces, so the ceviche you eat is flavoured, whether it be chilly, minty or citricy…

Overall, the capital isn’t very exciting and you can easily see most things in about 2 days…

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this was in a stuffed toy bazar – freaky….

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old school coffee grinders in Bisetti

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the first cactus I saw in South America!!!

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Peru: an adventurous 30th!

Years down the track when I am reflecting on life, I know that I will definitely have great fond memories of my 30th birthday in Peru. I was a little uneasy travelling to South America PLUS I wanted to trek the Inca Trail, so I thought it was best to join a tour – something I had NEVER done before… I ended up booking the YOLO, Peru on a Shoestring Tour with G Adventures and I was so so glad that I did… what an adventure it was!

After reading several blogs, websites and getting advice from friends – below is what I actually took (thought I should give back to the travel community…). It turns out, that careful research actually paid off and EVERYTHING that I took was actually useful – except the hand towel, one towel is enough people….

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Gear

Osprey Ariel 65L Backpack (which came with a rain cover)

Osprey airporter bag (to put the 65L in to and lock it)

Osprey Talon 33L Daypack

Osprey Raincover for Daypack

1 x Goretex gloves

2 x travel towels (hand & bath)

30L Osprey Hydration bladder

VANGO Ultralite 1300 Sleeping Bag

Mountain Warehouse headlamp with infrared

1 roll of plastic bags

1 rain poncho (bought from Cusco, Peru)

Clothing

1 x The North Face 2-1 Rain jacket with fleece

1 x The North Face fleece

3 x The North Face walking trousers

1 x genie trousers

1 x dressy top (not really it was just a check printed top)

1 x track suit

1 x t-shirt

2 x Uniqlo thermal leggings

2 x Uniqlo thermal long sleeve tops

2 x Gap thermal long sleeve tops

2 x regular long sleeve tops

1 x beanie

8 x socks (including 3 hiking socks + 1 wool socks knitted by grandma)

1 x Mountain Warehouse waterproof overt trousers

Footwear

Salomon Quest 4D GTX Ladies Walking Boots

The North Face Light Trail Hiking Shoes

A pair of Toms

Havaianas flip flops

Toiletries & Medication

Boots Extra Strength Water Purification tablets

Sudafed – cold and flu tablets

Nurofen – ibuprofen

Panadol – paracetamol

Itch Cream

Sun burn cream

Hand Cream

8 packets of tissues

1 packet of wet wipes

lip balm

deodorant

toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, facial cleanser)