Friday, June 18, 2010

Lima in 48hrs

No, it doesn't mean that I'll be in Lima in forty-eight hours, it'll be a bit more than two days, although the count-down is on.

What it's about is that, shortly before she died, my mom and I were talking about upcoming events in Lima, and in particular the fact that due to a family event in July, we'd have a number of people in town who'd likely have a day or two at most to spend in Lima.   Mom asked me to come up with an itinerary I'd follow had I to show someone around who had but two days to get to know the city.  So here it is.

I should mention that, for our purposes, I have assumed that the prospective traveler will be lodging either in Jesus Maria (e.g. with the family), Lince, San Isidro or Miraflores, four districts where hotels and hostels are clustered, and from which all the places mentioned are easily accessible.  I have also assumed that neither of the days falls on a Monday, when many establishments shut their doors and take a day off.

Lima is full of museums, quality restaurants, fun bars, and shopping opportunities, so there is actually much to chose from. However, I have been to and enjoyed all of the places suggested and thus can recommend them with confidence to foreign visitors.



Breakfast at lodgings or go out to nearby café.  For something fairly Peruvian order a sandwich de chicharrón.  If you’d like juice, try a surtido which is made from a mixture of fruits and vegetables.  'Juice' is jugo, but be sure to order an extracto, as that is the pure juice with no water added.

Start your visit to modern Lima by getting acquainted with a bit of its past, at the National Arqueology, Anthropology and History Museum in Pueblo Libre.   The museum's displays run the gamut from remote prehistory, through Inca gold, and the Spanish Colonial and post-Independence periods, indeed up to the early 20th century.  Attached to the museum and housing some of the displays is the Lima home of Simon Bolivar, the key figure in winning South America's independence from Spain.  While not as impressive in some respects as the Museo de la Nación, this museum is smaller, calmer, more intimate, and is set in a quiet, historic district with older architecture, a nice plaza, and far less traffic.

Afterward, walk one block over to the Antigua Taberna Queirolo to sample the pisco and wines they produce there.

Next, off to San Isidro and the reconstructed pre-Inca pyramid of Huaca Huallamarca before heading to lunch.

On this first day, get an idea of all that Peru has to offer by sampling a Peruvian buffet at Puro Perú in Barranco. 

After lunch, head to downtown and Lima’s historic center.   Have your ride drop you off at the Parque de la Muralla.  This park was built to showcase the recently discovered remains of the city's Colonial defensive wall.

From the city wall, walk to San Francisco Monastery and take the tour of the monastery and catacombs.   Be sure to not leave without buying some ground corn out front and feeding the pigeons.

Walk a couple of blocks straight down Jiron Ancash, then turn left on Jiron Carabaya toward the Plaza de Armas, Lima’s main square.

There, view the 1648 Baroque fountain, the Presidential Palace, the ornate balcony of the Archbishop’s Palace, and tour the Cathedral.

If you like, you could head back up Jiron Carabaya, to the right of the Presidential Palace, and -following the example of intellectuals, politicians, and even Presidents, of years past- duck into the century-old Bar Cordano for a pick-me-up before heading home to rest up a bit.

You'll likely be tired and not soon hungry after that lunch, so rest up and plan on heading out around 8. 

For dinner in a truly unique, if small, setting, head to the Blue Moon in Lince.  The place is decorated with a collection of almost 2000 wine, alcohol, and soft drink bottles, of the most varied types and shapes.  It has been a steady family favorite over four decades -for the ambiance and the food.

Close out the evening at a peña.  The quintessential one is Brisas del Titicaca.  It offers a polished and colorful floor show of dances from all over Peru, as well as the opportunity for one to get in some dancing of one's own.   It has been around for decades and is very popular with tourists and locals alike, so tickets can be hard to get at the door.  Call ahead for reservations, and be prepared to stay up late.


Breakfast same as yesterday, but maybe try a different locale. However, after staying out late, you might sleep past breakfast altogether.

Either way, greet the day with a a peaceful stroll through the historic grove of El Olivar in San Isidro, or along the clifftop bulevár of Miraflores with perhaps a stop in Larcomar shopping center.

As there few things better for overcoming the effects of a late night out than cebiche, head for lunch to Pescados Capitales for some of the best food in town. 

Afterwards, have your ride take you to the "Indian Markets" (mercados indios) in Miraflores for some of the best crafts, jewelry, art, antiques, and bargain shopping in the city.

In the late afternoon,  after putting away your purchases, head to Barranco and to the Mirador, or overlook, across the Bridge of Sighs and at the point past the church, for some cocktails while watching the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean.

After strolling through historic Barranco, head to Panchita restaurant, on Avenida Dos de Mayo in Miraflores.  The food is very good indeed and the drinks menu imaginative.    

Afterward, head back to downtown Miraflores and Parque Kennedy.   There are often performances in the park during the evenings, and there is a nightly flea market which is usually well worth a look.

Alternately, head to the Parque de la Reserva and experience the water and lights spectacle of the Magical Waters Circuit.

Finish out the evening with pisco sours and music on Miraflores' lively "Pizza Street".

Or, for something a bit more upscale and more sedate, head either to Bravo Restobar on Conquistadores in San Isidro for late night drinks, or to the cocktail lounge at Cala restaurant, which is located right on the seashore along the "Costa Verde".

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