Advantages weather, people, cheap (once you're there)
Disadvantages usual of any big city
Most people when they visit Peru just use Lima as a pass through point in their hurry to reach other destinations such as the old Inca towns of Cusco and Macha Pichu. I, however, spent the vast amount of my holiday in Lima itself. This is because I visited the country with my Peruvian boyfriend and stayed with his family in there. Lima is a costal city on the west of South America and it is the capital of Peru.I arrived in Lima after a 14-hour flight, I flew with KLM and we made a short, re-fuel stop in the Caribbean Island of Bonaire. Apart from this short stop my flight was direct from Amsterdam to Lima. The fist thing that struck me when I got off the plane was the instant wave of heat that hit me; compared to Belgium weather at this time of year was a real shock! I have a surreal memory of my first journey through Peru from the Airport. It was nighttime but still utterly chaotic, shops were open, people were everywhere and there were small little vans zipping around, which I thought were hippy vans, but my boyfriend explained that they were actually public buses!
I stayed in San Borja, which is a suburb on the outskirts of Lima. Even in this nice neighbourhood high walls surround the houses, usually with electric wiring around the top. Although it is less dangerous in Peru now then it was a few years ago when terrorists added to the threat. Now you only have to worry about thieves and the usual threats of a big city. The gap between the rich and the poor is very apparent in Lima, there are beautiful tourist spots such as Larco Mar, an outside mall with wonderful views onto the sea. Just down from Larco Mar is a seaside restaurant, which I was lucky enough to eat in. Food in this restaurant is very expensive compared to other restaurants (which are very cheap) but the food is amazing. Also in the city centre is a grand cathedral, the presidents palace and various impressive statues. However, walk a short distance and you will see the shantytowns surrounding the city, and on the way you will undoubtedly encounter adults and children begging for money.It is definitely advantageous to be with someone Spanish speaking in Peru as generally English is not very widely spoken. Also tourists tend to be charged a premium for things such as taxis unless protected by a local, none the less my boyfriend’s friend complained that my blond hair increased taxi fares!
While in Lima make sure to go to the Indian Market where you can pick up some real bargains. These markets tend to sell touristy items such as ponchos, panpipes etc. If you go to a more local market then you can also pick up cheap (fake) dvds and cds.I think the best thing to do when going to Lima is to contact the tourist information and find out what events are happening while you are there. During my visit I saw a horse show that was attended by the current Peruvian president (who was booed by the locals!). Another of my favourite things was the Museo de Oro, the Gold museum; this had a massive collection of Inca gold and other items of Latin American historical importance. It was a very thorough collection and I would strongly recommend a visit.
On a couple of occasions we visited a beach just south of Lima, we went by car and this seems to be the most accessible way. The sand is white and the water mild and they are surrounded by sand dunes. I would recommend the trip for the scenery alone. Warning: take a decent sunscreen! As you are so close to the equator the ozone is thinner and you’re closer to the sun meaning even if it’s not that hot you can get burnt to a crisp, as I found out!Finally I have to recommend eating out in Lima, actually I’d just like to recommend eating in Lima! The fruits, vegetables and fish in Peru are so fresh and they taste very different to what you might find in the supermarkets at home. If you do eat out then make sure you eat somewhere that looks clean, as my boyfriend pointed out you can’t just eat anywhere like you can in Europe. Having said that we eat in a very nice restaurant with a fancy water feature that had unfortunately attracted a rat, which ran under our table during the meal!
I thoroughly recommend that you spend a few days in Lima when you make your trip to Peru. Here are a few general facts that may be interesting to you:Main Language: Spanish
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