Leaving on a long trip such as this is always a case of mixed emotions, excitement, anticipation of the unknown etc.This time it was especially difficult to say goodbye to our beautiful two month old grandson.
Arriving at London Gatwick and entering the north terminal we were greeted by two Llamas! Inside, we were offered a couple complementary Pisco Sours, the national drink of Peru – packed quite a punch at 10.00a.m.! We were on the British Airways inaugural direct flight to Lima.
The 12 hour flight was pretty good. All the cabin staff seemed genuinely excited by the prospect of new destination and on arrival there was a welcoming committee of the Jorge Chavez Airport ground staff who had turned out to welcome this very first flight.
We are staying in Villa di Ana, a small group of apartments in the centre of old Barranco, the slightly bohemian neighbourhood of Lima, close to the busier and better known Miraflores. Leonardo, the American guy who owns the place had arranged for his taxi driver friend, Ivan to collect us. Sure enough, Ivan was there waiting and soon we were off on the 30 mins drive to Barranco.
Ivan was a real character, chatting away in machine-gun Spanish, it took us a while and a few “Hablar más despacio por favor’s” ( please speak slower!) before we attuned our ears to Spanish once again and began to understand what he was saying. A nice guy and very reasonable charges ( $20 from the airport) – we booked him to take us to the Oltursa bus station when we leave for Huaraz and will probably hire him for a day to take us around the major sights when our friends, Leigh and Alan join us in Lima in August.
We were last in Barranco in November 2013 when we rented an apartment for a month at the end of our six month sojourn around South America. We know it well and it really does seem a little like coming home.
We had planned on eating dinner on our first night at one of our favourite restaurants, but we had just eaten on the plane and were dog tired, so we opted instead for a quick visit to our local Metro supermarket to stock up on fruit for breakfast and then went to Canta Rana, one of our favourite bar/restaurants for a couple of beers before an early night. Here’s hoping we sleep through and avoid the jet lag.
We are only spending a few days in Lima this time before we head off into the mountains of the Cordillera Blanca for a week for some hiking so we really haven’t got much by way of sightseeing planned except to have a wander around the streets of Barranco, eat at some of the fantastic restaurants in the area.
Sunday morning arrives and once again, unusually for Lima, we were greeted by clear blue skies. Taking full advantage of the wonderful morning I leave the apartment at 7.00am to take some photos of the street art for which this Barrio is famous.
My cunning plan was to be up before before the locals are up and about there business. True, I am up before most the locals, but not before the Lima marathon passes through Barranco. The police are out in force blocking every junction whilst the thousands of yellow-vested runners pass through. Quite some sight! Maybe the Lima marathon, maybe a charity fun run – very well supported whichever it is.
Barranco somehow seems more prosperous since our last visit. Like in many cities graffiti and street art now seem perfectly acceptable and do brighten the place up. New apartment blocks have sprung up and there are even more restaurants and bars to choose from. Nice that the economy and the location are improving but delighted that it has not lost that bohemian/ shabby chic vibe.
Apart from a long walk out to Miraflores in search of potential places to stay and a brief stop at the Larcomar centre in Miraflores to admire the views along the coast to Barranco and Chorrilos. We also paid a brief visit to the Centro Historico (covered in the next post). Otherwise, we have been very relaxed, just eating, drinking and wandering the streets of Barranco admiring the newly added street art.
La Cuadra de Salvador – outstanding steakhouse. Certainly ranks in our top five steaks anywhere in the world (there have been many over the years!). Usually afficianados of the ubiquitous Pisco Sour we tried Chilcanos – a cocktail of Pisco, lime and ginger ale. But not before the barman had insisted we taste a variety of Piscos on the house before choosing one of our cocktails. I went for the Coca infused Pisco which was simply amazing. Boy were they strong though!!
Canta Rana – rated highly by Tripadvisor, this was effectively our local watering hole when we were here previously. Great for a beer or three, even better for the food. For lunch we tried the ceviche for which they are renowned. Mine was just plain but Carolyn went for the “corvina con pulpo plancha” sea bass ceviche topped with barbecued octopus. Both were superb, but the octopus was out of this world. We sat and watched as the place filed with locals and their food came out. Quit frankly, we could have eaten anything that came through the hatch. We ate early! 12.00. By the time we left there was a queue to get in.
ATMs are everywhere. Scotiabank and BCP seem the most prevalent. Both have similarly low withdrawal limits in both USD – $160 and New Soles – 400. Multiple withdrawals are allowed up to $500 USD in the case of Scotiabank ( although all machines would only permit 400ns). Always best, if possible to use ATMs within, or attached to, banks during opening hours just in case the machine eats your card. They also have guards hanging around. We NEVER use standalone machines in shops etc. – if any are going to be tampered with, it is these.
Around the major banks are where the licensed money changers hang out in the street. They are more used to changing $ and €. When I tried to change our remaining pounds the guy had to run off to find out the rate and returned with one which was ridiculously low. Laughing in his face and walking away produced the desired result of a decent rate immediately! Even if changing dollars don’t take the first rate offered at face value. It is sometimes possible to negotiate.
Taxis are everywhere and the received wisdom is to use only registered cabs and, where possible get your accommodation or restaurant to call one for you or maybe use one of the Taxi apps like Uber or Easytaxi. We rarely use cabs.
We mostly used the Metropolitano. Buses that run in special lanes. A speedy and easy way of getting around most tourist orientated parts of the city. Miraflores, Barranco, San Isidro, Centro Historico. Buy a card at any stop for 5 soles, top it up with enough for your journey(s). Each ride, no matter how long, costs 2.5 soles. Staff are on had at each stop and will help out if needed ( try stopping them!).