Guest blogger Paul Jones lives in Peru and writes for Totally Latin America S.A, a specialized travel company that plans and operates PeruVacation Packages.
Clearly this blog is written by someone who is passionate about Lima and his comical and light-hearted take on just about everything that happens in Lima makes for a great read. However, behind the writing and rants there is an underlying message that Lima is a great city; and I can’t help agree with him. It’s a city that simply shouldn’t be skipped on the way to Machu Picchu, but discovered and enjoyed to the fullest. Here are my 3 reasons why you should visit the City of Lima.
Lima’s a leading gastronomic powerhouse of South America
Yes, it might be hard to believe, but Lima really is leading the way in innovative, fresh and tasty cuisine. What? I hear you say. Well, let me back this up with some interesting facts that might help you see my point of view. Last year at the World Travel Awards in Delhi, Peru won the prestigious prize of ‘World’s Leading Culinary Destination 2012.” Last week Gastón Acurio, Peru’s famous celebrity chef collected the White Guide Global Gastronomy Award 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. And, a few months back the renowned luxury travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler wrote: “Lima has become benchmark for foodies and gourmets around the world.” Convinced yet? If not, I urge you to plan a few days into your Peru travel plans and visit one of the many superb restaurants the city has to offer. My top tip is lunch at Punto Azul (San Martín 595, Miraflores), a humble restaurant that is always packed to the rafters, and serves hearty portions of mouth-wateringly good seafood at great prices.
Lima is Culturally Vibrant
Lima’s is a vast metropolitan area with more than 9 million people. You can find people from just about all corners of Peru and even thousands of foreigners which now call the city their home. With such a diversity of people, the city is literally buzzing with culture. It’s difficult to explain the vibe the city has, but let me try. For example, just the other evening my wife, my little daughter and I took a leisurely walk through Parque Kennedy in Miraflores. We passed by a craft fair selling all sorts of handmade trinkets, where locals and tourists alike slowly meandered around, relaxing and simply enjoying life. Further into the park we came across the small amphitheatre, where locals of all ages had gathered to dance together in the dusk of the evening. Needless to say salsa was a popular choice, and needless to say we also felt the need to join in. On the other side of the road heading to Calle de Los Pizzas, there were several groups of elderly men sat around enjoying a few games of chess. This incredible vibe and atmosphere sums up what Lima is about. It’s something that you rarely find anywhere else in the world – something very unique, something very compelling.
Lima’s Full of Great Things to See and Do
Although most visitors to Peru will be drawn to the attractions of Machu Picchu and Cusco in the highlands of the country, don’t be fooled into thinking that Lima has little to offer. On the contrary, there are some wonderful things to see and do. A guided tour of Lima’s historical centre is well-worth the effort. Dominated by grand buildings from the Baroque and the Art Nouveau periods, the beauty of the colonial centre can rival that of any European City and offers a wonderful insight to the historic Spanish occupation of Peru. Another interesting attraction is the Temple of Huallamarca. Located in the heart of the San Isidro business district, the site dates back to the Lima Culture (200 – 650 A.D) and is a vast pyramid towering 21 meters (69 feet) tall. The onsite museum exhibits a mummy that was excavated from the site several years ago, which is believed to date back 800 years. If you want something completely different, something relaxing and not too taxing; there are also many great options. A walk along the Malecón de la Reserva to the Gaudí inspired Parque del Amor (Park of Love) is a great way to pass a few hours. Or, why not catch an English speaking movie at the LarcoMar entertainments complex before heading out to try your luck in one of Lima’s many elegant casinos. If you are looking for a bar and dance scene, the district of Barranco offers a great party atmosphere.