How far?!

Trip Start May 08, 2013
Trip End Sep 30, 2013

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Where I stayed
B&B Tradiciones Lima
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, May 10, 2013

We finally made it to Lima, or more accurately the Miraflores district that is said to be the safest area of the city by far. Our journey started in Madrid with an 11.10pm flight to São Paulo (journey time 11 hours). We had seats in a row of 2 towards the back of the plane. After my experiences with Air China a couple of years ago, I was actually quite impressed with the experience on TAM. The flight attendants spoke good English, the video screens had a wide choice of films, TV shows and music and the toilets were clean. The food, however, left something to be desired. Dinner was 'Tortellini with leeks'. No other option.

Breakfast was either scrambled egg or omelette with a corn frittata. Not so great if you don't like egg. I managed about 4-5 hours sleep, and spent the rest of the flight watching Argo (thoroughly enjoyed it) and The Dark Knight (seen before, still great). On arrival in São Paulo we were directed from the arrival gate straight into the departure lounge for our connecting flight to Lima. No more than a 5 minute walk with no checkpoints. I was surprised, since we had read that connecting in São Paulo can be quite taxing at times. 

 We bought some food and drinks while we waited for the next flight, a 5 hour hop across the Andes to Lima, Peru. This plane was a little newer and the video screen had some extra choices available. I watched Moneyball (okay, but formulaic) and a couple of episodes of The Newsroom. We were served breakfast (scrambled egg, hot dog, fruit salad) and later on a hot roll with ham and cheese. We also had to navigate the Tarjeta Andina de Migración, the Peruvian immigration forms, one of which was only available in Spanish. Some of the scenery we saw from the plane was stunning; we had great views of the Andes, Lake Titicaca and the Peruvian coastline as we neared Lima. 

When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the airport was quite calm with none of the harassment of foreigners often experienced in Asian countries. However we did encounter our first problem here; we asked the immigration officer to give us a visa for at least 60 days, since we will be staying here in Peru until the end of June. It seems he 'misunderstood' (twice) and gave us only 30 days. This causes us quite a headache, since it is not possible to extend the visa once issued. We can either pay a $1/day fine on exiting Peru (could be a problem since we have an internal connecting flight first) or we do a visa run to a neighbouring country. We have a few weeks to think about it anyway.

The customs checkpoint is quite interesting at Lima. You push a button, and the light goes red or green depending on if need to be searched or not. Happily neither of us were stopped (look up some of the rules on importing into Peru - no more than 2 USB sticks, 2 SD cards per person for example). A 30 minute taxi ride later (driven by Peru's latest prospect for Formula 1 it seems) we arrived at B&B Tradiciones, our home for the next 3 nights. Angelo, the owner and manager, is a great guy. He put on extra hot water for us to have showers, and later I sat down and chatted with him for about 90 minutes about what to do and where to go in Miraflores and Lima (as well as a short history lesson on Peru, the reasons for Lima's desert-like climate, the global influence of Peruvian cuisine in the last 5 years and the increase in export of asparagus and paprika from Peru). I was gone so long that Jen was starting to worry I had disappeared without her!

We headed out to a local supermarket called Wong, about 5 minutes from the B&B. Apparently Wong is quite an institution in Lima. Every aisle has staff handing out free samples of food and drink. I reckon if you planned carefully you could eat a whole meal in this way. A couple of hours later after we ate dinner, we were fast asleep; victims of the fatigue caused by such a long journey. Overall my impression of Peru so far is quite positive. It's very different to anything I've experienced before, but there is definitely still a Western influence that helps me feel at home.
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