My days and nights in the City of Kings.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Saturday, September 17, 2005

So I have made my way to Lima, the Peruvian capital. A huge and somewhat chaotic city along the Pacific Coast, covered in coastal fog this time a year. Lima, a city most travellers I have talked to so far on this trip either claim they don't like or even hate. I agree it's not the most picturesque city out there, but I actually find it pretty decent. It has all the conveniences of a big city, including world class shopping, cosmopolitan restaurants and a good nightlife. Somewhat touristy and upscale neighborhoods like Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro are also great places to walk around and just chill out in for a few days. So I suspect many of the people claiming not to like Lima didn't really give it a chance, as it's a typical one night stopover city, or a place you just jump from one bus to the other. I'm not blaming them, as there's many much more interesting places to visit in South America, but I have found that if you give a place you initially don't like very much (or think you won't like) a chance, you are very likely to end up enjoying it. Most places has something worth seeing, and after a few days wandering around, you're likely to find those places, like an interesting neighborhood, a superb restaurant, a rockin pub or two, a photogenic church or government building, a museum worth visiting or a top notch bowling alley. Or at least you may end up meeting some nice locals or other tourists. I suspect that if I had spent more time in places like Valdivia in Chile or Santa Cruz in Bolivia, I may have enjoyed my time there much more. I may have even liked cities like Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa or Managua, if I didn't just jump over them in a zooming chicken bus.

Anyway, I have now spent a few days in Lima, gorging on gourmet food around Larcomar, a ritzy shopping center with a spectacular setting on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. One of the reasons being that my next planned stop is Huaraz, eight hours further north in Peru. A mountain trekking gateway to the spectacular Cordillera Blanca. I hope to spend a few days there, hiking around in gorgeous mountain scenery and surviving on power bars.

So what more is there to say about my stay in Lima? Well, so far on this trip I haven't pre-booked any hostels or hotels. I have usually just showed up and fixed a place to stay on the spot. For Lima I had looked out two popular hostels, but both turned out to be fully occupied. My taxi driver from the airport didn't know about any other hostels, but recommended a cheap hotel in a halfway dodgy neighborhood bordering Miraflores. Getting a hotel recommendation from a taxi driver in a big city (or any city) is usually the same as asking for trouble, but this time it turned out ok, ...or? A Chippendales poster over my bed, squeaky bed spring noises from the room next door, a TV channel showing 24 hours of yes you know what, and a seedy bar/disco in the basement open day and night, was nothing more than I expected from a taxi driver in the City of Kings. And when I wandered out in the neighborhood trying to find a place doing laundry, I should have known what was to come when the Lavanderia I located also sold used clothes. Maybe I'll just pre-book a place to stay next time...
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