On your bike

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I've spotted one of those open top tour buses from the window of the dirty hostel and voice my keen, but Paddy tells me to fuck off.  In fairness we've spent nine hours on a bus so why would we want to get on another one.  We've opted instead for a Lima city tour by bike.  Meet people, get active, see stuff.  Better than falling asleep on the top deck and getting cremated.

The group is about ten strong, a mix of Aussies (as usual) a couple of Germans (as usual) an American (as usual) and a tiny Spanish only speaking Korean girl (unusual).  Our tour guide is bilingual, and so shifts with ease from English for the majority of the group, to Spanish for the benefit of the Korean.  It means there's plenty of time to take pictures and flirt with some girls.  Except there aren't ever any good looking ones on these trips.  They're all still at the beach.

It's a 20k or so cycle round the city, with some great views and scenery.  I'm definitely getting back on the horse (bike), as my confidence on two wheels is returning.  It's not a hard ride by any stretch of the imagination, but there is a lot of traffic to contend with in places, not to mention quite a few of those ten million inhabitants to dodge.  It's a lot of fun pretending to be competent in front of others who are a little shakey.  I most likely looked like a prick.

Speaking of shakey, the little Korean is having a terrible time trying to control her machine.  Here's an idea; if you ride bicycles like a pensioner with a zimmer, don't book a city bike tour.  Being the hero that I am, I decide to stay at the back to make sure she's ok, which she isn't, but it was a nice gesture nonetheless.

Our guide is once again very knowledgeable and thorough, and it's professional operation he's put together.  One interesting slice of information fact fans, is that Peru went to war with Chile over bird shit.  It was called 'the war of the poo' and it came about due to the importance of the waste as a fertiliser.  It was as valuable as gold, and Peru had tons of the stuff.  I'm sure there's some obvious witticism to be inserted here, but I'm just about to eat so it'll have to wait.

As I mentioned before Lima in places ticks all the right boxes for a cosmopolitan, attractive, bustling city.  It certainly has it's postcard scenes, architecture and vistas, as well as public art and other points of interest.  There are some interesting stories behind the founding of various areas, and eyebrow raising tales should you want to dig a little deeper.  There's also the obligatory "I saw a vision here and decided to build a church" nonsense, as well as something about monks throwing themselves off a cliff for a woman.  The lovers bridge of sighs is a nice area, which smacks of its Parisian counterpart, and a wonderful sculpture that looks like Shrek and Fiona kissing suggests Lima is striving for a romantic city status.  Perhaps I'll stay long enough to test the theory.

We're torn between sticking this place out another night for the ease of it, to moving on to nicer accommodations.  In the end Paddy discovers a lovely hostel called HQ Villa, so we pack up and make our way there.  It's in a beautiful house, but totally wasted as a hostel, and a little too quiet.  No one is talking, everyone is typing, but it does serve as a little oasis of calm in a crazy city, and anything is better than the cess pit we came from.

Paddy has made a decision to fly solo tomorrow, heading south to 'the poor mans Galapagos islands' and submerge himself in Spanish.  I must admit I feel a pang of regret, as he has been a total blast to hang with, we've traveled well together and been on the same page.  Still it will probably be just as good for me and give me a kick up the arse to learn the language myself.  I tend to rely on the Spanish speakers when they're around, rather than giving it a try.  I'll learn nothing fast if that continues.

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