I watched para-gliders whizz past our heads, one after another like giant birds, while my friends and I enjoyed our daily intake of wine, ceviche and cake. In all honesty, I did have a bit of ‘FOMO’ for not swinging around in the air, with a parachute stuck to me (or the other way round?) while the beautiful rose-coloured sun was setting... but then I looked at my giant plate of the best ceviche I have ever had (Mango’s Restaurant), and I didn't care as much.
We walked back to our hotel from the beach, past families playing near the swings and exercise machines, having picnics after 10pm at night near the Parque del Amor (Park of love), which looks a bit like one of Gaudi's creations from Barcelona (but it isn't). Miraflores is the chilled out family and lovers' town in Lima, Peru and I loved it. If I had another life, I would like to live there.
My favourite museum in Peru was Museo Santuarios Andinos, where we met the teenage mummy of Juanita (who apparently looks like me when I’m asleep, according to one of my friends), but my second favourite was the San Pedro Church, near the main city of Lima.
From the surface, it’s a beautiful yellow church, but underneath it all, lies an impressively organised collection of human bones in the Catacombs (a.k.a. Catacumbas).
For a more light-hearted museum, you can also go to a chocolate making course at the Choco Museo in the city centre, or even in Miraflores,
Within a ten minute drive from Miraflores, there are a few markets, including the Inca Market, where I bought all the small(ish) touristy things I could fit into my bag, considering I had no space left in my luggage. Clothes, hand-made bags, embroidered fabrics, silver jewellery... and of course a small ‘made in China’ plate with ‘Peru’ written on it for my home collection... and a magnetic bottle opener, and a T-shirt. My favourite jewellery items were a hummingbird pendant, which signifies human connection with the Gods in Peru, and silver earrings with one of the Nazca lines’ geoglyphs. Things in the local shops are generally quite cheap and reasonably priced across Peru, but the western style shopping centres were pretty expensive, as expected.
A 10-15 minute taxi ride from Miraflores is Barranco, a Camden-meets-Lima area with bars, view points, restaurants and a completely different vibe to the rest of Lima. We started our evening in a local Peruvian equivalent of a pub, where I downed Pisco and whisky shots (which may explain the memory loss from that night).
And then of course: Ayahuasca Bar (named after the famous hallucinogenic brew, historically made by indigenous people of the Amazon to cure illnesses). This bar looks like a scene from a Bond-movie. The inside walls decorated in authentic rugs, five different bar rooms, and a club outside, dim lighting and amazing Pisco Sours (their national cocktail, made with egg white), it has everything you need for your night out, including tasty tapas. It’s expensive, compared to the other bars in Lima, but totally worth it, if you ask me.
For those who like watching live performances, there are Tango performances at Barranco as well, we didn’t go, but probably would have if we had more time. We found conversant and friendly taxi drivers through out our time in Lima, with no problem, and at affordable prices even during the later hours of the day.
DAY TRIPS outside lima
The old town and the palace grounds were a 30 minute taxi ride from Miraflores, and there were at least five plazas (squares). We tried to walk all the way there one day, and I think my friend was close to killing me (slight exaggeration), but in short: don’t do it. The local buses are comfortable and cheap and will save you time from walking on straight long roads.
If you have a few extra days, I would try to hire a car and drive down to Huacachina, a tiny town surrounding an oasis in the middle of the desert. It’s stunning at night, and you can do sand-boarding (don’t forget to cover your mouth!), and have a sand dune ride on a desert-style buggy.
Some people go to Ballestas Islands from Lima, apparently the Galapagos of Peru. We went, and frankly, I didn’t like it because all we really saw, was clusters of sea lions piled on top of each other on a tiny island, while our speedboat amongst another twenty-odd, gave off black fumes of pollutants, for these weirdly cute (but smelly) sea lions, to inhale. There was also the added risk of being shat on by the hundreds of seagulls flying over our open boats, which explains the people selling so many hats at the port. From an animal-welfare, environmental, photography or even bird droppings - perspective, I would advise against this.
Miraflores was indeed a great choice of location. We stayed in a standard hotel for the first few days, then decided to treat ourselves on the last two nights by staying at a fancier hotel: Costa Del Sol, Wyndham Hotel. The breakfast was a buffet of everything I wanted to eat: croquettes (for breakfast!), pancakes, omelettes, sausages, chicken. The heated pool and jacuzzi was a great way to relax before our long journeys back home to London. The hotel even offered us free shuttle service to the markets and back.
Overall, Lima is one of my favourite cities, with a constant presence of its Spanish colonial history, an atmosphere of romance, happy families playing in the park after 10pm, modern and traditional buildings and culture and of course: chocolate. Don’t forget to fill up on Peruvian cacao for the trip home!