Lima, Peru is the fourth largest city in the Americas, with a population approaching 9 million people. In order to get there, we took an 18 hour night bus from Cuenca, Ecuador to Piura, Peru. We stopped for about an hour while everyone went through immigration between 3 and 4am. Upon arrival in Piura, we had a six hour layover until we caught a 4 hour bus into Lima. Long travel days are exhausting, but we are getting the hang of them. Lots of dramamine and snacks are the key to survival.
When we arrived in Lima, I was immediately reminded of New York City. Everything was very modern and bustling, with Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonalds everywhere. I was also reminded of NYC because of the way Lima is divided into very distinct and unique areas, much like New York's boroughs. Our first night, we stayed at a quirky hostel in El Centro. There were peacocks, turtles, and parrots roaming freely on the rooftop terrace while we ate breakfast. I immediately named it the "Lil Hotel" after Daniel's grandmother, who would have loved to sit up there and watch the birds. The architecture in El Centro was colonial, with a town square located in the center. There were also streets full of places to shop and eat, typically packed with locals. There are not many inexpensive places to stay in El Centro, so we didn't see too many tourists outside of our hostal.
Our main objective in the city was to order new prescription sunglasses for Daniel, since his were conveniently swallowed up by the ocean in Montanita. I had heard that Lima was a good place to get glasses, and it was absolutely the case. We stopped into a local optical store with Daniel's prescription from the US, and they were able to order them with no hassel at all. A few days after we ordered them, we stumbled across a street that was literally filled with only glasses shops. We ended up having to wait 5 days for them to be made, so we decided to explore another area of the city. We moved into a different hostal, this time located in Miraflores.
Miraflores is the extremely upscale and touristy area of Lima, and as such, it was also much more expensive. We went to the cine and saw the new Spiderman movie (Hombre Araña) that just so happened to be playing in English. We ate Papa John's pizza for dinner, and tasty sandwiches for lunch. Miraflores was a nice place to recharge after being away from first world civilization for awhile. It was a little unsettling to hear people in restaurants and in the streets speaking English, as most people in the area are tourists. After a few days, we decided to go back to el centro since it was less expensive and less touristy.
We would have stayed at the quirky place from earlier in the week, but they were completely booked. 28 de Julio is Peru's independance day, so it was a little more difficult to find a place. We saw a large political rally/protest of some sort, but we were unable to figure out what it was for. Daniel's glasses were finished when promised, so we left the next day to head to Pisco, home of the Pisco Sour. It doesn't deserve its own blog post, since there wasn't much to do and we only stayed for one night. We were lucky to be able to find a cheap place to stay since it was the holiday weekend and many places raised their rates ridiculously high and were full.
Nuts and Bolts:
Hotel España: in centro Lima, 50 soles ($19 USD) for private room with shared bath. Tons of charm, great upper terrace with decent breakfast (not included). Quiet, but creaky floors and beds. Lukewarm water in the showers, definitely not hot.
Flying Dog Hostal: in Miraflores, 90 soles ($34 USD) for private room/private bath, breakfast included. Huge room, huge bed, hot showers but they run out quickly. Great location, and a delicious sandwich shop right underneath
Hotel San Martin: in centro, 90 soles ($34 USD) for private room/bathroom. Terrible water pressure in the shower, too expensive for the location, and very loud with cars beeping all hours of the day and night. I don't recommend.
Magico del Agua: Big water fountain park with a light show at night. It was cool, but not hugely impressive. For only 2 soles entry fee, it was worth seeing.