Following a wonderful flight on LAN Airlines from Los Angeles, we arrived at Lima airport shortly after midnight on December 31st. Immigration was quick and as we have only carry on, getting through customs was painless. Our taxi driver, Luis Carlos from the Hotel Runcu Miraflores was waiting patiently for us. The air was delightful and warm, still at 20C! By 1:30am we were at the hotel, checked in and settled in our room. It didn’t take us long before we were sound asleep.
At 7:30am Fero nudged me awake as I was in a deep, deep sleep. Slowly we got ready for the day, and went upstairs to the breakfast room for our included breakfast. We then decided to take a 4 hour city tour to acquaint ourselves with Lima. Within 1/2 hour we were on the bus and hearing all about Lima in both Spanish and English – this is great way to help keep my ear attuned to Spanish. Most people here speak English but they allow me to practice my Spanish which is nice.
Lima is a beautiful city, a mixture of old colonial and modern architecture and called the City of Kings. Our first stop is Huaca Pucllana which is a pyramid made of adobe and clay from 500AD. The name is Quechua, the second official language of Peru, and means ‘game’ which can be translated as a place for ritual games. Only a portion of it has been excavated.
From here we drive on towards Plaza San Martin, very, very slowly I might add. I am not sure if the traffic is worse because it is New Year’s Eve or if it always this bad. Lima has a population of around 9 million people and over 250,000 taxis!!!
The Hotel Gran Bolivar, a grand building built in the early 1900’s, is situated here and has a reputation for the best Pisco Sours in Lima. A Pisco Sour is the traditional drink of Peru – made of 3 parts Pisco (a brandy grown from grapes), 1 part lime, 1 part sugar and 1 whipped egg white and are delicious. Our guide Alfredo claims that having one invites you to have two, and if you have three you will be speaking Quechua!
We are now off to the Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor – the most important plaza which houses the Presidential Palace. Shortly after arriving we hear music and were treated to a marching band playing inside the gates of the Palace.
From here Alfredo takes us to El Convento de San Francisco and it’s Catacombs built by Franciscan monks. Getting hungry and hot, it is time for us to reboard the bus and head for lunch.
We opted to get off at the Alfresco Restaurant, famous for its ceviche and seafood. We were not disappointed! We tried our first Pisco Sour, Ceviche and 2 other appetizers that were delicious!
Jet lag getting the best of us, we headed back to the hotel, walked along the beach and then had a nice long nap. We awoke just in time to participate in the New Year’s festivities. We had a first class seat from our window watching the incredible fireworks displays coming from every direction. And they don’t wait for midnight, the noise and displays started in full force around 10:30pm. It was definitely something to watch as we sipped our favourite Argentinian wine.
What a great way to ring in 2015!