The noticeably warmer climate of Lima was a welcome relief as I arrived into the frantic scrum of tourists and taxi drivers at the airport’s entrance. I was about to join in the action and try and negotiate a journey to the tourist district of Miraflores, when a Brazilian girl grabbed me by the arm and told me in Portuguese, in no uncertain terms, that we would share a taxi and we wouldn’t pay more than 35 soles (around US$12) for it.
I was in capable hands, as she expertly negotiated the driver to her desired price, without uttering a single word of Spanish.
I was about to settle down for the 45-minute journey when we were abruptly rear ended in the heavy motorway traffic by a young, bright-eyed Peruvian teenager in the car behind. After a heavy sigh from the driver and a couple of mutterings of “no pasa nada” we continued with minimal fuss.
This is Lima, intensely hectic and packed but it never seems to take itself too seriously.
Every morsel I ingested in this city was a contender for the best dish in Peru
Just like the people, Lima’s food destinations pack the dishes with rich flavours and fusions but don’t take themselves too seriously.
I was itching to try Nikkei while I was here, the legendary blend of my two favourite cuisines, Japanese and Peruvian. So, I headed to Edo Sushi Bar in Miraflores. The modern, sleek sushi bar did not disappoint. The perfect mixture of rich, deep Peruvian flavours with the elegant texture of Japanese cooking. The acervichado topped with a rich and creamy sauce with a Peruvian twist was the highlight of the evening.
For ceviche, El Punto Azul was an excellent recommendation from a local ex-pat who contacted me. It is not for the faint hearted and has quite the kick, but the citrus flavours soften it almost immediately.
You are spoilt for lunchtime bites in Miraflores, with La Lucha in Parque Kennedy offering some of the best sandwiches in the city, albeit with a heavy price tag. Arepa café on Berlin Street is a must-visit for these little Venezuelan parcels of delight.
Lima comes alive at night
As of buzzing and frantic as Lima is by day, by night the city is just as bustling and several of the most important sights, including the ruins at Huaca Pucllana, offers tours at night. The Magic Water Circuit in Parque de la Reserva is an evening well spent. Hundreds of L.E.D lights light up the twelve fountains in the park to music for a vibrant visual show.
If you have children bring a spare change of clothes, as several of the exhibits are interactive and they will enjoy running through them and dodging the water jets.
It isn’t just humans that enjoy the mild Lima nights.
Parque Kennedy is home to dozens of resident cats which come out to enjoy the evening festivities. They enjoy right of way and have free reign over the park making for some interesting viewing.
The bars around Miraflores offer the perfect setting to enjoy Lima’s nocturnal festivities. BarBarian on Manuel Bonilla is a beer haven with a choice of more than 23 artisanal beers. For something a little more affordable, Bar Publico had a lively atmosphere filled with young Peruvians. Houlihan’s is another option, a self-proclaimed Irish bar, perfect for a late-night drink.
Head to Barranco district to explore Lima’s beating bohemian heart
A stroll around colourful, colonial Barranco is a bombardment of sights, sounds and smells. From the live music ever-present in the streets to the yet more tantalising restaurants to poke your head in. The area is littered with art and history museums, or if you prefer a different kind of history, visit Ayahuasca or Victoria Bar- both located in converted colonial mansions, with impressive old lounges.