When we arrived in lima the sky was grey and the air humid. I asked the taxi driver if it was going to rain and he told me that it never rains in Lima. "Never?" I asked again, "Never!" he replied. Wondering if my Spanish was failing me, over the next two days I kept asking everyone I met the same question: at the hotel, the tour guide, the friends we meet for dinner...
Apparently it doesn't rain in Lima, but its position and proximity to the Ocean means that the air is always humid, and in fact the trees were green, while hibiscus and other tropical looking flower bushes appeared in full bloom.
I was also impressed with the Archbishop’s Palace in the Plaza Mayor (bottom right in the photo collage above), designed by the Polish Peruvian architect Ricardo de Jaxa Malachowski. This and other stone and marble building have incredible wooden balconies attached, quite a contrast. But the best surprise in the square is the fountain. We took a tour of the central city with a guide and she told us that on July 28 (Peru Independence Day) instead of water the fountain has Pisco! No rain and Pisco from fountains?
We were not allowed to take photos of this, but the most intriguing site we visited in the city centre was St Francis Monastery and the Catacombs. The catacombs are full of bones and skulls, quite a sight!
The centre was great to visit, but to stay we choose Miraflores, a district that used to be the sea resort of Lima, and it is now one of its suburbs. Safe and residential, Miraflores has parks and beaches that on the weekends are full of surfers and paragliders. Some of the small houses are really cute, although it is quite a sight seeing all the security fences around them.
Our hotel was the Hilton, brand new and a real treat, never mind that the sky was mostly grey and hazy, we enjoyed the infinity pool on the 11th floor, and all the little sweet treats that were in our room and in the executive lounge.
And talking about treats: I have to tell you that Peru surprised me with its cuisine. I was told that it was good, but it even exceeded my expectations: definitely the best of all the countries I have visited in South America. We ate well in Cusco, and we ate well in Lima. Our friends took us to La Bonbonniere, one of the many cafe/restaurants that are based in Larcomar, Miraflores' fancy terraced shopping centre with great ocean views. It was too dark to take photos of the food, but I had to include the Pisco Sour photo, the obligatory drink if you visit Peru.
Anyway, we liked La Bonbonniere so much that Arantxa and I went back the day after (we really wanted to see what it looked like in daylight, especially the decor and sea view), but not for a Pisco this time: for a Peruvian hot chocolate. Smooth and aromatized with vanilla, cinnamon and cloves, hot chocolate is definitely another "must try" in Peru :-). I am sure that I will try a few more Peruvian recipes in the next few months!
Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©