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Where We Are: Lima, Peru

The more we travel, the more I continue to be amazed by all this world has to offer. Lima, is without a doubt, one of the most amazing places I’ve been to, and that is partly due to my lack of planning. Before we landed in Lima, I thought Peru was landlocked, and I absolutely didn’t realize Lima was a beach city.

Who knew Lima was a beach city?! (Answer: Anyone who has ever looked at a map.)

The way our travel planning dynamic works is that Kenny plans big picture — picking countries, booking flights, finalizing dates — and I’m in charge of the details— booking tours, finding activities, planning our daily itinerary. Normally, I have most of this work done days (if not weeks) before we land in a city.

But since we were only in Bogota for a week and Bogota has so much to do, I fell behind and didn’t get any planning done until we landed In Lima. On top of that, when we arrived at our hostel, the wifi was down, so I didn’t even get a chance to do much planning until we headed out on our first day to explore the city.

Lima Peru Paragliders

Paragliders take to the skies along the coast. (Would you believe me if I told you that was me?! It’s not…but just checking if I could fool ya!)

We are staying in the Miraflores neighborhood, which is a fancy residential and shopping district in Lima and probably the nicest part of any city we’ve been to in South America. It is clean and manicured, the sidewalks consistently don’t have holes in them, and the boardwalk along the coast rivals our beloved Chicago Lakefront Trail.

Lima is more than the upscale coast, and I know it’s unfair to judge an entire city by it’s most touristy neighborhood. On our second day, we found the local public transportation (one of the 5 things we try to do in every city) and headed to the historical district.

While this looks like a Blue Line train stop in Chicago, this is actually a bus stop! In the center of the busy highway, you’ll find dedicated bus lanes and stations. This is absolutely the way to travel because Lima traffic is unbearable!

The historical district is full of ornate, beautiful and well-preserved buildings that rival some European cities when it comes to old buildings. When we made it the main square (Plaza Mayor), we were thrilled to find a changing of the guard ceremony taking place (again with the lack of planning). It was very similar pomp and circumstance as in London’s Buckingham Palace, but with a fraction of the crowds! Although, I will say there was a strike going on in the city while we were there, so we were treated to even smaller crowds as the square was completely blocked off.

I have plenty more to talk about, but I’ll save that for future posts. In summary, Lima is incredible and you should absolutely plan to go there! If you’re planning to hike the Inca Trail in Cusco, you should 100% plan on adding Lima on either end of your trip. Even if you’re just in South America, I would recommend adding Lima to your trip. It should not be missed!

Initial Reactions On Lima:

  1. Clean & Modern. While Bogota has the grit and culture along the lines of New York City, Lima is more of a Chicago-like city. It’s grouped into neighborhoods, takes full advantage of its coastline, and finds its character in its beauty. It’s the most modern South American city we’ve been to so far, which makes it a great destination for North American tourists (minus the part where you can’t drink the water).
  2. Crazy walkable. Since arriving in Lima, walking is noticeably easier! I joked about the holes in Colombian sidewalks, but you really couldn’t walk there without looking at your feet constantly. Not only are the sidewalks perfectly maintained here, but there are so many of them! There is also a long and beautiful pedestrian path along a large portion of the coast which is great for walkers, bikers, and runners.
  3. Off-season Beach City Vibe: In Chicago, after the beaches close up after Labor Day, the Lakefront trail is this cool, empty place where I find so much solace. I love being on an empty beach on a cloudy, cool day. That’s how it feels along Lima’s coast. Although, the waters are always filled with surfers and I do hear the beaches really heat up during the summer months (it’s winter here, now).
  4. Insane Traffic. We took a car service from the airport to our hostel on a Tuesday at 8 PM and the traffic was bumper to bumper, the whole way. We’re talking Chicago rush-hour style traffic all the time. Also, pedestrians do NOT have the right of way here! Be very careful when crossing the streets as it feels a bit like frogger!

What you need to know:

  • Population: 8.5 million
  • Altitude: 1,550 meters
  • Exchange Rate: 3.24 Peruvian Soles to $1 USD
  • Primary Language: Spanish
  • Walking Tour: Free Walking Tour Peru (we did not actually go on this tour ourselves)
  • Time Zone: Central
  • Taxi: Yes
  • Uber: Yes
  • Public Transit: Bus only (but kinda feels like the train!)
  • Emergency Number: Police: 105 / Ambulance: 117 /  Fire: 116
  • Running: We will be running along the Miraflores Boardwalk. Because there are so many permanent bike and pedestrian lanes, there is no need for a weekly Ciclovia (where they close the streets and the become a temporary bike path).
  • American Football: We feel pretty confident that you could find American Football here! The season has started yet though, so we haven’t really tried to track it down, but we’ve seen many bars with ESPN channels so I’d bet you could find it here.
  • Starbucks: Yes, several.
  • Local Starbucks Specialty: Algarrobina Frappuccino (Algarrobina is a syrup made from the Black Carob tree, and the creme-based blended drink is made with this and chocolate chips it looks like.)
  • Coffee Price:  5 soles (~$1.50) for an Americano to 10 soles (~$3) for a Nutella Latte
  • Beer Price: 10 – 20 soles  (~$3 – $6 USD)