Here are the top 10 things I've learned about Lima, Peru:
10. Lima is the "second largest city in the Americas." With almost 10 million people, this puts it just behind Sao Paulo, Brazil and before Mexico City. It's a big city, folks, larger than my hometown of New York City. I never knew it was so big so this clocks in at my number ten item on the list.
9. Lima has Inca ruins in the middle of the city. You can actually drive around them and, yes, they have Pokemon in them. (Ugh!) Seriously though, the way other cities have fountains or arches, Lima has cool Inca ruins. You can thank the good folks of the 15th century for that. They are still there and the city has grown up around them. Wonders to enjoy, they are.
8. Lima is located geographically on the Pacific Ocean, south of Ecuador, along the western edge of Peru. As you might guess from being south of Ecuador, it sits very near the equator and it is actually located in the southern hemisphere so, technically speaking, if you live in North America, you have to cross the equator to get there, but just cross the equator. It's literally just on the other side.
7. Lima is a culinary capital of the world. Many people travel to many cities, come back and say, "the food was good there," but Lima really is a king of the kitchen in this regard. During my visit, I dined at the 13th best restaurant in the world. The food is really fabulous with local fare including over 4000 varieties of potato and over 300 species of edible fish. There is something for everybody in terms of food in Lima as well, including Asian inspired dishes, Italian, Mexico flavors and, of course, the local cuisine. All to die for, really that is. Bon appetit!
6. While there is a chocolate museum in Lima, most of the chocolate you eat there is cacao. I found this to be tasty and actually preferred it to the more traditional style chocolate. It is (typically) less sweet but I found it to be more flavorful. It's quite tasty.
5. There are several districts in Lima, Miraflores being a major art, restaurant, shopping district. I stayed in the Miraflores district during my visit. The area they call the city center hosts the President's house along with many examples of authentic colonial architecture. Miraflores is a wonderful area to visit, almost like a city unto itself. You could spend an entire trip there and not run out of things to do, with lots of shopping, activities, and, of course, great restaurants right at your fingertips.
4. The Monastery of San Francisco is an example of authentic colonial architecture. I was lucky enough to tour this monastery during my visit and it is really an amazing building. Below it the famous catacombs hold an estimated 25,000 remains. You can tour the catacombs to see some of the bones (I did!) and it's fascinating. I really enjoyed this tour and highly recommend both the Monastery and the catacombs.
3. The Mirabus is an open air double decker bus. You can ride up top and tour the entire city, enjoying the view from your seat. This is highly recommended as it was a fantastic experience. You can take photos from the bus and basically shoot the entire city from up there, getting a wonderful bird's eye view of everything. Wear a jacket as it's a bit cool up there and don't stand up, least a tree or low hanging stoplight take you out, but enjoy the ride. It's a great trip and you really can enjoy the entire city from up there.
2. The parks in Lima are fabulous. There is a park with a famous statue of a bull. Another park with a lot of cats is a wonderful stroll for an afternoon. There is another park with wonderful tile benches and a giant statue of a couple embracing. Lima has some great parks and I highly recommend making the most of them.
And, the number 1 thing I've learned on my trip to Lima, Peru is....
1. Pisco Sours, baby! Lima is also known for a wonderful drink called the pisco sour. It's fabulous. The drinks in Lima are really great. I enjoyed the pisco sours, which you really have to try from every restaurant and place that serves them, as well as herba buenas, and Inca colas. They make fresh lemonade which is really made with a sort of key lime style fruit that's very delicious, but there is nothing quite like the local ceviche served with a fresh pisco sour. Oh! Heaven! A must try for any visit. In Miraflores, there is even an entire street devoted to the pisco sour drink, called Pisco Sour Street. I took a picture of it and will share at some point. Great drink, great street, great city all around. Pisco sours really are a treasure in Lima and they clock in at my number one item I've learned about Lima.
Some tidbits of information that did not quite make my top 10 list but might be worth knowing, should you happen to find yourself down Lima way, let's see, I'd have to include the fact that Lima has a mild climate. It's mild to warm year round. When I visited, it was winter time and the weather was very mild and pleasant with highs close to 80 and lows in the 60's or so. It's also cloudy, it can be a cloud city which you should watch out for when visiting. While this can make for great photographs, it's very easy to get a sunburn since it's so close to the equator but the clouds mask the sun from your eyes. Even when it's cloudy, the sun can sort of sneak up on you and you can find yourself getting sunburnt very quickly. I know this because I did. Pack sunscreen, folks! Pack sunscreen and enjoy Lima, Peru because it's a wonderful place to visit.
Until next time...