Lima is dirty, criminal and way too big, on the other hand it is multicultural, green and has besides its huge coastline plenty more beautiful sights to offer. The capital of Peru is located pretty much in the middle of the country, at the coast of the Pacific Ocean. With its almost 9 million inhabitants it is the 2nd. biggest city in America and by far the biggest in Peru. It was founded in January 18, 1535 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro and became the capital of the country in 1824 after the Peruvian war of independence. It's nickname „la gris“ (the grey) comes by the way from the permanent grey sky, caused by a high level of pollution. The temperature through the year is very mild, never gets below 15°C and can be up to 30°C in summer. The climate is very humid and usually without sunshine cause of the grey sky.
In total we stayed a week with our friend Andrea in the quiet lovely district of Surco, just 20km southern of the center. As already mentioned, Lima is incredibly huge, so huge that a week is barely enough to visit some sights and the touristic districts. It is totally not enough, to get a real impression of the city and its inhabitants. Because of the size and the missing metro system you are going the loose a lot of time and money, since the public transport is a mess. Basically you can't walk anywhere, cause the districts are widely spread. The public transportation consists out of a tram with only one line, which is pretty useless, buses, metropolitano (another bus system to reach the city center from beyond) and so called combis, private vans, which are transporting too many people on way too less space. Often taxis are the only alternative to reach a place fast and save, they're quiet cheap with 15PEN (4€) for half an hour but rides up to one hour and more are not a rarity, plus as a tourist you usually visit more places a day including the back way. At night and in some districts it's always a good idea to take a taxi, even tough it's only for two blocks. Spending some money is the better alternative than loosing your whole wallet including credit cards, cash and your phone. Another problem is that, bad neighborhoods can be located directly beside touristic places, which are usually secured by plenty of cameras and guards.
Anyway more interesting are the nice parts of Lima, like Barranco for instance. The bohemian district is quiet small but very lovely, safe and located directly at the coast. Especially at night you can see its real charme, with plenty cafes, bars and restaurants, it is frequently visited by tourists. Because of that it's not the cheapest option to stay, but definitely worth a visit. Not our favorite but the most touristic district is called Miraflores, southern of the center. It's pretty huge and could probably be a town on its on. The main street, which is covered with shops and restaurants, ends at the coast with a huge terrace and more shopping possibilities. At night it is a good place to go out and have some drinks in several bars or clubs. During the day you can visit some nice cathedrals and other impressive buildings as well as the Parque Central, which is located together with Parque Kennedy in the center of Miraflores. It is pretty awesome cause it works like a shelter for abandoned cats. The cats live free and get fed by the staff of the park. So you can just hang around with them and even adopt one if you feel like. Really common in Miraflores are the many Paragliders near the costal area. For around 160PEN (45€) you can book a flight including a stunning view on Limas famous cliffs, the beach and the city. Another nice district to visit is of course the old town of Lima. Like the rest of the city super crazy and crowded, but very beautiful with huge cathedrals, monasteries and further architectonic sights. Especially the area around Plaza Mayor and Plaza de Armas, which is declared as UNESCO World Heritage since 1991 is really worth seeing. From the center you can easily access further tourist attractions, like Cerro San Cristobal for example. You can book the bus up to the peak with any of the tour operators you will find around. On top of the hill you will have a great panoramic view over the city. Also pretty cool is the tour through the San Francisco Cathedral near the main square Plaza de Armas. For 10PEN (2,7€) - 5 PEN for students you get guided in a group through the cathedral and its impressive catacombs, where still the remains of over 75.000 bodies are buried. A further must see is the Magic Water Circuit, located in the Parque de la Reserva, not far from the center. It is quiet a huge area on two parks, connected by a tunnel with 13 different fountains. Especially after the sunset it is a very beautiful place to see, since the fountains are getting illuminated by several light installations. If you're searching for a less crowded spot to relax and enjoy some peace, you should visit Plaza Bolivar. A bit further but still in the center, between several shops it almost looks like an oasis for relaxation in the middle of the concrete jungle.
Lima is also known as the gastronomical capital of South America, which makes it to a great place to discover the peruvian as well as a very international cuisine. Very famous for example are Chifa restaurants, which are serving a fusion of the Peruvian and Chinese cuisine. You can find them in almost every street in Lima as well as Perú. The food is based on the culinary traditions of the chinese cuisine, pared with typical peruvian ingredients. Besides that you can find from african over european to other asian dishes, basically every kind of cuisine you can think of. Because of the access to the ocean, fish and seafood is very common as well. Especially Ceviche, the Peruvian national dish, consisting of raw fish, chili, onions and lemon juice is very popular. You can find it in all forms and variations in the so-called Cevicherias, restaurants which are specialized in the preparation of Ceviche. Another mayor thing is Pollo a la Brasa (grilled chicken), nothing special but Peruvians are going crazy for that, you can find „pollerias“ literately in every street. Typical snacks are fried yuca in Salsa Huancaina (a sauce from fresh cheese and yellow bell peppers), Yuquitas (a sweet, fried dumpling made from a dough of yuca and other ingredients) and Chifle (fried banana chips). Typical drinks are Emoliente, a nutritious drink from linseeds and like in the rest of Perú of cause Chicha and Pisco Sour.
All in all Lima is a good place to travel to, you should be careful in some areas and be prepared for a lot of stress and waiting, but it's worth it. Compared to the rest of Perú it's quiet expensive but in general it's keen. You can find an accommodation in a cheap hostel for around 15PEN (4€) as well as a lunch (on the market) already for 7PEN - 2€. A week worth of shopping for a single person will be around 160PEN (45€). The transport is super cheap with 1 - 3PEN for a single ride on the public transport and 15PEN (4€) for half an hour in a taxi, but don't underestimate the long distances.
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