The trip started out with about 8 hours of flying: first from Philly to Miami, where I met up with my sister, Beth. From there, we took a midnight flight to Lima. We got in around 5AM and were able to grab a couple hours of sleep before a 9AM wake-up call. We ate a hurried breakfast and then dragged ourselves around the corner from our hotel for a bike tour of Lima.
The tour started in the prestigious Miraflores neighborhood, where we had to dodge cars and buses in the business district. Next, we visited Barranco, the Bohemian section of town. We saw the “houses” of various famous artists. (In reality, most were entire floors of condo buildings.) We also had good views of some beaches. Our last stop was Chorrillos, the southernmost district. We biked around the rocky shore where the cliffs meet the Pacific.
Our farthest stop was a point called El salto del fraile (The Leap of the Monk). According to Peruvian folklore, the adopted son of a rich landowner had the love of his life taken from him and was forced to become a monk. In his despair, he tossed himself from the cliffs and ended his life. To this day, three unknown men dress up as monks and leap from the cliff into the water every day, reenacting the legend.
On the way back, we stopped at a little taberna for a ham sandwich and an Inca Kola. (Watch out, Spain! Peruvian ham might have you beat!)
After the bike tour, we took a cab to Plaza de Armas to see the cathedral and the royal palace. Then it was back to our hotel for a quick shower, before heading out to the Westin Hotel to meet up with Beth’s friend & Lima native, Miguel. We got the “Lobby Lounge,” the hotel’s signature Pisco drink, and a plate of what seemed to be Peru’s take on taquitos.
Next stop was La Calesa (The Horse & Buggy) for a Pisco Sour. Their recipe is one of the most famous, and ours were poured by its creator – the bartender, Sami.
Our third stop was Malabar, an up-and-coming restaurant with a creative chef. We got Pisco Punch, a beachy drink. We were a bit bold with our food selection here. In addition to ceviche (of course), we each ordered “giant river snail.” (When you see that on a menu, how can you not try it?!) What we were served was a delicious snail dish, prepared and then replaced into the snail’s original shell, which is about the size of a fist.
Our final stop was Mama Tusan, a fancy chifa. (A chifa is a Peruvian Chinese restaurant.) There we got two Dimsum dishes (each some type of chicken-and-seafood dumpling) and two entrees to split between the three of us. We washed the food down with a couple Cusqueñas (Peruvian beer).
Stomachs full and taste buds in ecstasy, we turned in for an hour of sleep before a 3:30AM wake-up call and a flight into the jungle.