I have to admit, I wasn’t very impressed after an overnight flight flying into a dreary, grey Lima morning after 10 days in sunny Cuba. But Lima was only the beginning of an adventure around Peru that was about to begin. From the sprawling city of Lima I would be off to sunny Paracas for a boat ride out to the Ballestas Islands, then to Huacachina to check out the sand dunes and the Pisco vineyards. After that would come a visit to Arequipa to trek through the Colca canyon, before finally flying to Cusco for the Inca Trail. Peru was the biggest portion of my 8 week South America trip and I wasn’t going to let one foggy morning put me off!
After dumping my bags at the hostel (no sleep in sight for me until at least 2pm), I ventured out to El Pan de la Chola for some breakfast. This bakery in Miaflores was on the top of my places to eat in Lima after reading a review of them on a travel blog and stalking their Instagram page with a unhealthy level of obsession. It was buzzing when I arrived at 8am on a Friday morning, and I sat myself down near a large table of local women in their activewear having a coffee and ordered a mixto, which is basically a ham and cheese sandwich. The cashier asked me if it was ok that I came with a garlic sauce – ummm, is the earth round? It came with the most amazing sourdough bread – crunchy goodness on the outside and warm and doughy on the inside, soaking up all that delicious sauce. It was the best comfort meal after an overnight flight and cold morning. I also wanted to try the avocado and hummus on toast but unfortunately I got a bit sick that day (not from eating here) so I never went back, but my one visit was amazing.
Around lunchtime I went on a downtown walking tour where I bought not one but two sets of churros from street vendors – that sleepiness was really starting to get to me! We also walked through a fresh food market where we got to try chicha morada, a traditional Peruvian drink made from purple corn. It was interesting to try, but a little sweet for me. We also walked through the main square where there were loads of riot police because of the protests that the teachers were holding over their pay. After that it was back to the hostel for some Netflix in bed – I think all that rum in Cuba had finally caught up with me and I needed a little holiday from my holiday. That night and the the next day for lunch I went to La Lucha Sanguacheria, a popular place that had the added bonus of being 5 minutes from my hostel as I was feeling pretty poorly. On my lunchtime jaunt I ordered fries and they came with seven types of sauces, which was heaven!
After lying around feeling sorry for myself for a day, I roused myself to go for a walk through Kennedy Park and along the ocean, which was really refreshing. The seawall is an interesting place, with loads of families, runners, people practising their tightrope skills, tourists paragliding and couples cuddling in the Parque del Amor.
After that I was feeling a little better, which was a relief because I had dinner that night at Central, the number 5 restaurant in the world. I was all booked in for a 17 course tasting menu called elevations of Peru – each dish consisted of key ingredients that had sourced from a particular elevation in Peru from sea coral and rock molluscs at -10 metres to potatoes and tree tomatoes at 3500metres. It really was an experience like no other – each dish was almost like a show. The waiters were super professional, almost to the point of being robotic. My only problem was I didn’t properly understand what I was eating some of the time, as the waiters were so swift and busy and I didn’t quite catch a lot of the names of the native Peruvian ingredients. My favourite savoury dish was this incredibly creamy potato that was encased in shell of dried onion that had been cooked in mustard. It was hands down the best potato I have ever had. The octopus was also really good, as well as the chocolate dessert and a creamy cactus fruit icecream.
There was also a matched drink with each course, and I was getting a little drunk by the end of it. There was a cocktail to go with the first two courses, some Peruvian wine and a corn beer which was not to my taste at all. I was starting to learn that corn based drinks were not for me!
Then that was about it for Lima! I can’t say I saw too much of the city itself, and what I did see was grey and misty, but it was a welcome quiet few days after the madness of Cuba and the food was phenomenal!