[Day 4] Last full day in Lima

I dubbed my last day in Lima, a eating day. This day was full of food and I travel to eat, so what a perfect day 🙂 My accommodation was nice enough to let me keep my luggage there so I packed up, placed my bags in the corner, and headed over to grab some breakfast.

While I was walking, I noticed a lot of the streets were closed off. Turns out, there was a marathon happening! I got to wave and cheer the runners, watch them get showered by locals, and see them push themselves to their limits. It was nice that the neighborhood got together to support the runners.

So for breakfast, Pan de la Chola was my choice. I found this place on several list for coffee and bread and I’m always down for some good bread. The cafe itself is spacious but on a Sunday morning, it was jammed packed with tourists and locals alike. The open concept made the space look large with all the natural lights and from the entrance, you had a good view of the kitchen. The aroma of coffee and bread alone made me hungry.

I grabbed a hot chocolate and croissant and they were delicious. The hot chocolate was rich but not too sweet and the croissant was buttery and super flaky. My type of croissant. I was able to get a seat by the bar and people watch while enjoying my breakfast. I could have gotten a sandwich but I wanted to leave room for other things.

At noon, I headed to La Mar to meet a friend. Luckily, Pan de la Chola and La Mar are really close to each other. About one block. And the line was just starting to form. I think I was about 10th group in line. And the line kept getting longer and longer. My friend got to the restaurant just as they were opening and we were seated at the bar. We both wanted to see the chef preparing the food and drinks. The restaurant was a good size with lots of natural light.

Inside La Mar

We came for ceviche so we ordered ceviche. We wanted to try something different so we ordered the Mixto and Leche de Tigre. The waiter asked how spicy we wanted the ceviche. We never thought there was a spice level to ceviche but since we were going for different, we ordered the regular Mixto and mild Leche de Tigre.

Left: Leche de Tigre – Right: Mixto Ceviche

It was definitely more fancier than the other ceviche places (and pricer too). But it was really good. Leche de Tigre was my favorite. The right amount of spice and the fresh seafood combo just captured my palette. It was also interesting that they used roasted corn. Unexpectedly, the crunchy corn was a great pair with the ceviche.

After lunch, we wanted some dessert and right across the street from La Mar was Amorelado, a gelato store. The store itself was small with only 2 tables but it had a very lovely atmosphere. I ended up with Pina con Albahaca (Pineapple with Basil?) and it was so refreshing. And the gelato was perfect for the 73 degree weather.

With our belly full, we decided to walk to Maido for our Nikkei Experience. We needed some exercise to become hungry again. With gelato in our hands, we happily walked about 2 hour to Maido. And it was so worth it.

Nikkei Experience at Maido

The course meal was at a good pace but still took about 2 hours and 30 minutes. They used local ingredients with lots of interesting flavors and twists. One example would be Cuy, the guinea pig. I wanted to try it and was glad I got it here. The flavor was close to turkey dark meat but extremely tender. It just melted in my mouth! Even though the portions were small, they were packed with intense flavors and I enjoyed the course immensely. And the dessert was also a sight to see! Using nitrogen, they create ice cream in front of you and also a wonderful sight to see.

what’s left of the nitrogen

And if you thought this was the end of the meal, think again. They give you a take home dessert as the final course and it perfectly sums up the meal: A present to myself. Overall, if you like Japanese food and want to try something unique, Maido is a great place. They have a la carte menu as well as the Nikkei Experience.

After the meal, we uber-ed to Lacomar Shopping Center. We were going to meet more people. While we waited, we enjoyed the view of the ocean. The shopping center was situated at the edge of a cliff, which gave us a panoramic view of the ocean. There were lots of food options here as well so if you wanted a place with a view, you could find something here.

Once we met up with everyone, we headed to Barranco. While at Barranco, we saw the biblioteca, crossed the La Puenete de Los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs), saw street art, and more. When we got here, it was already around 6pm and was getting dark. But the area was lively with locals and tourists alike. It was full of colorful street art and beautiful architectures that you can spend hours wandering about.

Bridge of Sighs at night time

I wanted to stay longer but also wanted to see the Magic Water Circuit since it was our last day in Lima. So we quickly headed to see the show. The entrance was full of people but it moved quickly. The fee was 4 sol and it was worth it. The park itself was large with multiple water fountains. The main one for the show was long… I mean… LONG. The show was filled with lots of exciting music, lasers, and colors being displayed against the waters and it was a sight to see.

Colorful fountain (main fountain after the show)

After the show, we walked around to see the other fountains. Many of the smaller fountains were full of people taking pictures, including several wedding and quinceanera photos. They were beautiful. There were also a lot of kids jumping into the fountains, playfully running in and out of the water. The night’s cool air didn’t stop them from having fun.

After all the walking, we decided to grab a late dinner (more like a snack). We wanted to try anticucho but many of the restaurants were already closed. So we ended up at Huaca Pucllana. (What we didn’t see is that there were lots of street vendors in front of the park that had anticucho). Once we were seated, we ordered Stuffed Potatoes and Anticucho. This place wasn’t cheap but the food was good. It also offered a view of the pyramids. While enjoying the atmosphere of the restaurant, we filled our stomach with delicious food and some pisco sours.

View of the pyramid site from the restaurant

Once we were done, we headed to Holiday Inn Lima Airport, our hotel for the night. My friends were leaving early in the morning for Cusco and I was waiting for another friend to arrive from the airport.

I say friend but actually it was our first time meeting. I had made travel plans with my college friend but the scheduling didn’t work out as planned so I was technically traveling alone. And I wasn’t too sure of traveling alone so I found a travel forum and put up my schedule and asked if anyone wanted to join me. And one person got in touch with me saying that her schedule was similar to mine and wouldn’t mind tagging along. So this was it. First time meeting. We shared our instagram and kakao to introduce ourselves and to talk about what we were excited about. It was my first time doing something like this and I’m very glad I did. We were a pretty compatible travel partner and I’m glad to have met her 🙂

[Day 2] Traveling to Old Town

Sleeping on the heating mat really helped me. My fatigue was pretty much gone and felt like I was ready to travel around. I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk around for breakfast on the first day so I had asked for breakfast. My first meal in Lima. Korean food. But it was really good Korea good. The owner of the hostel was a great chef. There were about 6 side dishes, including a meat dish, and soup and rice. Perfect Korean breakfast.

After breakfast, I walked to the main street, Av. Jose Pardo to exchange USD to Sol. The owner told me that there are several money exchange places on that street so I went to check them out. The walk wasn’t too bad and I felt very safe. There were lots of people on the streets, tourists and locals.

At the corner of Av. Jose Pardo and Av. Arica

After walking for several minutes, I found 4 money exchange places, all next to each other. I ended up going to Western Union because it was something I was familiar with and all the stores around it had the same rate. The rate I was given was 3.3 Sol to 1 USD. At the airport, it was 3 Sol to 1 USD so I was getting some more.

After the money exchange, I met up with a friend and planned on getting some local foods. We both wanted to try the ceviche and I really wanted to try Chez Wong‘s restaurant because Anthony Bordain had recommended it. We took an Uber to the location was it was closed until 1pm. We decided to walk around the area and wait. We walked to the local market, Mercado Cooperativo Balconcillo. It wasn’t a super big market but it had all the essentials. Fruits, veggies, meats, fish, flowers, clothes, toys, and more. They had small food stalls for chicken soup, sandwiches, fresh fruit juice, and desserts.

splitting the dough and frying them!

My friend really wanted to try the fried dough. This was the only food stall that had a long line. So we got in line and tried it out. We really wanted to save our belly for the ceviche so we asked for 2. Or we used are fingers to say 2. As in 2 pieces. But we ended up getting 2 soles worth of it, about 12 pieces. O_o They were pretty good and very filling. We also got some guava and eat it while walking around the area.

At 1pm, we walked back to the restaurant, only to find out they don’t take walk in customers at all! Only reservation. When we got there, the restaurant was completely empty but still no. We were so sad but had to move on. Anthony Bordain, I will be back again to try your recommendation.

While walking down the street and talking about what to do, we found another ceviche restaurant called Puro Tumbes. The restaurant was bustling with people so we checked the Google reviews and found it had great rating so we decided to check it out. And what a great choice! Their menu was pretty extensive. They don’t have an English menu but there are lots of pictures that can help. We ended up getting the Ceviche Nando (mix) and Picante de langostinos.

Top: Ceviche Nando / Bottom: Picante de langostinos

Everything on the ceviche was great. The octopus and the fish were my favorites. The flavors are on point with the lemon and herbs. And I thought the langostinos would be spicy but it wasn’t. I saw picante = hot, but it was more… 5/10 spicy level, closer to curry. It paired perfectly with rice. It was on the pricier side but still cheap using US standards. It was a great first meal for both me and my friend.

After the meal, we Uber-ed to Historic Lima, the Old Town. From my list, I knew I wanted to see the Basillica y Convento de San Francisco (catacomb), Palacio de Gobierno del Peru, Catedral de Lima, Plaza de Armas, and Santa Domingo Priory. One great thing is that these are all walking distance from each other and there are a lot of other things to see around here.

I really wanted to see the catacomb since I’ve never seen one before but there was a huge line when we got there. I believe a tour company came with a large group and I couldn’t even get to the ticket booth. We had gotten to Old Town later than I expected so I had to pass on seeing catacombs 😦 We took pictures in front of Basillica y Convento de San Francisco and walked over to Plaza de Armas. The street leading to the Plaza was really pretty. There were lots of old architecture with iron work and small shops and cafes to visit.

We ended up doing a quick visit to the choco museum and grabbing some chocolate dessert. We walked to the front of the Catedral de Lima, sat on the stairs, ate our chocolate dessert, and people watched everyone visiting the Plaza. It was so peaceful. I heard Old Town could be dangerous but there were so many people here, including guards and police everywhere. I was carrying both the camera and my phone and I still felt very safe. Of course, this is during when the sun was still up. It may be different during the night.

Santa Domingo Monastery

After seeing the other buildings nears the Plaza, we moved to Santa Domingo Priory and it was so pretty! Pink! I was satisfied with just taking pictures from the outside and I didn’t even know there was a tour. But when we got inside, the tour guide told me that he was going to do the last tour in English so I was sold. The entrance was 10 soles and the tour would be of the Bell Tower and the museum. It is 100% worth it! The Bell Tower provides an amazing aerial view of the city and also there is a lot to see inside. The garden, the library, the tower, the cloister, and more. Come early to see all the museum as to offer.

view from the Bell Tower

Old Town was so beautiful and full of charm. I didn’t get to see everything in the area but what I saw was amazing. I do wish I could have spent more time at each location rather than just stop and go. I would recommend a full day or even seeing it for 2 days if you have time.

[Day 1] Traveling from SAN to LIM

I love traveling and seeing the world. And because I love traveling, I also like to collect points/mileages! I like to consider myself a pretty loyal person so I tend to stick to one airline or a group. With that being said, I am currently an avid user of Star Alliance flights, collecting mileage for Asiana Airlines and luckily, United, part of Star Alliance, had cheap flights to Lima and I took it.

There was no direct flight to Lima from San Diego. So I had a layover in Houston. Houston is United Airlines’ largest hub so I had planned on using their lounge while I waited for the next flight.

My flights!

My original flight was to leave SAN at 10am and arrive at 3:10pm in Houston. My next flight was at 4:30pm. However, there was an aircraft change and my flight was delayed. I didn’t have time to use the lounge in Houston and I was a bit worried about where my next gate would be. I heard that Houston was a big airport and I have never been to it. While in air, I asked one of the flight attendant about my situation and she was able to locate the arrival and departure gate. My arrival gate and departure gate in Houston was right next to each other so I did not have to rush too much. The flight attendant was extremely helpful and knowledgeable. She gave me some tips for Lima and also on traveling.

Once off the plane, I quickly grabbed snacks from the closest store and got back on my next flight. The flight over to Lima was long and I was not tired at all! It was a day plane as well so I ended up watching endless amounts of movies until we arrived in LIM at 11pm. I watched Captain Marvel, Avengers:Infinity War, How to Train Your Dragon, and episodes of Big Bang Theory.

My little movie theater

They give us “dinner” but it was very small. A sandwich and carrot sticks. I was super glad I picked up some snacks from Houston. If you are flying this route, make sure you take some food with you.

Dinner from United Flight to Lima

Once I landed, it was 11pm. Since it was a late flight, I thought going through immigration would be quick. Boy, was I wrong! There must have been other flights that landed around the same time because by the time I got in line, it was already wrapped around 3 times! The officers were working quickly but it did not take too long. Estimated about 35 minutes?

The airport itself is relatively small. So once you are done with immigration, you walk right into the baggage claim. I had checked 2 things. 1 luggage and 1 box. The luggage was on the belt but the box was in a separate area by the security office. If you are sending boxes or oversize items, I believe you can pick them up from the security office area.

Also, I heard drones are a no-no in Peru. So when I packed my drone, I expected to pay some tax or fees to get it through customs. When I got to customs, I told the officer I had a drone in my bag and he said just put it through the x-ray machine. (NOTE: All bags will go through x-ray machine when you exit so please claim everything or you will be fined) He saw my drone and just let me pass. I’m not sure if it was because of a new law or if it was late at night, but I was able to pass with a drone. This might not be the case for everyone so be very careful when you enter Peru with a drone.

Once I was out, I found a driver holding my name at the front. I had arranged with my accommodation for a pick up at the airport since I was arriving late. Many places offer airport pick up for a fee, usually a bit higher than taxi, and if you are not sure about how to get around, making an arrangement might be the best. Once you exit the airport, there are tons.. I mean TONS of taxi drivers who will approach you and ask if you need a ride. Be cautious when getting in any taxi at the airport. When I was doing my research, everyone recommended Green Taxi or Uber. Yes, Uber works in Peru so please use it! Also, I did not want to exchange money at the airport since I knew they would be more pricy. So by using Uber or prior arrangements, I wouldn’t need to have Soles yet.

Outside the Lima Airport

For my accommodation, I booked a Korean Hostel called Hola Peru. I usually don’t like to stay in Korean places but since I was new to Peru and super unfamiliar with the area, I thought it might be nice to get information from the locals. And the location was really good too. It was in a very quiet, residential area in miraflores. It was walking distance from the main street and that was really the selling point for me.

They had several rooms and I got to stay in a double by myself. The prices are: single $25, double/triple $18 per person. They have 2 shared bathrooms with plenty of hot water, shared mini-fridge and Korean snacks you can buy, great wifi, and a printer. They do airport pickups and dropoffs, provide luggage storage service, and also tours. They offer Korean style breakfast and it was 20 soles per. One thing I did not know until I got there was that they provide heated mats for each bed. Guys. This is a super plus! After a long flight, having the heated mattress for my sore back really did wonders.