I almost forgot to blog about Lima, and what a shame that would have been. Lima is urbane and cosmopolitan, with all the attendant traffic and chaos of an important Latin American capital, but that isn’t why you visit. You visit because the food is amazing. Yes, the Museo Larco, but ceviche. Yes Barranco and Miraflores and San Isidro, but Astrid and Gaston. You get the drift.
Lima is an incredibly wealthy city. It’s definitely a land of haves and have-nots, but it’s also a place where prosperity is growing for all economic classes. Peru is now the 5th largest economy in South America. I was really interested to hear how time has altered opinions on Alberto Fujimori, Peru’s notorious president of the 90s who is currently sitting in jail, but who is also pretty much responsible for putting an end to the terrorism that bedeviled Peru for decades. We had a cab driver one night who told us he’d been driving a cab in Lima for 20 years, and that he’d been mugged 5 times in the 90s, and had a bullet in each leg. He said that sort of thing never happens nowadays. That it’s a different place.
But back to the food! We ate at five places that I would highly recommend: Saqra and La Lucha in Miraflores, Al Toque Pez in Surquillo, and Astrid and Gaston and El Mercado in San Isidro. At Astrid and Gaston–the culinary high point of probably the whole time we were in Lima–we had a shockingly delicious entrecote that we shared among the three of us. It was a fusion of classic French cooking and Peruvian flavors. For desert we had this thing called a Chocolate Bomb, which turned out to be this delightfully weird giant orb of hard chocolate which you cracked with a spoon to get at a bunch of candy shrapnel and fennel ice cream. Oh, also, the best dessert I have had in recent memory was at this place called Pescados Capitales: a rice pudding creme brulee with shredded coconut and vanilla ice cream. I MUST MAKE IT. On our walk through Barranco, we stopped at this really fun store called Dedalo, which I highly recommend for fun jewelry, scarves, and gifts.
The Museo Larco was very worthwhile. In addition to a hilarious collection of ancient erotic pottery, it was the only museum I went to that managed to clearly contextualize Incan art within a South American tradition. By the end of the trip I kinda felt like I didn’t need to see any more Inca stuff, but I was 100% wrong. Also, they have this gold jewelry–maybe regalia is a better word–that really brought these Inca and pre-Inca people to life for me. Ancient architecture, I have to admit, always leaves me a little cold (if thoroughly impressed), but I find the objects of people’s day to day lives, objects that were close to the skin literally and figuratively, poignant, understandable, and somehow much more evocative.
Also worth the trek is Old Lima: the Plaza San Francisco and Plaza de Armas, all the way to China Town. That part of town has a faded grandeur on par with Paris. Well, parts of Paris, anyway. Every time I went to take a picture of my mom she would scream, “a solfie?!” And strike a pose.
Ever since she got on pinterest, she is basically a hipster.
We stayed in Miraflores, which I give a thumbs up to. To save a little money we rented an apartment, which was fine for me, but my parents were cold the whole time. It seems like the only buildings in Peru with built-in heating are hotels that charge upwards of $200/night/room. Otherwise you’ll get a space heater or (in the apartment) nothing. If I were to do it again with parents or children, I’d try to book earlier (often, the matter of hotels was decided by availability) and spend a little more on hotels in Puno and Lima.