I promised I would get around to photos eventually! My plan is to blog about our trip city by city, this way I can keep things from getting too long, and make it easier for everyone.
Our first stop in Peru was Lima. We arrived in the early afternoon and breezed through customs and headed out to find our taxi, which was supposedly arranged by our hostel. No such luck. Shoot! After debating a bit, we decided to find another taxi and prepared to haggle. However, much to our surprise, this wasn't really necessary. The driver basically gave us the price we requested on the first try. We later found out this was pretty typical. We bargained some, but never anything over the top.
As we made our way through the country, it was clear that the tourism industry has been pretty devastated by the mud slides that occurred earlier in the year. People seemed to be happy for any business that showed up. Despite it being high season, we were often some of the only people staying in any given hostel. I chatted with the incredibly sweet woman who owned the inn we stayed at in the Sacred Valley and she told me this time last year they had 25-30 guests per night, on this evening, it was just Alex and I.
In any case, back to Lima. Our taxi driver was incredibly helpful, also a character trait we came to find across Peru. Our hotel was a bit hard to find at first as it's on a random side street and many of the hotels in Lima don't have signs out front because of weird tax laws. But, we found it, and it turned out great. If you're ever in Lima, the Inka Frog is a fabulous place!
We spent our first day catching up on sleep and just leisurely exploring. We were staying in the nice suburb of Miraflores, and found it really pleasant to walk around. We stumbled upon a few art exhibits, had churros with chocolate and just enjoyed the afternoon. The only problem was the gray! The skies of Lima are apparently just solid gray for 8 months of the year. I couldn't deal with that long term, but for a few days, we survived.
On the second day we went for a run along the seaside cliffs of Miraflores, which has been landscaped into a beautiful boardwalk/park of sorts. Along part the walk is El Parque del Amor, (Park of Love), reminding both Alex and I lots of Paqrue Guiell in Barcelona with all of the mosaic tile work benches.
Center piece of the park.
Cliffs of Miraflores
After our run we caught a taxi to Central Lima, which is more of the old historic center.
Plaza de Armas in Central Lima
Catedral de Lima
Other church in Lima
After wandering a bit, we stumbled upon one of the old colonial houses. We thought it was a museum, but found out it had been converted to offices and a few people still lived there. The caretaker gave us a tour and even took us up the roof, which was actually fairly interesting.
Courtyard of colonial house.
The other side of the rooftop... apparently a number of families still live in these houses, which are fairly dilapidated. The caretaker said there was a lot of problems and crime with so many people living in such close quarters in poor conditions.
After a long afternoon of sight seeing we decided to cap off the afternoon with our first pisco sours.
These are basically the official cocktail of Peru and are awesome. I highly recommend them!
That night we decided to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner, as Lima is apparently the gastronomic capital of South America, or so says our guidebook. As it was nearly our anniversary and Alex's birthday, we figured it was worth it! I didn't take any photos of the food, but it was fantastic, one of the best meals I've had in a very, very long time. Scallops, on the shell!, in a lime butter sauce, ceviche, and other fresh seafood, with wine, and pisco sours, delivered (and insisted upon) to us by the restaurant owner. Delicious.
Our last day in Lima Alex wanted to make an attempt to hit Pachacamac, ruins a little ways out from the city center. Getting there was an adventure in itself as we decided to take the city buses, which are sort of like mini vans that get packed to the gills. We had to take two different buses, making the transfer under a freeway overpass. Clearly there was no chaos involved whatsoever... I must say though, these are the kind of adventures I enjoy, and are even possible because we speak Spanish, I don't think I'd attempt something quite like this in other countries.
I didn't bring my SLR out to the ruins, so we just had the point and shoot that I got basically for this trip. Unfortunately I'm an idiot and didn't realize I had the camera set on the wrong setting, so the first few times we used it in Lima and then in Arequipa the pictures were taken on a super small file setting. :-( I'm SO annoyed with myself, Alex took some really nice shots, and I'm not sure we'll be able to enlarge them at all. Boo. Oh well.
Anyhow, we eventually made it to Pachacamac, after missing our first bus transfer and heading pretty far out into the slums surrounding Lima, opps. Luckily, the bus door guy noticed the gringos sitting on the bus, clearly we were not in the right place, and directed us back the other way.
Pachacamac is in a pretty desolate area in the desert. The temples are actually still being excavated, so mostly what you see is lots of sand.
Alex inspecting the map.
After climbing to the top... the first of many.
The neighboring village ends fairly abruptly into the desert.
Up next, Arequipa!