Published: July 8th 2012June 22nd 2012
The start to our trip almost couldn’t have started any better. Despite our first leg from London to Madrid running about an hour late, the longer leg from Madrid to Lima we got upgraded to business class! This was a god send considering we got dropped off at Heathrow the night before our 7.30am flight and I think I got about 30 minutes sleep. I could stretch out my legs, turn my chair into a bed and get as many whisky’s as I wanted to pretty damn quick.
After landing though it became a bit of a battle. Despite walking into Barclays, mentioning that we would be going to South America and being assured our cards would be fine to use, they weren’t. It was lucky for us that we’d arranged for a taxi pick up from the hostel we were staying at. We’d tried our cards at the ATM’s at the airport, the taxi driver took us to another set of ATM’s that also didn’t work before we gave up on Barclays and managed to get cash out from my credit card (after Amanda tried hers and that failed too). Once we made it to the hostel
we were greeted by Quique, the owner of the small hostel. Before he showed us to our rooms he said “Keep in mind that nothing in South America is perfect”. We’d read reviews about the place and we knew it was not so great, but considering the price and location we went for it anyway. Well the room itself was ok but the path to our private bathroom was basically a construction site. Quique was renovating so he’d have two privates and a bathroom, and we wandered into the hostel in the middle of the renovations. The shower however was another story. So we found out that showers in Peru are mostly heated through electricity and not the kind in the UK where the electricity is connected to a unit and the shower head is connected through that. No, in Peru the electricity is connected straight to the shower head which you may be thinking to yourself is a recipe for disaster, and you’d be right. When we tried to use the shower the water was dribbling out of the shower head (apparently the builders had been playing with it that day), I noticed the shower head wasn’t quite on
correctly so when I tried to adjust it, the shower head started making that buzzing sound when electricity and bad come together, the shower head started to glow. By that stage I'd ran out of the room and was carefully looking in expecting the shower to explode and the room to set on fire. Luckily all it did was go pop, but that was the end of that shower head.
Apart from that, the hostel was pretty cool. It’s a Peruvian house about 90 years old with the main centre being an open courtyard and the rooms off to the side. Quique is an interesting character too, well traveled around South America and full of tips around the area. So apart from the exploding shower it was a pretty cool place to stay. Later than night we’d decided to get out and about a little bit. We walked to the seaside entertainment strip nearby and I finally got to try a Pisco Sour that Amanda had been raving about ever since we booked the holiday. Not too shabby, though the bartenders did make it quite strong. It’s essentially the same ingredients as a whisky sour, except made from pisco,
a locally made spirit from grapes. Considering the price of it and the alcohol content it definitely wasn’t going to be my last.
We only had the two days booked in Lima at the start because we had the return flight booked from here so we figured that we could explore it more on the tail end of the trip. We booked the Inca Trail early on so on the return trip we didn’t have to contend with doing the trail, the 20 hour bus from Cusco to Lima, the flight from Lima to London, then a few days later the flight back to Melbourne. So we didn’t really do much sightseeing in Lima. Apart from having to call back to the UK to get our cards unblocked, we did visit one pre Incan site though, around 1500 years old. The site itself was quite big, but originally was a lot bigger. One man had acquired the land and despite knowing about the site had decided to demolish most of it anyway to build housing. The site was incredibly well structured, with the bricks being made from clay and sea shells, and designed in a way to be able to withstand earthquakes. It was interesting to see, instead of placing brick by brick next to each other, small gaps were left in place to enable to the bricks to move during a quake yet not collapse. On the way back from the site, we walked past a steak restaurant and half considered going for some food but deciding against it because it would probably cost a bit much. Half a block later and we quickly changed our mind and just decided to have a peek on what was on offer. For most meals in Peru the prices were quite high but after doing a bit of converting, it turned out the prices were pretty similar to 8oz steaks back home or in the UK anyways, plus I have always wanted to try the fabled Argentinian steak. When the side of a baked potato came out first on a separate plate I was a little confused, until the steak came out. It must have been at least 16oz and cooked to medium rare perfection. After eating every bit of meat on the plate I was very pleased to be coming back to Lima again.
The night before we were taking the 20 hour bus to Cusco we decided to call into a supermarket to see what we could pick up for the long haul, and maybe a few beers to chill out for the night. Imagine my surprise when I wander into the liquor section and find bottles of rum for 19 soles or about £5, just under $10Au! It wasn’t any old cheap rum either, Havana Club Especial. It was in fact cheaper than a six pack of the local beer Cusquena. So really, I had to buy a bottle.
Overall though I was pretty happy with Lima, quite the large city but very safe (the area we were in anyways), people seemed very friendly and helpful, quite pleasant to walk around and cheap rum or most spirits for that matter. Definitely looking forward to coming back.