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April 22nd 2013
Published: May 14th 2013
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It was a long old bus ride down the Pan-American highway from Mancora and after 20 hours we arrive in the Peruvian capital, Lima. Like all our destinations, we’d spoke to fellow travellers in advance to get advice; how long to visit for, recommendations of where to stay and sights worth seeing. Overwhelmingly, the view of Lima was that it is simply to be passed through, a stopover to break up long bus journeys between the north and south of the country. With this advice in mind, we decided to stay just two days and booked our bus tickets out of the city as we arrived. Both Sonya and I weren't expecting much from our time in Lima but our visit did present us with the opportunity to catch up with our German friend, Norman, who was volunteering there.

We took a taxi from the bus station to our hostel, Backpackers Family House. We were staying in Miraflores, an upmarket coastal neighbourhood where a lot of travellers base themselves. After dropping off our bags, we went for lunch at 'Glotons' a 24-hour diner style restaurant, specialising in big portions of greasy food. This is where I had the best chocolate ice-cream of my life; it was thick, rich and so filling that when my gigantic chorizo sandwich and our heaped plate of chips arrived, I wasn’t sure how I would finish it all. After lunch we went out to discover more of Miraflores. We walked along the high coastal road, flanked by high-rise apartment blocks overlooking the pebbled beach and surfer swamped ocean below, we strolled through the many parks we came across and wondered around the modern, fancy shopping centre – LarcoMar. This didn't seem very familar to the hideuously poor, crime ridden city which we'd been told about. Miraflores was nice, really nice. Look around and you could be forgiven for mistaking this for California or Miami. At LarcoMar we meet Norman where we caught up over a coffee and later a few beers. We filled him in on our travels since we’d last seen each other in La Paz, Bolivia and he told us about his volunteer project and his time in Lima. He was working for a non-profit organisation that helps disadvantaged children. It sounded like an eye-opening and truly rewarding experience. Norman headed back around 9pm and we called it a night.

On Sunday we had plans to visit the historic city centre of Lima but after sleeping in, we decided a lazy day in the parks of Miraflores and seeing nearby Barancco was a better idea. After ice-cream in the park and watching the paragliders in Love Park we met up again with Norman and headed over to Barancco. Only a five minute bus ride away, Barancco could have been a million miles from Miraflores. It was a bohemian neighborhood with cobbled streets and colonial buildings, it has a much more South American feel to it. We visited Norman's house share and drank beers on his roof terrace with his house mate before going out to eat. We found a busy, buzzing restaurant by the shore and sat down at a table without seeing the menu. It was a little more expensive than any of us wanted to spend, Sonya was considering ordering off the children's menu but I was having none of that. Grilled Chicken was the cheapest offering I could find so Sonya and I ordered that while Norman splashed out on a Lomo Saltado – a traditional Peruvian beef dish. The food was great and it was a nice way to spend our last night in Lima and also our last night with Norman in South America. We are already planning on going to visit him in Munich – might just coincide our visit with Oktoberfest too!

We'd had a really nice time in Lima despite other people's misgivings. Granted we had based ourselves in a wealthy suburb of the city and hadn't ventured into the centre where I think you need to keep your wits about you. Our time in South America was coming to and end and so we needed to get to Chile as soon as possible. From Lima we were taking yet another long bus journey to the Peru-Chile border.

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