After struggling to get through this last day of work, Kevin and I were finally on our way to our long anticipated trip to Peru. We signed up for this 8 day trip with G Adventures about 2 months ago and these past 2 months I have been filled with excitement to finally get to see Machu Picchu. Kevin's girlfriend drove us to the airport Wednesday night for our 12:15 am flight on LAN Airlines directly to Lima. The LAN flight was very smooth and surprisingly, I was able to get a good amount of sleep during the flight. 8 hours later, we landed in Lima for my first time in South America. Obtaining our luggage and going through customs was by far the smoothest I have ever experienced and within 30 minutes of landing, we were already hailing a taxi to take us to Lima's Miraflores district. The drive to the hotel in Miraflores took about an hour and while we were sitting in traffic, I realized that we didn't obtain any peruvian soles nor did we even agree upon a price. Thankfully, once we arrived at Hotel Monte Real, I found some US dollars in my wallet and the
driver did not demand an ourtrageous fare. Unable to check in until about 3pm, Kevin and I decided to explore for a bit until then. Miraflores is a very upscale area of Lima and is also where the vast majority of visitors stay. I have read about safety issues in other parts of Lima but this was not the case in Miraflores. We walked along Avenida Jose Pardo and eventually came to a Starbucks where I needed a little caffeine. With the exception of the Spanish being spoken, this Starbucks was no different than any other that we have home. I ordered my usual drink and we took advantage of the free wi-fi to check out social media and connect with people back home. After this quick break, we made our way over to the Parque Central de Miraflores where I immediately notice the presence of a large number of stray cats and shoe-shiners. This park seemed to be a popular gathering spot for locals so once we found a free wi-fi zone, we found a spot to people watch and also connect to the wi-fi. For lunch, we found a nearby restaurant called El Parquetito where I had a
delicious meal of Lomo Saltado which consisted of beef strips and potatoes, all washed down with a Peruvian beer called Cusquena. After lunch, we walked over to the nearby Inca Market that the hotel receptionist had recommended. It was definitely touristy as we walked around all the shops sellling typical tourist kitsch. It was only the first day of the trip so we didn't really have any intentention of buying anything. Maybe we'll check this place out when we return to Lima in a week's time. We walked back to the hotel to check in and have a bit of a rest. We were supposed to meet the rest of the group this evening at a 6:00 meeting in the hotel. With a few hours to spare, I thought we should make the most of our time in Lima and hail a taxi to the Plaza de Armas in the central part of Lima. The taxi ride to Plaza de Armas took a whole hour with the entire time being stuck in traffic. The traffic, congestion, noise, and general disregard of normal traffic rules were giving us both anxiety. It just seemed to take forever to get there. By the
time we arrived at the plaza, we only had about 20 minutes to explore considering that it would take another hour to get back to the hotel. The plaza was abuzz with activity filled with locals and tourists checking out the fountains, horse drawn carriages, and the Halloween displays. We walked around and admired the yellow colored buildings, government buildings, and beautiful Spanish Architecture. Being short on time, we left the main square to find the Monastery of San Francisco which is known for it's bone lined catacombs. After some difficulty finding the monastery, we finally found it and paid our $3 entrance fee to get inside and check out the catacombs. Once inside, we realized that we couldn't just wander freely but had to partake in a guided tour. We definitely didn't have time for this so we just left and flagged down a taxi for the long drive back to Miraflores.
We arrived back at the hotel just after 6 and everyone was already gathered for our group meeting. Almost immediately, I realized that my worst fears had come true. Almost the entire trip was made up of the over 60 crowd. Oh well, we will still
make the best of it and little did we know at the time but we would become quite close to some of them. Kevin and I were the only Americans on the trip but of the non- 60 and over crowd, there was Nin, a Sri Lankan Australian from Melbourne, and Robert and Jessica, a honeymooning couple from Sydney. Additionally we meet Tony and Linda from the UK, Juha and Tarja from Finland, Linda and Wilda; 2 friends from London, Ontario, Canada, Anne from Vancouver, and Yvonne, Maree, and Beverly from Australia. We went through our introductions and were given information on what to expect on the trip. Afterwards, it didn't seem like anyone was interested in getting dinner. However, Nin, the 24 year old Sri Lankan Australian was the only one who was keen on hanging out. Our first night in Peru, and we went to of all places an Irish Bar called Houlihan's. Despite being in an Irish bar, we drank Peruvian style ordering the national drink called Pisco Sour. Pisco Sours were very good and consisted of Pisco, lime juice, egg whites, and garnished with bitters. After Houlihan's we ventured over to the Martini Grill where we
had more cocktails before dancing the night away at a nearby nightclub.
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