Five Days in The City of Kings

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I had a week to kill after Paracas before meeting up with Jeremy in Cuzco. For a while I contemplated following the Gringo Trail and going sand boarding in Huacachina, but then decided to skip it and head straight for Lima (sand boarding on Frasier Island was enough for me). I wanted to complete the circuit through Lima, Huancayo and Ayacucho – some smaller, less touristy villages – that would bring me to Cuzco in 6 days without backtracking down the coast. When I got to Lima, however, I was informed that this could not be. The travel times between each city were 10 hours, not 6 as I had read. The bus routes were dangerous for tourists, I was told, and shouldn’t be traveled by night. Well, crap! I said. What am going to do? Stay in Lima all week? I knew I didn’t have enough time and being on my own, the risks scared me. So I bagged the idea and booked my hostel in Lima for 5 days. I would have to travel straight to Cuzco at the end of the week… I was not thrilled.

Five days in Lima. Lima, the capital city of Peru with over 7 million people. Did I mention I’m not a city person? It was my first day and all I could think was, “what am I going to do in Lima for 5 days?!”

Lucky for me my hostel, Pariwana Backpackers, turned out to be great. I met people instantly who were there for the same reason: to chill and site-see.20121104-103214.jpg

Turns out Lima is good for a few things. First, the coast of Lima supplies 10% of the worlds seafood market. Which not surprisingly makes it the ceviche capital of the world, famous for the Leche de Tigre sauce in particular. Tip: You cannot be in Lima without sampling the ceviche (or pisco sours for that matter). Secondly, it never rains in Lima. It is always foggy with a slight mist in the air, but the city receives a maximum of 6cm of rain per year. Given the stable weather conditions, Lima is a perfect place for paragliding. The gorgeous parks along Miraflores are the perfect viewing spot to watch dozens of paragliders land on Lima’s shore.
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Lastly, as its original name, la Ciudad de los Reyes (City of Kings), implies there are hundreds if not thousands of historical sites and remnants from the Spanish conquistadors of the 1500s scattered through the city. The ruins, the museums, the buildings are all relics of the past that should not be overlooked by the passerby. You can even visit the underground catacombs, still scattered with human bones.
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The days went by quickly. We explored  neighborhoods from the government buildings of Central Lima, to the funky streets of Barrancho. We sampled the sushi and ceviche, and strolled along the esplanade of Miraflores watching the paragliders above us and the surfers below. We partied for Halloween, drank Pisco Sours, and lounged in bean bags on the rooftop terrace of the hostel. During the heat of day, we visited the Pre-Incan ruins of Huaca pucllana. And at night we watched el Circuito Magico del Agua, 13 fountains in the Park of the Reserve that light up and dance to music.
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I was surprised by how much we found to do in the city. In five days, we had barely scratched the surface. In the end, I was still bummed about missing out on Ayacucho and Huancayo, but glad for the unexpected experience in Lima. In a way, traveling is not much different from real life. The experiences you remember most are the ones you create with people. I met some great people in Lima, and I will not forget the days we made together in the City of Kings.

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