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One day in Lima

A friend of mine is heading off to Lima today for a professional conference. She gets one free day before flying back to the states. So, I tried to give her some ideas -- based on my own limted experience -- of what to do if you have a short amount of time to experience the best of Lima.

If you think I missed anything, please leave a comment. That'll help me add to my list of new things to do next time. Also, keep in mind that this is a fairly touristy rundown. I'd never send someone who's not a diehard Peruanista to visit an interesting but truly dangerous neighborhood like Barrios Altos, as I did to Patrick Barr a couple months back.

So, on with the show!

If you could visit one church...
Monasterio de San Francisco, a block off the Plaza de Armas in the center of old Lima. The monastery, from 1621, I believe, has some fun catacombs and the church has the coolest old monastic library (behind the choir loft, I recall).

San Fransisco Church and Monastery, Lima. Photo by Andrea and Michael.

But I wouldn't be doing my duty if I didn't tell you about the Lima Cathedral, which is on the Plaza de Armas.

Plaza de Armas, with Cathedral of Lima in the background. Photo by Patrick Barry Barr

Also in the same district (behind the municipal palace) is a cool arcade...

Victorian-era shopping arcade, Lima

If you could go to one restauarant...
The Costa Verde is one of the nicer destinations in Lima, because it's right on the water (where there are literally no homes or businesses, other than two restaurants and tennis club) where I once had a turtle dish that left me speechless. The food consists of French influenced Peruvian dishes. The combination works well because Peru has great cold-water seafood in abundance, while the French sauces seem to make the most of the delicate flavors. Next runner up is La Rosa Nautica, just down the beach. Check out Fodor's review.

If you could go to one museum...
This one splits 4 ways, depending on your preferences:
If you could go to one nightclub...
Actually you could go to several in one night if you go to Barranco. This is where the old landed gentry built their homes in the 1700s and 1800s. There's one street that has all sorts of nightclubs. The best acts are Afro-Peruvian groups. However, if by chance you see that either Peru Negro or Susana Baca are playing anywhere in town, I'd highly recommend their shows.

Barranco by night.

If you could have one cocktail...
I'd be a traitor to my people if I didn't recommend a good Pisco Sour. They're generally better at the better restaurants and bars. Costa Verde (see above) just might have the best I've ever had.

If you could visit just one quaint neighborhood...
Again, Barranco is it. The area around the Puente de Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs - made famous in an old song) is fun to explore. Here's a picture of the bridge. Below it is a narrow street that winds between old houses and balconies down to the ocean. BTW, the pink church in the background is where my mom was baptized.

Puente de Suspiros, Barranco.

If you gotta shop...
Miraflores, the district you'll be staying in, has lots of shops. My favorite street is Avenida La Paz (just a block or two off the main square). They've got antique silver shops, jewelry shops and a few unique artists. Last time, I found this guy who did reproduction colonial paintings (in Cuzco School style) within hand-carved, faux-guilt frames. I got the piece below for just $300.

Found on Avenida Paz, Miraflores

If you go to one mall...
I actually enjoy going to Malls in other countries just to see how this American concept gets translated and transformed. In Miraflores is a place called Larco Mar. It's an open-air mall that overlooks the ocean a couple hundred feet below. It has some familiar stores, a Hard Rock Cafe, a Tony Roma's (go figure) and some specialty shops. Last time I was there, I enjoyed the espresso shop, which has great views from the window tables!

View of Larco Mar mall and coastline below. Photo by Guillebe

If you want to eat something really local (and safe)
Even though people in Lima will tell you about Cebiche (lime/onion/garlic/pepper marinated fish), I'd send you in the direction of Pollo a la Braza. It's essentially rotisserie chicken, usually served with fries of some sort. It must be the spicy marinade that makes it so good, but I've never had better, even though I generally just about any chicken on a spit. There is one place at Larco Mar (see above), called Pardo's Chicken. I know it's a pretty prominent chain.

If your sweet tooth strikes...
Don't know if you'll run into it, but there is a dessert called Picarones (Peek-a-RONE-es), which are essentially donuts, but made with sweet potato and pumpkin flour, with a sugar cane syrup over the top. Outrageously good. For some reason, they're typically served at places that make Anticuchos -- spicy marinated skewers of beef heart or beef.

Picarones in syrup.

Dessert-wise, you might also try a pastry called Alfajores, which is essentially two shortbread cookies with manjar blanco (dulce de leche) filling, with a dusting of powdered sugar. Simple, ages old, and really good with an espresso.

If you want to see exotic ingredients...
If you had time, you'd certainly want to check out a more traditional market. Otherwise, visit a grocery store, where everything's in one place. It's great fun to look through the produce and meat sections, where there's much you won't recognize. And what you do recognize (corn, potatoes, beans) will be in more varieties than you thought possible. If you want something fun to bring back, there's a pepper called Ají Panca, which is available in powdered form in envelopes or in liquified form in jars. It's cheap -- and an incredible substitute for paprika.

Ají panca, pepper of the gods.

If you try just one ice cream...
Lucuma (LUKE-ooh-mah) is available at the D'Onofrio shop off the main square in Miraflores, or at any other ice cream shop in Lima. The flavor is caramel-like, somewhere between maple and prunes.

Helado de lucuma.

You've got a pic that isn't from the Pueblo Libre's Antropologcal Museum.. I've been there many times and that room doesn't belong to it.

Nice pics..Lima has many beautiful places..oh I love Lima.

Tienes una foto que no corresponde al museo "Antropológico" de Pueblo Libre..
Lo he recorrido muchas pero muchas veces y esa sala no le pertenece.

Lindas capturas...en verdad..mi ciudad tiene muchos rincones bellos.Me encanta mi ciudad.
Gracias, Morena, por tu nota. Me acuerdo visitando esa sala. Si no pertenece a este museo, quien sabe donde esta ubicado? Puede ser es una sala en el otro museo (la casona antigua) en la misma cuadra? La investigacion sigue!
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