Lima, Peru: The Seaside city with a splash of desert

I'll just say it now...I could live in Lima.

I say that and, admittedly, I didn't even get to see as much of Lima as I would have hoped. As I sit here starting this post, it's our last day in Lima. We fly to Medellin tomorrow. And yet, I still dig this city. Something about the cliffs, mountains, and the fact that the Pacific Ocean is literally right there? I'm obsessed. So, here's what I can tell you about the highlights and some of the must-do aspects of being in Lima and the things that I loved!

Surfing. 

Did you know that surfing didn't start in Hawaii or Cali or Polynesia or any of those places? Nope. It started in Peru. Right here in Lima. And they take surf very seriously. So, even though I was early in my Lima experience and I had barely gotten my feet on the ground in terms of figuring out life in this place, I signed up for surf lessons on my 3rd day in the city. I figured that, if I liked it, I could continue to take lessons throughout my time in Lima.

Well, considering that all my photos to the right are from the first and only surf lesson, I think it's safe to say that I'm not a huge surfer. It definitely didn't help that after getting slammed by a series of very aggressive waves, I was left nauseous and with a throbbing headache (pro tip: hydrate before you go surfing in a wet suit in the Lima sun to avoid such situations). But, I'm glad I did it. I'm not going to enjoy all the activities and new adventures that I try on this trip and that's totally fine. To be expected actually. But I still am very glad I did it. I'm glad I tried!

Because when in Lima....Surf!

All the Ceviche and the Fusion Cuisine.

I think I mentioned in the Cordoba post that their food was...well, not the best. So, when we arrived to Lima, needless to say, everyone was pretty pumped about the gastronomy scene in this scene. And there are a couple things that they do incredible well and that you have to try if you're ever in Lima or Peru. Firstly, Lomo Saltado. Basically, this dish is beef and veggie sautee that's served with rice and fries. It doesn't sound all that fancy, but what's fun about it is that it's very traditional Peruvian and each restaurant you go to seemingly has their different spin on it. I ate a lot of Lomo Saltado while in Lima!

The other thing they do VERY well in Lima is Ceviche. I've heard of ceviche before, but, honestly, I wasn't 100% sure what it was. Haha I know, feel free to laugh at me. But, once I realized that it's basically citrusy fresh, raw fish salad, let me just say, I was so on board. If you're not into the raw fish aspects of sushi, you might not be into this. But I suggest you just try it any! SEriously, the fish in this city is so good! Fresh caught daily! You legit can't beat that! And the amount of different ceviche varieties they have at the restaurants in Lima. Oh my God, such a delicious win!

Huacachina & Sand Boarding. 

Fun fact! Once you get outside of the city of Lima, Peru is like one gigantic desert! I know, I had no idea either, That is until I headed to Huacachina for probably the most epic day I had had to date on Remote Year. 

So, what in the world is Huacachina? Basically, it's a teeny tiny oasis town south of Lima with a lagoon smack in the middle that is surrounded by palm trees. But what makes it awesome is that it is right on the boarded of one of the largest desserts in the world. Perhaps the largest in the Americas, and definitely the largest in Latin America. The reason people come here is that there is a lot of nightlife in the town. But more than that, they come for the sand dunes. More specifically, they come to take dune buggies into the sand dunes and sand board down the dunes! And it was AWESOME! I literally had no idea what to expect at this event. But, when it started with the craziest, most rollercoaster-like car ride I've ever been on with our dune buggy driver kamikaze bombing through the dunes, I knew that this was going to be a kickass day. We went down some of the steepest hills I've ever seen, and I found myself simultaneously screaming, laughing and making every effort to avoid swallowing too much sand!

Then, we stopped and they got out the sand boards. I was the first person down in my group and after my first wipeout, I knew that I'd be cleaning sand out of many unmentionable places later that evening! Haha. Then, we headed to the second hill. MUCH larger than the little bunny hill we started with and I was definitely intimidated. Especially when he told me that it's best to go down head first. Say what?! Yes, much more sand was eaten on this sand board ride. Last but not least, they told us to climb to the top of a hill for one more sand board ride. This one was even bigger. I kind of scoffed at that, pretty impressed with the size of the second hill. That is until I got to the top. Holy shit was it big. Like the Mt. Everest of sand hills. And it was literally a drop straight down. There wasn't a whole lot of time to think though. The sand dune buggy drivers basically flattened down a spot for your board, let you climb on and then with one swift push you were soaring, literally flying down this massive hill. If I'd been braver, I would've taken a video. But, believe me when I saw, it was unreal! I was going so fast that my board was literally making like helicopter noises when I reached top speed at the bottom. And my feet, which barely grazed the ground, and were necessary braking tools when I finally got to the bottom, the sheer speed with which I travelled down the hill left blisters on two of my toes. 

Now that my friends is a do-not-miss, must-fricken-see, adrenaline rush of an experience. If you're anywhere near Lima or Huacachina, make the trip. It was worth the 4 hour drive to get here!

Pisco Tasting & Tour in aziptia. 

As a part of my monthly included Remote Year events (called Track events), I had the opportunity to head to a little-known region called Aziptia. Basically, it's a pisco growing region and as we found out, not even the locals are familiar with this region!  If you're not familiar with pisco,  it's a colorless brandy that's made in the winemaking regions of Peru from their grapes. What's special about pisco? Well, it's incredible high-proof and used to make a number of Peruvian cocktail concoctions that I had never even heard for before!

Barranco & The MATE Museum. 

No, not Mate as in the Argentinian tea, which my girl Ariana dubbed the "liquid soul" of Argentina. MATE stands for Mario Testino, a word-renowned fashion and lifestyle photographer of some of the most well-known names, models, celebrities, musicians and actresses of this century. 

One Sunday, I decided to plug in an audiobook and walk my butt the 30-45 mins down to Barranco, the neighborhood which houses the MATE museum. I'd heard great things about the museum and being a lover of photography, it sounded like a great way to spend my Sunday! And damn was it.

Not only is the walk from Miraflores to Barranco absolute spectacular and right along the cliffs with incredible views of the water, the neighborhood itself is absolutely wonderful, complete with all sorts of great boutiques, restaurants and of course, markets! We talked through so many markets on the way too and back from the museum. As an added bonus, Miraflores was hosting an absolutely insane air show that lasted for hours. It was wonderful additional entertainment as I walked down to the museum.

When we finally arrived, the museum, which was an incredibly affordable price (that currently escapes me), started with these themed rooms. They were themes like radiance, appearance, and included these incredibly well-written and well-thought-out synopses of Testino's motivations for some of the pictures in each room. The descriptions included things like "to make coherence out of chaos" and I was in absolute artistic heaven. In addition to the straightforward fashion and magazine photos of celebrities, there was also this incredible, colorful room with these spinning tapestries. It was definitely different in relation to the other art in the museum, but no less beautiful. The museum wrapped up with a series of photographs that Mario Testino had taken of Princess Diana, shortly before her unfortunate passing. They are gorgeous and put Diana into a completely different light...less of a royal that you can't even begin to understand or rationalize and more of an extremely elegant everyday woman. The last room though, was one of my favorites and included these incredible, large photographs of Peruvians from the Andes (Cusco I believe) in authentic dress. I thought it was the perfect way to wrap up the museum, showing an important part of Peruvian heritage through the lens of a fellow Peruvian. 

From the beautiful neighborhood to the awesome museum, I definitely think that this was a place to check out!

El Parque del Amor.

Such a simple highlight of the trip, but a goodie nonetheless. 

The Parque del Amor, or the Love Park, is a beautiful park along the cliffs of Miraflores in Lima with incredible views of the beach and the water below. One evening after a particularly long, taxing day, I plugged into some good music and walked down to the Love Park at sunset to catch up on my travel journal. And damn did I pick a good time of day. 

The sculptures and Gaudi-esque bench and walls were perfectly lit by the setting sun. I snapped some photos and kicked my feet up to catch up on some writing. It was a simple evening. Not overly complicated. But just sitting and enjoying this park at sunset was one of the most wonderful parts of my time in Lima. 

Things I missed, but you should totally consider checking out:

  • Huaca pucllana. I meant to go check this out, but ended up never having time. Plus, once I got back from Machu Picchu, more ruins almost didn't seem worth it. But I still wish that maybe I had gone. I would've loved to have dinner at the restaurant and then maybe done a night tour of the ruins for some variety. But, alas, it never happened! That doesn't mean I don't recommend it for those of you that have the time! Click here to read more on TripAdvisor.
  • Reservo Magico. Lima's magic water circuit looked pretty fricken magical. It was like a light/laser show combined with a water fountain show. Or so I heard. I never made it there. But that's okay. Click here to read more about it on TripAdvisor.

RANDOM THINGS TO KNOW:

  • Prepare for tons of people. Especially if you're planning on doing anything on the Miraflores boardwalk in the evening or around sunset. It is absolutely packed!
  • Prepare for slightly different meal times. Whereas late nights and all-nighters were rampant in Argentina, that was much less of a thing in Peru. In fact, sometimes bars and restaurants closed much earlier than we were mentally prepared for!
  • Pisco is dangerous AF. I have had my fair share of stronger liquors. Hell, I went to a party-school for undergrad, which some of my friends never let me forget. But Pisco is next level shit. On our last night in Lima, a group of us went to dinner and had a couple Pisco sours and we were all sorts of hammered. Seriously, when it comes to Pisco, either paste yourself or just stop at one. But do try it, because pisco cocktails are mighty tasty!
  • They drive like freaking maniacs in Peru. Oh my god, I thought Argentina was bad. But Peru? It's like next-level. These people are kamikaze behind the wheel, and yet I didn't' actually see any automobile accidents the whole time I was here. That being said though, whether you're taking a taxi or a bus somewhere outside of Lima, or hell even just through the city, mentally prepare yourself. It might be one of the most terrifying car rides of your life.
  • They have quite possibly every store you could ever need. Especially at the Larcomar mall on the cliffs in Miraflores. Seriously, if you're planning on doing any side tripping and need warmer clothes (me!) or your shorts rip in the crotch or your flip flops wear through the bottom ( me x 2!), you'll be fine in Lima. They have all the stores and all the brands that us Americans are familiar with and swear by. But, don't fret, they also have all sorts of local stores and boutiques too!