Had this interesting conversation at a hotel in Lima: “Manager: The room without a jacuzzi is 90 sols and the one with a jacuzzi is 75 sols…..Me: but why is the one with the jacuzzi cheaper……Manager: oh, that’s for 3 hrs!”, ended up staying there (in the 90 sol room btw) for two days and then moved to a different place.
Usually when one thinks of visiting Peru, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Nazca Lines, Rainbow Mountain etc. are on the mind, However, Lima the modern capital of Peru is full of history and quite worth the while to spend some time exploring. A friend and colleague R, invited Muds and I to conduct a workshop at the University of San Marcos in Lima in August 2013. This provided a great opportunity to explore the city. Some of the students were kind enough to volunteer to show us around.
Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos
Muds, I and R had organized a couple of workshops at the university. It is the oldest university in the Americas, established in 1551. The campus was very nice to walk around, even saw a student protest Peruvian style, with students marching around with a marching band, stopping at different faculties to make a speech. The workshops went very smoothly, the students were intelligent and motivated. The warmth with which we were received by the faculty, students and staff was amazing. The students showed us around the city, and the department secretary gave me a very nice scarf, made from Alpaca wool, handed down from her granddad, it had become a staple of my winter wardrobe.
As I mentioned there is history right around the corner everywhere in Peru, the university itself has a old burial mound, called a Huaca, dating back to the 6th century. A student R. gave me a tour and a little history of this Huaca.
During the first part of our trip we stayed in the somewhat touristy district of Miraflores at the Hotel Senorial. The hotel is quite nice, with good amenities and they serve a great breakfast in addition, I highly recommend it. There is a huge shopping plaza called ‘Larcomar’ overlooking the beach, with several excellent restaurants and cafes, had dinner at one of these called Mangoes, their Lomo Saltado was excellent and so were the other dishes my friends tried. One can walk for quite a distance looking down on the beach, I would recommend sampling some waffles on the way from BesoFrances Creperie. Also worth trying is Crepes and Waffles on Av. Vasco Nunes in the district. Of course when in Peru, one cannot have enough of the Chifa food, this is a Chinese-Peruvian fusion cuisine, had lunch at various Chifas in the area and they were all very nice. Finally there is the quintessential fast food of the country, the Pollo Brasa (grilled chicken), served with a side of fries, which was on choice for several meals as well. Pisco Sour and Chicha de Jora (made from purple corn) are two must try drinks, whilst in Peru.
Near the main square in Lima are the Kennedy Park and the Church of the Miraculous Virgin, we ran into a protest by school teachers regarding wages in the area. The costa verde is a series of beaches in the area, since we were there in the winter months (August in the Southern Hemisphere) there weren’t many people on the beach. The university is in the Callao district of the city and it would take anywhere form 45 min to an hour in Lima traffic to get there, we decided to move closer to the University after a few days.
Callao and Historic Lima
We found a hotel near the university, which was a little shady as mentioned at the beginning of this blog, stayed there a couple of days and then moved to a nice guesthouse in Callao. We did a day tour of historic Lima, visiting the Basilica, the parc de exposicion and the museum of inquisition. Students from the University of San Marcos were gracious enough to give us the grand tour.
After having spent a couple of weeks in Peru, exploring and making new friends it was time to bid farewell. Until next time……..hasta luego!!!