Exploring Lima v2.1

A mixed bag of outings for me, these last couple of months in Lima. I’ve been going out mostly with my school, El Sol, for a number of cultural excursions, trying to keep pace with spoken español, and only managing to understand 15-20%.

Mercado Surquillo: The local market for everything fresh and cheap and exotic.

Casa de Aliaga: You can pass it by without ever knowing the treasures it holds within. But Casa de Aliaga is a home in Lima Centro lived in by the same family over 17 generations, over 4 centuries, and is well worth the visit.

A walk through Lima Centro: Plaza San Martin and Plaza de Armas. I’ve been here before, and never tire of visiting the heart of touristy Lima in these colonial neighbourhoods. A ride on the Metropolitano bus service was an experience in itself.

The Procession of Señor de los Milagros: A half-baked attempt to capture the procession of thousands of people in purple robes, but we arrived too late and ended up running away midway to get our cafe and turrón fix.

Artesanal beer tasting: Helps to understand español better, of course.

My personal favourite: Walk through the graffiti in Barranco. It made my day to see an artist in action, and realise the quantum of talent and effort and art supplies that go into a street side creation. The artist in the photos below is painting under the bridge.


En Presente Progresivo

With every new location comes great responsibility.*  To immerse in the local culture, make new friends, explore new activities, discover new facets of your own self.

This time, we’ve moved halfway around the world, to exotic Peru. Souvik has been here for a while, and I’ve only just arrived in Lima. Fully loaded with my city bicycle, a paltry supply of desi spices, and a smattering of essential Spanish phrases such as por favor and gracias. 

The last bit – that needed to change pronto – and a quick search led me to El Sol – la escuela de español – just down the street from home. Entonces, hace 8 semanas y un pequeño descanso que estoy aprendiendo español…

Remember that joyful moment in school after all the exams that you thought you were rid of grammar, tenses, moods, and after the appearance of computers, spelling even?

That has come back to bite me all these years later. In a new idioma.gra2.jpg



I try telling myself that learning keeps the mind younger. As schools go, El Sol is fantástico. But the preteritos and subjunctivos, objectos and pronombres, tareas (homework!!!) and examen are enough to drive me just a li’l crazy by the end of each week, and I look forward to the weekly pisco sour we share to toast the newly graduated.

The eyes need help to keep up. I have a choice of glasses for classes, and my best friend these days is the prescription progressive. Not a tense, just a lens.

At home-1.jpg



* Yes, you’ve heard that somewhere.

Colours of Barranco

The bike tour from the day before opened my eyes to the Bohemian district of Barranco. While most parts of Lima look dull and grey, and Miraflores and San Isidro are well-manicured and modern, it’s Barranco that carries the labels of Bohemian, artsy and old-worldly.

The district has been preserved, mostly by the artistic community, not to the glossy levels of its upmarket neighbours, but in the most charming manner in its riot of colours. I had pre-conceived notions of what South America should look like, and Barranco satisfied some of them. I’ve also noticed that there is a concerted effort to make some of the districts safer, especially for tourists – there are information kiosks in a number of street corners, and quite a few tourism police keeping an eye on everyone. The results have been great for me – I’ve been able to walk on streets, camera in hand, without facing any trouble so far.


I lunched at La Bodega Verde, close to the Puenta de Los Suspiros – a happy meal of quinoa burger with hummus. Seriously, I am now in love with quinoa.

I was lured into the MATE museum, that houses the photographs of Mario Testino. He is a world renowned Peruvian photographer, and I was fascinated by his work. I had bought a combination ticket to 3 museums, but the other 2 (Pedro de Osma & MAC) did not hold the same attraction for me, as one has a collection of religious art, and the other is contemporary, but I could understand neither. Still, the walk was fun. Gotta go back into Barranco in the evening to get a glimpse of all the colours of the night.

A Day for Adventure

Starting with a cycle ride with Bike Tours of Lima through the two most ‘happening’ districts of the city – Miraflores and Barranco:

The ride whetted my appetite to explore Barranco in my own time, but the tour in itself was informative, especially about the modern history of the city. While Miraflores is the swanky new development, Barranco is the more arty, laid-back and well-aged district.

One of the highlights was the Parque del Amor, the Love Park, an iconic section of the promenade at Miraflores. El Beso, the Kiss sculpture by Victor Delfin, of himself kissing his wife. The park is also the venue for Valentine’s day record breaking activities against a beautiful sunset.

The other was the Puento de Los Suspiros, the Bridge of Sighs – the first time you cross the bridge, make a wish and take a deep breath, then hold the breath until you cross over to the other side, to make your wish come true. Believe the myth or not, it’s a fun, silly, touristy thing to do.

If you like to play with Google Earth, check this link for my cycling path: http://share.abvio.com/e52ba8633cd284a7/Cyclemeter-Cycle-20150804-1004.kml

After the tour, it was too early for me to head back, so I thought I might walk aimlessly around Miraflores. That’s when I looked up and saw a miracle – a hint of sunshine! And there were paragliders. I thought, why not? Another item on my wish list might come true. I wasted no time rushing over to the paraport or whatever they call it, paid the money, and was quickly strapped into the harness. My pilot, Alex, was ultra-friendly and uber cool (part time baker), and made the flight super exciting. I squealed at every turn, getting plenty of thrills gliding higher than the J.W. Marriott hotel, and close to the Larcomar strip, waving at pedestrians, getting a bird’s eye view of the city and the cliffs and the waves, and too soon the flight came to an end. All done in a space of 30 minutes.



Paragliding at Miraflores

Paragliding at Miraflores



The Other Side of Town

This week in Lima, I had my photo walk on Monday rather than the usual Friday. Found Haku Tours to take me on a walk through one of the more humble settlements in the city.

It is always nice to see local markets in different cities, but the one we stopped at before the walk left me agape at the size of vegetables. Cauliflower and broccoli larger than my head, pumpkins the size of toddlers, different colours of corn, and potatoes in numerous shapes, sizes and colour. Plus some exotic fruits to sample. My guide, Edwin, taught me some phrases in Quechua, the local language – Adiyanchu (good morning) and Yus para sunki (thank you) to confuse me from the practised Spanish phrases. To add to that, every time I said Adiyanchu to a local person, I would get a blank stare in return because not everybody spoke the language! My timing was completely off; ultimately I let Edwin take the lead in greeting people.

I had a good introduction on the politics of Peru from my guides, as well as a good insight into the culture of the shanty town residents. And some photos of the people, with the people too. Predictably, the kids were super friendly, and fascinated by the camera and their pictures.

Not typical touristy destination, but quite remarkable landscapes! Here are many shades of brown:

Fiesta and Siesta

After yesterday’s long post, and today’s excitement, I have no words, only pictures.

Sunday noon change of guard at the President’s Palace:

Followed by a fiesta in the square:

We truly needed our rest after this!

A Walk Through Miraflores

This was the day I officially fell in love with Lima. The district of Miraflores is IT.

Huaca Pucllana

Huaca Pucllana

First I stepped back in time, to the 7/8th century, to explore Huaca Pucllana – the sacred temple for ritual games. This was the site of ceremonial activities during the Lima culture in the period 200-700 AD. The structure itself is in the form of a truncated pyramid, used for rituals, surrounded by an administrative section. The entire structure is made by adobe bricks – mud bricks which were moulded by hand and sun-dried. The arrangement of the bricks is like trapezoidal bookshelves, with gaps between the bricks to withstand seismic shocks.

We had a guided tour in English that took us to various sections, starting from the tiny museum, explaining some of the rituals like pottery smashing and human sacrifices, through the administrative section, the typical garden, a few animal pens, and some parts of the pyramid. In addition to the Lima culture, there are also some tombs from the Wari culture (500-900 AD), that contain burial shrouds and other remains.

Some of the animals in their pens: guinea pigs, llamas, alpacas –

We ended the tour back at the museum and attached gift shop.

Huaca Pucllana

By the time the Incas got here, the site had been abandoned for centuries. The Incas left it alone, and it stayed neglected until the 1980s when archeological and restoration work started in earnest. It’s a beautiful sight – in a single subdued colour, where you look closely to see the handiwork of people from centuries past, with the backdrop of present-day city.

After this time travel, I had to attend to my baser instincts of hunger. Walking down in Miraflores, I consulted TripAdvisor “Near Me Now” and was recommended El Bar Verde on Calle Berlin, that offered vegetarian food. Had a most delicious whole grain + avocado + olive sandwich in the beautifully decorated corner cafe.

I was so full after that sandwich that I could walk in and out of the Choco Museo without getting tempted to buy or sample anything. That only lasted a few minutes until I saw this pretty cafe selling desserts, and the one that got me was tres leches.

Miraflores Miraflores

It was an overkill, but delicious, and to walk it off I headed to Parque Kennedy. The park’s claim to fame is that it has more cats than flowers, or so it seems, because you barely notice the flowers in favour of the multitude of cats that wander around, looking for a cuddle, some food, warmth, whatever. All I had to do was sit on a bench to have one of these cute cuddly fellows climb onto my lap and try to squeeze into my warm fleece jacket. They are so adorable!!!!!!

Artists selling their work outside this park, and I was in heaven!


After spending an hour here, I had to tear myself away to head to Larcomar, where Souvik & I had planned to meet and have dinner. Not a long walk; as an added bonus to an already superlative day, I found a travel agent to buy me 2 tickets to enter Machu Picchu next weekend. Yeeaaahhhhh!

MirafloresLarcomar is one of the malls that I can call beautiful – built into the side of the cliff, facing the ocean, you can see nothing of it from the main road. We chose to eat at Tanta, a buzzing restaurant with great views, and settled for a couple of fruity pisco sours and shared a quinoa salad.

This is the route I walked: