Peru was really high on my list of places to visit and ofcourse it started with Machu Pichhu. Ever since I heard of its existence, its been a near obsession to make it there. I finally took the plunge and decided to fly down to Peru post the wedding in Vegas. I also decided to travel all alone. Before my trip, I had prior warning from several friends and their friends about the dangers of doing so but in my heart, I knew I could do this.
Lima, the capital city, is really interesting. Like all developing nations, Lima has the beautiful face it wants to show and the ugly behind it wants to sweep under the carpet. After many years of civil war, the city is slowly emerging from poverty and crime with a high emphasis on tourism. Though, I was staying in the trendy Miraflores, I decided to explore the Historic Center of Lima. This is where the presidential palace is with some beautiful Spanish Cathedrals with ornate Moorish balconies alongside tiny streets with small businesses parallel to one of the most run down roads I had seen. Yet it was all alive, buzzing with people, smiling, laughing which immediately put me at ease. I am a city girl and this was my space.
I took the free bus- Corridor Azul from Miraflores to Tacna and walked to the Historic Centre. The street was primarily filled with paper factories with beautiful quaint balconies in wood. Here I saw an interesting street cart. A woman was serving up some hot liquids with many colorful flavourings all for 1 soles. The men around her, invited me try and gestured that it will make me strong for my hike in the mountain. Turns out the brothy drink called Emoliente Quinoa is made of corn, herbs and quinoa and is flavoured with sweet and sour syrup. It was definitely refreshing after a long flight in.
The historic center is also known for its lunch places that serve up some amazing local cuisine, sandwiches, ceviche, fresh juices etc. I particularly wanted to eat at this little restaurant called Bar Cardona next to the Presidential Palace which has known to serve up many of Peru's presidents.
The Bar Cardona reminded me of one of the Iranian cafes back home. It had quaint stained glass, a bar with a variety of Piscos and cakes that reminded me of mawa cakes. With my very limited Spanish I managed to order a Lomosaltado with tacu tacu which translates as sauteed beef loins with rice and beans. This was a flavourful and warming dish and spiced with a hot sauce was really delicious.
The historic center was bustling with families, office goers, and local tourists and street cart vendors. As I walked back to the bus stop, past some amazing churches and old houses, almost purposefully like a Limena, a little nervous, very excited and full of anticipation for my travel ahead. One thing was clear- I better learn some Spanish quickly.
Isnt this man gorgeous? The Limenas seem to think so too...