Welcome to the second of three posts about a short but eventful visit to Lima, Perú. The first post, Delicious Lima, covered some of the fantastic cuisine available in this South American city, and the next will take a look at the Historic District. In this article, I’d like to share some of the sights and experiences of Walking in Lima.
When you arrive in Lima, your first reaction is likely to be “this is a BIG city!” And you would be correct. The capital and largest city of Perú covers over 1000 square miles. It is home to almost 10 million people, and if you include the whole metro area, that figure climbs to over 12 million. The urban area consists of thirty different neighborhoods, or districts, with thirteen more making up the outlying less-populated areas. These districts have their own style and flavor, and because of this, despite its size we found Lima to be a very walkable city.
Since our time was limited, we spent most of our visit in just three of those districts: Miraflores, Barranco, and the Historic district of Lima, sometimes called Lima Centro.
Our hotel was just a few blocks from the sea, so naturally our first walk after we checked in was to see the Larcomar, an outdoor mall built into the cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
There are 70+ shops and at least 17 restaurants in this attractive, open-air shopping center. It was a great place to walk around, enjoy the view, and relax a bit after our flight in from Cusco. Prices in the mall seemed a little high, but that is not too surprising as this is a “tourist trap” type location, in an upscale part of the already upscale Miraflores. As we found later exploring some of the shopping centers off the beach, there were actually some pretty decent bargains to be had, for example at the “OE” store (Oechsle).
The next day, we went back to the Mall to pick up the rambla, and headed south to check out the neighboring district of Barranco. It’s a lovely walk, even on a cloudy day.
Barranco is known as a kind of Bohemian neighborhood, famous for a variety of bars and restaurants. We’ll see more of that in a bit, but for now, we were enjoying walking along the oceanside cliff on the rambla. There are several small parks along the way, even a dog park or two.
This part of Barranco, indeed all along the rambla, you find lots of high-rise apartments and condos, all taking advantage of the great views of the Pacific. As you might imagine, these homes are priced a little high. The cheapest one-bedroom places I found advertised were renting for about $1400 a month.
Next, we turned to the east to explore more of the center of the neighborhood. This was very different from the coast. We saw interesting architecture, and blocks of homes painted in bright colors, or decorated with wall murals.
Our goal was to reach the Puente de los Suspiros – the Bridge of Sighs – and find a nice place to eat lunch. We have visited the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy, but this is a completely different deal. The one in Venice got its name as the last walk of prisoners destined to be tortured and/or imprisoned on the other side. In Lima, the bridge is named after the sighs of lovers. Completely different kind of sighing (at least, if you’re doing it right). Over time, the area around this bridge has become a focus of art, food and bars. We entered the park that surrounds this bridge, greeted by a giant ant.
For pictures of the lunch we had at Javier’s Restaurant (sign in the distance above), see the Delicious Lima post.
Later that day, we walked east from our hotel and enjoyed the Parque Central de Miraflores and the adjacent Kennedy Park. We caught part of a flea market of sorts at the Kennedy Park, which is also interesting as it is a refuge for homeless cats. They were everywhere there, and it was clear that it was their park that they were reluctantly sharing with us.
On this walk, we did some shopping at the stores around the parks, including the Oecshle (your guess at pronunciation is as good as mine). We were impressed with the pricing in this commercial district (shopping is one of the things Miraflores is known for), and I was able to find name-brand blue jeans in my size for what converted to $32 a pair.
On our last day, we also explored the rambla turning north from Larcomar. This stretch of the walkway sports a lighthouse, and the infamous “El Beso” statue in the Parque del Amor. This “Park of Lovers” is indeed a very romantic spot, with its 180 degree view of the Pacific. It is particularly stunning at sunrise and sunset, or when the sun is playing across the many mosaics that adorn the seating areas. This park is very popular with couples, to say the least.
The next park up, Malecon de Miraflores Junto Al Faro (faro=lighthouse), is also a launch point for parapentes – paragliders.
Parapentes in flight, below:
There you have a quick summary of some of the things we found walking around Miraflores and Barranco during our visit to Lima. Of course that is not all of our walking – all in all, we clocked about 18 miles in three days. But you have to remember, we had just completed the 26-mile Inca Trail a week earlier, so for us, it seemed pretty easy. After all, we were on mostly level ground, surrounded by bars, restaurants, and clean toilets!
Most of the rest, however involves two very interesting and historic areas. One is a pre-Incan pyramid in the heart of the modern city, and the other is the historic district of Lima Centro. We’ll take a look at those in the next chapter; Historic Lima.
Three days was just enough to whet our appetites. We look forward to making another trip to Lima, to spend more time exploring this beautiful and diverse South American city.