Peru travel blog by Mark Berman -
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In 2014 I spent 2 days in Lima and had a great time exploring the city without any problems although I was warned a few times to be careful with my
camera and of course after my 2009 experience I was very careful with taxis. I arrived first thing in the morning on a flight from Bogota (Colombia) and
walked to a hostel about 1km from the airport. There was no time for sleeping or wasting the day. I took a bus straight into the center of town to walk
around and see for the first time a city I had passed through many times before.
9 Million People
Lima is a huge place with nearly 9 million people. It's not at all attractive
to fly in and out of. You can't see a thing because of the smog, even the sun can't break through it. However, getting past that, there is a lot to see here
and in 2 days I saw quite a lot. Lima is a city famous for food. I enjoyed the takeaway Chinese food available around the city. I loved walking many kms around
parts of the city center seeing as much as I could.
Plaza de Armas and Palaces
The most central and
obvious place to start is at the huge Plaza de Armas with its many colorful flowerbeds and historical buildings surrounding it. These buildings include the
cathedral, Arzobispal Palace, Government Palace and the massive yellow Municipal Palace. Lima is another city like Quito (Ecuador) absolutely full with historic
churches, the map I have of the area around and including the center has over 30. Some of them however are on the other side of the Rimac River which is
only 1 block from the Plaza de Armas and this is not such a safe part of the city.
Around the River
The river is where I actually went to next, to walk along the safe side
where there are a few things to see in park Parque Rimac. I always enjoy the street art and wall murals I see while walking around, sometimes you need to
look for it in some of the more offbeat streets. The markets by the river was where I came to next, from this point you get a pretty clear view of the big
hill on the other side - Cerro San Cristobal. From here I walked back in the direction of the main plaza and continued in a south / west direction a further
6 blocks or so. It was an interesting 6 blocks, this is what I enjoy about really exploring a city like this, getting out from the Plaza de Armas!
Exploring The City
several churches, small plazas, another market area - I ended up way over at University Park (Parque Universitario), quite a nice part of town. I went next
to Parque San Martin, again with lots of historic buildings to see along the way.
Lima certainly is huge and the traffic is
congested. You cannot really see this place in just a few days. On this morning I started out in the area around the Park of the Exposition, lots of historical
sights, some wall murals here and there and more statues and monuments than any person could count. I spent sometime around here before heading in the
direction of Plaza Miquel Grau, a huge concrete slab with some gardens and historic buildings around and with a thousand bronze busts. The sun was beating
down very hard, even I couldn't be bothered taking photos of them all.
The Real Lima
I decided now I would get more amongst the real Lima and walked up a very
pedestrian heavy market street in the direction of Cerro San Cristobal. I ended up quite far up this street at a park full of busts of doctors. It was
here I was told I should put my camera away and take a bus back in the direction of the central plaza which I did as it was nearly days end and my back
was killing me!
I Saw Over 22 Churches
From my calculations I saw over 22 churches around Lima just by walking around, without hunting them out, just from my exploration! Next time
I come to Lima I will continue to get to know this place a little better and make more time for Miraflores and the food.
Flight to Tacna
From Lima I flew 1hr 5mins to
and continued another 25mins on the same plane to Tacna
where I crossed into Chile
to begin a few weeks backpacking there.
Don't Get Into Any Taxi!
I had a few experiences in Lima, arriving/leaving by bus, arriving/leaving by plane and with the taxis. A friend from Peru told me "Lima is a dangerous
place", another friend from Lima who lives in Cusco told me "Lima is a horrible place, full of horrible people". Lima is a big, polluted and dangerous place,
which was my experience in 2009. When my friend from Peru was waving down taxi after taxi in 2009 he let about 10 go before he allowed me to get in because
he didn't like the look of the drivers eyes. This is an important rule, don't get into any taxi!
Express Kidnapping & Robbed by a Taxi
The worst experience with a taxi in Lima was when a girlfriend
and I arrived at Lima airport after a long flight from the other side of the world late on a Sunday night, about 11:30pm. We unfortunately got in a bad
taxi, another man got in, our packs were in the back, we had agreed on a price if $10USD to take us to the bus terminal because we wanted to head south to
. Basically they drove us out to the back streets of Lima near the river, where there were absolutely no cars or people around. While driving along
they presented me with a 1200 soles ($400USD) bill, I couldn't believe my eyes. I demanded that they stop the taxi and turn the light on so that I could
read it properly. I told them that this was a load of bull****, they then got very angry and started shouting, they told me that Lima currency is different
than elsewhere in Peru and that 100 soles was equal to $1USD for which I didn't agree with! They then got a third guy supposedly from the taxi depot on the
phone to tell me that the currency is different in Lima again. Basically they made me withdraw money at several ATM machines to the tune of 1200 soles, there
was not much we could have done, we were sleep deprived and didn't know what they were capable of. After they had got what they wanted, they actually took us
to the bus terminal after about 90 minutes of driving us around the back streets of Lima. So be very careful to get in proper registered taxis
especially if you have your luggage or if it's late at night. If anyone else gets in the taxi, get straight out! Accept that being a tourist you will be charged
a bit more. The yellow taxis immediatley outside the airport are safe options but more expensive. When I was again at Lima airport in June 2009 the security
seemed to have tightened up a lot, with the police checking the ID's of taxis coming into the carpark and all people entering the building had to show their passports.