2011 in Review: Biggest Surprise (Lima, Peru)

by Chris on December 26, 2011

My expectations were nil. But in Lima, Peru, I found enough history, charm and chic cuisine that I’d love to go back. Call it the best surprise of 2011.

Cathedral of Lima, Cercado de Lima, Lima, Peru

One of my favorite “best of” categories, the Biggest Surprise award goes to the destination that surpassed expectations or defied preconceived notions. And in 2011, Lima, Peru certainly fit the bill.

As I noted in one of my posts from the trip, everything I read in mainstream guidebooks about Lima made it sound like a place you should leave as soon as possible. Dirty, unsafe, chaotic, polluted. Definitely not a city to linger.

Balconies of Lima, Cercado de Lima, Lima, Peru

Yet I found that my 18 hour layover there left me wanting much more.  We toured the Cercado de Lima, taking note of the wooden Moorish-influenced balconies that make the city center an UNESCO World Heritage site. Both the Lima Cathedral, which houses the tomb of  Spanish conquistador Francisco and the Monestary of San Francisco, with bones piled high in its catacombs, were historic sites as worthy as any you’d find in more well-known tourist spots.

Pisco sour at La Mar, Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Later,  we ate ceviche in Miraflores, at a restaurant owned by Peru’s celebrity chef, Gastón Acurio, drinking pisco sours while the city’s chic set drifted by in their beachy best.

Erotic Pre-Columbian art, Museo Larco, Pueblo Libre, Lima, Peru

Our all too short stay ended with an eyeful of erotic pre-Columbian pottery collection at Museo Larco.

All too soon, I got on my plane – and plotted when I could come back. I’m not saying that Lima is perfect – you do need to take safety precautions, as I mentioned – but the city certainly made me realize that Peru contains many stops beyond the tried-and-true tourist trail that are worth exploring.

| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Bohemian Trails January 4, 2012 at 9:59 am

I would have loved to have spent more time in Lima – I drove through the city on my way to Ancon beach, which is amazing by the way!

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Chris January 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I would love to spend significantly more time in Peru. So much to see!

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cheryl January 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm

OMG. I so want to go back to Lima. I have good memories of drinking pisco sours in Mia Flores as well! =)

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Dave January 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I’m not surprised! I had a feeling I’d want to spend a few weeks in Lima, but that turned into a few months since arriving here November 2011.

I feel pretty safe in Miraflores, though I’ll still take a cab home late at night vs walking, even if it’s only 5-6 blocks. Tons of excellent restaurants, and Peruvian cuisine has kept me so satisfied, I haven’t even been missing Thai food like I normally do.

I still have to get to the catacombs!

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Chris January 15, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Dave – I’d love to get an apartment down there for a month. When it comes time for me to do so, I’ll definitely ask for a rec!

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