We landed in our next country, Peru, in the middle of the night and took a taxi to our hostel in Lima, the capital and by far largest city in the country. Since we got in so late we slept in the next day and took advantage of the grocery store across the street and made brunch at our hostel. By early afternoon we were ready to head out and explore.
We spent our first full day in Peru walking around the Miraflores neighborhood where we were staying. We stopped in one of the many coffee shops and visited the Inka Market which was full of souvenirs, trinkets, and alpaca wool blankets. Every vendor did their best to sell us something at “a special price”, and we promised them all we’d be back (and we would). We walked through Kennedy Park which is full of adorable stray cats and resisted the urge to pet them all.
As usual with any new country we visit, we did our research on all the best local food to try. In Peru, number one on our list was ceviche. Although we had ceviche in Panama and Ecuador, each country seemed to put their own spin on it, and it originated in Peru (it’s the national dish) so we had to try their version. We stopped at a seafood restaurant that Emily went to almost 7 years ago on her last trip to Peru, called La Mar. Fortunately the ceviche was as tasty and fresh as I remember it being last time around.
Since Lima is located right on the Pacific coast we got some pretty good views of the ocean from Miraflores. The city extends right up to the water, but rather than a beach it’s more like a dramatic cliff drop off to get down to the water. We walked along El Malecón, a walking path and park the extends along the top of the cliffs. We tried to time up our walk with sunset and it was unfortunately too cloudy to see anything, but still a great place to hang out on a Friday night.
The next day, Saturday, was a big day for our little group: Chris’ birthday. We started off the morning with mimosas and homemade breakfast at our hostel to fuel up for the weekend. Elizabeth did a great job planning out a day including some of Chris’ favorite activities, including the following:
1. Surprise Extreme Activity
Although Mike and I were in on the plan, Chris had no idea where we were going when we took a taxi to a random building parking lot. From there, we got in a van with a couple other tourists and drove about an hour south. We pulled up onto a beach which is about when Chris probably figured out that we were going paragliding! Our 15 minute flight up and down the coast had some great views and was surprisingly relaxing.
After taking the van back into Lima, we found a great outdoor food hall market called Mercado 28. Complete with plenty of food and drink options, outdoor seating, and televisions showing the Champions League Final (Chelsea versus Manchester City), this was the perfect place to hang out for the afternoon and watch soccer. Of note: Chelsea emerged victorious on the back of a wonderful Kai Havertz goal (assisted by Mason Mount from beyond the midfield line). Up the Chels!
We spent the rest of the afternoon bar hopping around Miraflores and trying different local beers.
One of the awesome amenities in our hostel for the weekend was a private movie theater with several tiered rows of huge couches and all the streaming services you could think of. Elizabeth rented out the theater for the night and we watched a movie we’ve all seen more times than we can count, Superbad (the Peruvian version is actually called “Supercool”). As we were about to start the movie, we went to the hostel community fridge to grab the case of beer we bought earlier in the day to enjoy during the movie. The bad news; the beer was gone. Someone had apparently helped themselves to it that day. The good news; Elizabeth spoke to the hostel staff who kindly offered us a round of complimentary drinks from the restaurant downstairs and dessert. While we were all annoyed that someone had taken our beer from the fridge, we enjoyed our free pisco sours, made a huge batch of popcorn, and enjoyed the rest of the night.
And there you have it, the four components to a pretty great birthday. The next day, Sunday, we took it easy and packed up our backpacks for the next stop on our journey around Peru. We prepared ourselves for the first of many overnight bus rides (what an adventure) to our next city.