Strangely, I felt at home in Lima. The capital reminded me a lot of Manila. It mirrored the same chaotic public transport system, traffic and also the weather but amidst of these, I found it really interesting walking around the city. Alongside modern buildings stood churches and monuments which serve as remnants of its colonial past.
In Plaza de Armas, we went to see the Government Palace which is the residence and office of the President of Peru. The San Francisco Church can also be found near the plaza.
San Francisco Church is a baroque church that was built around the 16th century. The church houses several ancient texts that date back during the time the Spanish colonized Peru. In addition, the catacombs underneath the church are also worth a visit.
If you don’t understand Spanish, it is best to bring along a friend who can help translate what the tour guide mentions during the tour. Entrance fees are extremely affordable and will not cost you more than $10.
Another experience that I was looking forward to was trying Peruvian cuisine, I was craving for some anticucho and ceviche that I was basically bugging Ana for us to eat. Back in Melbourne, I was able to try anticucho, a Peruvian kebab, in a food festival and instantly fell in love with it.
Little did I know that the one they served in Melbourne might be a “toned down” version of anticucho. It turned out that anticucho was beef’s heart. Do not be fazed though as it is still very good but with a stronger taste. They are served with sauce made from garlic, vinegar, lemon juice and chopped cilantro. I haven’t tried them with beer but chicha morada, a drink made from purple corn, is a good accompaniment to it. Anticucherias are abundant in the city so it would not be hard to find them.
Anticucho was replaced as a favorite by Pollo ala brasa or Peruvian chicken. The chicken was so tasty and filling. Be warned though that an order is a huge portion of chicken served with heaps of fries, so prepare to be really full. That’s another thing to love in Peru, the food is really cheap but you will not be compromised with the taste and size of portions.
Another tip I learned from Ana is it is better to eat specific food in a place where it is the specialty, like anticucho in anticucherias or ceviche in cevicherias. I did not eat out much as I was only in Lima for a day and her sister was such an excellent cook that I did not really need to go out.
It is never a good idea to skip on the markets especially if you are in a foreign city. Before we head to Cusco, we dropped by a local market to see what Lima has to offer.
Indeed, the market was full of life. The sounds of vendors selling their wares in lively fashion and consumers bartering filled up the air while piles of fresh produce are lined up in different places in the market.
It was my first time to see several products such as the prickly pears and pepino that I kind of acted like a curious child. I even got scolded by one vendor for observing a pepino too much (maybe I scared their costumers). I also fell in love seeing these various Peruvian salsas: Aji Criollo (Peruvian yellow chili and oil) , Salsa de rocoto (made from rocoto peppers) , Salsa verde de cilantro, Salsa Ocopa ( Peruvian blackmint) and Aji amarillo.
A day is seriously a short time to see Lima. The city has so much to offer that I really felt bad to stay there for such a short time. I would have love to hunt for more cevicherias and learn how to commute there.
A second visit will be planned soon 🙂 .