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South America

Visiting Barranco district and Lima city center

Almost everything ready for our trip to Peru! And our trip starts with destination to Lima! Going to Dublin first though, after the several days I spent packing, I had to unpack hours before boarding…, the train! I was over-packed, a t-shirt per day, extra-shorts (????), pants for sleeping (wtf?? why not just underwear??) and probably more stuff that I left behind.

I don’t remember how much, but it was a considerable amount of stuff… Then, meeting with Tajana at the train station and heading to Dublin, with a huge anxiety visible not only by my face, but also through my fingers, which I nibbled almost until bleeding…

Our way to Peru, from Cork to Lima

Arriving in Dublin, the first night, a night in blank with Pedro, a friend of mine who lives in Dublin. Easy night, obviously I didn’t want to repeat the experience I had in Wroclaw…, then to the airport!

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Oh gosh, not sleeping and having to wait at an airport is pure pain, I was hoping some quiet 16 hours to Lima, and hoping that the night in blank could be recovered on flight…, not really…, starting with a very slow check-in… Air France is a nice company to fly with, but a not so nice to deal with, the hosts at the check-in area were REALLY slow and annoying! After several minutes, she said she couldn’t check us in for the second flight, that we had to do it in Paris… considering that we only had one hour for the transfer…, guess what? And I should not forget to mention the tiny plane that took us to Paris…

Different terminal, hopping the bus, having to do another check-in, another queue, almost boarding, pre-vacations stress! Niceeeee! And the cherry was that due to the check-in problem, we had a 12 hours flight from Paris to Lima totally apart from each other! Isn’t that great? Thank you Air France, for the amazing service with transfer flights from partner companies!

Our way to Peru, from Cork to Lima
Our way to Peru, from Cork to Lima

Regarding the second flight, my first trans-oceanic flight, I had a great seat! Ramón as well…, Tajana not so much. But still, the airplane was very comfortable and with a lot of entertainment for the 12 hours we spent inside it. The headphones weren’t good, I had to use the Apple ones instead, but we had several movies, games, tv shows, music, etc at the distance of a simple touch, with individual touch-LCDs. I can’t complain about that, nor the food, if I am not mistaken, we had a main meal and two snacks, plus the “self-service” snacks and the huge amount of free Häagen-Dazs I ate during that flight! Yeah, it was an easy 12 hours flight!

Arriving in Lima, what a difference! Coming from Winter and arriving in Summer, the reddish sky, the heat, the dust, being 5pm but almost night, in Summer? They don’t have a DST timezone…, pity… And no money! All the ATMs at the airport were without soles, a not so pleasant experience…, but well, everything can be solved! A side-note, it was the first time I arrived at an airport and I had a taxi driver waiting for us! Pity it wasn’t my name, but well, it was a funny and snobbish situation. And very handy!

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Going to the hostel, and getting “robbed” for the first time. I only realized how expensive the taxi was when we came back to that hostel for the last days…, but I’ll write about that later. Yeah, the taxi was expensive (for Peruvian standards)! We did the check-in, at the hostel, then a short walk through the neighborhood, I was quite afraid about the possibility of being robbed at night, that I left the camera at the bedroom, but I totally regretted it a few minutes later…

Not long after we went for that walk, we came back to the hostel, after all it was around “1.30am” on our heads, while in Peru was just 8.30pm…, going to sleep, because the next day we had to fly again…

Regarding the hostel, it was REALLY warm! I slept without sheets and with the window widely open, and that didn’t make me feel unsafe, almost all the houses around have a sharp metallic grid around the yards or the houses themselves for protection. The neighborhood seemed safe, but seeing that everywhere…, I don’t know… Our bathroom was really small, to sit I had to widely open my legs, or sit perpendicularly to the toilet…, and the shower…, that wasn’t a shower, that was a hole through where the water fell. Yeah, it was bad and we returned there…, my stupid idea! I still can’t forgive myself for that, how could I forget how bad that hostel is???

Exploring a bit of Lima city center

Waking up not too early this time and going again for “Internet Hunting”. We went to the place we’ve been the day before, but it was closed in the morning, and even though there were several other internet places, also closed, we decided to go to the airport and have it done there, but again, no success. I don’t remember in detail, but I think that KLM doesn’t have offices at Lima Airport, or they were closed, I am not sure now. But our plan for the day was visiting Barranco district, considered one of the most romantic and bohemian!

Plaza Mayor, Lima
Plaza Mayor, Lima

Ok, let’s go to the city center, probably there we’d be luckier… And just a small detail, the taxis are extremely pricy at the airport. It is cheaper (but probably not safer) to walk a few meters more, and take a taxi outside the airport parking lot.

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So, before going to the city-center we had to check-out at the hostel, on my notes I have a line saying “Tajana broke the map’s glass, and the guy’s reaction”. I have just a vain idea that she broke the glass of some board with a map, but not sure what exactly happened…, but well, that could have been funnier to tell if I weren’t that lazy writing these posts…

View from Barranco District
View from Barranco District

And now yes, we went to the city center, the not-so-beautiful city center of Lima, but it was there that we finally managed to check-in, and as I wrote before, the issue was indeed the passport’s validation date. We had our breakfast there, at the Plaza Mayor, and by that we were already tired of that city center. Not interesting for us, and not that nice to waste our time, so, we decided to go to Barranco for a walk.

Visiting Barranco district and Lima city center

A stroll to Barranco District

Barranco District is a very well-organized and enjoyable district in Lima, very close to the sea on the top of the cliff. We walked around for a while, the small streets towards the beach are really nice and with several small cafés eager to get tourists like us, but we ended up inside a Starbucks… No comments, please.. In Barranco we really felt safe, but it also looks like an expensive area to live, the housing is way better than any other part of the city we’ve been to, the traffic is way better as well, and it seems organized.

Street from Barraco to the beach
Street from Barraco to the beach

We then took our taxi, and we went to the airport passing through the hostel to pick up our luggage, at the airport we had a snack before our departure and some girly moments to buy more souvenirs and some sweets to the office! And back to Europe… was nice while it lasted…

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Going to the beach in Lima, a full day to relax

Finally!! I can write “waking up a bit late”!!! I don’t remember at what time exactly, but if I wrote that in my notes it means that it was kind of significant… After a shower on a mega-tiny bathroom with a “shower” that was basically just a hole in the wall. Yeah, Lima was the place where we had the worse conditions. We weren’t expecting anything fancy, but after 14 days on vacations in places where we indeed had low expectations, we were expecting something better in Lima. That, or not forgetting that we have been there before… Then breakfast!

We decided to hire a taxi and having another beach day, we have been quite warned by the taxi driver about thieves and robbery, and to take extra care with the camera even inside the taxi if the window was open. Nice start…

Old motorbike in Lima
Old motorbike in Lima

The sea-side landscape is quite cool, basically a huge brown-sandy cliff, the big towers on its top and the beach and sea-side route by the shore. Quite interesting to see the amount of signs saying “tsunami escape route”.

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Arriving at the beach was scary, and when I say scary I actually mean S-C-A-R-Y! The amount of guys attacking the taxi and trying to take us to their zones was impressive, at first we really didn’t understand what was happening there, we just saw more than 20 guys around the taxi trying to open the doors and yelling to go with them! Then we understood what was happening and we just picked one guy to force the others to leave. Basically, these guys they get paid by commission, the amount of people the serve they get money for that.

Beach in Lima
Beach in Lima

A wonderful sunny day at the beach, eating ceviche without having to leave the towel is awesome! Ceviche is a very good dish and perfect for a hot day, very refreshing and tasteful!

Swimming there was also strange, two meters from the shore and we already need to swim!!! The safe zone is quite short, and that mostly because the area of wave breaking is also very close to the shore. We stayed there until sunset, and since we saved the taxi’s phone number we decided to call him again, the amount of times we read about taxi safety in Peru kind of pushed us to take these kind of precautions…

Going to the parking lot area, waiting for the taxi, we passed by a bunch of drunk kids that barely could walk straight, for a fraction of a second I thought I was in Ireland, but no, it was too warm outside! And back to the hostel!

Going to the beach in Lima, a full day to relax
Going to the beach in Lima, a full day to relax

To avoid problems, like our way to Peru, we decided to do the check in online, and that was a pain…, first we barely could find an internet place. When we found it, the internet was like the internet we had in Europe in the 90’s, extremely slow. It wouldn’t be such a drama, if the modern websites wouldn’t be like they are…

From Europe we also had people trying to do the online check-ins, but the Air France website never gave a warning that the passport validity date was “required”, only an error. If we missed any other detail we would get the proper warning, but not that one. We took a long while to figure that out, since the internet also was slow to return the error messages…

And that being done! Time for a late dinner, pizza! And going to bed, to that hostel…

The trip from Peru back to Europe

Jet lag, that strange thing that people talk about. How to avoid it? I have no clue, most of the tips I read say the same “Try to stay awake / go to sleep early according to the timezone of your destination”. So, before going to Peru I avoided to sleep to be able to sleep most of the flight to Peru and wake up on time for “breakfast”. It didn’t work. The way back, I had to sleep the moment I sat, because in Ireland that would be 2am! I slept, but it didn’t help with the jet lag anyway.

So, how did I manage to fall asleep fast? 2 bottles of wine! The small ones, of course, the wouldn’t serve a 1 l bottle just for one person… What a shame…, so, I got drunk and it was easier to fall asleep!

But before that, they served the dinner, to help me sleep I watch part of a movie while I was trying to ignore the fact that the plane was full of babies hoping that they wouldn’t start a crying orchestra and present us with their premier. We were lucky, or their parents also gave them wine… I kind of hope they actually did it.

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After sleeping a few hours, when I woke up I checked the seat screen to see where we were, and for my surprise we were in Canada (?!?!???!) Basically, the flight went up north, and then from there just in horizontal to Amsterdam, they must have their reasons not to cross the Atlantic as I would expect…

First stop, and back in Europe! Amsterdam!! I think we only had to wait 2 or 3 hours, I am not sure about details now, and I remember that we went to some girly moments again for shopping, and I bought I book that I still didn’t open (one year and a half after). Funny thing, I remember that I said “If I open a book more than once while I am in a bookshop, it means that I want that book”. Let me scratch that rule, it couldn’t be more wrong.

The trip from Peru back to Europe

Again, another security check. I think airports should be more organized, doesn’t make much sense to force a transfer to pass again through security. And it happened again in London… 3 flights, 3 security checks, 1 ticket booked. Non-sense.

The flight to London was with some turbulence and lateral winds, not a big deal, but not a peaceful flight. The approximation was not that smooth either, though the landing was totally ok.

Arriving at London City Airport (LCY), and having a preferential service! That was cool, someone picked us to pass all the lines because the time between our flights was quite short, with a woman guiding us through all the processes we had to pass (security again, etc).

And the last flight! Which wasn’t that straight forward either. I sat, on my place, I start reading and then… “Would you mind to change to another place? That seat is damaged.” Argggg!

Arriving in Dublin, then three more hours by car to Cork…, Tajana driving, me sleeping! And this was our trip to Peru, an awesome and unforgettable trip! An amazing country that I truly recommend, not only for the touristic places, but for the whole trip itself.

By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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