Originally we were only going to spend 1 day in Lima, but when we realized that we had the opportunity to get our Bolivian visa, we extended our stay so we would be there on a weekday when the embassy was open.
We spent a fair amount of time walking around town when we were in Lima. I would guess that we walked more here than we did anywhere else on our trip. It seemed that everywhere that we went involved a pretty decent walk. Luckily the temperature was pretty much always pleasant.
Riding to Lima in Luxury
Our bus ride from Trujillo on Excluciva was by far our best bus ride to date. We had booked seats that reclined a full 180 degrees. It is crazy how much different 160 degrees and 180 degrees feels when you are trying to sleep, especially if you are a side sleeper like myself.
I totally got spoiled on this ride, bummed out that for our long ride from Nasca to Cusco, there were not 180 degree seats available. For all long distance overnight busses, I will continue to book the highest class service available. The price is marginally more than the basic seats and it is so much easier to sleep.
Typically on double decker busses, the lower level is the more luxurious seats and the upper level are the basic seats. For some reason, the seats were flipped on this bus.
Being burned several times in our trip by not booking our seats early, we booked these tickets when we were in Trujillo. This enabled us to get seats in the first row on the upper deck, arguably the best seats on the bus.
The best part of the 180 degree recline seats is that we had your own pod and nobody in front of us could take up our personal space. I absolutely loved this since on other night busses we have taken, when people recline, you are sandwiched in extremely tight, not able to move at all.
We had quite a few perks on the bus including:
- Personal TVs – We were both excited to possibly watch a movie when we were on the bus, but only several of the titles were available in English. We opted to watch, Walk of Shame the movie projected on the larger TV instead as it had English subtitles.
- Peace and Quiet – I think the most noticeable differences on this bus vs. other night busses that we had taken was the fact that it was quiet and dark. Many bus companies, even high end ones, feel the need to leave the lights on and play music on the speakers the entire night. I loved the dark silence as it allowed me to easily sleep.
- Steward – We had a steward that was available to us if we needed anything at all. Similar to an airplane, we had a button that we could push to call him over. He was extremely helpful, telling us what movies were available in English and letting us know that if we needed anything to give him a ring.
- Ambient temperature – Many of the night busses, especially in Colombia, are kept at arctic temperatures. We were both happy that the temperature on this bus was very comfortable. If you got hot or cold, there was a vent where you could adjust to your personal comfort level.
- Dinner – Even though our bus left at 9:30pm, we were given dinner. It was a sandwich, yogurt and some dry cereal, nothing to write home about, but a nice perk to get fed. We also were given water which kept us hydrated.
- Blanket and pillow – Our bus ride from Mancora to Trujillo on El Dorado gave us blankets for the trip, but not pillows. I loved having my own pillow which made it feel less like a bus seat and more like a bed.
- Toilet – Many busses in South America technically have a toilet, but because the driver is often responsible for cleaning them they are either locked so they are unusable or extremely dirty. We had a very clean toilet, complete with toilet paper and good ventilation to the outside.
- Reading lights – This one may sound funny, but of all of the busses that we have been on to date, this is the very first bus that had reading lights that worked. While I didn’t use it, I was very happy to know that there are actually reading lights that work on this continent.
Things that We Saw & Did
Plaza de Armas
Changing of the Guards
The first thing that we did when we arrived in Lima was walk over to the Plaza de Armas, or the historical city center. We noticed that something special was going on as there was a grand stand set up in front of the palace as well as a large police presence.
We were both hungry as we hadn’t eaten breakfast yet so we decided that before we sat down we had to get some food. After buying a street churro, we came back to see that the changing of the guards ceremony had already started. The stands were full so we stood by the partition and watched.
I’m still not quite sure what was actually going on, our guess was that it was some sort of changing of the guards. There were heavily decorated horses with uniformed riders on them, some of whom were also playing instruments. After watching for about 30 minutes, we decided that it was enough and headed to check out the rest of the plaza. After lunch we realized that the ceremony was still going on and it continued even after we decided to head back to the hostel.
It was a Sunday and there were quite a few people around the plaza which made picture taking difficult. We managed to snap a few pictures of the beautiful buildings that surrounded the plaza but neglected getting anyone to take a picture of us.
All of the buildings in the Plaza de Armas were very well maintained and extremely clean. This was evidenced more when we saw older buildings in other parts of town which were very dirty as they were covered with a layer of exhaust from all of the vehicles which emit excessive emissions.
The main goal on our second day was to wake up early and get to the Bolivian Embassy to get our visa for Bolivia. While the visa can be issued at the border, we have read horror stories online about corrupt officials shaking tourists down for extra money. We decided to avoid any possible issues, we would have our visa before we arrive.
We took the public bus down to the Miraflores neighborhood and headed to the embassy. At first I thought that it was going to be a walk up visa since the official in the booth asked my reason for visiting and requested my passport. I was wrong though, he was just running our background before we were allowed into the embassy.
Cameras weren’t allowed in the embassy so we had to leave them with the man at the booth. When we entered the consulate we were greeted by a woman who told us that we could not get our visa there. She told us that we can get it at the consulates in Cusco, Puno or at the border. Why they are not able to issue tourist visas at the embassy, but they can at the other offices, I’m not quite sure. We were not the only ones attempting to get a visa, we ran into a girl from South Korea who was also turned away.
Luckily we are headed to both Cusco and Puno where we can hopefully secure this visa before we reach the border.
Parque Kennedy (aka cat park)
I looked for things to do in the Miraflores area as we planned to go there after we got our Bolivian visas. The main attraction that kept coming up was Parque Kennedy. I was not sure why everyone was raving about it until we walked by the park.
There were well fed, friendly cats all over the park. They were everywhere – just outside the park, on benches, on the path, in the flowerbeds and even up in the trees! Just about everyone visiting was either looking at or petting the cats and they just loved all of the attention.
Both Andy and I are missing our cat Gingerbread so it was great to get some quality time with cats on the road. I was shocked just how friendly the cats were, many of them walking right up to me to let me pet them, then rolling over to have their bellies rubbed.
As I sat there petting a cat, I had a orange cat come up and sit right on my lap. I spent some time with him before we decided it was time to go. He was not interested in me going, shifting his weight to make it difficult for me to get up. My heart broke a little bit because I would have loved spending time with him for the rest of the day, but we had to get going.
This was my favorite part of our time in Lima. It felt kind of like a free outdoor cat cafe. If I lived there I would spend hours in the park.
Lima has to have some of the most overcast weather I have ever experienced. In the 2 days that we were there we didn’t see the sun once. I’m not exaggerating when I say that there was 100% cloud cover. There was quite a bit of traffic and many vehicles emit a lot of fumes. I think that part of the reason that it was so overcast is the sheer amount of pollution in the city.
We are normally good about documenting our trips, but similar to Bogota we didn’t take many pictures. I’m not quite sure why we didn’t take many pictures, especially of ourselves, as we felt pretty safe there and found things interesting. I think we were possibly just tired from our night bus and all of the walking.
We were in Lima the Sunday of Holy Week and most all of the restaurants were closed for dinner. I’m not sure if this is typical of all Sundays or not, but if you are there on a Sunday, make sure that you start your search for dinner early.