I hope you have enjoyed the last 3 days of Lima fun, but now that its nearly Valentine’s Day my list is almost finished. Happy times though, we still have a few more to go! Today is not so much about specific places, but groups of places that you should try and visit at least one of during your time here.
As I said before in my previous posts, all of these 10 recommendations are for visitors to Lima and not residents! Although I think everyone should explore their own city once in a while.
Lima has a vast amount of green spaces which you might not catch on the main routes through town. The districts of San Borja, Surco and Miraflores have many parks, large and small, to enjoy. I am concentrating on these 3, as this is where I spend most of my time, and also they are the districts most likely to be visited in your time here.
In my neighbourhood I must have at least 7 small parks within a 10-15 minute walk of my house and a large one about a 20-25 minute walk away. I have already spoken about the green spaces on the Malecon in Miraflores that are perfect for picnics, dog walking and views of the ocean, and its central parks too so I am going to focus this section on the former 2 districts mentioned above, Surco and San Borja. In these districts, small and large parks are filled with multicoloured beds of flowers, and their patterns and colours change throughout the year. In the residential back streets in ‘new’ Surco, there are little parks in between the apartment buildings which are so quiet and pretty, that I like to walk through them in in the daytime (see picture of palm tree below….bliss) instead of the main streets. If you like a bit more action from your parks then you will find that some of them even have areas with gym equipment where you can work out in the fresh air.
San Borja has an area known locally as the ‘Pentagonito’ (or the ‘little Pentagon’, a joke reference), which is the general headquarters of the army. Around the perimeter is a circuit of green spaces and pathways around 4.5km that are used by joggers, cyclists, rollerbladers and other sports enthusiasts (I’ve seen American football played in a car park!). There is also a dog agility park on the west of the circuit, so the route is also frequented by dog walkers. We’ve walked this route many a time! On Sundays, the roads adjacent to the Pentagonito are closed to traffic and people are invited to use those roads to run, cycle etc. San Borja is one district encouraging cycling for their residents, because in places throughout San Borja you can rent a bike for a length of time, get some exercise, and bring it back. If more districts joined this scheme we may get more services for cyclists in Lima, which is something I support wholeheartedly.
The larger parks in these 2 districts are often home to events such as food and drink festivals. El Parque de la Amistad in Surco just last week was home to the ‘Festival Nacional del Pisco Sour’, and El Parque de la Familiar in San Borja hosted the festival Puro Picarón I mentioned in this post.
El Parque de la Amistad in Surco is extremely large and even contains an artificial lake with pedal boats and a train that travels around the park. There are also seating areas, a playground, a restaurant and various snack carts. The toffee / candy / caramel / whatever-they’re-called apples are very very good. Nice and crispy with a generous coating…..I could go on….. but I won’t. Another bonus for the district of Surco is that the Municipality is carrying out a campaign right now to improve the illumination at night in the neighbourhoods, including the green areas and parks. This is not only to make it look pretty at night, but to make those areas safer too. (munisurco.gob.pe)
So if you happen to be staying in any of these districts, take some time to relax among the trees and take yourself away from the hustle and bustle of city life (see picture left…..relaxing is the best).
So when I say mercados, I mean actual markets not ‘supermercados’, although I do in fact have big love for Wong, one of Lima’s supermarkets. It’s pretty great. You can eat Chinese food or ice cream while you shop, and anything to make supermarket shopping more pleasurable is fine by me. The staff there even pack your shopping and take it to your car for you; no heavy lifting for you at all. Oh, and they have free tastings in-store, which is what I look out for everytime I go. I always hope for free food.
I have already spoken about the Inca Market in Miraflores as a great place for souvenirs, but I want to concentrate on other items, mainly places to get your hands on Peruvian produce outside of the supermarkets. A few blocks from Parque Kennedy stands Mercado Surquillo No.1. From Ovalo Miraflores head a few blocks east straight down Avenida Ricardo Palma, cross over the bridge and the Mercado is to your left. It contains vendors selling locally grown fruit and veg; meat and fish; herbal remedies, and herbs and spices. The little stores around also stock other groceries, a nice collection of plastic goods (you never know when you might need a lemon juicer or a plastic chair), and a large selection of bakeware and cookware. This market is where a lot of the locals shop and even Gastón Acurio (only the most famous chef in Peru and whose restaurant was named the best in Latin America in 2013) took great interest in it too (La Republica).
Another popular market in/around the Miraflores area is the BioFeria organic market. Located on Calle 15 de Enero (behind Parque de Reducto No 2), ‘the Bioferia Miraflores is a small street market organised by local organic farmers and environmental organisations’ (Lima Easy). They provide a selection of Peruvian fruits and vegetables, bread, cheese, and eggs amongst other things like coffee and eco-friendly products (Peru this Week). They also sell cooked food too, like empanadas and cakes, ready to eat. I have had excellent recommendations from friends here, however I am yet to visit myself. It is my goal to head out there this month though. The market is open from 8-8.30am until around lunchtime, so get there early!
Markets attract pickpockets so please leave all valuables at home/the hotel. Also be aware of drinking fresh fruit juices from markets. They may look and taste incredible, but I have heard stories from travellers who have gotten ill from drinking them, so just be aware. You will get amazingly good, freshly made fruit juices cheaply in most restaurants, so stick to those if you aren’t sure about the ones you see in whichever market you find yourself in! The great thing, however, about juice in Peru, is that it is freshly juiced pretty much everywhere in restaurants here, not boxed or packaged, so you get served the real deal.
Wherever you are in Peru, always make sure you try the Peruvian produce as opposed to always buying the food you are accustomed to in other countries, whether you are purchasing from markets, supermarkets or restaurants. The food and drinks here are some of the best you will try anywhere in the world so you would be missing out if you didn’t.
Check out tomorrow’s post for your final 3!