Lima, the unexpectedly cool City
We left Isabela on another horrendous 2 hour (speedboat) ferry. No-one was sick this time which helps when you are on a cramped bumpy and uncomfortable boat but nonetheless it is a necessary endurance should you wish to hop between the islands in the way we did. Still it was over and we landed back in Santa Cruz, Puerto Ayora, for our last time and once again did the short trek to Hospedeje Germania for an overnight stay before heading to the airport the following lunchtime. (You can read our Santa Cruz Galapagos blog here) Nothing much to report about here which we haven’t already covered, except that we had pizza and video night again, truth be told had been looking forward to it for the last 5 nights in Isabela. The pizza from Pizza Eat is really pretty decent and it was nice to be able to relax in our own space and eat something entirely different from the standard Galapagon fare of grilled fish + rice + chips + salad / beans.
The flight the next day was pretty smooth. The trip to Baltra airport was without incident and obviously pretty much the reverse of what we encountered on our arrival. The facilities at Baltra were actually pretty decent and so our time sat waiting for the plane was comfortable. The one bonus was that we got upgraded to the front of the plane due to Michelle’s Ruby (Bronze) BA status so a nice little sweetener. Our bags were tagged with priority handling badges and off we went to the lounge.
We had a very brief overnighter in Quito before heading to Lima early the next morning and so had booked into Quito Airport Suites which was a 10 minute drive from the airport and pretty convenient (and cheap; about $40 per night). Unfortunately, despite the priority ticket LATAM lost Michelle’s bag. So we stood at the belt waiting and waiting. A nice lady helped, took our details and promised to try and get the bag as soon as possible. Note – she did not offer us any compensation on the spot which we subsequently found out was our right, so if in this situation yourselves insist on getting some cash. We had to go to a pharmacy to stock up on essentials for Mich, which whist not particularly expensive should have been covered by the airline.
Arrived at the “Airport Suites” and was happy with the choice; nice and convenient, clean and welcoming service. And the bonus was that we got an email saying that they had found Mich’s bag and to pick it up in the morning before we flew again. Mich had an awesome dinner here of prawn thai curry – the best food we had in ages and off we sauntered to our room….for the worst night’s sleep we have had in months. Turns out the “Suites” are pretty busy through the night, the walls are paper thin, few people have much consideration for others when they arrive at midnight and the pillows were terrible. It was with mixed feelings when the alarm went off at 5.30am; torn between making as much noise as possible in revenge and desperate now to get on the plane to get some sleep. I can’t decide whether to recommend this place or not – cheap, convenient, great food, nice service just with some significant downsides too when all you want is a good night sleep before an early morning flight. They do offer “soundproofed rooms” – I can see why now.
Flight to Lima was ok, Quito airport is well organised but we were excited to land and make our way to the Lighthouse B&B in Miraflores, Lima. I’ll mention here that this was the nicest place we have stayed to date. The people here were really friendly, including the gorgeous mini-schnauzer Inca (who we probably spent too much time fussing over, displaying how much we are missing our own dog Juno), lovely breakfast (with incredible fresh bread) and the room spacious and very clean.
Day 1 in Lima, Miraflores
And from here we set off exploring Lima. We loved it. Such a relaxed vibe. We spent day one exploring all of Miraflores and walking through the various clifftop parks, shopping districts and generally just mixing it with the effervescent local crowd. The climate was warm, and from up the cliffside you could watch the surfers and swimmers far down below as well as the paragliders launching from the top and floating across the city. We experienced café culture in Lima with a great local sandwich shop called La Lucha Sangucheria which was buzzing with the local lunchtime traffic. I had a grilled beef sandwich which was out of this world. The rest of the day we whiled away walking around whilst anticipating the highlight of our 36 hours in Lima – an Indian restaurant that Michelle had found via Tripadvisor.
Mantra Indian Restaurant was a delight – food cooked to perfection; it’s funny the things you miss when you are away but living near Birmingham, good Indian cuisine is up there with our most missed things from home, what a lovely meal. We were well looked after by the staff. Thoroughly recommended should you be passing.
Day 2 in Lima, Barranca
The following day we ventured further afield into a bohemian “barrio” called Barranca. Again another chilled day taking in the relaxed vibes walking around this lovely old part of town. We had to take advantage of the local speciality cerviche and planned on going to a renowned place called Canta Bana, owned by an ex-professional footballer and a really popular spot where you have to take a ticket and await your table. The décor of the place was amazing, really rustic and atmospheric, the staff rushed around serving its demanding clientele with outstanding fresh dishes. It’s a wonder to see how they manage it and I can only assume by the end of the day they sleep pretty well! Anyway, the food was delicious and our first ever cerviche experience was a resounding success.
We sauntered down to the beach from the Barranca and started the 1 ½ hour walk back to the Miraflores district taking in the smells and air from the sea. We had watched the surfers from afar the night before and wanted to get much closer to the action and so loved the long walk (although the beach isn’t set up for a leisurely walk necessarily at parts) and spent a long time watching the surfers at the pier whilst enjoying a couple of drinks. We made our way back to the hotel slowly stopping at a couple of popular local spots such as the love park, and the Jaya Brew Company micro brewery for a competitive game of table Jenga (Michelle won 4-2). It was pretty late at this stage so rather than stopping for dinner we stopped at a local supermarket for some provisions to take back to the hostel for a quick DIY dinner, spent some time packing and started on our latest box set – House of Cards.
The city life of Lima has been a nice interruption into the quiet life of the Galapagos and we feel re-energised by the Lima vibe. Tomorrow we head to Cusco which is both exciting and scary in equal doses. Heard it’s a lovely place, but the long tough treks feel a little daunting right now… However, most exciting or all we have a couple of good friends – Charley and Danni – coming to join us for a couple of weeks – really can’t wait to see them.
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