Difference between revisions of "Lima"
Revision as of 13:54, 1 December 2012
Lima is the capital of Peru and its largest city.
Founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, the modern city is a curious mix of the modern mega city with some 'islands of modernity', large but orderly slum areas and colonial architecture in the city center. Lima was the seat of the Spanish rule during 300 years, and as such it has wonderful churches, cloisters and monasteries that are worth a visit.
Lima is also the best place to try the wonderful Peruvian cuisine, which has a huge variety of ingredients from coast, mountain and Amazon regions. The cold sea current in front of Peru's large coast makes the sea very rich in fish and seafood, which have a great taste due to the special plankton they eat. Fish and seafood restaurants are therefore worth the time, and not expensive.
Lima is built upon a valley surrounded by an extremely arid desert. In the summer, the weather is usually beautiful, very warm and sunny, sometimes with rains around January. In the winter, the city is overcast and rainy for days at a time. The rain in the wintertime doesn't fall hard, but it gets everything wet. Temperature also falls to around 7-12 C⁰ (45-55⁰ F), which seems chillier when combined with the general dampness.
The following pages include the province of Callao and the province of Lima and their districts
Metropolitan Lima is a metropolis of almost 8.5 million people. Many of these people have migrated from the Andes mountains to find work in Lima, without success. For this reason, there is widespread poverty in the city center and in the peripheral areas. If you fly into Lima, the first thing you see upon leaving the airport is these types of poor neighborhoods between the airport and Lima's historic center.
Lima's pre-Hispanic and colonial architecture is beautiful and the city has several museums (such as Museo Larco) that tells the story of a country with a long history that produced a large number of coastal and Andean civilizations (such as the Moche, Chavin, and the Incas) and many local cultures. There are several archeological sites both within and around the city (locally known as huaca).
Jorge Chavez International Airport (IATA: LIM, ICAO: SPIM) (also called Jorge Chavez Airport Lima-Callao). Flight information - ☎ +51 1 511-6055 , is in the harbour city Callao and within metropolitan Lima.
The airport is well connected with most cities in South America. There are regular flights to Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Newark, New York, Atlanta and Houston in the US. There are daily flights from Amsterdam, Madrid, Paris, Miami, Bogotá, Medellín, Quito, Santiago de Chile and Toronto.
Lima is the hub for many regional domestic flights and is served by LAN Peru, LC Busre, TACA Peru, and Star Peru.
Airlines and destinations
Arrival at the airport can be chaotic. Most flights from overseas arrive in clumps either early in the morning or very late at night, which means that getting through immigration and customs can be tremendously time consuming; the difference between arrival at the gate and exiting customs can range from 20-90 min.
The area immediately outside of customs is typically crowded, full of people waiting for arriving passengers. It's not uncommon for entire families to show up to greet a returning family member and the crowd is further swelled by pre-booked car and taxi service drivers holding up signs with passengers' names; in recent years, a large area where passengers can stand freely and scan the crowd to look for people and not be accosted has been cordoned off in front of customs exit.
Airport transit shuttles
The airport is a 20-40 min drive from San Isidro or Miraflores. Some hostels and hotels offer free airport pickup; check with your hotel regarding this service. Don't worry about standing outside the airport alone for this; it's well-lit at night and security guards are prevalent.
Be wary of the taxi drivers at the airport: if you need transportation at the airport you should avoid using the informal taxis outside of it that will accost you, and either hire it inside the customs reception area (at somewhat inflated fees, as these companies, currently Green Taxi, CMV, and Mitsui, pay a premium to locate their desk there), or book taxi service ahead of time online with a reputable company such as Go Airport Taxi Lima. Its best to use a Certified Ground Transportation supplier so you can always be on the safe side. That being said, once you leave the grounds of the airport things get much cheaper rather rapidly and a trip to Miraflores shouldn't cost you any more than 25 soles but it is obviously not as safe and secure.
Express airport bus
There is also an Express bus to Centro and Miraflores leaving from the Arrival hall; ask at the airport information desk.
Car rental is available at the airport via Hertz, Budget, and National, but unless you have experience driving in extremely challenging environments you should avoid driving yourself in Lima. If you're set on driving yourself, take cabs for a day or so and see what navigating Lima traffic is like before making that decision.
Unlike many other cities in Peru, Lima doesn't have a central bus terminal for interlocal traffic. (The one currently is for transportation within the Lima area). Most companies have their terminal in La Victoria, not Lima's nicest neighbourhood. However, many are just on the outskirts of La Victoria (Av. Javier Prado and Paseo de la Republica), which is better. There you find some of the more reputable companies like Cruz del Sur, Tepsa, Ormeño, CIAL, Linea, ITTSA, Movil Tours, Flores, Civa.
Regular buses run up and down the Panamerican Highway and inland:
Companies and terminals
Some bus companies and the locations of their terminals are:
The most popular company with tourists
If going further, a taxi ride between adjacent neighborhoods costs about US$2 (6 soles), if you speak Spanish well enough. A longer ride may cost from US$3-7. A reasonable price for a taxi service between the airport and Miraflores is about US$12 (35 soles), but may cost more from within the airport. By custom, taxis do not have meters; rather, the fare should be negotiated before boarding the taxi, or, if you request one by phone, at booking time. If asking for a ride on the street, don't be fooled into getting into the cab before a rate is negotiated. Be also very discerning about which taxi you choose, and avoid hailing random cabs off the street as much as possible.
Caution is advised in Lima, and the same goes for taxis. As a foreigner, do not ever get into shared taxis, and it might not hurt to look if there's someone hiding on the back seat or the trunk before entering.
Micro Buses or Combi Vans are small vans often packed full of people. You could stop them at any street corner, lately however, the government has clamped down and insists that they only stop at defined "paraderos", bus stops, at least in the more upscale parts of the city like Miraflores and San Isidro. In a combi you usually pay between S/.0.50-1.20. You won't need to haggle over the fare. Be careful with pickpocketers.
There are also medium and large buses, they operate the same as the micro buses but tend to be a little slower and are possibly safer.
On the side of every bus or van you will find written the names of the major avenues it travels along, also the conductors generally lean out the door of the bus yelling the names of its destinations. If this doesn't make sense, ask the conductor. Also here be careful with pickpocketers.
Metropolitano  is a rapid transport bus system. This bus system is modern with wheel chair access. The buses are folding and express routes have their own dedicated lanes on express ways. Rechargable cards are used as tickets with a minimum purchase price of S/.5.00.
Metro de Lima Also known as Tren Eléctrico  As of 03 Jan 2012: Start of limited trial service of Line 1, with passengers with trains serving Villa el Salvador, Parque Industrial, María Auxiliadora, Jorge Chávez, Ayacucho, Angamos, San Borja Sur, Javier Prado, Arriola, Gamarra and Grau. There is a flat fare of 1.50 soles, but an electronic card must be purchased first.
Line 1 – currently 16 stations through 9 districts
See Lima/Javier Prado East for more information.
Line 2 is under construction
For some reason it is very hard to change money other than Euros and US-Dollars in Lima. You can't even change the currency from neighbouring countries in normal money exchanges and banks. You might find more flexible exchange offices at airports, but they often charge ridiculous service fees and exchange-rates. Changing money in Miraflores can be done safely with cambistas on the street, but you must follow a few simple rules to avoid being cheated. First, make sure that the cambista is wearing the vest-uniform indicating that he or she is an authorized, licensed cambista. Always ask for the exchange rate ("tipo de cambio"). It is worth it to compare with several cambistas, especially if you are changing a significant amount of money. Some of them do tricks with their calculators in your face and you won't notice, so the best way to know how much you should be getting is to bring a calculator yourself or use the one in your cellphone. Finally, make sure that the bills the cambista gives you have his or her seal ("sello") stamped on them - that way, if by chance one of them turns out to be counterfeit you can come back and complain. I have never gotten counterfeit notes from a cambista, but asking for the seal probably helps maintain the incentive for honesty.
As anywhere, your best bet is usually to simply draw money from an ATM. There are banks dotted all over Lima and some of them have guarded ATMs. Chances are your bank will charge you a fortune every time you withdraw money so it is better value to get as much as possible when making a withdrawal. Banco de Credito and Scotia ATM's generally allow withdrawals up to 700 soles. Interbank has been known to charge insane fees (around $18 for a $50 transaction).
If you are interested in purchasing Peruvian folk musical instruments, there are a number of stores selling charangos, quenas, antaras, etc. on Calle Cantuarias right near Astrid y Gastón. If you have the time, a number of these stores can help you find a teacher to learn how to play your purchase.
Gastronomy has always been, since the days of the Spanish vice royalty, an essential aspect of life in Lima. During the last few years, however, the city's dining reputation has experienced a huge leap in the eyes of the world due to the fact that experts gathered in the Fourth International Summit of Gastronomy Madrid Fusión 2006 and formally declared Lima to be the "Gastronomy Capital of the Americas". The offerings in Lima are nowadays most varied and cover a wide range of types and cuisines, both regional and international.
Despite the wide range of choice in Lima's many restaurants, ceviche is surely number one on the list of dishes you must get to know, not only because it happens to be the "Peruvian national dish", but because of its unparalelled delicious taste. With the increasing interest in the Peruvian cuisine, ceviche is quickly making its way onto tables all over the world. But if you want to enjoy the real thing, don't miss it during your stay here in ceviche's Mecca. There is at least one cevichería in every neighbourhood, so it won't be hard to find one. Moreover, most criollo restaurants include ceviche on their menus; indeed, many restaurants do, even the more upscale nouveau-cuisine.
Peruvian food tend to be spicy and heavy. Try it with method and ask if any dish is picante (spicy), and if you are not fond of that, avoid it since it may be really picante. A full meal may be really heavy and cause problems even if it's perfectly nice and well prepared with fresh ingredients.
Travelers longing for a delicious falafel or shwarma sandwich will be pleased to learn there is an excellent cafe along Parque Kennedy that serves these type of Middle Eastern foods at reasonable prices.
There is a heavy presence of Western fast-food chains such as KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's Pizza, McDonald's, Subway and Starbucks Coffee all over the city if you'd rather not try anything new to you. Places such as Burger King, Chili's and Friday's are scarce, but can be easily found around Miraflores. Also, you shouldn't miss Peruvian-style hamburgers at Bembos, traditional Peruvian sandwiches in Pasquale and fusion pizza over at D'nnos Pizza if you want to give your everyday fast-food a local twist.
Lima is home to around 220,000 restaurants, cafes, juice bars and runs a program (Restaurante Saludable) to recognise clean and healthy restaurants. Only around 800 or 1.2% of venues have recieved this award, so keep your eyes open for the logo Restaurante Saludable.
San Borja is a relatively safe middle-class area, home to many businesses.
Miraflores, Barranco and San Isidro are some of the nicest and safest areas in the city. Although they sometimes come a bit pricier than the old city center and other parts, some budget accommodation options do exist.
If you witness a crime being committed, do not intervene unless you are really sure of what you are doing: many criminals, even pickpockets, carry guns, knifes, etc and may use them if feeling threatened.
In general, a tried and true technique for staying safe in Lima is to simply maintain a low profile. Leave the Rolex at home, don't wear the fine suit and don't carry a laptop when hailing taxis on the street, and keep a relaxed, friendly, smiling attitude. If you do need to go out dressed like a gringo, call a taxi rather than hire one in the moment - the few moments you wait and the few extra soles you pay will be worth it.
While there is not much violent crime against tourists, opportunistic theft is rampant. Watch out for pickpockets constantly. If you carry a purse, a camera, a backpack or just a pair of sunglasses hang on to them at all times. In crowded areas, put your back pack on your front and hold shopping close to you. Just keep your eyes open and be aware of people around you. In any case, if someone extremely friendly approaches (even wanting to stretch your hand), just try not to talk that much, and they'll go away. It's normal to find polite people around trying to help tourists, but stay away from the extremely friendly ones.
Avoid the surroundings of Soccer / Football stadiums before and after big matches, since "barras bravas" (hooligans) can be very violent. Ask for advice if you plan to go there or thereabouts. Very infrequently, but occasionally, even in nicer tourist areas, gangs of youths, sometimes supporting rival football clubs, or strikers involved in a labor dispute may brawl. If you find yourself caught in the middle of such a confrontation, just try to move out of the way, preferably behind a closed door - these youths generally do not carry lethal weapons, and the worst that is likely to happen is that someone will get hit with a rock before the police arrive to break it up.
Districts of note
Some areas of Lima are safer than others: Miraflores and San Isidro have large populations of well-to-do and wealthy Peruvians, not to mention large tourist groups, so they have large police presence to protect the population. Other districts, such as La Victoria, are much more dangerous. Visitors would be well advised to stay out of these areas unless accompanied by an experienced native or visiting busy areas during daylight hours. Downtown Lima is normally well patrolled but be careful anyway. Callao (the port, technically a different city) is rather rough: ask for advice before going there if you plan to. The area around the airport is generally safe and well guarded but use common sense while lugging your luggage outside the airport.
Staying safe for adults can also require an understanding of the sexual climate of Peru. In general Peru is a relatively conservative country in the sense of male and female roles, but at the same time Peruvians are extremely open to friendships with foreigners. Thus, some males can find themselves suddenly the object of flirtation by attractive young Peruvian women, but then be suddenly rejected for having violated some unwritten line of conduct in, say, discussion topics. Women can find themselves the object of unwanted looks and stares, but at the same time the risk of violence and rape is probably not as high as in many other countries.
A problem that can arise is the Peruvian concept of the pepera, found at certain night clubs or pubs. Peperas are usually attractive women aged 16-25 that deliberately entice foreign tourists and then spike their drinks with sleeping pills and rob them once they're unconscious. Usually peperas work in groups of two, although smaller and larger groups exist as well. Male "peperos" also spike the drinks of women but robbery is often accompanied by rape. Peperas in general are found in dense tourist areas, such as Park Kennedy in Miraflores as well as the Plaza de Armas in central Lima. One locale in particular that is notorious for dangerous peperas is the Tequila Rock discoteca in Miraflores and its sister in Pueblo Libre (La Marina).
Another cultural concept worth learning is the "brichera" (or "brichero"). There are two types of bricheras: the first type are women that are genuinely looking to meet foreign men in the hopes of dating or marriage or even a quick fling. The second type are women that search for foreign men with the implicit purpose of exchanging sex for small gifts or money. This second type of brichera is risky, especially for foreigners lacking local sensibilities, since it involves prostitution. These bricheras do not use contraception reliably, and therefore pose a higher risk for transmitting STDs (Sexual Transmited Diseases). If you decide to have a fling, make sure to use a condom.
Another important point to be taken into consideration is that you should not pick up just any taxi, especially when you are leaving the airport. It is not strange to hear news that some taxi drivers cheated tourists (for example, going from the northeast point of the city to the southeast part would take you at most 50 soles and that is the largest distance in Lima so do not pay more than that) by charging them 100 or even 200 soles for normal rides (even though Peruvian taxi drivers normally tend to increase their fares in front of gringos, it is not a massive difference). It is most advisable to use one of the official taxi companies inside the airport (such as Green Taxi) with set fares to ensure your safety.
Taxi drivers have also been known to participate in robberies, express kidnappings or serve as get away vehicles. While the overwhelming majority of Lima's taxistas are honest hard working people trying to make a living, you should be alert if you are going to hail a taxi on the street, especially if you appear to be wealthy and/or a foreigner. Your safest bet is to have your hotel call a taxi for you or keep the numbers of official taxi companies ("radio taxis", which are marked with registered numbers) handy. Lima's tourist information centers will be willing to call one for you as well.
If you are flying out of Lima internationally, the airport tax is US$31, US$7.40 for domestic flights. As of January 2011 this tax has been rolled into the purchase price of the tickets at this airport. Ensure you receive a sticker on the back of each ticket from the check-in counter to attest to this at the security checkpoint.
The surrounding residential towns of Lima in the foothills of the mountains offer spectacular views and are ideal day-trips from central Lima.
If you are flying to your next destination, you can take the "S" bus to the airport (ask at your hotel for the stops) or any micro bus that says "Faucett" on its side. The trip from Miraflores takes about an hour and costs 3 soles. Cabs are of course more convenient and much more expensive.
If you wish to take a long distance bus, see the Get In section above for bus companies, the various locations of their terminals and their destinations.
Some popular destinations from Lima are: