Sunday, February 7, 2016

View to a Thrill: Lima Layovers

Gato on the street in Lima

A friend was reading my short stories and noticed that I go to Lima a lot. I like long layovers and the 25 hours we get to spend there is fun, and I enjoy the 6 hour trip from Houston. He asked if I could write some helpful tips, and I was only happy to do so.

First, there is the hotel. I stay in a lot of Marriott hotels with my job, which is interesting, because in the 90s, I worked hotel security at a Marriott in Dallas. But the JW Marriott in Lima's Miraflores district is one of the finer hotels in the system. It offers commanding views of the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The lobby is above street level and has nice marble floors and walls, a modern water fountain and grand chandelier. The staff are all smiles and very accommodating. When checking in, there is often either flavored water or teas sitting out. Be careful of the coca tea, I hear it will show positive in certain drug tests!

Dessert in the Marriott Rewards Lounge
The room levels are secured with a keyed entry in the elevators. If you're lucky enough to be a Marriott Rewards member with access, the lounge on the 24th floor is quite deluxe. They serve fantastic food; an elaborate breakfast with waffles, hot cakes, meats, breads, cereals, eggs...I could keep going. Lunch is often easy foods, such as quesadillas, pizza and salads. In the evening you can find ribs, burger bites, and local chicken dishes with rice and usually a tasty soup. For dessert, don't miss several of the small dishes, enjoy a cookie or some South American chocolates.

The rooms all have ocean views and are generous in size. The bathrooms have a stand up shower with a separate tub. You'll find all the amenities; nail file, sewing kit, cotton balls and swabs, nice-smelling shampoos and lotion and even bath salts. Each room has a small refrigerator, with ample room for storing a few of your own items. The coffee maker is a bit confusing to use, but I don't drink coffee; follow the instructions and you should be fine.

They offer a great dry cleaning service and they also have complimentary shoe shining. Don't forget, even though it's complimentary, tips are greatly appreciated in Peru.

An old car seen on my exploration

If you know me, you know I occasionally enjoy an adult beverage...or two. One of my favorite bars the world over is located in the casino that adjoins the JW Marriott- Casino Majestic. I mention this all the time and people always ask why I say it's my favorite bar. For one, the bartender now knows me and for the first time in my life I can walk in, say hi, and ask for my usual. He knows I drink pisco sours and that I will ask for the complimentary snacks, including tasty sandwiches. Also of note, the casino is a great place to exchange US cash for Peruvian pesos.

If shopping is your thing, you can never go wrong in asking a flight attendant where to do so! Since Lima was new to me this year, I have followed a few flight attendants around in hopes of a good deal. Of course, right across the street from the hotel is a very interesting shopping mall, Larcomar. Why interesting? From the street, one would never know there was a shopping mall, as it's built into the cliff, below street level. Just a few yards across the park from the JW, towards the ocean, down some stairs and you will be confronted with many the up scale shops you'd find in any North American city. 

Colorful Peru

On the north end of the mall, on the lower level, is even a grocery store. You won't find all the nitty gritty, but it's a decent sized store with liquor, staples and even fresh food and a few seats to enjoy dining while looking out over the ocean. The larger store's a little further away, so if you're in a bind for time, this one will do the trick.

Other dining choices in the mall range from standards, such as TGI Friday's, Pardo's Chicken and Tony Roma's, to fast bites, such as KFC, Pizza hut and local burger fast food, all in a small food court. Other than Pardo's, who has great chicken, I usually skip the mall and find a nice quiet restaurant a few blocks away. Make sure you have time, Peruvians are not known for fast lunch service. Plan on a slow, leisurely meal and let them know when you're ready for the bill.

An Inka Market in Lima
The JW is at the end of Avenue Jose Larco in Mira Flores. Walk up this street to find all you could want on a Lima stay over within about a mile or so. For shopping, you will want to explore the various Inca and Indian Markets, which are located just north of Ave Jose Pardo on Ave Pettit Thouars. From the hotel, it's a 1.1 mile walk, or an inexpensive cab ride. The markets are full of local wares, including scarves, sweaters, gloves, hats and more made from Alpaca wool, which is very soft. Many of the women I have shopped with enjoy looking at jewelry. The markets are a great source for holiday gifts, as well.

Many crew members love going to the grocery store. There is a great store with fresh food, a liquor department and any necessary staples just west of the intersection of Ave Jose Larco and Calle Schell, which is an easy .7 mile walk. Some of my more interesting finds in the Metro Supermarket, which I've written about previously, is the chocolate milk in plastic bags, and chocolate Besos de Mosa, in yellow boxes...marshmallow covered in chocolate on a thin cookie. If you like churros, on the corner of Jose Larco and Schell is a nice cafe with local desserts.

I love walking the streets of Lima

For another culinary find, walk down Calle Schell to Diagonal and head north. Across from Parque Kenedy is Calle de las Pizzas. You can't miss it, it's an alleyway lined with restaurant after restaurant. Each one seems to have the same basic menu: pizza, pasta and seafood. Outside each you'll most likely find friendly but almost pushy hawkers trying to convince you to dine with them. We found one that promised a free pisco sour, so ask around!

Seafood lunch on Calle de las Pizzas

And finally, I give to you a find that I happened upon by chance after dining on seafood on Calle de las Pizzas...The Chocolate Museum! ChocoMuseo is located at Calle Berlin 375. It's an out of the way, lazy little street, just 2 blocks from pizza row. Here you'll find everything chocolate, from soap, to teas, to candy bars. There are displays on how chocolate is grown and produced. Buy a tee shirt and chocolate liquor to take home or have a seat in the outdoor area and sample fruit-dipped chocolate fondue! 

Lining up for fondue at the chocolate museum

Lima has so much to offer and no matter how you travel, whether on the cheap or going it first class, you will be happy. The people, mostly Incan descendants, are friendly, short in stature and colorful. It's a fun city to explore. It's easy to walk, but do be careful of crossing the street, pedestrians don't necessarily have the right of way. In the 6 or 7 trips I've had there in the past year, I've been able to explore a lot of Mira Flores. My next few trips, I hope to explore more the culture and history of what is the third largest city in the Americas. I can't wait! 

Sunset behind an island in the Atlantic

No comments:

Post a Comment