“If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium!”
I can’t tell you how many times that phrase from the 1969 movie was repeated during the 16 days of our whirlwind tour of Peru. Tonight will mark our first week back home again, and you might think I would have caught up on sleep by now but you’d be wrong. Rather than write about the pros and cons of rigorous touring as an older globe trotter, however, I will try to report the highlights as they “actually happened” rather than re-construe the day to day itinerary I posted each day during the trip. With very few exceptions events occurred pretty much as related. I hope these posts will prove noteworthy as a travel diary of the highlights of our vacation in Peru.
We were up and getting dressed at 5 a.m. the morning of May 18. After brewing coffee to go for the three of us (our daughter had spent the night so that she could drive us to the airport) and loading our bags, we were–after months of dreaming and planning–finally on our way.
Miraculously, all flights went off as scheduled and we landed in Lima on schedule about an hour before midnight, collected our luggage and made it to the hotel in Miraflores just past midnight. One of the really great things about professional tours is that despite the late hour, our driver and two guides were waiting to take us to our hotel as soon as we all retrieved our bags.
As I’d read in previous hotel guest reviews, the hotel was charming and beautiful but noisy. Added to the mix was our excitement at being there, so few of us slept well the first night as we were so excited at the next day’s program that began early next morning.
After our first breakfast in Peru in the hotel dining room (where I discovered I’m not that into Peruvian bacon) we began the day with visits to the Santo Domingo and St. Peter churches and the Monastery of San Fransisco on the Plaza Mayor (main square).
Our welcoming lunch was at the Huaca Pucllana Restaurant located within the compound of a 1,500-year-old adobe pyramid built by the original inhabitants of Lima. This upscale restaurant with the covered terrace where we took our meal has to be one of the best spots in town for Westerners. The menu is creative Peruvian, with fusion touches spicing up classic criollo cooking.
Other guests looked to be not only rich, but very important and accomplished. And then there was me melting away in my casual top in the humid weather. Behind me are the ruins of the Huaca Pucllana, an archaeological compound built between 200 and 700 AD by the early inhabitants of Lima. I’m thinking somebody had to know SOMEBODY to acquire permission to build at this illustrious site!
At the head of the table (right) is Liliana, the owner/manager of Viracocha Tourist service. Hubby was off photographing the Jonas brothers while the rest of us waited to see what was for lunch. Here are a few examples from the many courses of our lunch, which included those famous Pisco sours to begin:
A creamy, lightly spiced squash soup
a crusted and grilled sea bass
a meatless veggie-rissoto dish for Hubby
and one of the two desserts offered (sorry but I ate one before I remembered to take a picture), a creamy ice cream over a pudding flavored with a local fruit that made me think of butterscotch.
When we arrived at the restaurant we were bombarded by hoards of teenagers, mostly girls, lined up along the curve entrance road. They were all begging us to take them inside with us! We soon learned they were there hoping to catch a glimpse of the Jonas brothers, who were in Lima on tour, were to arrive at any moment.
According to the Lima press, the famous brothers were quite taken with the restaurant’s llamas in residence. And, as promised we sent a photo file of our candid Jonas brothers photographs made by Hubby to the teenage daughter of one of our guides.
After this magnificent lunch spent rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, the afternoon was spent pretty much on schedule with tours of churches and museums filling up the day before finally returning to the hotel late in the afternoon almost too tired to enjoy our private patio.
Now that I’ll filled with memories of good food and our time in Lima, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to take another nap. Hopefully, I’ll wake up and be back soon with further highlights from other points of our tour. At this time, I can only tell you this: it gets better!
Notes from my gratitude journal for the day: (1) I’m grateful we arrived safely; (2) I’m grateful for the filtered water provided by the hotel for its guests; and (3) I’m thankful to be able to get to bed early so as to be ready for the early (5:30 a.m.) wakeup call–and sleeping better that night.