Day 14 — Back to Lima

Thursday — April 16

We’ve never had an entire airport to ourselves before, but that turned out to be the case when we arrived at Aeropuerto Internacional Inca Manco Capac. We’d made good time on the drive from Sillustani to Juliaca and still had about two hours to kill before our 2:35p scheduled departure. That’s OK … I’d rather be early than stress over making it in time.

Check-in was a breeze — even with the added time it took for the LAN Perú agent to calculate our excess baggage fee. (We told him it was $23, but he still had to figure it out for himself.) Vidal wanted to stick around and make sure we got off OK, but knowing that he still had to tackle a long bus trip back to Cusco, we bid him a hearty goodbye and saw him off to Puno.

After paying our departure tax, we went through security and found seats in the darkened waiting area. The guard at the security gate must have felt sorry for us; he came by a few minutes later to turn on the lights and the TV. We whiled the time away translating the Spanish broadcast and eating the sandwiches Mui had picked up from the airport restaurant.

We have the Juliaca airport all to ourselves.

For a while we thought we were going to be the only passengers for LP 111, but about 20 minutes before boarding time a couple of large groups showed up, dashing any such hopes of a private flight. Our plane took off on time for the 30-minute hop to Arequipa, where we dropped off some passengers and took on quite a few more for a full flight to Lima.

Farewell Juliaca.

An aerial glimpse of the landscape around Arequipa.

The flight to Lima was just over an hour. I spent the duration uploading our photos from today to my laptop, so I didn’t even notice the passage of time. Before I knew it, we were on approach to the Lima Airport. The whole area was covered by the thick haze that I understand is typical this time of the year.

It took a while for our bags to show up on the carousel. Eventually, with our luggage in tow, we headed out to the waiting area where we found Vidal’s sister-in-law holding a sign with our name. She had a taxi waiting and without further delay she escorted us to our hotel in the Miraflores neighborhood. The drive to Hotel San Antonio Abad took over an hour — only one word to describe the traffic: horrendous!

Hotel San Antonio Abad is in the Miraflores neighborhood.

I’d asked Vidal to make reservations here based on a couple of recommendations I had received. I have to admit that the hotel did not live up to my expectations. The staff was great; it’s location — a 20-minute walk from the promenade of Miraflores — was fine; the general look and feel of the hotel was fine; the old-world style salon on the main floor was charming. All that sounds OK, doesn’t it? So what was wrong? Simply put — our room just didn’t measure up. It served for a one-night stay, but if we find ourselves in Lima again, we won’t be staying at the San Antonio Abad.

We didn’t dally long in the room once we checked-in. With no A/C in the hotel and the portable fan turned off, the room was stifling in Lima’s humid 90F (32C) weather. Asking for directions to the Larcomar Mall we headed off to explore a bit and get a bite to eat. The streets were crowded with Limeños heading home after a long day at work. The rush hour traffic was in full swing, making us especially glad that we were walking to our destination despite the less-than-comfortable temperature. It got cooler as we closed in on the coast — that’s a bit of a misnomer; Miraflores does not sit on the coast, but rather, is situated atop high cliffs overlooking the Pacific. Regardless, the gentle breeze coming off the water was quite welcome.

Larcomar Mall is no different from any other mall you might visit in any other place in the world. It has shops and restaurants galore, and lots of people strolling around, shopping, or eating. But Larcomar has something special going for it — fantastic ocean views made possible by its prominent cliff-top location. We got a glimpse of the view before the nighttime darkness completely obscured it, but what we saw was enough to encourage us to return the next day to see things by the light of day.

Larcomar Mall is a hopping kind of place.

After wandering around for a while, we started looking at the menus posted at the various eateries. Eventually we settled on having dinner at a sidewalk table at Restaurante Vivaldino — a relaxing dining experience under the stars.

Good food; good atmosphere — an enjoyable dining experience at Vivaldino.

We had a great waiter, with an interesting sense of humor. After consulting him, we decided to start off with a couple of Cusqueña Rubia beers. There was no doubt as to what Mui was going to order for his main course — he’d been craving seafood since our arrival in Perú (Lima is known for having a variety of excellent seafood). He was very satisfied with his parilla de mariscos (grilled prawns, shrimp, scallops, octopus, calamari and tuna with lemon chili butter, garlic and parsley). I opted for a traditional Peruano dish— chupe de camarones (shrimp bisque prepared with rice, egg, corn, and shrimp). Knowing we could walk off at least part of the calories on the way back to the hotel, we topped off our meal with a yummy chocolate torta served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Parilla de Mariscos.

Chupe de Camarones.

Chocolate torta and vanilla ice cream tops off an excellent meal.

In typical Latin fashion, the streets were very much alive during our walk back to the hotel. There were a lot of Limeños still trying to get home, but added to the throng of people were now those who were decked out in their fine clothing, ready for a night on the town. The many casinos we passed made us wonder if we had made a detour to Atlantic City somewhere along the way. Nope; we were still in Lima and the action was just starting. After a quick stop at a 24-hour mega supermarket to pick up some bottled water, we arrived at our hotel ready to call it a night — no partying until the wee hours for us.

Next Up: Day 15 — A Stroll in Miraflores

No comments:

Post a Comment