Lima Barrio Throwdown: Miraflores vs. Centro vs. Barranco
I have a confession to make.
Despite having traveled to over 35 countries, and experiencing the confounding of expectations over and over again, Peru completely unhinged me. I admit that I had fallen into traveler’s bias, believing that a country would be similar to the marketing of the country.
Where were the Peruvian women in traditional costumes and bowler hats? The men chewing on coca leaves? And llamas? Where were the llamas? And people in llama sweaters?
Certainly, not on the streets of Lima – our first destination in Peru. Instead, we were confronted with young women flaunting themselves in the shortest of shorts and skimpiest of skirts, and men with iPhones and cameras, cruising the whole scene. Add to that, a prominent McDonald’s, KFC and Starbucks, and I felt like I could’ve been anywhere in the world, BUT Lima, Peru.
We visited Lima twice. First, for a couple of days before heading off to Lake Titicaca, via Arequipa, and again at the end of our time in Peru, before we departed for the second leg of our Colombian tour.
In our travels through South America, we have noticed that different barrios seem to have a markedly different feeling, perhaps due to economic status, the history of the location and the type of people that live there. Quite different than Canada, where usually one neighbourhood seems to blend into the next, without much noticeable difference.
So, to experience as much of Lima as we could in the short time we had, we stayed in different neighbourhoods or barrios on each occasion.
Miraflores is, what we in Canada, call a suburb. In Lima, it’s considered a very safe, and upscale area of the city, complete with shopping malls, parks and fast food chains.
I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but in short:
What we liked:
– Being able to walk around worry-free with camera and wallet in hand
– a big ole’ cup of Starbucks percolated coffee (brewed coffee is difficult to find in South America!!)
Not so much:
– it felt very suburban…one could even say boring…
– there was not much character to the area
We’ve noticed a strange similarity in large South American cities. The historic districts or old cities are almost always in the centre, very beautiful, and nearly always deserted at night or on weekends. The magnitude of this has varied from city to city, with Lima’s historical centre being busy and relatively safe-feeling, and Rio and Sao Paulo’s, which felt like dangerous ghost towns with boarded up buildings, and rather nefarious citizens.
The historic centre of Lima was designated as a World Heritage site in 1988, because of it’s high concentration of monuments constructed during the Spanish occupation.
We had a very pleasant afternoon, walking around enjoying the various public squares and buildings (of which there are many). We definitely used caution while wandering around, but from our experience, the whole danger element of South American cities has been over-exaggerated. Normal precautions are all that’s required.
We only booked one night in the artsy district of Barranco, and it was a mistake. We could easily have spent many days exploring the atmospheric streets and sipping lattes in one of the many unique cafes (not to mention the delicious ceviches!)
We stayed at the beautiful Casa Nuestra, which is basically the home of a Italian/Peruvian couple. I was feeling pretty exhausted by the time we got there, so I just chilled out on the super comfortable bed, while the Bear had a great night chatting with the locals.
The pictures tell the story better than I can, but in case there was any uncertainly, Barranco is best!