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J5TRAVEL TRIP REPORT:

LIMA, PERU

· Travel

The first leg of our mini South America tour is led by Insight Luxury Gold Vacations and our wonderful host agency, Gifted Travel Network. We are a small group and our itinerary is pretty much laid out, with all tours planned well in advance and many meals also, so almost an all-inclusive trip. We chose to arrive 3 days early in to Lima in order to really see the city, acclimatize and try out the restaurant scene. Lima, Peru's capital is a very large city of around 10 million, and the wealthy central districts are clean, cosmopolitan and a pleasure to stroll around. Here's our top 5 experiences in Lima.

Top 5: Lima, Peru

1. The Food
As committed foodies, we were thrilled to be in Lima. Boasting two of the top ten restaurants in the world and a culinary scene that is widely regarded as one of the most exciting anywhere, we were not let down. Our 11-course tasting menu at Maido was exceptional, and their take on the national dish of ceviche is pictured above. But you don't have to go to a top restaurant to experience great local food. It's in small cafes and on the street and it comes from the huge variety of fruits and vegetables that flourish throughout the country. This fact was repeated by every tour guide we encountered, so became something of a running joke, but there are over 3,600 varieties of potatoes grown here, and they are really tasty!

2. Barranco (above)
Probably the most romantic and Bohemian of Lima's 43 districts, laying just south of MIraflores, the district with the highest density of hotels. Cafe society, art galleries, street art, restaurants and boutique hotel properties all add up to a charming area to spend a few hours or longer, and you can even stroll down to the beach from here.

3. Huaca Pucllana (above)
The combination of an outstanding restaurant with a location that takes your breath away. We had a group dinner right next to this Lima Culture (pre-Incan) pyramid made from adobe and clay bricks and consisting of seven staggered platforms. What's more this is in the heart of Miraflores and there are very few cities in the world with a pyramid at their center.

4. Victor Delfin (above and below)
This was a moment that will never be forgotten. Out tour hosts Luxury Travel Gold have an exclusive arrangement with the Delfin family to tour the home and studio of Peru's most famous living artist. He is 90 years old, still prolific and has the most amazing multi-level home in a prime oceanview spot in Barranco. HIs work is on display throughout, including giant sculptures, paintings, and woodwork.
Shortly after the top photo was taken I walked over to the window to take another shot. When I turned around, Victor was just 2 yards away, having magically appeared from a lower level. I was momentarily stunned, but told him I was honored, shook his hand, and uttered "gracias".

5. Plaza Mayor
Our Sunday morning Lima walking tour took us for one stop to Plaza Mayor, which is set back a few miles from the ocean and is the true birthplace of Lima. A Changing of the Guard ceremony (below) takes place every week at midday and our timing was spot on. It's such an extensive display that it is possible to get really close to the action at many points in the square. We chose the Northwest corner where about half the Guard were mounting up for the parade.

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