Today we headed into Central Lima taking the new express buses. For 4 soles you buy the card which you can top up with however many soles you like. The two of us are travelling on the one card, so you don’t even need to purchase one for each person as long as you’re travelling together. A single trip into Lima costs 2.50 soles and takes around 15 minutes. A taxi would be a lot slower (and a whole lot more expensive) especially during rush hour. The buses just whiz down the bus lanes on Paseo de la Republica. It’s really simple and safe. Just keep your bags close to your body (just in case).
Following the Lonely Planet walking tour we started on Plaza San Martin, walked from there to Plaza de Armas and as far as China Town. Yes, Lima has a China Town. It’s different to a European China Town in the way that most shop and restaurant staff are Peruvian descendants, but the food and souvenirs (i.e. the gold waving cat) are the same.
We visited La Catedral and the catacombs before stepping out on Plaza de Armas to watch the 12pm change of guards. The change of guards kicks off at around quarter to 12pm every day in front of the presidential palace, lasts a good 45 minutes and is accompanied by a ceremonial brass band. It’s interesting to watch, so hang around if you’re in the area around that time.
We had a quick lunch at El Cordano, a cafe right next to the presidential palace where nothing has changed since it opened in 1905 (as the pictures on the wall prove). Their staple menu item are their butifarra which are rolls stuffed with Peruvian ham and cheese. I found them to be extremely dry and not overly exciting, and to be honest, wouldn’t haste back. The cafe itself is worth a visit though as it’s a Limenian institution with a long tradition.
After some unsuccessful souvenir shopping (same tat everywhere offered at prices that range from reasonable to ludicrous), we headed back past Estación Central to Polvos Azules, a huge local market that sells literally everything from electronics to counterfeit handbags. It’s generally advised to keep a very close eye on your pockets and bags, even do the silly look and wear your backpack facing front. We didn’t have any issues, but it wasn’t very busy when we went at around 5pm.
When we got back to Estación Central, it was so busy that we had to join the orderly queue to get on a bus. We did a lot of walking during the day, so decided to have dinner close to the Inka Frog B&B.
Nathano’s Cafe has a few good reviews on Tripadvisor and is like a two minute walk away from Inca Frog. The food was ok, not very exciting and a bit pricey for what it is. The highlight was their lemon pie with piped meringue which was delicious. The oreo cheesecake, on the other hand, tasted off and overstored.
Unfortunately, today wasn’t a day for culinary highlights, but we’ve thoroughly enjoyed Lima Centro and La Catedral. It’s another stunning cathedral and for the 10 soles we paid really worth a visit.