21. Barranco District — It’s the city’s “bohemian center,” where many of Peru’s foremost artists, musicians and writers have lived and worked. Highlights are a kick-ass cathedral, gorgeous library, lots of cool restaurants and bars, a great view of the ocean, and the Puente de los Suspiros. This is the Bridge of Sighs — legend has it that a wealthy man’s daughter stood there every day, watching for her true love, a street sweeper she was not allowed to marry — and from the bridge, you can still hear her forlorn sighs.
Oh yeah, and there’s a Starbucks, too.
22. The “Ceviche Roll” at Zen — This sushi bar is among the best in Lima with chic minimalist decor to match the sophisticated simplicity of the sushi and sashimi. My favorite was a Japanese-Peruvian hybrid roll (Japaruvian?) called the Ceviche Roll: a citrusy cured whitefish roll with tons of kick.
23. Magic Water Circuit (Circuito Magico del Agua) — Kids of all ages (and I do mean ALL) can splash around in this circuit of 13 fountains, lit with flashing lights and lasers set to music. Daytime, nighttime — it’s always good. Just watching the show is fun, and so fabulous to be able to give into your desire to jump in and play.
24. Really Good-Looking Men— This is a notable part of the nightlife (and daylife) in Lima.
25. Maracuya — Right right right, this sweet-and-sour passionfruit is not limited to Lima — and it’s really only pulp, so it’s hard to eat as a fruit. But it is truly mouthwatering as a juice or smoothie, and as an ingredient in all sort of cocktail and food recipes — Maracuya Sours, cheesecakes, smoothies, ceviche.
25. Architecture — Sleek and modern blends in with centuries-old buildings designed from global influences — Spanish, Moorish, Creole, French, Andalusian, Colonial. I’m a sucker for old-meets-new architecture styles, and Lima has a 21st-century skyline that over gorgeously restored classic buildings. These include the Parisian-styled Central Post Office (Casa de Correos y Telegrafos), Colonial-influenced Municipal Palace (Palacio Municipal), and Colonial-styled Torre Tagle Palace (Palacio Torre Tagle, considered one of the most magnificent buildings in South America).
26. Peruvian Pink Salt — This pretty pink salt is harvested from an underground ocean deep in the Andes. It has a flavorful, hearty taste, loud crunch, and high content of trace minerals including iron. It’s tasty and aesthetically pleasing, and said to ward off infections better than regular salt, and to provide health benefits for people with anemia, arthritis, and other maladies. Lima’s not the only place in Peru (or the world, for that matter) to feature pink salt, but probably the city where it’s most likely you’ll find some on the table without having to ask for it.
27. Birds, Birds, Birds — Peru has more bird species than all of North America and Europe combined, and for that reason, Lima is a very birdy city. Around the streets and beaches of Lima you’ll see dozens and dozens of species: beach birds, coastal marsh birds, garden birds, seabirds — loud and colorful and usually squacking.
28. San Isidro — More trendy than Barranco, more sedate than Miraflores, the San Isidro neighborhood has a great balance of fun and scenery, upscale shops, bars, art galleries, beer gardens, and restaurants. It’s the financial center of Lima so is a bit stuffy, but offset by great shopping, dining, and lovely sculptures and fountains dotting the streets.
29. Delfines Hotel and Casino —This could be the only hotel in South America (or, hell, the world) whose main attraction is dolphins frolicking in a big indoor pool. Before any animal activists start to get all huffy: the hotel sponsors a dolphin research center; the critters are kept in pristine conditions, and guests can help caretakers at feeding and play time. You don’t have to stay in the hotel to check out the dolphins, but with all the luxury amenities you’d find at any modern five-star hotel, it’s not a bad idea.
30. Gorgeous Men — Have I mentioned them?
… And Three Things I Don’t (Part Three)
3. Inka Cola — I can just feel the wrath of my Peruvian friends as I dis their beloved national soft drink: they grew up with it, and still drink it today. As a kid I, too, would’ve loved this lurid yellow soda that tastes like bubblegum. But Adult Eileen finds it way too damn sweet. Inka Zero, the diet version, is much more palatable to me, but that shizz ain’t so easy to find, even in Lima.