Lima is the capital of Peru and its largest city. Almost 8.5 million people call it home.
The city lies in a valley surrounded by arid desert land. In the summer, the weather is very warm and sunny. In the winter, the city is overcast and rainy for days at a time. Temperatures can fall as low as 7-12 C⁰ (45-55⁰ F), which seems chillier when combined with the general dampness.
Lima was founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. 300 years of Spanish rule has left a legacy of stunning historic churches, cloisters and monasteries.
Jorge Chavez International Airport is in the harbor city Callao, within metropolitan Lima.
The airport is well connected with most cities in South America. There are regular flights to Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Newark, Atlanta and Houston in the US. There are daily flights from Amsterdam, Madrid, Miami, Bogotá, Medellín, Quito, Santiago de Chile and Toronto.
The airport is a 20-40 min drive from San Isidro or Miraflores. Your hostel or hotel may offer free airport pickup; be sure to ask.
Avoid using the informal taxis outside the airport. Use a Certified Ground Transportation supplier, it is a much safer option. A reasonable price for a taxi service between the airport and Miraflores is about US$12 (35 soles), but may cost more from within the airport.
There is also an Express bus to Centro and Miraflores; the airport information desk can point you in the right direction.
Car rental is available at the airport via Hertz, Budget, and National, but be aware that Lima's drivers can be very aggressive and the traffic can be quite a headache. Driving yourself is probably not the best option if you are not familiar with the city and accustomed to driving in these challenging conditions.
A taxi ride between adjacent neighborhoods costs about US$2 (6 soles). A longer ride may cost from US$3-7. Always negotiate the fare before getting into the cab.
Foreigners are advised to avoid shared taxis due to the possibility of being robbed or assaulted.
Micro Buses or Combi Vans are small vans that stop at defined "paraderos", or bus stops. In a combi you usually pay between S/.0.50-1.80.
There are also medium and large buses. They operate the same as the micro buses but tend to be a little slower and possibly safer.
Metropolitano is a modern rapid transport bus system with wheel chair access. The buses are folding and have their own dedicated lanes on expressways.
Metro de Lima: Also known as Tren Eléctrico, as of 03 Jan 2012, offers limited trial service of Line 1, with trains serving Villa el Salvador, Parque Industrial, María Auxiliadora, Jorge Chávez, Ayacucho, Angamos, San Borja Sur, Arriola and Gamarra.
Line 1 currently serves 16 stations through 9 districts. Line 2 is still under construction.
Changing currency can be expensive, and a hassle. It's probably best to go to a bank with a guarded ATM and withdraw funds. The transaction fees can be hefty, however.
Bike Tours of Lima (www.biketoursoflima.com) is a reputable outfit that offers bicycle, running & walking tours in Lima.
Lucid Lima Free Tour (www.lucidlima.com) provides free 2 hour walking tours of the historical center 4 days a week.
Restaurants in Lima feature a wide range of types and cuisines, both regional and international.
Peruvian cuisine has a huge variety of ingredients from coast, mountain and Amazon regions.
Most fish and seafood restaurants have wonderful food and are not expensive. The cold sea current off of Peru's large coast makes the sea very rich in fish and seafood, which have a great taste due to the special plankton they eat. Definitely try some ceviche, Peru's "national dish".
There are also Western fast-food chains such as KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's Pizza, McDonald's, Subway and Starbucks Coffee all over the city.
Pisco Sour is the national drink of Peru, made with Pisco, a brandy made of grapes. It is highly recommended that all adult visitors to Peru try this drink at least once. Just remember, the fresh and sweet flavour makes easy to drink too much, and it will definitely make you intoxicated.
Some popular destinations from Lima are:
Arequipa— An attractive city in the south.
Cajamarca— Hosts an exciting Carnival every year.
Cuzco— The centre of the Inca civilization.
Ica— With an interesting museum and oasis.
Mancora— A very relaxing beach in the north with exciting nightlife.
Nazca— Home of the ancient and mysterious Nazca Lines.
Trujillo— A city in the north home to Peru's largest adobe ruins.
Just like any major metropolitan area, Lima has it's share of thieves and criminals. Leave your valuables at your hotel and keep a low profile as far as dress, jewelry, electronics etc. Watch out for pickpockets and hold on to your belongings tightly at all times.
Avoid the surroundings of Soccer/football stadiums before and after big matches, since "barras bravas" (hooligans) can be very violent.
In bars and clubs you may encounter "peperas", usually attractive young women that entice foreign tourists and then spike their drinks with sleeping pills and rob them once they're unconscious. Male "peperos" also spike the drinks of women but robbery is often accompanied by rape.
Some areas of Lima are safer than others: Miraflores and San Isidro are more affluent and thus have a large police presence. Other districts, such as La Victoria, are much more dangerous. Visitors would be well advised to stay out of these areas unless accompanied by an experienced native or visiting busy areas during daylight hours.
The current (June 2009) minimum wage in Peru is approximately $185 per month. Teaching English with language institutes in Lima, however, can earn you at least $5 an hour ($500 per month if you work 5 hours a day). If you have teaching qualifications and ample experience you could earn a lot more working at international schools.
Once you have found a job you can apply for a workers visa from the Peruvian General Directorate of Immigration and Naturalization, Avenida España 734, Breña, Lima, 330-4111 www.digemin.gob.pe
Your living expenses will naturally depend upon the lifestyle you lead. However, it is possible to live comfortably in Peru on a wage of $500 a month.
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