How to Enjoy Lima in 2 Days

Another short and sweet trip in South America and this time in Peru! We covered as much as we could in 4 days.  Our ultimate goal was to get up to Machu Picchu, which we did on a Saturday.  I’ll share more about that adventure in another post.

We arrived in Lima on a Sunday and had two days to explore this major city.  I found Lima to be a beautiful city because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the landscape and its history.  Each neighborhood has its own little story to tell.  I found the streets to be vibrant with mostly locals and very clean.  Before venturing out, always consider what is important to you most and then design how you want to take on the city.  We always tour the area that we are staying in first, to get to know the lay of the land.

Where to Stay

Miraflores – this is a trendier upscale area, which is known as one of the more affluent neighborhoods for living and also offers a ton of shopping.  We stayed at the Radisson Hotel Decapolis Miraflores.  The hotel is ranked as a 4.5 star and that is a fair rating.  The location is prime as you can walk to the beach in just 11 minutes and if you love to surf the waves here are perfect for the thrills of an avid surfer. From here you’re only a 15 minute walk to Larcormar, a high-end fashion mall that overlooks the ocean.  Even if you don’t plan to shop this is a sight to be seen. There are tons of cafes and parks within less than 10 minutes.  You can spend your first day walking this area, people watching, talking to people, and visiting artisans selling their crafts in the Kennedy Park.

Make a stop for a photo at the Love Park (cover image).

There is no shortage of food selections, but on a Sunday, which also happened to be Easter Sunday, quite a few spots were closed.  Without any recommendation, we decided to go to Cafe Cafe to order some authentic Peruvian food.  I ordered the Oporto Drunk Chicken.  I’m surprised I ordered that because I hate anything that has to do with being drunk, even the word irritates me.  The dish was made of corn and chicken and prepared similar to a risotto with a Peruvian yellow sauce.  My husband ordered the Cafe Cafe Style Stir Fried Beef with a side of fries.  By the way you will see meat served with fries often.  The service here was great and if you don’t speak Spanish, this is a restaurant that’s got you covered with an English menu and English speaking staff.  We sat outside as the weather was perfect for hanging out on the patio and people watching.

Cafe Cafe. Calle Mártir José Olaya 250, Miraflores 15074, Peru

Take a Bite of Something Sweet

One of my favorites treats are churros!  We found this place, Manolo, with four varieties: chocolate, dulce de leche, vanilla and original.

 

Manolo. Av. Larco 608, Miraflores – Lima – Perú

Day 2

Hit the Main Square, which is known as the Plaza de Armas.  This name remains consistent in all the major cities in South America that I have been to.  Here you will find all of the historical buildings along with the Presidential Palace and St.Francis Cathedral.

Head to Barranco and Surquillo. Barranco is a pretty cool artsy area with bohemian charm. You will see a ton of wall murals near the Bridge of Sighs.  I had read that people walk across the bridge, hold their breath and make a wish.  We did the same and I am ready for my wish to come alive.

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Walk across the Bridge of Sighs.

 

In Surquillo have ceviche at La Picanteria.

While you can have some of the best ceviche anywhere in Peru, it is noted that chefs in Lima have perfected the dish.  On this note, it was a must to indulge.  I tried the ceviche served with calamari at La Picanteria.  A side of corn nuts was served and I learned that I should add the corn nuts into the dish. I took the photo before I added the corn nuts.

La Picanteria. Surquillo, Sta Rosa 388, Cercado de Lima, Peru

Make Lima more than a city to pass through on your way to Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Quick Stop in Auckland

I never really heard much about Auckland as a destination and unfortunately, I understand why.  Consider this city a stopover on your way to explore the nature and world renowned beaches its country has to offer.  In the heart of the city you will discover boutiques, restaurants, and cafes in the laneways, which are walking distance to the waterfront.  I loved that!  The waterfront is filled with vibrant restaurants serving award winning vino.

My husband and I arrived in Auckland in the afternoon and we walked around the entire central area.  There is another cool neighbourhood called, Ponsonby, which we toured through as well.  You will need to drive there as it is about 10 minutes away from the central area.  Oh…renting a car is a must and you may as well do that from the airport!  Read below for information that you can use to help you navigate better.

Tips Upon Arrival

Buy your SIM card at the airport.  We hoped to get a better price in the city, but we checked with all providers and the best price was $20 New Zealand Dollars for 1G Data and 200 minutes of talk from a company called 2 Degrees. The 2 Degrees SIM card was not available at the airport, so Spark may be your best option.  Upon arrival at the airport, you may find yourself a little frustrated.  It was slightly chaotic and there was no internet service.  The closest place for Wifi was a McDonalds nearby, but even that was lousy. That’s another good reason to get your SIM card before leaving the airport.  We are technology dependent and it does make all of our trips easier.  With little time, we have no time to spare trying to figure things out the old school way.  It’s very important that you have your mobile device already unlocked.

Renting a Car

We booked our car online from Apex and had a good experience. We called for a shuttle from a designated airport shuttle phone.  The shuttle picked us up outside and the wait was about 10 minutes.  The drive to the car rental place was another 10-15 minutes away.  Be sure to check with your credit card and know what coverage you have and what you need.  If you have never driven on the left side before this will be a cool experience for you.  Travelers from Canada and the US, do not need an international drivers license.

We only had a few days to do as much of the Northern region as possible and we chose the following sites and thanked God every step of the way:

Upper Nihotupu Walk, Piha Beach, Hot Water Beach, Rotorua, and the Coromandel area. Site seeing along the entire coast will have you captivated, but be careful the roads are tight and curvy with tons of hills and valleys.

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The path towards the Nihotupu Dam
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One of the waterfalls when you take your walk through Nihotupu towards the Dam. You can get in this water, but it is very cold.
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Piha Beach

 

 

 

Black Sand

What picture do you have when you think of the beach?  We usually have the image of a beautiful hue of either pristine blue or green water with white or beige colored sand along the coast.  Have you ever stepped foot on a black sand beach?

I walked on black sand at Piha Beach in New Zealand.  This is one of the most beautiful destinations in the country, based on my short and sweet adventures in the northern region.

Every bare foot step that I took  along this beach felt like I was stepping on a hot plate.  I have never felt so inclined to keep my sandals on while walking along the beach.  I can say that I am not a fan of black sand, but it is worth seeing and this beach is a short drive from Auckland.

 

How to Spend 4 Days in Sydney, Australia

I arrived in Sydney on Thursday morning and had 4 full days to see the city.  Sydney was awesome, right from the start.  Whether you love museums, parks, architecture, galleries, food, shopping, beach or water sports, you can find it all here.  I had beach time on the top of my list! Next I knew I wanted to check out the waterfront and see the nationally recognized Sydney Opera House.  I explored the city as much I could without cramming too much in.  If you would like to follow the same itinerary, here is what I suggest:

Day 1: Take a couple of hours to explore the area where you are staying.  I always do this in every city that I arrive in. It helps me get to know the lay of the land.  In Sydney, I stayed in the heritage hotel called The Grace.  I highly recommend this hotel for its location, price, size of the suite and the maintenance.  The Grace Hotel is centrally located and walking distance to cool places like the Spice Alley.

After exploring your area and perhaps a little bit of shopping head down to the Royal Botanic Gardens.  As you walk through the gardens, you will reach a point (right at the top of Mrs. Macquarie’s Road) where you have a gorgeous view of the Sydney Opera House.  If you love taking photos, this will be a nice angle for you.  After that, you can walk through the park to get to the Opera House.  I walked into the theatre to chill a bit in the lounge.  I didn’t leave without snapping a couple more pics of this magnificent place.

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Take a stroll along the Circle Quay and stop in to the Aboriginal Art Gallery.  There you will find a collection of art from world renowned artists.  A visit to Australia is not complete without learning something about its first rightful owners of the land.

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The weather was great and the sun was yet to set for several more hours so we took a quick ferry ride to the famous Bondi Beach.  Leaving the beach and getting back into the central business district (CBD) is very easy.  Just hop on a bus heading to Town Hall or St.James Station.

Day 2:

Darling Harbour. Sydney is surrounded by water, so of course there are multiple spots to catch an amazing view of the city.  Darling Harbour also has the Australian Maritime Museum and the Welcome Wall honoring more than 6 million overseas migrants that have settled in the country.  I didn’t go through the entire museum, the first level is free and if you like American history you may enjoy the display.  I perused through for about 10 minutes and then moved on to see more of Sydney.

Barangaroo South. A short walk away is the Barangaroo South district, which is still going through development, but there is enough to please your appetite for food, retail therapy, and great photos opps.

 

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If you love walking head over to The Rocks, and tour the cobble laneways and visit with local artisans.  You can cover this area in 30 minutes and then walk up to the Harbor Bridge.  You can walk across the bridge and get an up close experience of this wondrous engineering without doing the BridgeClimb (which I was not interested in). Once you get across the bridge, you will be in Milson’s Point area.  If it is a Sunday, there may be a local fashion market happening.  You can catch the train from here back to where ever you need to go (perhaps your hotel to take rest).

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The Rocks

Day 3:

Manly, Manly Beach, and if you have time head up more north to Palm Beach.  If you make it to Palm Beach, plan to veg on the beach because there is nothing around in this secluded area, except gorgeous mansions, one restaurant and a small shop.  It took about 40 minutes from Manly to get here by bus and it was well worth it.  There are multiple ways to get to Manly. You can use the fast ferry or take the Manly Ferry (which is more economical and you can use your Opal card).  Both options will give you the spectacular views of the Sydney harbour and surroundings.

Day 4:

If you like to discover neighbourhoods that feel more local, yet still have something to offer tourists, then you need to hit the Spice Alley.  I heard this place referred to as a little Singapore in Sydney.  I have yet to travel through Singapore, but the plethora of food option, flavors, and smells is exactly how I imagine Singapore to be.  Spice Alley is in the heart of Chippendale and don’t get this name twisted with the male tour group.  Chippendale is a happening area popular for its converted warehouses, galleries, green space, and shopping.

There are more touristy things that you can do like, visit the Blue Mountains, The Toronga Zoo, and do the Bridge Climb.  All of which, I have heard amazing stories. If you have done this, let me know about your experience.

Getting around by public transit in Sydney is super easy.  You will need to purchase an Opal card, which you can do upon departure from the airport.  For all the insider tips on getting around with public transit click here.

 

Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes

Melbourne is full of character and you won’t run out of things to do, especially if you love quirky sites and culture.  You can spend several days discovering interesting neighborhoods.  Brighton is an affluent area about 11 km outside of the central business district.  We took a stroll along Brighton Beach specifically because we wanted to see the beach bathing boxes.  We went very late in the afternoon and it felt like a bit of a ghost town because we expected there to be so many people. I even thought there would be vendors selling things out of these quirky colorful home like boxes.  I was completely wrong.  I have heard that in the early part of the day it does get super busy.

This side of the beach didn’t seem like a place for lounging and more of a site seeing art installation that is excellent for postcard pictures.  Apparently, these bathing boxes date back as far as 1862, when bathing in the daytime in the open was restricted.  The beach was even divided for males and females.

These sort of bathing boxes were usually used as shelter from wind and for changing in and out of swimwear.  Similar bath boxes or bath huts also exist in France, England, Italy and South Africa and have been used for vacationing as well.

I’d love to hear your stories with bathing boxes across the world.

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You will likely have to walk through this path, depending on where you start at the Beach.

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