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Travel Diary: Lima and Belmond Miraflores Park

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I’m extremely excited to share our full itinerary from the incredible week we spent in Peru! Peru has fascinated explorers and travelers for centuries, and while we are traveling all year, our 8 days and 7 nights on Belmond’s Unmissable Peru Journey were the trip of a lifetime in-and-of itself. Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and one incredible train ride culminating in a night on Machu Picchu – I’m excited to take you through each destination this week.

This is Part 1 of our Peru Itinerary. You can find the rest here: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

Lima! You can feel the energy right as you step off the plane. Lima is the third largest city in the Americas, just behind São Paulo and Mexico City, and larger than New York City. Like many visitors, we traveled to Peru primarily for a journey to Machu Picchu, but shortly after we landed in Lima I was already wishing we could stay for a month. As the oldest city in the Americas, Lima boasts colonial architecture, an incredible food scene, miles of parks lining the coastline, cute lighthouses and countless species of flowers. It surprised us with the charm and livability we enjoyed during our mouth in Buenos Aires and we wished we had allotted more time for exploration!

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We arrived at our hotel, the chic Belmond Miraflores Park, around 10pm, and after a shower in the beautiful marble bathroom and a snack, we went straight to bed, waking up to a glorious view of Lima sloping into the Pacific Ocean. Belmond Miraflores Park is a gleaming tower perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, in the elegant residential neighborhood of Miraflores, which friends had recommended as home to some of Lima’s best restaurants. It’s also the starting point of Belmond’s incredible Peruvian “journey” through five incredible cities culminating with a stay on Machu Picchu itself. I first learned about Belmond when one of my favorite bloggers, Julia of Gal Meets Glam, traveled to Peru with her family a few years back. If you haven’t heard of Belmond before, they’re a global collection of iconic hotels situated in some of the world’s most thrilling destinations, many of which are housed in historic properties and connected by luxury trains.

Since we only had one full day in Lima before heading to Cusco, we had to decide between my top to-dos: checking out the historic El Centro and visiting the vibrant neighborhood of Barranco. We decided on Barranco since our Cusco and Machu Picchu itinerary would cover a lot of colonial architecture and UNESCO sites, and we always like to check out neighborhoods that we could picture ourselves living in (that is – if we ever moved to Lima!). We woke up early to eat a big breakfast at The Observatory – the lavish breakfast buffet and restaurant on the top floor of our hotel. After, we set out on bikes to explore the coastline. We rode north along the series of parks that line the coast, circled La Marina Lighthouse, and returned the bikes at the hotel before heading south on foot to neighboring Barranco. The neighborhood name says it all: a literal translation of Miraflores is “Look! Flowers!” and the neighborhood is like one big botanical garden. Hibiscus blooms as large as my head, climbing trumpet vines, palms of every sort, roses, and bougainvillea cover most homes. One of our favorite ways to acquaint ourselves with a new city is to walk – for miles. Between the bougainvillea and preponderance of old VW bugs I kept thinking I was back in San Francisco! Luckily, both Miraflores and neighboring Barranco to the south are known for their beautiful homes, coastline vistas, and small shops and cafes that make touring a city by foot so enjoyable.

We stopped by Isolina for lunch at the recommendation of a friend and, though it was packed, we could barely read through the menu before we were ushered to our seats on the second floor balcony. The menu was designed to reflect simple, Peruvian home-cooking, and surprisingly each dish claimed to feed 3-4 people. We ordered a pitcher of lemonade, ceviche, and pejerreyes and were still shocked by the size of the portions, which came out on beautiful vintage plates.

We arrived back at the hotel just in time to catch the Pisco Sour Cocktail class at 5pm. We were the only students, and what we anticipated to be a quick 15 minute lesson turned into a two hour mixology session! Andre, the head bartender, walked us through the history of pisco production, the tension between Chile and Peru over who has the more authentic Pisco, (even though, as Andre told us, the pisco sour was invented by American bartender Victor Vaughen Morris in the early 1920’s.) and how to create different flavored infusions. (Passion fruit and chili were our favorites!) Andre even invited us behind the bar to make them ourselves, which amused the other guests that had gathered for happy hour. A few minutes before sunset, we took our drinks upstairs to the pool deck to enjoy the the view over the Pacific as the sky was painted pink and orange.

Very merry from our Pisco tasting we headed downstairs to dinner at Restaurante Tragaluz. The restaurant is a international fusion kitchen and art gallery in one, with a rotating set of exhibits by Lima artists gracing the bright and airy dining room. The evening air was perfect, and and we decided to dine al fresco, where we explored Asian, Mediterranean, and Peruvian flavors, trying paiche (an Amazonian river fish), alpaca (delicious) and of course more ceviche! We had planned to go to bed early so we could wake up with the sun, but the atmosphere was so magical we decided to linger over two courses of dessert.

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast and the view from The Observatory one more time before heading to the airport early for our flight to Cusco.

Like Paris and Tokyo, Lima is known as one of the great eating cities of the world and after this tiny taste of all Lima has to offer, we’re convinced we have to come back to conquer the 20+ restaurant recommendations I have starred on my map!

Be sure to subscribe here to receive the rest of our Peru itinerary and posts from our trip around the world!

Thank you Belmond Miraflores Park for an incredible introduction to Lima! We hope to see you again soon!

xx, SF

All photos by David and Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com

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