Well, I’m here in Lima now! It’s just before 8 and I’m in the breakfast area of my hotel. One word to sum up the journey and my first reaction to Lima: overwhelming! I got to the guesthouse (where I will be meeting the rest of the tour group this evening) at around 8pm Peruvian time. That’s 2am UK time! And I got up at 2 to leave for Heathrow. So I was literally travelling 24 hours. I had roughly 5 hours sleep including what I had on the plane so was very glad to crash into bed once arrived!
I had wondered if any other tour members would be here yet but it’s very quiet so looks like I’ll be alone until the meeting. I am going to spend a couple hours this morning poring over my guidebook (Lonely Planet South America on a shoestring if anyone was wondering haha) to try and get the best out of this free day in Lima and also to take it slow/avoid any mistakes because I’m feeling jetlagged. It’s worth noting that the tour itself only dedicates a half day to seeing the city – so maybe it’s more of a jump-off point rather than must-see destination? I shall have to see and report back!
Anyway, a couple of notes on the journey itself!
I booked via STA, who do very good value flights (especially if you want to fly back from a different place, which can be horrendously expensive!). After a schedule change and various other hiccups finally I went with KLM via Amsterdam from Heathrow. I can recommend this route! My parents went via Madrid with Iberia when they came and I remember that they told me they had to go through security again (which on the way back meant they lost their duty free booze!) and also do a terminal change. In contrast, my time at AMS was calm and easy- you stay in the same gates area and there’s plenty of self-service check-in points for flight transfers. Also you have got to love that famous Dutch efficiency: easy to follow signs plus hilariously blunt intercom announcements to late boarders!! So if you’re considering flying to Lima from London I definitely recommend Amsterdam as a changing point.
Also recommend KLM: I’m sure this is the case with lots of intercontinental airlines but they really took care of us the whole 12 hour flight and we got 2 hot meals plus sandwiches, snacks and and plenty of drinks. (Why does airline food taste way better than it should?!) Extra bonus, they had Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them which as a Harry Potter nerd living in Spain I was sad to miss out on! Overall the 12 hours went fast and I enjoyed watching the movies but I just wasn’t able to sleep. Every time I drifted off I felt like I was falling and jolted awake?! Probably to do with the movement or maybe just nerves.
I’m almost glad I didn’t sleep though because I got stunning views over the Atlantic and eventually the Amazon. I looked down and thought we were still over the ocean at first but it was actually just a dense mass of green stretching beyond the horizon! It was the strangest feeling because flying over Europe you really only see signs of ‘civilisation’. I also loved seeing the Peruvian landscape once we passed the mountains.
More nerves at Lima airport where only when I felt a wave of relief upon seeing my bag did I realise how worried I’d been that it might get caught up somehow in the transfer. Then finally out and met the driver I’d prebooked via G adventures. I considered this a bit of a luxury at the time but I’m SO glad I did it just to save hanging around any longer at the airport, where to be honest I didn’t feel that safe, and to have that extra level of trust and security. Obviously on my trip I have to find the right balance of wariness and trust when making decisions but I think I’d say that if you know you’re going to be tired or jetlagged, just book in advance and your later self will thank you!!
The drive into the city was amazing in that I just couldn’t believe the traffic and crazy drivers! I didn’t think to take any pictures but there were hundreds of mini buses crammed with locals and painted signs on the windows, cars with the licence plate written on by hand, cars driving on the sandy sidewalk of the beach or the wrong side of the road just to get 5 cars ahead!! The driver told me there’s 30 million people in Peru and 10 million of them live in Lima. I can believe that from the traffic density!! He also said there’s at least 35 barrios, another reason for some guidebook consulting this morning. Side note – I was so pleased I could understand him and chat away for a bit because I didn’t know what to expect from the Spanish here!
This has been a longer post than I intended but it’s been quite therapeutic writing it out actually. Makes it real that I’m here!! So I’m off to start my day and trip… Wish me luck.