Our journey to Peru, travelling on a an escorted tour with Great Rail Journeys began early on Wednesday morning. As our ‘meet and greet’ was scheduled for 0320am from Heathrow terminal 5, we made the decision to stay overnight at the Sofitel hotel which is connected to the terminal.
We met Bill, our tour manger who would be guiding us through the exciting country of Peru over the next 2 weeks, and after dropping our bags went off to wait in the departure lounge.
Our journey to Lima was long, but went smoothly (unlike those who had travelled via Amsterdam). Our journey took us via Madrid, and in hindsight we probably should have gone for a night in Madrid to avoid the 22 hour travel day.
As we flew over the north of Peru we saw the Amazon river and some of the rainforest too. The descent into Lima coincided with sunset and we saw our first glimpse of the Andes- it was spectacular.
We arrived in Lima to schedule and we’re guided through the airport onto a waiting air conditioned coach.
On arrival at the hotel in Miraflores we had a 3 course meal waiting for us. A delicious soup, then fish and mashed potatoes and fresh fruit. By now most of us had been up 24 hours, so we bid farewell and hit the sack.
First morning in Lima and of course we woke up at 4 am on the dot. We had a ‘lay in’- is it called that at that hour?- had breakfast around 6am, and then a chill out in our room. After a brief welcome meeting from Bill, our local guide Ruth arrived along with a coach, and we made our way back into Lima.
We were given a great walking tour around the historical centre of Lima- most of which is UNESCO. Spanish architectural influences were evident, and the most beautiful mahogany balconies lined most buildings.
We were shown through Basilica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima, and the historic catacombs, which now form a museum. Built in 1535, the baroque style architecture here is stunning.
The cloisters are impressive, as is the library which looks like it could have been a filming location for Harry Potter. The remains of many who were buried here are displayed almost artistically in an act of remembrance. Sadly no photos are allowed inside, but you can see an idea of it here .
From the basilica we continued on foot to the historic and beautiful central Plaza de Armas, the oldest public space in Lima. Whilst here we got to enjoy the changing of the guard.
Just off the main square we went to a historic house – privately owned but only a handful of tour companies can come here as it is still lived in today.
We caught up with the bus after this and on the way to lunch had a quick stop at Huaca Pucllana- a pre Incan adobe pyramid. We were particularly interested to see the musical instruments found here – including a flute made out of condor bones.
Lunch was a traditional Peruvian meal overlooking the Pacific Ocean and was splendid. We also got our first taste of Peru’s national drink – the Pisco sour.
Following lunch we retreaded back to the hotel – had a chill in the sauna, a nap and then made our way on foot to a nearby seafood restaurant recommended to us by Ruth via a couple of bars.
We enjoyed a delicious ceviche dinner – fish cooked lightly in citrus / lime. It was light and tasty.
On the way back to the hotel, we heard some music drifting from a bar and was delighted to find a small jazz club with some local Peruvian Jazz!
Our first day in Peru had been wonderful, and whilst it had been a whistle stop day in Lima, our time was managed to perfection- one of the key reasons we love travelling with GRJ.
Tomorrow we leave Lima early as it’s time to move on!