On your way
Make the most of your time in Lima en route to Lake Titicaca.
Lima sits under a pale wash of sky that locals call la panza de burro (the donkey’s belly). But for its whispering blues and violet greys, it could almost be the colour of the city’s pre-Incan ruins and crumbling 17th-century walls – or of the surrounding desert.
At first sight, the Peruvian capital appears to mute all its colours; even the native San Pedro cactus is a discreet powdery green. But step inside the food markets of Surquillo, with their technicolour produce displays; visit shops packed with flamboyant textiles, ponchos and pompoms; check out the galleries of vibrant contemporary art; or visit on a feast or festival day and you’ll see that Lima, the gateway to Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu, reveals the full spectrum of colours to the traveller who takes the time to get acquainted.
In the 16th century, Spaniard Francisco Pizarro conquered Peru and founded Lima as its capital. Today, it’s a proudly independent Peru that is conquering the world with novoandina (new Andean) cuisine. Splurge on a meal by the culinary conquistadors at Central (centralrestaurante.com.pe), which has been No. 1 on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list for the past three years, and Astrid & Gastón (astridy gaston.com), located in a historic hacienda in the upscale San Isidro district.
Peru’s food revolution has helped to spark a cultural renaissance, too. Lima boasts small but lively design, arts, theatre and music scenes. Survey its art history from preColumbian times to the present at the Museo de Arte de Lima (mali.pe) in the former Palacio de la Exposición. And try Peru’s national cocktail, the Pisco Sour, at Bar Maury (Jirón Carabaya 399). It was at this Art Deco establishment that a barman in the 1920s first added egg white to the now-venerated recipe.
If time is short and you want art, history and great food and drink all in one place, stay at Hotel B (hotel.qantas.com.au/ hotelb), where the rooms are full of contemporary Peruvian art. This boutique hotel in bohemian Barranco is also a prime spot for watching the sun tickle the donkey’s belly with its rosy fingers before setting over the sea.
(From top) A Dusk room at luxury lodge Titilaka; novoandina cuisine by Astrid & Gastón, currently No. 7 on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list