4 Hours In …

A whis­tle-stop tour of the Peru­vian cap­i­tal takes in Inca shrines, spooky cat­a­combs and gourmet cook­ing

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Ian McCurrach


1 PLAZA DE AR­MAS De­spite the re­cent down­turn in the prices of gold and cop­per – main­stay ex­ports of Peru’s econ­omy – the coun­try is still one of South Amer­ica’s most at­trac­tive in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. A good place to come to grips with its sprawl­ing, dusty cap­i­tal is Plaza de Ar­mas, at the heart of down­town. Here you can­not miss the mono­lithic Gov­ern­ment Palace, Cathe­dral of Lima and Arch­bishop’s Palace, all rem­nants of the coun­try’s golden age and com­mis­sioned in 1535 by the city’s founder, Pizarro, ‘Con­queror of the In­cas.’ Ac­cess to the Gov­ern­ment Palace is re­stricted to pri­vate tours, which can be booked through the pro­to­col of­fice (tel +51 1311 3908), but the im­pres­sive chang­ing of the guard takes place out­side ev­ery day at noon. The cathe­dral and its mu­seum of re­li­gious art are also worth a visit. 2 GRAN BO­LI­VAR HO­TEL For a touch of faded old-world glam­our, head for a drink at the Bo­li­var (Jr de la Union 958, El Cen­tro), which dates back to 1924 and has com­mand­ing views over Plaza de Ar­mas. Back in its hey­day, Or­son Welles regularly propped up the bar – down­ing a re­ported 40-plus sig­na­ture pisco sours at any one sit­ting – and Ava Gard­ner danced on the bar and sashayed along the cor­ri­dors in a see-through dress­ing gown.

Pisco is a grape-based spirit akin to brandy and is the na­tional drink of Peru. As a tes­ta­ment to the past, there is a vintage Ford Model T parked in the lobby,

which once met guests and fer­ried them around town dur­ing the 1920s. Ask to have a look at the glit­ter­ing Golden Lounge ball­room, a replica of the state­room of the same name in the Gov­ern­ment Palace. granhotel­bo­li­var.com.pe


A short walk away, the Church and Monastery of San Fran­cisco was built in the late 1600s and is no­table for its im­pres­sively pro­por­tioned Baroque ar­chi­tec­ture, gold-leaf dec­o­ra­tion and in­tri­cate lat­tice­work fit­tings. The com­plex is also home to a li­brary stacked with re­li­gious literature and ar­ti­facts. For those not faint of heart, there is a de­cid­edly eerie war­ren of cat­a­combs con­tain­ing more than 25,000 skele­tons. The cat­a­combs have sur­vived the pas­sage of time and earth­quakes rel­a­tively in­tact, but gone are the se­cret un­der­ground tun­nels that are said to have once linked the church and monastery di­rectly to the Cathe­dral of Lima and the Tri­bunal of the Holy In­qui­si­tion. Open daily 9:30 AM – 5:45 PM. Or­ga­nized tours last about an hour and in­clude a ghostly walk through the cat­a­combs. museo­cat­acum­bas.com 4

MAL­ABAR Lima is fast be­com­ing a cap­i­tal of culi­nary de­lights, and is home to Ja­panese celebrity chef Nobuyuki“Nobu” Mat­suhisa, who opened his first res­tau­rant here. Another star on the scene is Pe­dro Miguel Schi­affino, whose renowned Mal­abar eatery is in San Isidro – this will be your next stop. Taxis are plen­ti­ful and easy to hail so pick up a cab for the eight­minute ride (S/.6 about $2). Cui­sine is New Peru­vian with an em­pha­sis on lo­cally sourced pro­duce – spe­cial­ties in­clude ce­viche of tiger cat­fish, milk-fed pork with gar­lic foam and wa­ter­cress, and gi­ant river snails. The dé­cor stands out with walls the color of blood or­ange and a warm shade of brandy. Two cour­ses will cost about $20. Avenida Camino Real 101, San Isidro; tel +51 1440 5200.


Hail a cab and head five min­utes south to the coastal dis­trict of Mi­raflo­res. A se­ries of public parks run through this green neigh­bor­hood, which is dot­ted with up­mar­ket res­i­dences, restau­rants, bars, night­clubs and cine­mas. The big draw here for history buffs is Huaca Pu­cllana, a vast pyra­mid of mud that was once a shrine dat­ing back to the In­cas. A wan­der around the ru­ins is like step­ping back in time. The cen­tral adobe tem­ple has been com­pletely re­stored and ex­ca­va­tions still con­tinue on the site, which gives it a Raiders of the Lost Ark meets The Mummy feel. Af­ter dark the site is lit quite spec­tac­u­larly, which en­hances the movie feel. Open daily (ex­cept Tues), 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM; en­try S/.12 ($3.80). 6

EL MALE­CON El Male­con is the of­fi­cial name of the path­way run­ning the six-milestretch along the coast from Male­con de la Ma­rina, through Male­con Cis­neros to Male­con de la Reserva. The cliff paths of­fer won­der­ful panoramic views over the Pa­cific, but note that mist, sim­i­lar to the fog of San Fran­cisco, fre­quently blows in from the ocean. The coastal trail is lit­tered with stat­ues and sculp­tures de­signed by well-known Peru­vian artists, such as Vic­tor Delfin’s statue of lovers em­brac­ing. It’s a prime paraglid­ing site and ten-minute tan­dem flights with a lo­cal guides are of­fered. If you’d rather stay on terra firma but would like to cover the whole dis­tance, you can rent a bike from Bike Tours of Lima: bike­tour­soflima.com. BT







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