Finding Hidden Gems in Lima

If you read my last post, you will remember that we left off with me arriving in Choisca in the evening, after having visit the Marcahuasi ruins. I didn’t like Chosica, it felt like a town that you stop in on your way to somewhere else. I should have spent the evening planning my onward journey but as there was no bus station (that I could find), just lots of collectivos
A collectivo, or local bus in Lima
with a young lad hanging out of the door shouting the destination, it was hard to get any clear information. After having slept so badly in freezing San Pedro the night before, I just went to bed. My mattress was really hard and I wondered what feature of the hotel had made the girl recommend it to me. The noise from the traffic was inescapable- in Peru most drivers don’t seem to follow any sort of Highway Code, and just honk their horns as loudly as they can to barge their way through the chaos on the roads.
I had planned to go to Tarma from Chosica, but was told that buses get there at about 2-3am. I didn’t want to arrive in a new place at such an unhelpful time, and as it was unclear how to get anywhere else, I decided to go back to Lima the next morning. You can get anywhere from there, so I called my trusty Pariwana hostel, booked a bed for that night and quickly found a collectivo to take me back to the capital. It was brilliant to be warm again; it gets to about 25 degrees at midday in this city. Here I have soaked up the sun, enjoyed the good food, made the most of constant wifi, and found some wonderful hidden gems.
I am lucky enough to know some locals in this city. At Machu Picchu two years ago I met Miguel and Eduardo who were visiting the ruins from Lima.
Machu Picchu
Miguel in yellow and Eduardo in blue
I got back in contact with them when I arrived in Lima and they took me to gem number 1:#
Avenida Agustín de la Rosa Toro, a road full of cevicherias (ceviche restaurants.) We went to El Molinero, which was packed with locals (always a good sign.) I looked at what the diners were eating as we walked in, and the plates were piled high with mountains of seafood.
We ordered a platter of ceviche to share, which included octopus in an olive sauce
 El Molinero Lima
And following Eduardo’s recommendation I had tacu tacu con mariscos:
 El Molinero Lima
rice and beans with seafood in a creamy sauce.
 El Molinero Lima
The food was amazing and the generous portions were great value, yet tourists don’t seem to come here. I returned the following day as it was so good, and it is really easy to get to.
Take the Metropolitano to Javier Prado station (northbound from Miraflores or southbound from Centro), and from there, get in any collectivo heading east along the main road Avenida Javier Prado Este. I said “Rosa Toro” to the man on the door to check that the bus was going there, and he nodded. Whenever I take a local bus and plan to get off before last stop, I ask the driver or ticket collector to let me know when we get to where I am going. It is so simple and always works. Be sure to sit at the front so he or she doesn’t forget you. The collectivo dutifully screeched to a halt at the corner with Avenida Agustín de la Rosa Toro, the man steps aside to let me out, and I paid him 1 sol (about 20p).
Back to my afternoon with the Limeños: feeling stuffed, we waddled along the main road for a while letting our food go down, then took another taxi (their idea not mine!) to Magdalena, the area of Lima where they live. Here they treated me to gem number 2:
an ice cream from Speciale ice cream parlour, on Calle Junior Libertad. They offer lots of wonderful flavours, (which they let you try first) and the shop interior is gorgeous- pretty tiles on the wall and wrought iron tables and chairs. It was perfect ice cream weather and had the best, zestiest lemon sorbet I’ve ever eaten, accompanied by a scoop of passion fruit ice cream which was also delicious.
Feeling content, we strolled round the corner to gem number 3:
Iglesia Inmaculado Corazón de Maria which, situated on main road Avenida Antonio de Sucre, isn’t very hidden. I however wouldn’t have gone to Magdalena without my trusty Limeños guides, and if you are into churches like me, it’s certainly worth checking out. The exterior was striking
Iglesia Inmaculado Corazón de Maria Lima
And the interior glistened:
Iglesia Inmaculado Corazón de Maria

My final gem to recommend to you is the Museo de la Nación. The impressive brutalist building is not hidden either, set back from Avenida Javier Prado. However, given that it is located outside of Miraflores and Centro, where tourists generally stay in Lima, it takes a little more effort to get there. (To get to the museum, follow the directions above for Avenida Agustín Rosa Toro, and get off the collectivo earlier, at La Cultura station. It is very near this strip of restaurants so you could do the two in one trip.)

Unfortunately the majority of the museum was closed for restoration, with the exception of one floor. The 6th floor houses a very moving exhibition; a photo history of Peru’s civil conflict of the 1980s and 90s. A disclaimer warns you that visitors may find the content upsetting, and some of it certainly was. It was hard not to feel moved by the beautiful, large scale images of mourning families,
Alejandro Balaguer
Photo of a photo by Alejandro Balaguer. Ashaninka women and children await food from the government.
dead bodies in heaps, and forlorn orphans, taken during the period of violence lead by armed organisation Sendero Liminoso. The exhibit was rendered all the more chilling by the stark, dramatic surroundings. Cell-like little rooms contrasted with large open galleries
 Museo de la Nación Lima
which the sun shined through, and the thick concrete walls contributed to a fitting setting for the horrific images. The huge windows offered great views of Lima to the north
Lima rooftops
which provided a welcome break from the sad exhibition. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and entrance is free.
All of these places are situated away from Lima`s main sites, but are easy to find and are in safe areas. Get yourself a map and get off the tourist trail!

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