FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Lima: South Of The Border

Aug 1, 2004
2004 / August 2004

The commercial and political capital of Peru, Lima is a sophisticated city with a long history. Today, the city that sprawls across the arid hills and flatlands of central Peru is home to 8 million people, fully one-third of the country’s population. Lima’s colonial history begins in 1535 when Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro established it as the capital of Spain’s new South American empire.

In fact, the area was settled by pre-Incan Indian tribes as far back as the start of the Christian Era, as evidenced by several impressive archaeological sites that are now within the city’s expansive borders. In keeping with this long history, the city is home to several world-class museums that focus on both the preconquest and colonial eras.

Lima’s sprawl has created a city that is somewhat decentralized in terms of what may be of interest to the business traveler. The neighboring upscale districts of San Isidro and Miraflores, about 20 to 25 minutes by taxi from central Lima, together form the city’s center of international commerce. The area is home to some of Lima’s best hotels, restaurants, shops and museums. Taxis cruise city streets, with typical fares — even for crosstown trips — costing between 60 cents and $2. Drivers are courteous and are generally well-informed, which is a plus in a city it takes time to get to know.

Visitor safety is a concern in Lima, so business travelers need to be forewarned of the risk of theft. Stay alert — particularly in poorer neighborhoods and in places where tourists congregate. To be on the safe side, cameras, jewelry and important paperwork should be carefully guarded. Police are in evidence throughout the city and are well aware of the threat to visitors. That said, neighborhoods like Miraflores and San Isidro are considered far safer than their counterparts in the heart of the city.

Politically speaking, the country is still in transition following the ouster of the discredited regime of President Alberto Fujimori, now in exile in Japan after a corruption scandal forced him from power. Fujimori is still widely respected for having rid the country of the rebel Sandero Luminoso (Shining Path), a long-standing Maoist terrorist group that created turmoil for tourism and commerce, but has now largely been eliminated. His successor, President Alejandro Toledo, is generally considered incompetent and is himself facing a corruption scandal that has discredited him with most of the electorate. The Peruvian military is in evidence throughout Lima, making sure that resistance to the government stays under control.

Economically, the country remains poor, with a small middle class and an even smaller commercial elite. Prices are extremely low, which is a plus for those doing business or vacationing in Peru. Hotels, restaurants, taxis and attractions are very affordable for foreigners, if not mainstream Peruvians, who must struggle to make ends meet.

Unlike in many other Latin American countries, the influence of the native tribal culture remains strong here, modifying Spanish influence and providing the country with a unique sense of its own past in terms of music, dance, food and attitudes. People are generally soft-spoken and friendly in spite of widespread poverty compounded by a population boom that has drawn millions from the countryside over the past two decades. In addition to those of Spanish heritage, the descendants of European and American settlers form the nation’s commercial elite.

Textiles represent one thriving aspect of international commerce, with alpaca and related fabrics widely produced both for sale locally and for export. Raw materials such as precious metals (gold, silver), minerals (copper, tin, lead), fish meal and produce (grapes, asparagus) provide export commodities in a country generally strapped for venture capital. Tourism is bolstered by world-renowned archaeological sites like Machu Picchu, ecotourism and adventure travel, particularly in the hi ghlands and in the Amazon rain forest. The city’s main convention center is at the Museo de la Nacion in the San Borja district, a short taxi ride from San Isidro or Miraflores.


Lodging

Hotel Aleman
A small, comfortable 24-room hotel that offers clean, quiet and secure accommodations with cable television, Internet access and other business services from the on-site office. Rates start at $50.
Hotel Aleman
Arequipa 4704, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
tel 011 511 445 6999, fax 011 511 1 447 3950
www.hotelaleman.com.pe
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

 

Country Club Hotel
Built in 1927 for the city’s elite, the Country Club Hotel is located in upscale San Isidro. Ten minutes from the convention center and 20 minutes from central Lima, this hotel offers luxury accommodations with oversize rooms decorated with quality furnishings and antiques, and featuring marble baths. There is a full business center, outdoor pool and nearby golf course. Rates, including breakfast, range from $230 to $295. The on-site restaurant is first-rate.
Country Club Hotel
Los Eucaliptos 590
Lima, Peru
tel 011 511 611 9000, fax 011 511 611 9002
www.hotelcountry.com

Hotel Maury
Reportedly the home of the famed Peruvian cocktail the Pisco Sour, this recently upgraded, mid-range hotel ($60–$90) is centrally located two blocks from the Plaza de Armas and Lima’s small financial district. Guestrooms are simply furnished. Marble bathrooms offer a hint of elegance, but water is occasionally in short supply and the Continental breakfast is less than impressive. The staff is helpful and friendly, however, and the location is a definite plus if your preference is central Lima. Inside rooms are great for a quiet night’s sleep.
Hotel Maury
Jiron Ucayali 201,Lima, Peru
tel 011 511 428 8188,
fax 011 511 426 1273

Sheraton Lima
This 400-room hotel offers spacious accommodations not far from central Lima, across the street from the Palacio de Justicia, about 15 minutes from the convention center and San Isidro. It has a full business center, with on-site casino and other Sheraton-style facilities at corporate rates as low as $65, and up to $200 for suites.
Sheraton Lima
Paseo de la Republica 170, Lima, Peru
tel 011 511 315 5000 or 888 4887 3535,
fax 011 51 1315 5015
www.starwood.com

JW Marriott Lima
A modern 300-room hotel adjacent to the Larcomar shopping/dining/ entertainment complex, JW Marriott is about 25 minutes north of San Isidro. This full-service hotel includes a business center, health club, outdoor pool and 24-hour casino. Rooms are spacious and up to U.S. five-star quality and service standards. The Larcomar location offers easy beach access and an upscale, secure neighborhood. Corporate rates start at $195.
JW Marriott Lima
Malecon de la Reserva 615
Lima, Peru
tel 011 511 217 7000, fax 011 511 217 7100
toll-free in the U.S.: 800 228 9290
www.marriott.com


Dining

Food quality is unexpectedly high in Lima. Ingredients are bought fresh and the results are very flavorful meals. The best concentration of good restaurants is conveniently located in Miraflores and San Isidro. All those recommended here are open for lunch and dinner, with only a minor price differential between the two.

La Rosa Nautica
Located on a pier in coastal Miraflores, Lima’s version of Santa Monica, La Rosa Nautica serves delicious international and Peruvian food, which includes various preparations of alpaca (beef-like in taste and very tender when well prepared) and tasty specialties based on maize, a staple of the Peruvian diet. It’s expensive by Peruvian standards at $25 to $35 for dinner, but worth it for the first-class service and setting.
La Rosa Nautica
Circuito de Playas, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
tel 011 511 445 0149
www.larosanautica.com

La Huaca Pucllana
Dining options include al fresco seating with a view of the centuries-old archeological site (it closes at 5 p.m.) from which the restaurant takes its name. Luncheon guests should plan a half-hour pre-luncheon visit to the site, which has a small museum. If you go for dinner, the ruins are impressively illuminated at night. Luncheon and dinner prices range from $12 to $25.
La Huaca Pucllana
General Borgono Cuadra 8, Miraflores
Lima, Peru
tel 011 511 445 4042

La Gloria
The varied menu includes a variety of Mediterranean culinary traditions, with seafood dishes a specialty.
La Gloria
Atahualpa 201, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
tel 011 511 446 6504

Ristorante Il Postino
An excellent Italian restaurant with informal Mediterranean décor and one of the best wine lists to be found in Lima. Lunch and dinner rates range from $18 to $25.
Ristorante Il Postino
Calle Colina 401, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
tel 011 511 446 8381


Shopping

When it comes to shopping, crafts are Peru’s greatest attraction. Countless shops sell high-quality knit goods, with alpaca and baby alpaca sweaters, capes and scarves at very good prices. A fine-quality, hand-crafted alpaca sweater that would cost $150 to $300 in the States can be found for $25 to $100. If you’ve got the time, you can have locally produced fabrics made into a custom-designed suit priced one-third to one-quarter of what you’d pay in the Unites States. Other bargain-priced crafts include rugs, weavings, blankets and ceramics (including masterful reproductions of museum pieces). Silver tableware and gold and silver jewelry are available in a variety of distinctive Peruvian designs. A best bet for silver or gold is in San Isidro, where the city’s best crafts market, Mercado de Indios (Petit Thouars 5245), is located.

Bargaining is a way of life, with discounts of 20 to 50 percent an achievable goal, although high-end shops that cater to tourists in upscale neighborhoods or at hotels may prove less flexible in terms of pricing. Credit cards are not as widely used in Peru as in most countries, so it is wise to shop with cash, as this opens the door to the best discounts. Dollars are universally accepted, with the current exchange rate at 3.4 to 3.5 Peruvian sols to the dollar. By and large, businesses are quite honest, with shops, hotels, exchange booths and banks all offering about the same rate of exchange. Travelers’ checks generally secure a lower exchange rate than cash. It is wise to have some local currency on hand for small purchases, taxis, etc., although even in these cases dollars are widely accepted at the day’s rate of exchange. It is best to carry small denominations of dollars ($10s and $20s are recommended) or sols (2 and 5 sol coins and 10 and 20 sol bills are particularly useful), as changing larger bills can create difficulties.


Info to Go

LAN Chile provides non-stop service between Lima (LIM) and Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) (both from 8 to 9 hours) and Miami (MIA) (6 hours). American Airlines flies non-stop from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Miami, while Continental flies non-stop from Newark (EWR) and Houston (HOU).

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