Tag Archives: Lima

Should I Really Go Paragliding?

3 Apr

This is the kind of question I asked myself every time I wanted to do something that wasn’t free.

It’s not because paragliding is dangerous and risky, because it is. It’s because I’m on a budget. Everywhere you go there is going to be people who ask you to join them in an activity like paragliding. There’s always going to be something you want to do that costs money. Sometimes you just need to suck it up and spend the money in order to have a good time. Other times, you need to hold back because, well, that’ the whole point of a budget. Soak in as much of the culture without spending too much money.

Before I go to a new destinations I always read up on different activities and sightseeing and the prices of such. I ask myself: What do I want to do most in my next destination? How much will food and accommodation cost? How can I make room in my budget for nights out? Is there something that I will do or see regardless of the cost?

The biggest problem for me was that I would meet some great people one night, they would ask me to go do something that costs money the next day. I really, really, really wanted to because I knew I would have a good time with them. But then the whole budget thing would pop into my head.

And I would start to think “I can go paragliding anywhere,” “I can go sand duning in another country… right?”

So how do you decide what to do and what not to do?

Of course it’s always price dependent.

But sometimes you just need to say, “F*ck the budget!” Otherwise you might miss out on opportunities. And I don’t mean specifically what you do and see, but who you’re sharing the experience with.

I’m sure I can go sand duning in another country, or I can even come back to Peru and do it, but the experience might not be as good. I went with a really great new friend and it was so much fun, not just because it was exhilarating, but because I got to share the experience with someone I could really appreciate it with.

Sand duning in Huacachina, Peru! So much fun. They would stop about every 20 minutes so we could go sandboarding on our stomachs. So exhilarating because the dunes were SO steep.

Paragliding was something that I was even more unsure about. For the obvious reasons that it could end really badly, but also because you can paraglide anywhere! Really, anywhere. Canada, the U.S., Europe… everywhere.

Am I glad I did it? Absolutely. I went with 3 other people from my hostel and it was really a great bonding experience. I’m even meeting up with probably all 3 of them in SE Asia this summer. I was planning on going paragliding at some point in my life, so why not do it in Lima, Peru? The view of both the ocean and the city was amazing. One of the guys was actually so scared to do it, which was hilarious. But we talked him through it and he was so glad he did it. The cost? I think it was around 100 soles, which is about $35, for a 15 minute… glide(?). A little bit out of my budget, but I made room for it by eating really cheap.

See how happy it made me!

And that brings me to my next point about choosing what to participate in or not. A big part of budgeting is eating. A typical budgeted day of eating for me is usually (hopefully) complimentary breakfast, street food for lunch, cheap restaurant for dinner, and add in a beer or glass of wine or two (or three). While I could do these things on my own, I enjoy eating with other people. I love having conversations over a meal. BUT, a lot of people want to eat in a restaurant for every meal, especially if their trip is a short one and they’re not on a budget. So when new friends ask me to go out to eat with them, I have a really hard time saying ‘No.’ Of course I would love nothing more than to share a bottle of wine at a great Indian restaurant in La Paz, Bolivia. This is something that you just really need to budget well. Write down what you spend each day and you’ll be able to enjoy meals that are a little out of your price range while compensating in other areas of your budget. I love the social aspect of eating, so I will compensate for those more expensive (but not too expensive) meals.

FREE Breakfast of Champions

Be smart. Know when to avoid spending a lot of money, but also live a little. Things cost money. That’s how the world works. Sometimes you just need to spend that extra money (and compensate for it in other areas of your budget) because you might regret it if you don’t or great opportunities might be missed

 

Click here for a video from when I went sand duning in Huacachina!

Click here for a video from when I went paragliding in Lima!

 

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A Day or Two in the Capital of Peru

1 Apr

The first destination of my South American journey was the capital of Peru – Lima!

Now, I’m no expert when it comes to backpacking. I’m just beginning to understand the best ways to travel. So, I gave myself 6 days to explore Peru’s capital. If you’re going on a trip around the world for an long time then you probably want to stay in each place you visit for an extended period of time. But, when you have limited time then you definitely do NOT need 6 days in Lima. After one day of exploring I was ready to move on.

My volunteering was scheduled to start on August 2nd. Peru’s Independence Day is July 28th so I decided I would arrive in Peru a week before my volunteering because I definitely wanted to be in Peru on this day. To be honest, it wasn’t really a huge deal in Lima. There was a setup with decorations in a park downtown and few balloons scattered here and there, but it wasn’t really anything as big as I thought it would be. AND prices were jacked up for the whole week because of this one day, which sucked. The only celebrating I really saw for this day of independence was at a club where there were red and white skinny balloons floating around. There were also fireworks that I saw from inside my cab which was awesome! (Click here for the video!).

Anyway…

The majority of people I talked to about Lima decided that they didn’t like it. I can see why. It’s full of tourists and there’s really not much to do or see. It’s very commercialized. The weather is crap (it is NEVER sunny). But to be honest, even though 2 days in Lima was enough for me, I really liked it, especially the district of Miraflores.

Here’s some things that you should do or see if you’re spending a few days in Lima:

1.) Pizzeria Alley: This uniquely decorated alley is filled with cheap food and restaurant employees yelling out “Come to my restaurant and I’ll give you free drinks” “No, come to my restaurant and I’ll give you 4 for 1 drinks. Happy hour all day!” It is located in the district of Miraflores just off of the central Parque Kennedy.

Pizzeria Alley (Somehow, it's very enchanting at night)

2.) Parque del Amor: The Love Park. If you’re traveling with a loved one definitely come here. Hell, come here even if you’re on your own. It’s so cute and hilarious and just something you would never find in a lot of places, like here in Canada. The park is right on the coast, so the view is great.

The oh-so-hilarious Parque del Amor

3.) Paragliding: If you have room in your budget definitely go paragliding. The company that I went with was located along the coast as well. I can’t exactly remember, but I think it was about $35, which is a lot cheaper than it would be here in Canada. It was a great way to see all of Lima (Click here for the video!). However, it was a little chilly way up in the air so wear a jacket!

Paragliding in Miraflores

4.) Downtown and Museums: The downtown area (Callao) was a very bustling place. People everywhere are trying to sell things to you (but that’ll happen everywhere you go in South America). If you like museums then downtown is the place for you. I went to Museo de Arte with a friend I met. It was… interesting. There was some interesting interactive art pieces, like a sculpture that you could paint on! There was also this really bizarre video clip section and one of them was of a naked women on the beach hula hooping, but you couldn’t see her face or legs and the hula hoop was made of barbed wire that was cutting her stomach. Very bizarre and definitely not something I was into at all. Also, the buildings downtown looked very colonial, which I thought was very beautiful.

Painting in Museo de Arte. What did I paint? My name. Very original, I know.

5.) The food: There’s a reason why Lima is the gastronomic capital of the Americas – the food is absolutely fantastic. In downtown Lima I had my first Peruvian meal and it was by far the best I had of the whole trip. I wish I could tell you the name of the restaurant, but it actually had NO name! It was a tiny little, crappy-looking, run-down place, but it was amazing. I can tell you what I got though – Lomo Saltado. Definitely try it! I had it about 50 more times during my trip, but nothing was as good as the one I had in downtown Lima.

Great food, great beer... what more could you ask for?

6.) Barranco: This is a district not too far from Miraflores. We went there on the night of Peru’s independence to a random Peruvian club and it was such a blast! The drinks were incredibly cheap. I know the Lonely Planet suggests this one club, La Noche, that everyone knows about, but don’t go there. The cover charge was ridiculously priced and the drinks were way too expensive. Taxis will be more than happy to take you to Barranco for a cheap sum so definitely try going there one night. And, when you get back to Miraflores afterwards? Don’t fret, because there’s a McDonald’s to satisfy your drunken cravings!

My new hot German friends in one of Barranco's many clubs

Just to give you an idea of how I spent my days in Lima…

Day One: After eating breakfast, I explored Lima’s downtown area where I walked around the Plaza de Armas, visited the Museo de Arte, and ate the best meal of my entire trip. After returning to the hostel at around 5 pm, me and some friends went up to the rooftop bar and had our first pisco sours! For dinner, we headed over to Pizzeria Alley (about a 4 minute walk from Hostel Kokopelli). Then we came back to the bar and partied there for the night and made some plans for the next day with some new friends.

My first pisco sour!

Day Two: After breakfast, three new friends and I headed over to the coast to see Parque del Amor. After that we decided to go paragliding. Then we walked along the coast for a little longer and saw the lighthouse up close. After that, we went to the Larcomar (This is a mall that was along the coast. Don’t go there unless you want to eat terribly overpriced food. If you want a taste of home, like Ruby Tuesdays, then by all means…) for food, but decided it was too pricy. We walked back to the centre of Miraflores and ate at a cheap restaurant (Note: Many restaurants have set menus for about 15 soles [~$6] which includes a drink, appetizer, main course and sometimes even a dessert!). Afterwards, another girl and I decided to go wandering around the city to find an artesan market… we got lost. However, we eventually found it and it was huge and colourful and cheap! Once we returned to our hostel we ordered a pizza to the rooftop bar, played some King’s Cup, made some more new friends and headed out to Barranco for some dancing! The night ended in McDonald’s, of course.

???

And then the next day…

My friend J-Lo and I were off to Huacachina!

So, is Lima all that bad? I didn’t think so. I had a lot of fun in Miraflores. It felt really safe and comfortable. The food was cheap. The hostels were cheap. The nightlife was awesome. And last but not least, It had desserts called – I kid you not – ‘Bacon of Sky.’ I tried to order it, but they were sold out!

!!!

What did you think of Lima?

If you want to see some more pictures from Lima click here or the flickr icon on the home page!

My First Hostel and How I Fell in Love

29 Mar

This post is going to be about two things:

1) My first experience in a hostel;

and 2) How I fell in love with hostels.

I’m not the bravest person. I’m adventurous, but something like a solo trip to South America, especially as a female, definitely had me a little (a lot) nervous. I had no clue what I was doing so I decided it was probably best to book a hostel for the night I was arriving to Lima, Peru. Also, I looked for one that had an airport pickup service since I was going to be arriving at 2 AM and I really didn’t know where to go once I arrived. I looked at tons of different hostels in Miraflores (a nice district in Lima) and ended up choosing Hostel Kokopelli. It was around $10 for an 8-person dorm per night (they also had private rooms, 6-person dorms, 4-person dorms, and female dorms) and $16 for the airport pickup. When I got to arrivals it took me quite a while to find the sign with my name on it because my name was spelt very wrong (it was actually quite hilarious how wrong it was spelt) and there were so many people with signs. One very bumpy taxi ride later and I was brought directly to the door of my hostel.

8-person dorm at Hostel Kokopelli

Why I loved Kokopelli:

  • Location – Very close to Parque Kennedy which is central to Miraflores
  • Security – Exterior and interior; there were HUGE lockers in the rooms
  • Free WIFI- 3 computers, fast internet
  • Clean rooms
  • Comfortable beds
  • Hot showers
  • Free Breakfast- The free breakfast was amazing! You get breakfast tickets that you bring to a cafe around the corner from the hostel- There’s a choice between eggs/bacon and waffles (get the eggs)
  • Rooftop bar- This was awesome. Decently priced drinks. Good social atmosphere.

Rooftop bar at Kokopelli

  • The staff- They were very helpful and most of them spoke English.
  • The decoration/design- Very fun and colourful. The rooftop bar had different countries’ flags covering the roof which was cool.
  • They were very laid-back so even though I had to check out at 1 pm, I could keep my luggage in a room and hang around until I needed to leave for the bus station.

What I didn’t love:

  • This isn’t really something that bothered me at all because I can sleep through any noise, but the streets were very noisy at night.
  • I did a lot of research about Kokopelli before I chose to go there and one thing that everyone raved about was the amazing owners. I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to meet them and hang out with them, but they were at the other hostel they owned in Mancora, Peru.
  • The bathroom was co-ed. This was only an issue for me when I had to… #2. It was uncomfortable.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this hostel. The social atmosphere was great. I met so many really cool people. What made it even better was that I met JENNIFER LOPEZ. Well… not the real Jenny from the Block, but her name was truly Jennifer Lopez and we ended up traveling together for a while.

Jennifer Lopez and I at Kokopelli

I was officially in love with hostels.

Why?

I think the number one reason for me was how unpredictable I knew my stay at a hostel would be. Anything could happen really. I could be exploring a city with Germans one day. Paragliding with Brits another. Taking shots with new friends. I never knew what to expect and I loved that feeling.

Another reason was the social aspect. This is obviously something that every traveler loves, but I thrived off of this atmosphere as a solo female traveler. I was looking for new friends and, sure enough, new friends were looking for me. Most people you meet in hostels want to meet other people so it’s so natural to be drawn to other people and to be approachable yourself.

I also loved not caring so much about my looks. As a girl who straightens her hair frequently and who wears makeup everyday, it was a great not to feel like I needed to impress people all the time. No one cares about how you look (or smell?).

It is easy to find people who have similar interests to you. If you want to party every night I guarantee you will find a ton of people that will take a taxi with you to Barranco to hit up a Peruvian club.

Clubbing in Barranco

My first experience in a hostel was so great that it made me fall in love instantly. You’re going to come across hostels you love and hostels you hate. If you don’t like your hostel, find a new one. Don’t book more than one or two nights. Try not to even book at all unless it’s a really popular place. Everyone likes different things. Everyone will feel uncomfortable about different things. My first night in the hostel there was a couple in the best next to me and let me tell you… they were NOT sleeping. Ask fellow travelers for advice and recommendations and usually things will work out nicely.

If you want to see some more pictures from Lima click here or the flickr icon on the home page!