02.10.2012 - 04.10.2012 23 °C
Yes fairy tale fans, after 17 years of boring everyone to tears banging on about it, various get rich quick schemes to save up enough for it, and two months of leaving do's, I've finally made it to the gringo trail.
First stop Lima, Peru and Condors House Hostel in Miraflores, where we were greeted by a table of equally as fresh off the plane new 'backpacker fwiends' and our new adopted personal guide and all-round good bloke Billy.
Within hours of landing we had sampled two of the local favourites, ox heart BBQ skewers (Anticuchos de Corazon) and Pisco Sours- a cocktail made from Pisco a local liqueur (I think grape based), lime & egg white... dangerously too drinkable on a backpacker budget!
Whilst getting involved with the beef heart, conversation at the table turned to weirdest thing you've ever eaten and one of our new pals from the U.S won hands down as she had been to the 'Testicle Festival' (no joke,look it up on Google) in Montana USA, an event held at several small towns in which the featured activity is the consumption of animal testicles, usually battered and fried. And I thought deep fried Mars Bars were mental. Take note though ladies, could be a great boyfriend cheating deterrent?
A fun filled first night as the oldest-backpacker-in-town was rounded off with a good old singalong to Oasis Wonderwall thanks to the talented fellow traveller Matt's guitar skills. You can take the Northerner out of The North...(but they'll still sing 90's Britpop at any drunken opportunity)...
Billy, the hostels unofficial tour guide extraordinaire was a proper legend and took us round the main sights of Lima over the next two days in return for a few beers including but not limited to;
•Central Lima Plaza De Armas (Main Square) to see the changing of the guards... Brass band type parade behind big iron gates... Not dissimilar to London if London had menacing looking police with machine guns stopping you getting near the gates
•First empanadas ever! We tried Pollo y carne, both well nice... Not dissimilar to a cornish pasty if a Cornish pasty had a sneaky egg or olives hidden in the middle and cost 50p instead of about £6 at the cornwall pasty co. at the train station
•Washed down with the local pop,'Inca Kola' not dissimilar to Irn Bru if Iru Bru was radioactive and sold to you by a woman with no teeth
•Monasterio de San Francisco; this old monastery was beautiful & like something out of a horror film; ancient moorish dark architecture, faded canvases depicting the most twisted scenes from the bible, and a network of tunnels beneath holding the bones of thousands of unfortunates, stacked in patterns using skulls for emphasis. The library held rows upon rows of old texts dating back to 14/15th century, with two waist height giant books displaying the prayers in Latin... Wes Craven/Stephen King you can have that location tip for free. Coming soon to a cinema near you... 'gringo zombie monk librarians II' in 3D
•'anyone fancy a pint?' yeah we did too..popped into the oldest bar in Lima for a Tortilla & Cerveza
•Walking around the edgier central Lima markets and china town was pretty hectic, crowds everywhere flogging flying toy helicopters, bracelets, street snacks... Incessant horn honking, traffic gridlock and extreme un-roadworthiness rules the road
•a night out in the bohemian district of barranco led us to the romantic viewing point and picturesque (yet precarious) bridge 'of sighs' puente de los spiros, where legend (Billy) has it if you hold your breath whilst crossing the bridge and make a wish it will come true. My wish was that it didn't fall down while we were crossing.
•back to miraflores to a local club where I noticed how open & unashamedly amorous people of the area are... Witnessing a Peruvian reenactment of the dancefloor scene in Rita, Sue & Bob 2...and a breakdance dance off with locals and people from our hostel until we called it a night before someone put their back out.