Such a relief to get off the plane! Such a relief to find the driver waiting when I wheel my heavy bag out of customs. He is more than waiting, he is calling “Sharon Dembro, Sharon Dembro.” It is after midnight by the time he deposits me at our hotel and I’m reunited with husband Mark and granddaughter Emma, who arrived earlier from NYC.
Our joint travel fatigue means we don’t wake up till nearly 11 the next morning, nearly time for lunch. We taxi to El Pan de la Chola – a very cool bakery/cafe with stacks of freshly baked whole grain breads and pillowy focaccias. It’s filled with sleek Limenos and classic rock. The Burrata – fresh cheese, teeny tomatoes and fruity olive oil with grilled focaccia – hits the spot. We order one each of the freshly made drinks in dazzling colors – orange, beet red and spinach green – perfect thirst quenchers.
We’re only a couple of blocks from the Pacific, so we decide to walk back. So beautiful. A continuous park – six miles long – follows the top of cliffs that drop off to the beach below, the steep sides covered in a parrot green vine. The surfers are out in droves, braving the waves below. We pass a skate board park, a bicycle course, dog parks and kiddie parks, while overhead, the para-sailors zoom along on the fresh ocean breeze. Everything is spotless, perfectly maintained, and planted with exotic trees and a rainbow of flowers.
Back at the hotel, Emma needs pool time and I sip my first Pisco Sour – the drink Lima is famous for – while I watch her. Yum! It’s clear it won’t be my last.
I’ve made dinner reservations for each of our nights in Lima, home to 5 of the world’s top 50 restaurants. The current exchange rate is very favorable. We head off to our first culinary adventure, only to find La Gloria CLOSED on Sunday! – not something I understood when I used my meager Spanish to make the reservation. Turns out few restaurants are open Sunday night.
The hotel concierge calls around with no luck. Finally he recommends a nearby fish restaurant, Al Fresco. It turns out to be WONDERFUL! It’s hard to choose from a menu full of temptations, but Mark settles on a ceviche of octopus, fish and squid in a cilantro sauce.
Mark orders the fish soup – the broth the essence of fish.
I order Raballo (a halibut- like fish) in a sauce of sauvignon blanc with octopus rings and a fluffy polenta cake.
We agree Al Fresco would hold its own in Italy – and that’s saying a lot!