Sunday, December 15, 2013

Peru - Lima

Misc Notes:

  • Security is still a concern in Lima, although I didn't see anything bad happening on the street during the 2 days of my trip.  Almost everybody recommended not to go walking to the street after 5pm. However, the exception is Miraflores and San Isidro which are the safest areas of town. I didn't find the central part of Lima dangerous at evening, and saw lots of people on the street. But the later it gets, the riskier it gets.
  • For transportation, the hotel taxi/limo is probably the safest thing. However, it can be $10-$15 (USD) more expensive.  I used Taxi Green , just call them on the phone or hire them at the airport. This is a very reputable company, and the few times I called they have been on time, including requesting airport pick up when I arrived to Lima, and transfer back to airport at 4am when I left. They have the option of a car or a VAN . Van is more expensive but holds a lot more cargo and passengers of course.
    I wouldn't recommend taking a cab on the street, unless somebody is very familiar with Lima. 

Sheraton Lima Hotel

Very nice 5 start hotel, right on the old part of central Lima (safe area until later at night). The building has a unique architecture, as it used to be a prison at some point.

The service is excellent; hotel personnel is very friendly and helpful.
The hotel offers a great breakfast, at strangely, a great price of about 36 soles.  The breakfast is very complete, during the weekend they even offered Lomo Saltado , which doesn't cost less than 70 doles in a good restaurant.

I don't recall the name of the food in the picture above, but it was something very good similar to cheese sticks.

The hotel has a couple of ATM machines, one accepting international debit cards. Transaction cost is 14 soles ( almost 5 USD at the time of the trip ). It is convenient, not cheap. However, I don't expect anything to be cheap at a 5 star hotel..

The hotel offers FREE shuttle service to Miraflores, running every 2 hours.

The hotel amenities are very complete. A few I remember:

  • Free internet in lobby
  • Paid internet in room
  • fridge
  • free water bottles
  • safe box in room
  • videt in restroom... awesome!
  • Something missing is the coffee maker; it isn't available. 

Also, when I checked in, they gave a voucher for one free coffee or soda per day, and one free Pisco Sour... pretty cool.

The hotel also accepts SPG points as payment for some services. I'm not sure whether this applies to all Sheraton or just for a few ones:

Parque de las Aguas

If you're lucky to be when the park opens in the evening, go and visit it.  The park is very unique with beautiful water fountains.   At night, there is a film projection using the water of the largest fountain as a screen.

Inside the park it felt very safe and there is many security personnel. However, I was still paying attention for pick pockets. Lots of people, it's a family environment.

The ticket to the park was 8 soles ($3), very well worth of it.

Tour of Lima 

At the hotel, I signed up for a half a day tour, that starts on Miraflores, drives through this part of town, then San Isidro, and finally goes into central Lima where they make a walking tour on the old part of town.

The cost is $33 (one can pay it at the hotel, or later with credit card on the tour bus). It is really worth of it. The tour guide is very knowledgeable of Lima and speaks English and Spanish very well.

One of the tour highlights is the Monastery of San Francisco, a very old dominican building with catacombs. Pictures aren't allowed inside the monastery. The catacombs are very unique, as they were built in the church basement and are full of bones of people that passed away hundred of years ago.

Monastery San Francisco

When the tour ends, they can leave you at the hotel, at a very famous seafood restaurant in Miraflores, or at the unique shopping mall Larcomar, built on the cliff with ocean view.

Old Part of Lima (Lima Central)

General San Martin, Peru's first liberator

Plaza San Martín 

San Martín

On the tour bus, by Plaza San Martín

Plaza de Armas



Change of guard at the Presidential Palace

Justice Palace (Palacio de Justicia)


Here lies a very old pyramid named Huaca Puclllana. It has been under restoration for more than 30 years, and only photo shots from the outside can be taken ( no entrance fee :-)
This pyramid is much older than the Incas, from about 200 AC.

Huaca Puclllana

Huaca Puclllana

Huaca Puclllana

Larcomar, shopping mall with ocean view

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sweden - Stockholm

Stockholm Bus & Ship tour:

  • The ticket can be purchased at the Tourist Information Office near the Train Station (there are probably other places, but I just tried that one)
  • The bus tour is nice, and something that can be done by walking (a lot) or by public transportation at a lower cost, but I didn't have enough time for that this time.
  • Be careful, when the Bus finishes the round (after stop 15), it'll take a 40 minutes break. This is enough time to go and visit the outsides of the Royal Palace. But the 40 minutes break could be an unexpected delay on the tour if not waiting for it.
  • I didn't have time for the ship tour, but will leave it for the next time. This is probably more worth the cost of the ticket.
  • There are a couple hop on hop off companies. I used the green one, which was running about every 40 minutes on Sunday afternoon. There is a red bus company, that seemed to run every 25 or 30 minutes on the same day (the bus stops are close, I could see the other bus more often while waiting for mine). In any case, the audio in the bus was translated into several languages, and  I felt it was informative for such a tour.

Some casual views of Stockholm, taken from the city tour bus:

The Vasa Museum:

The Royal Palace ( Stockholm Palace ) :

The hotel.. Sheraton Stockholm:

This is one of the bests hotels in Stockholm from what I hear from people that travel.  The location is excellent, just a few blocks away from the  central train station (with stop from the airport train, Arlanda Express), and less than 10 minute walk to Gamla Stan.
Very nice gym, with new equipment, and sauna (hint, late at night  use the phone just in fron of the Sauna door to call hotel service and ask for it to get turned on).

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Manhattan Beach (Los Angeles), California

Hotel - Marriot Residence Inn Los Angeles LAX/Manhattan Beach:

  • Very nice hotel, it's a small studio with everything needed to spend several days : Kitchen, Kitchenware, Microwave, Fridge (large), TV with Cable , nice Sofa. Great for spending a few vacation days. Very good service.
  • Only be careful for the room location. The building seem to be older, and the 1st floor can get noisy with steps from residents above... so just try to take a 2nd floor room.
  • Also, the air conditioning machines or the fridge in the room are louder than I'd like  at night time. 
  • daily room service, as any hotel
  • free parking
  • free wifi
  • free contonental breakfast
  • close to restaurants
  • a Target supermarket is near by (1 or 2 blocks away)
  • walking distance to the beach: 20 or 30 minutes (consider that coming back, part of the way is uphill)
  • the area seems to be very safe 

Manhattan Beach board walk:

Very nice buildings on the breach front ... it seems that lots of places are for rent.

Annual Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair: