Catacombs Convento de San Francisco Lima Peru

Located a few short blocks from the Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor Lima Center is the Convento de San Francisco which houses the largest catacombs in Peru.

The Convent is located about a five minute walk from the plaza de armas and is a fantastic attraction. The tour only costs about 10 soles each from what I recall and includes a complete tour of the convent as well as the catacombs below. A word of warning: as usual I recommend taking the spanish version of the tour is you have someone in your group which can assist you. Our kids took the spanish tour and it was twice as long and much more complete spending alot more time in the underground catacomb chambers.

They heard many secretes about the underground passages and alot more history including a tour of the library and upper level of the convent. The english tour was also informative and definitely a worthwhile visit.

Taking Pictures inside is not permitted. Please observe this rule as people remains are present.

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FOREX Peru : Best Places to Exchange Foreign Currency Peru

Back for a quick update, busy with work.

When traveling abroad tourists always want to get the most bang for their buck.  When traveling in Peru it is important to know the do’s and dont’s of money exchange.  In Lima the airport has various atm’s and a money exchange on the lower floor just before you exit near the coffee stand.  It’s okay to change some dollars for soles here but the rate is usually a few points off the prime rate.

I normally change just outside the center of lima in one of the places the guys in the vests go to do their own changes.  I won’t tell where my spot is because I don’t want every gringo out of san anton showing their touron self there but I will suggest a few good alternatives that bring close to prime rates.

First, dont do it at any of the hotels or eateries as you will get screwed on the rate.

Rule #1 look for the guy in the neon yellow vest, normally sitting atop a bar stool on busy street corners.  The proper way to ask is, “quanto es el cambio por favor” or “quanto es el dolar” last extended stay was normally 2.85 but I was able to change for 2.92 at my un named establishment.  It was a little out of the way but a big safe place none the less.  Normally in Mira Flores one pays a higher rate somewhere in the 2.80 all the way down to 2.70 in the wee hours of the morning.

Rule #2 DOS, you guessed it don’t change your money at night on the street.  It is hard enough making sure you have gotten all of your bills let alone checking that they are legit in the dark street lights.  I rarely change large amounts at night but have in Mira Flores near the McDonalds but not too late.  It was around 11 PM local when I did it there a few times and needless to say I got screwed on the rate but if you are out for the party then you have no choice.

#3 always check around.  During the day time it is not uncommon to see several neon clad money changers on a street corner.  In plaza de armas try the guys in front of bembos.  There is also a reliable place a few doors down on the side of the pizza place but watch out as he tried to give me a fazool last time and I told hime to give me a new bill.  It was a fake 100 sole not you could tell because the foil wasnt glittery.  Be careful out there and its best to use the guys in the jackets they are most reliable.

Gamara: Check close to the food court near the main entrance by Pizza Hut.

Mira Flores:  ATM’s McDonalds Building by movie theater, Exchanger’s just outside

Ave Abancay:  Near the Judicial look for the lady singing on her karioke machine and ask around.  ATM’s and 2 good exchanges

Chabuka:  Here you will need to go back to Plaza De Armas and try Bembo for the ATM or the Bank down by the shops on the pedestrian mall.

Cusco : Plaza de Armas is the best place here plenty of ATM’s and you’ll want to go inside one of the shops around the square to exhange money look for Dollar Euro signs in yellow. If you can’t find one just ask someone. They are in most of the places in the square like the internet cafe’s.

Most Bank ATM’s will give out dollars or soles.  I always get dollars and change my money as needed.  There are usually plenty of neon vested fellows to help.  They should all have a calculator you can use if you need too.  Good luck and stay safe and smart.

Mahalo

Los Organos Mancora Peru

Our recent visit to Los Organos in Mancora, Peru was quite a nice and peaceful trip to the laid back Tropical Paradise.

We stayed at the Costa Blanca de Vichayito, located just south of Mancora on the outer beach road.  There are hotels all the way out and if you took the bus you will most certainly be mobbed by the moto taxi drivers as soon as you get off of the bus.

These guys get paid if you stay there by the hotel you choose so you deffiantly shouldnt pay more than a few soles to have them take you around for a tour which we did so you can find the accomidation that suits your taste.  We paid s./15 for two moto taxis and we stopped at 5 different places before deciding on the end of the road approach.

We didnt like the places in town as they were very basic and a little on the more expensive side.  As you get out of the town it is nicer and much less expensive.  Most places have an all inclusive rate but usually includes 3 meals and normally excludes liquor.  In town rates ended up being more than double what we paid.

The Costa Blanca at Vichayito Los Organos Peru was the place that had it all.  Open air restaurant with lcd tv, 3 meals a day that were some of the best food the whole vacation, free dvd rental, right on the beach with semi private balcony overlooking the breaking surf.  They have a very nice and clean swimming pool, fooseball, and the best part is the Beach.

The beach is so beautiful that words just cant describe.  The water is warm and very clean.  The sand is light and very clean too.  This was the cleanest beach I saw on my trip.  The fishing boats are out at night and you can see abalone divers in the morning cleaning their catch right on the playa.

There is an abundance of sea life in the water as well.  We saw many seahorses, crabs, small squid, octopus, and several spinny puffer fish while walking along the beach.  There are Tons of sea shells too. There are vendors that walk by in the morning with seashell and art souvenirs but they dont bother you and are nice.  There are also horse back rides on the beach.  But as with anywhere don’t leave valuables unattended.

The rates were the most reasonable we found and of all the hotels to the south this was the best we found to our liking.  Under $50 per day for 2 adults and 3 kids with a queen size and a bunk bed oceanside with breakfast included.

We liked the food and paid for serveral dinners here too.

Peru’s Obsession with Plastic Bags

The Most intriguing thing I have experienced in Peru was being handed my gaseosa ie my soft drink or soda in a clear plastic baggie knotted at the top.  During my travels I have found it very intriguing how Peruvian’s use plastic baggies for nearly everything.  They use them for nearly everything.  I suspect this is normal for most undeveloped countries as they are a cheap means of packaging.

I have to admit it is a little strange I have to say as I know they have styro foam containers at the chifa restaurants and at most of the pollo braserias for take out meals.  But when I go to the market for a meal to go they always pack my drink or beverage in a clear plastic baggie knotted at the top.  I have to say the only place I have actually drank them is from the Pizza Palace in Lima Center after walking home.

Its just different but for me I prefer a paper cup…..Usually I would prefer an ice chilled glass beer stein however!

An interesting note is that when I go to the market now I usually get the drink while I am waiting for my food but they usually put an extra bagged drink in with my order anyway…..bagged drinks hmmmmmmmmmm…..I thought this would be a funny post for tonight…

 

Cheers!

 

Bembos Peru’s Best Burger Joint

Bembos
Bembos Huachana Hamburger

Bembos

Everyone who visits Peru should stop for a quick meal at Bembos!  It is Peru’s version of McDonald’s only a million times better.  I stop in here a few times a week, normally after tying on a hard one in the Sabor Peruana V.I.P. until 4 AM.  In Miraflores you will find Bembos across Parque Kennedy from the calle de las pizzas.

The food is made to order and tastes much better than any American Fast Food Joint.  My Favorite is the Huachana Cheeseburger Combo with a ton of Aji sauce on the side and all over the burger.  The aji sauce is fantastic and I wish I knew how to make it.  The papa fritas are great and it is more like a better version of Burger King than anything else I have seen.

You can try Bembos in Lima or Cusco in the plaza de armas and in other locations around the country.  Stop in and give Bembos a try.

Chau!

Gamara : Where to buy Clothes in Lima Peru

gamarra

If cheap bargains are what you seek when shopping for clothes then you might want to check out the Gamara in Lima Peru.  The Gamara is a 30 square block complex closed to traffic which is home to Lima’s fashion District.  This is where most of the garments are made and sold.  Here you will find everything from shoes to swimsuits and everything in between.

The Gamara is about a 10 minute taxi ride from the Plaza de Armas (s./5 fare).  You will have to pay an extra sole if you dont want to walk a block to the gates, recommended if you are without local guide.

This place really reminds me of New York City.  Upon entering the gates you will find tall buildings stuffed full of little boutiques or stalls filled to the brim with all sorts of clothing and accessories.  Most of the clothes are made here in the upper levels above the stores.  You will find anything from knockoff Lacoste Polos and Ed Hardy T-Shirts for about (s./20) to Brazilian style womens jeans ( the kind that ride up the butt crack of your girl friend) for upto s./80 depending on the brand.  But most of the clothes are super cheap.

Different buildings usually house different kinds of attire, so don’t be affraid to shop around.  A good area is near the Rocky’s Polloeria on the main drag.  Be aware of street salesmen as you will be offered Lacoste Polos every 20 feet or so.  Don’t settle on the first offer unless you know its bottom dollar.

If you are buying 3 or more of anything you should expect a hefty discount if you are good at bartering.  Larger quantities equal larger discounting.  Many of the stores make there own clothing and you will find lots of different brands which are usually created by the proprietors.  I usually just look for leather shoes and jeans for my wife, but there is plenty to choose from.

Chau!

Cheapest Machu Pichu Tour

The cheapest way to get a guided tour of machu pichu is to get several prices from different tour operators.  I suggest you begin by inquiring at your hostel or hotel as most will try to push you on there tour which is usually more expensive.  Please remember that you can stay in Aguas Calientes overnight but beware of the alien mosquitos and bring plenty of deet.  Accomidation in Aguas Calientes is cheap to more expensive depending on what you find.  Once again check around before you decide which one is right for you.

After getting an idea of the cost at your hostel or hotel I suggest walking around the plaza de armas and inquiring at a few of the tour operators around the square.  I found the cheapest deal just past the McDonalds and it was a great deal.  You just have to check a few different places and then at each one just tell them what you have already been offered it is that simple and most speack english so dont worry.  Cusco is really laid back and dont be afraid to go after a bargain.

Chou