Lima, the capital of Peru and largest city, is known for its impressive museums, colonial churches, poppin' cafe scene (you gotta try the amazing Pisco sour!), striking architecture and genuinely friendly people.
While evidence of the Incas in Lima dates back as far as 2000 BC, the modern city set in a desert valley overlooking the sea, was founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. The city still bears many traces of Spanish colonization, from its language to cooking and more. Take, for example, the Spanish baroque architecture of the University of San Marcos, founded in 1551 and the oldest university on the continent. Today, the city looks more industrial than fairy tale, but Lima was, for many years, the most important, richest, and – hardly believable today –most alluring city in South America until the 1800s. In addition, the city is the perfect jumping off point to reach Peru's endless natural treasures and archeological gems- just a skip and a jump from the capital you’ll find lovely white beaches and sweeping dunes stretching along the Pacific Ocean.
Lima is a very affordable city, especially when compared to other Peruvian towns, such as Cuzco, Arequipa and Iquitos. The Nuevo Sol is the currency of Peru. As of August, 2013 the exchange rate is 2.75 PEN to $1 USD.
Don’t be afraid to show off your bargaining skills. "Tourist” prices are often much higher then they should be...
Culture Shock and Support
Okay, this is gonna sound weird, but we’re gonna talk about the “sexual climate” of Peru. Cause it’s different. And you’ll notice. In general, Peru is a conservative country in the sense of masculine and feminine roles. But simultaneously, Peruvians are extremely open to friendships with foreigners. What this means is guys might find themselves amidst a flirtation with attractive young Peruvian woman-- only to be abruptly rejected after breaking some unwritten line of conduct in, say, discussion topics. Women might be the recipient of unwanted looks and stares, as well as cat calling. Tread lightly and keep an open mind. And always be safe out there kids.
In the case of an emergency, dial 105 for police and fire department. (And the American embassy is also in Lima if you ever need a friend.)
While the city may have tarnished a bit since the golden days of prosperity, Lima still has plenty to offer. Study abroad students will find beautiful beaches, tasty delicacies and welcoming people in Lima!