How to: Long layover in Lima

When I bought my plane ticktes, I thought I was being very suave with the return journey- only a couple hours in Lima and we would be on our way home. I booked a hella early flight out of Cusco (6:30 AM) in order to make that 11:30AM international flight.
PLOT TWIST: I booked an 11:30 PM international flight. *face palm So while not being super stoked about the early flight when we could’ve taken a later one, we at least had plenty of time then to explore the beautiful capital city of Lima. 

At the airport we stored our bigger bags at the locker facility (you can easily fit 2 carryons and maybe a small backpack on top of that) and booked one of the many many taxi cab services located in the terminal (we were running low on cash so the appeal was being able to pay with credit card). It was a reasonable fare to go all the way to Miraflores (about an hour) at $18- especially considering we could split that cab fare 4 ways among our group.
First thing first, we started with Kennedy Square as that seemed to be the easiest drop off spot. Right by the square was a delicious looking café (that accepted credit cards haha) so we had breakfast there. For $10 I got a latte, fresh squeeze juice, eggs, and a variety of breads. Definitely a worthy brunch if nothing else. The highlight of Kennedy Square is definitely the ART scene. As we ate we watched several artists start setting up there easels. So right after breakfast we headed over to admire the multiple wares and pet the well taken care of stray cats that take residence in the park. (over 100!)

Top things to see in Miraflores

1. The COAST (basically just the walkway along the beach or up on the cliffs checking out the many parks as well as the lighthouse are a great to spend a lazy afternoon)
2. Barranco: If you’re into shopping, this is the spot
3. Kennedy Park to check out the many artists work and maybe purchase a really unique souvenir
4. The Huaca Pucllana ruins which are in the heart of Miraflores and are pre-Inca!
5. If you’ve ever wanted to try out surfing, this is a great place to do it! 
One of the many cats roaming around Kennedy Park
We explored the immediate area around the Square enjoying what seemed to be a flash mob aerobics class in the street right next to the cathedral where choir music mixed in to create contrast.
We wandered our way down to the coast admiring the Park of Love and then followed the beautiful coastal path as it wove through lots of parks and little cafes. At this point I was really feeling worn down after the long previous day and little sleep before traveling so I took a break from my compatriots to find a seat on a park bench and nap/ read for a while.
 Statue at the Parque de Amor
Stunning views of the coastline 
Looking down at the restaurant we’d be eating dinner at later 
After saying hello to a few happy dogs on the walkway, I settled into a café I was hoping would have wifi (it didn’t) but did order a drink and churro to pass the time.
The cafe had really cool views (though you can’t tell as well with the gloom hanging down on the ocean) 
Enjoying my treats and the “view”

 Other top things to do in Lima

1. Take a tour out to the desert and sand surf! 
2. Take a Peruvian Cooking class
3. Visit the historic district- most notably the Basilica and Convent of San Francisco to see the catacombs there
4. Check out the government palace 
I proceeded to do none of those things (though I really would’ve done some of them if I had more time to plan my time in Lima… *whoops* but the one masterful idea we had was a recommendation that came from fellow trekkers to Salkantay:

Eat at La Rosa Nautica

I met up with my friends out front and we had some amazing seafood with a 5 star eating experience. 
The try all seafood platter I shared with a friend that included fish, clams, mussels, shrimp, squid, octopus, and probably some other things thrown in there I missed. It was awesome getting at least 2 of everything so we were able to try everything and divy up (based on preferred pallets) any extras. 
It was a moody gloomy day, but inside was cozy and romantic. (Tip: Make a reservation to get a better spot by a window) This is probably one of the fanciest restaurants I’ve ever dined at considering they had a specialist in wine selection just waiting to make appropriate recommendations, white napkin services, and of course, charged you for the bread! (even if you don’t eat the bread…) 
All in all it was a relaxing day in Lima exploring the hip neighborhood of Miraflores, trying divine seafood, petting lots of dogs, and taking it easy on a long layover. I hope you get to experience some of Lima on a layover or longer stay! Enjoy. 

Total Cost for day in Lima

Airport storage locker $16.70 split 2 ways  $8.35 pp
Taxi to Miraflores Kennedy Square (split 4 ways) $18  – $4.5 pp
Breakfast $10
Latte and Churro at Buenavista Cafe $3.60
Dinner at La Rosa Nautica $40
Taxi back to airport $15- $3.75 pp
Total: $70.20

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Walking Tour of old San Juan

Historic San Juan in a day Walking Tour
Whether you have an extended stay in Puerto Rico, or less than a day from a cruise stop over, here’s my walkable itinerary for seeing the best of San Juan.Puerto Rico in one day! Experience history, art, shopping, and admire tons of cool city architecture. 

The San Juan Port in the historic area. Grab some bottles of water from the shops around the port as you’ll head up the hill on Calle Marina street to Castillo San Cristobal, the largest fort built by the Spanish in the New world. 
Distance ~0.5 miles 
Along the way you’ll pass some squares with little shop tents if you’re a fan of the blown glass, one of the tents that is along the way makes little blown glass animals right there for figurines or jewelry. You’ll also see lots of brightly colored buildings and as you finish the uphill trek, you get an awesome view of the port looking down on the big ships docked there.
Peak down all the colorful alleyways as you trek up the short hill

Vising Castillo San Cristobal
Hours: 9:00-6:00 PM everyday 
Cost: (16+): $7.00 
*If you have a National Parks Pass, you can get 4 adults entry for free. 
This fort as mentioned is the largest Spanish fort in the Americas, spanning 27 acres. It took 150 years to build with construction beginning in 1634. It covers the Eastern gate of San Juan Island and its walls extend in either direction of the coast. There are 3 levels to explore: cannon embrasures, sentry boxes, tunnels to explore, and exhibits to learn about the former military quarters. All in all, it’s a great stop and won’t take longer than an hour for self-guided tours. 
**You can also get married here.. *swoon*
After San Cristobal, follow the sea coast along Calle Norzagaray where you can explore old parts of the wall that made up San Cristobal’s defenses with multiple garitas (guard towers) and historical markers. Learn about the La Perla area of San Juan where another fort used to be as you make your way to Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Here walk across the great lawn taking in all the kite flyers and the size of this incredible fort perched on the bay. 
Distance ~ 1 mile

Vising Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Hours: 9:00-6:00 PM everyday 
Cost: (16+): $7.00 
*If you have a National Parks Pass, you can get 4 adults entry for free.
If you have to choose between visiting the 2 forts, this would be the one to go with. While overall containing less “acres” than San Cristobal, this fort has 6 levels and unparallel’d views of the bay and San Juan Isle. While San Cristobal was built to defend against land invasions primarily, this fort was built to defend the bay. And defend it did as there is only one instance where the fort was penetrated by enemy invaders making it the most successful of all the Spanish forts built at that time. Construction began in the 1500s when the battery and tower were built to protect the harbor. In 1632, the governor of San Juan began construction on San Cristobal and the city walls. It was also the center of Spanish life at the time so the structures contained within the fort have a lot more complexity making the tour a bit more interesting.
After a visit to the fort, walk down the stairs on the right/ East side to the start of multiple trails. If you follow the same trail to the right/ East it will take you to the cemetery you pass as you approached the fort from the street. Heading left/ West the path wraps around the bottom of the fort and connects to the Paseo del Moro trail. 
Views looking East along the Paseo del Moro trail 

Paseo del Moro

This trail was my favorite part of San Juan. (shocker right.. I do love trails) It follows the old wall almost around the entire western side of Old San Juan with nothing else along the way besides the ocean and cats. The old wall has been wonderfully maintained dating all the way back to 1630! Between the wall and the ocean, it’s like walking into Pirates of the Caribbean scene.  Along the trail you can also watch the big ships leave from port back to the open ocean easily catch wildlife (other than cats) out in the water.  The area directly under the fort has multiple tide pools that can be peaked into, but be careful not to slip on the wet rocks or get soaked by a sneaky wave. 
Watching a large ship sail out of San Juan Bay
The area which is maintained by the NPS like the forts, is also serving as a cat sanctuary with little cat boxes, food, and water to help the strays out. There were so many adorable cats, most of which won’t let you get too close but will play with a bit of string if you have some. (My dad led a cat by the string quite a ways down the path as it follow and continually pounced on it)
After following the trail a ways (approx. 0.75 miles)  you’ll have two options to make you way back into town and then back to the port. The first option is to turn in at the Puerta De San Juan The Iconic red gate that served as the doorway for dignitaries and bishops to enter into San Juan back when there were only 5 gates into the city.  
Or another 5 minutes down the path, the trail ends at a beautiful fountain on the Paseo de la Princesa which is lined with shops, galleries, and also includes for those of you who skipped out on bathrooms at the forts, a public toilet.
Watching a cruise ship sail past the old San Juan walls out into open ocean 
Both gates are great options and worth seeing if you have to backtrack as the path between the two has beautiful trees overhanging the path and the fountain is really cool. The old gate takes you down Caleta de San Juan straight to the San Juan Bautista Cathedral. From either location, make sure to head over to Fortaleza street to see the fun umbrella covered walkway and explore more little shops and restaurants. And from there with whatever time you have remaining, head back to your hotel or cruise ship. 
Distance ~ 0.75 miles depending on the road you take

Walking Distance for entire loop ~ 3 miles/ 5 km

Colorful buildings of San Juan visible over the old wall
The Paseo del Moro is also a wonderful walk to do at sunset 

Other Points of Interest around San Juan to check out in a day:
Museum of Arts of Puerto Rico
Condado Beach 
El Yungue National Forest and waterfalls 
Tour of the Bacardi Distillery