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Day 14 – Lima to Paracas

(Wednesday September 4th ) An early start! We were taking a scheduled bus from lima to Paracas, at the start of our extension to see the Nazca lines. The bus was due to leave the downtown depot at 7:30, and it would take 4 hours to get to Paracas. Then it stopped at Ina then Nazca, quite a few hours later.

Tip: Don’t take all your luggage with you. We packed the smaller of our suitcases with everything we needed for the 3 days/2 nights, then left the larger suitcase at our hotel in Lima. Much easier than dragging everything round!

The bus depot was modern, and well organized. You are given a seat number on the bus, and your suitcase is booked in – just like at the airport. And in fact, security is almost as strict as at the airport too. From the outside, the bus looked new and shiny too. We queued up at a gate, and were checked on to the bus with our ticket and passport (yes – you need the passport for the bus!)

We were directed to seats downstairs. What a surprise! It was like being in business class! Looking at our tickets, we were going VIP class – and all for 65 sols (already paid for as part of our tour). Films too! (well, just the one – a US film dubbed into Spanish with English subtitles.) The refreshment wasn’t quite business class – black coffee (no milk) and a cheese and salami roll – but you can’t have everything….

Paracas

Well the bus depot ain’t Lima! In fact it’s a straw-covered shack down a dirt track. But there’s a small shop there (if it’s open) that sells water and other things. I spotted some Halls Menthol & Eucalyptus lozenges and bought a pack – I should have bought two. Tip: Buy your water here – in the hotel it is four times the price!

Paracas is actually the name of the peninsula of land and not the town (which is called XXXXX) – but methinks the town is ending up with the name by default. This whole area reminded me immensely of Egypt and the Red Sea – probably more Marsa Alam than Na’ama Bay now, since the Russians invaded. Another difference – there are local women about! How refreshing….

La Hacienda Hotel, Paracas

The hotel is more than a stroll away from the town. To a certain extent you’re a caught audience. But it’s a very nice hotel! Our room was large, there was free internet, and the pool and grounds were lovely! There’s a sauna, fitness room, and an outside spa bath. And there were remarkably few guests – we reckoned there were about three staff to each guest!

Tip: Don’t forget your swimming costume/togs. And take some summer clothes – this may be the only chance you have to wear them.

As it was lunchtime, we tried the café. And began to find the only down-side of the whole place. The variety and cost of food. In the café, you can only get sandwiches and puddings, and they are not cheap. The cheapest was 20 sols and a Club Sandwich was 30 sols. And they didn’t come with chips! Coffee and beer weren’t cheap either. And water was 6 sols per small bottle. Ah well – it’s only money….

The weather was sunnier than Lima (which had been misty), but it wasn’t baking. There was an afternoon sea breeze too. But we braved it and put on our summer gear. Art and I chickened out, but our travel companions braved the pool (‘it’s OK once you’re in’) and the spa pool (‘Lovely – nice and hot’).

After an afternoon snooze, we met up for dinner in the restaurant.

Now we’re not seafood people. So the fact that three-quarters of the menu contained fish, prawns or shellfish in some shape or form was a bit of an issue for us. Another was the price. The appetizers started at the price we’d normally pay for a main meal (we gave them a miss), and the main meals started at 40 sols upwards (and the 40 sol was for a hamburger!) Plus there was a compulsory 12 sol per person cover charge (which provided a small bread roll and butter).

We ordered a bottle of rose wine, and regretted it. It said ‘demi-sec’ – it wasn’t ‘demi’ anything – it was the sweetest wine I’d ever tasted. So we ordered a bottle of red between the 4 of us, and left the rose to go with the pudding.

The meal was very nice – but nothing special. The puddings again were expensive – 20 sols upwards – and again were nice, but nothing special. Three of us had coffee.

The bill came to more than twice what any other meal on the holiday had come to!

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