24.5.15

Micha welcomes at Maido

Maido means welcome in Japanese and Mitsuharu Tsumura (Micha) welcomes you to his Lima based restaurant Maido, where he serves what is considered the best Nikkei (fusion of Japanese and Peruvian) cuisine in Peru. Maido was voted 7th in the Latin America´s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and the award is well deserved. A must in your next visit to Lima.
More on how Special Baggage met up with Micha in southern Peru soon...

Maido

Dessert Maido

19.1.15

All the world's a stage...

So begins the famous monologue of the melancholy Jacques in Shakespeare´s play "As you like it". Coincidentally, the Latin motto of the Globe Theatre, of which Shakespeare was a shareholder, was: "All the world is a playground". The original Globe was built in 1599 and destroyed by fire in 1613. It was rebuilt a year later, closed by the Puritans in 1642 and pulled down around 1644. The Globe that we can visit today, is a modern reconstruction about 100 metres from the original theatre, founded by the American actor Sam Wanamaker and opened in 1997. Shakespeare´s Globe, as the theatre was named, was built, as far as possible, using the same materials and techqniques of the original Globe, The theatre was partly open air with the audience divided between the pit where, for one penny, they would stand to watch the performance. Above the pit, there were three levels of galleries with wooden benches, some with cushions, which were more expensive, The upper gallery was reserved for the rich and the nobility - the Lord´s and the Gentlemen´s rooms. The money was put in a box held by collectors and, once full, taken to the box office (thus, the name used nowadays to describe a ticket office). Theatre-going was very much a social event and people would eat and drink whilst watching the play. Playhouses were also known to have areas where courtesans and gamblers would carry out their trade, which would explain, in part, why the Puritans closed down the original Globe. The modern Globe, stages plays and events and you can even become a donor and have your name engraved in the "Supporting Wall" or on a tile at the entrance.

Shakespeare´s Globe




11.1.15

Paradise on Earth

I haven´t found the exact quote but apparently George Bernard Shaw, described Dubrovnik in 1929 as "Paradise on Earth". This ancient city on the Adriatic Sea, is beautiful. I should point out that my visit was before the tragic wars that ravaged the former Yugoslavia. I was looking through my files and found a couple of pictures, so I decided to write this brief post, though the trip was made some time ago. When I visited, although it was a popular tourist destination, the numbers were manageable. I understand that, nowadays, there are quite a few cruise ships stopping there and, thus, a lot of tourists visiting the city. Also, when I visited, Yugoslavia, as it was then, was still a Socialist country, but to my surprise, the city felt like any other European seaside city. The particular brand of socialism imposed by Tito appeared to be quite distinct from other socialist countries.
Although Dubrovnik suffered severe damage during the war, it appears to have been restored to its former glory. Walk around the walls of the city, admire its Cathedral, its Rennaissance buildings and do as the locals do and walk up and down the Stradun or Placa, before or after indulging yourselves in one of the many good restaurants the city has (or so I remember).
Not far from Dubrovnik, but now in a different country - Bosnia and Herzegovina - is the town of Mostar, which was also heavily damaged during the war but has now been rebuilt. One of the main attractions was (and is) the Stari Most  or Old Bridge, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century. In fact, the town takes its name from the bridge keepers or mostari.

Dubrovnik


9.1.15

Rhapsody in Blue

When I began to write this post, the first two things that came to mind were Woody Allen and Gershwin´s Rhapsody in Blue. The same happened to me the first time I travelled to New York - in fact, just Manhattan. We have seen the city so many times in films and television series that it feels odly familiar - for the good and the bad. I couldn't help but remember Jack Lemon in the film "The Out-of-Towners" (I won´t say more about the film, in case you have not seen it and decide to do so and, if you already have, you know what I mean). Chinatown, SoHo, Central Park, the MoMa, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, and much, much more. I leave you with Gershwin - enjoy!.






8.1.15

A part of Africa in Peru

Peru is a a multiethnic country. Besides descendants of the original Amerindian inhabitants, there are descendants from all the different ethnic groups, mainly European, Asian and African, that have arrived since the colonisation by Spain in the 16th century. In the case of Africans, their arrival in Peru began in the colonial period when, tragically, they were brought as slaves. Today, the Afro-Peruvians are still very much concentrated in some coastal areas south of Lima, specifically in the region of Ica and the city of Chincha. Over the centuries they have contributed to what is today, the common culture of Peru and their influence can be found in, say, music, dance and cooking. El Carmen is a small village, 10 Kms. from Chincha, mainly inhabited by Afro-Peruvians, where every year they hold dance and religious festivals that fuse African, Inca and European traditions. A visit to El Carmen has to include lunch at Mamainé, where "mother Inés" cooks the best carapulcra in Peru. Carapulcra is a stew made with pork and dehydrated potatoes, accompanied by sopa seca (noodles)  - literally, dry soup. Not far from here, is Casa Hacienda San José. The main house of this estate, which is now a hotel, was built by the Jesuits in the 17th century and later sold to a local landowner. At it´s height, up to 1000 slaves worked in its fields, producing sugar cane and cotton. Underneath the estate, there are a number of passages, which appear to have been constructed to smuggle the slaves in from the coast, in order to avoid paying taxes. A tragic episode, which we can set aside, though never forget, digging into a plate of carapulcra, washed down by a glass of tutuma liquor and maybe an impromptu show of music and dance at Mamainé.


Mamainé



5.1.15

A place to die for...literally

Imagine yourself laying down in a beautiful garden, with all the time in the world, where some of your neighbours are famous artists, philosophers, writes and poets. Does such a place exist, you ask? It does, but alas, to live there you have to, well, stop living.
I am referring to Highgate Cemetery in North London. Established in 1839, it is the final resting place of, amongst others, Karl Marx, the historian Eric Hobsbawm, actor Corin Redgrave, philosopher Herbert Spencer, and writer Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. All these are buried in the East Cemetery, where visitors can wander around freely, whereas the West Cemetery may only be visited with a guided tour. The East Cemetary used to be free to visit a few years ago but they now charge an entrance fee of £4 which goes towards it´s maintenance. If you decide to travel by tube, I would recommend taking the Northern Line (otherwise known by locals as the misery line) to Highgate. Archway station is closer but I think the walk from Highgate tube, through Highgate Village and Waterlow Park is nicer.

LAST STOP


29.4.14

Rescue a princess

Well...at the very least you can pretend to, in this medieval castle that is part of the Paradores of Spain chain. The Parador de Alarcón is in the province of Cuenca and about 200 kms from Madrid. Ideally, you will book one of the "unique" rooms, located in the tower. Once there, I would suggest you allow your imagination to take over!



More Paradores:
Parador of Mazagón
Parador of Trujillo
Parador of Ávila
Parador of Cuenca
Parador of Santiago de Compostela
Parador of Salamanca

25.4.14

In the tip of Lima

For most visitors to Lima, the nearest they will get to El Callao is Lima airport, which is located in this province of Lima. The historical centre, Miraflores, San Isidro and Barranco are the districts best known to visitors to the city, and unless you arrive by ship, you will possibly not think of visiting the actual port of El Callao, and its district of La Punta. This was not always the case, the port was once very popular, but with the wrong people. Pirates, including Francis Drake and Jacon Clerk dropped in from time to time. These unwelcome visitors convinced the Spanish viceroy at the time to construct the fortress of the Real Felipe, which still stands and is now a naval museum. Walking down to the sea from here, you go pass Rovira, a restaurant founded in 1907, and arrive at Plaza Grau in memory of Admiral Miguel Grau, a national hero in Peru. In the port you can board a boat to Isla Palomino, home to a colony of sea lions. Isla San Lorenzo, another island about 4 kms. from the port, was the place from where pirates attacked the port and is now a naval base. El Callao was also the place where the first railway of Peru, and the second in Latin America, was constructed and home to the first fire station of Lima. Tintin and Captain Haddock also visited the port of Callao in their adventure "The Temple of the Sun".
To get to La Punta, you can walk through the district of Chucuito, which still has some houses painted with bright colours, similar to the Boca district in Buenos Aires, but it´s possibly safer to catch a taxi. By the way, don´t be alarmed by the tsunami warning signs - unless you hear the alarms!. La Punta is the place where the affluent families of El Callao have historically lived and you can infer this by the large and well kept houses and it´s four rowing clubs. There is also a wetland populated by hundreds of birds.

El Callao

El Callao

Admiral Grau


More posts about Peru:
Cebiche in the Panamericana Sur
Monet´s favourite flower...in Lima
MATE but no chess
Lima coast
Shaken, not stirred...and with chicken
Lima to Asia in one hour
The Maltese falcon found in Lima
A story of nymphs and satyrs...and it's not about politicians
An English vampire in Peru
Lima flower market
 
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