The Trundler Goes to Trujillo in Peru
The beautiful colonial city of Trujillo is a highlight of the north coast and a natural stopover on the way to Ecuador. Save time by taking the overnight bus, which sounds potentially challenging but if you choose the right company this can be an easy and even enjoyable journey.
The buses are like double decker coaches and the seats are so comfortable, it’s a bit like travelling business class on a plane, except so much cheaper.
The Cruz del Sur company offers a luxurious overnight service to Trujillo for around £25. Seats recline as you tuck yourself in with the cosy blanket provided. Drinks and sandwiches are served and there’s coffee in the morning to wake you up. You barely notice the journey until you reach this elegant treasure, named by Francisco Pizarro – the conquistador in charge of conquering Peru – who called it after his Spanish hometown.
As the Trundler tumbled off the bus, feeling only slightly the worse for wear, she was delighted to learn that her visit to Trujillo coincided with La Fiesta de la Marinera, held at the end of every January.
It’s a glorious carnival with wonderful floats featuring dancers wearing the most flamboyant costumes. They are brimming with joy and enthusiasm, especially the small chidren whose proud expressions are very moving.
Sometimes a more expensive hotel is called for, especially after a long journey. The Peru Hotel Libertador is right on the Plaza des Armas and is the perfect spot from which to observe the festivities. A very comfortable double room costs around £80 a night including a huge breakfast which lasts for hours as you work your way through everything from Naranjilla – a Peruvian delicacy which looks like a larger version of the passion fruit – to gluten free bread and hummous. There’s also a swimming pool, where few people venture and which is ideal for The Trundler who doesn’t mind cold water.
The Plaza de Armas is a wonderful place to sit and watch the festivities or just to sit. It’s the hub of Trujillo activity and the home of some choice buildings. Whatever you may think about the Spanish invaders they knew what they were doing when it came to building magnificent squares. There’s a splendid 18th century cathedral and many other typical, gracious buildings, painted in pastel colours and with striking wrought iron grill work on the windows.
There is no need to do very much in Trujillo as just being there is a delight. Drink coffee in The Museo Café a peaceful spot with high ceilings and lots of dark wood. It’s on the tourist trail but very understated and a soothing place to spend some time, sheltering from the sun.
Or if you’re craving an alternative to Ceviche there are Chinese restaurants selling the usual full range of dishes but in huge portions. Beware the Aeropuerto Especial – a giant plate of fried rice which luckily bears no resemblance to airport food, but which is impossible to finish.
Everything combines to make a very pleasant experience but if you are craving cultural stimulation you can take the bus 5 km to nearby Chan Chan, a fascinating archeological site and the largest Pre-Columbian city in South America. This makes an interesting but extremely hot day out.
For a cooler excursion make for Huanchaco, a half hour rickety bus journey away and famed for its surfing. The Trundler preferred to take a dip in the Pacific ocean and to watch the fishermen on their ‘cabillitos de totora’, little reed boats also available for tourists to ride. If you don’t fancy either of these activities there’s a long strip of ceviche restaurants where you can try the famous Peruvian dish at its finest.