Like a first love, the first place you travel to overseas often sets the benchmark for all your future adventures. In my case, no city has managed to give me such a culture shock, and make me fall in love with its culture and people, the way Lima did.

The year was 2000. To mark the new millennium, I was finally fulfilling my childhood dream and travel to mystical Peru. With Amsterdam’s fireworks still ringing in my ears, I landed at Lima airport around midnight. Apart from the flight, I had made no arrangements whatsoever. All I had, was a backpack, a guide book, a bank card and the few Spanish phrases I learned in college.

A mob of taxi drivers was eagerly pulling on my sleeves to take me to the hotel of their “amigo” (and undoubtedly charge me too much). Then, as if sent from heaven, a nun dressed in a black habit quite literally took me under her wings and shared a taxi with me.

She delivered me safely to one of Lima’s most iconic backpackers hubs, Hostel España, where I checked into their rooftop dorm. This wonderful colonial building oozes history with its tiled floors with floral patterns, high ceilings and creaking wooden stairs, making it my all-time favorite hostel.
I can still recall the elation I felt when I wandered the cobblestone streets and seaside promenade of Peru’s lively capital those first days. The smell of empanadas and churro, shouting bus drivers, touts and a cacophony of car horns assaulted my senses.

Little did I know that I would return to Lima every few years. In 2003, I got the opportunity to work together with Peruvian nuns, my sister and her Dutch friends to take care of a group of street children that were found abandoned in the hilltop slums. My sister and I still run this charity today. With the help of the nuns, our sponsors (among those Tourism Media) and volunteers, we have given hundreds of impoverished Peruvian something all children should get: a daily meal, a roof over their head, (medical) care, a place where they can play, and an education.

The last time I visited, in 2012, many of these kids had turned into young adults and were studying and working with the help of our Study Fund. It was an absolute joy to take them all to a modern mall in Lima and see them ride an escalator for the first time in their lives, let them order their first-ever over-the-counter meal and watch their eyes go wide with amazement during a 3D movie. It was clear to me from this visit that not only Lima’s future was looking up, but so was theirs.

Lima’s seafront and parks have been redeveloped and had become trendy places to hang out. Lima is also making a name for itself among travelers because of its Asian-fusion gastronomy, nightlife, adventurous watersports, accessible pre-Inca ruins and seaside malls.

Our Lima Travel video

When Tourism Media recently sent our intrepid Tourism Media photographer Jon Reid to Lima, his mission was to capture its essence and share the city’s many wonderful sights with the world. With Jon’s beautiful footage in hand and my past Lima adventures in mind, I wrote the script for the Lima Travel Guide, Jacquie composed the music and Sawyer mixed it all into a lovely short story about a city with a long history of being great.

Thanks to this latest Lima Travel Guide, you all have the chance to see why I fell in love with Peru, and it’s people, so many years ago.

Tell us what you think of the video by leaving a comment on Expedia’s YouTube channel. We value your opinion.