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Adios Lima!

April 21, 2011

Tags: LAPT, Tourism, Blog, Travel, Latin American Poker Tour, Miraflores, Peru, Lima, Angel Guillen, Christian de Leon, Nichole Pickering.

I’m writing this as I’m sitting on my third of four flights in my trek out of Lima, Peru, after an awesome week at the PokerStars.net LAPT. As always I had an amazing time. It’s really hard not to with the awesome team PokerStars has both behind the scenes and on the felt, and of course the stunning destinations that each stop takes us to.

This time I was lucky enough to return to the classy little town of Miraflores – one of the most upscale neighborhoods of Lima. My first visit was on a warm and welcomed break from the Rio for a week during the WSOP last year when the LAPT went to Peru for the first time in season three. Of course, that visit was rushed with the need to get back to Las Vegas, so this time around I took the liberty of arriving a day early to really take in the sights around town, as I wrote about last week.

Once the rest of the PokerNews team arrived, including our new Aussie hostess Nichole Pickering for her "initiation," it was straight into Trojan Horse working mode. I was hosting videos for PokerStars.tv that week, and our first shoot was of all the beautiful sights around Mirafloress, which you can check below.

Larcomar is one of my favorite spots in Miraflores,. If you didn’t catch it in the video above, it’s a three-story mall built into the cliff’s edge overlooking the ocean, equipped with shopping, restaurants, cinemas and two of Lima’s best nightclubs. On the eve of the Main Event, I took Team PokerStars Pro Christian De Leon on a little shopping trip. He and fellow Mexican Team Pro Angel Guillen are definitely one of the best-dressed team of pros at the felt. Angel was supposed to join us on this shopping tour but after a late-night snack at the poker table he was bed-ridden with food poisoning. The moral of his story? Don’t order creamy pasta in the middle of the night in some foreign casino’s poker room! So Christian and I had set aside a couple of hours to find him a “Day 2 Shirt.” Little did I know that this man can shop. The first shop we went into was also our last, and we both came out with our hands full.

As I mentioned, Nicki Pickering joined us in Lima for her first-ever gig with PokerNews. Of course, that then required an official initiation with a calling of the clock! You can get to know Nicki a little better in the following “sixty-seconds” – lets face it, I’m a rule-breaker when it comes to the minute-limit in these videos, athough I’m sure many would appreciate it with some of the “post-minute” questions I threw at her.

For a little “team bonding,” Nicki and I decided to enter the LAPT Ladies Event with our iPhones glued to PokerNews and microphones ready to go for break-time interviews, of course. I’m not going to lie; I was pretty impressed with the two of us at the multi-tasking awesomeness that took place over these two hours. The players always seem so pleasantly surprised when they see us actually playing for a change rather than always standing over them. So besides having our Mexican backers railing us, it was also side-bet-central around our table of ladies. Those who had faith in me were deservedly paid off as I managed to make it to the money with a three-way chop. There were only two tables, so it’s nothing to write home about, but obviously I was still excited, seeing as how I managed to not only last longer than Nicki, but I actually knocked her out. That’s what happens when the new girl challenges the old duck!

Hola Lima!

April 15, 2011

Tags: Lima, Peru, Miraflores, El Parque del Amor, La Rosa Nautica, Lynn Gilmartin, LAPT, Latin American Poker Tour, Travel, Blog, Tourism.

It's rare that I get to write my blogs while in the subject city, but this week I arrived in Lima, Peru, a couple of days early before jumping into a crazy working mode for the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour. My initial goal was to squeeze in a quick trip to Machu Picchu, but it was harder to get to than I thought, so, unfortunately, those plans fell through. Nonetheless, roaming the stunning streets of Miraflores is certainly not a disappointing backup plan.

When I checked into my hotel, the Thunderbird Fiesta Hotel & Casino, I got my first pleasant surprise. My room, like all the others in the hotel, is a two-story loft with a kitchen equipped with a giant fridge ready to be filled with goodies from the 24-hour supermarket next door. Anyone who stays in hotels regularly knows that's an extremely rare treat! On top of that, the host venue for the LAPT is conveniently across the street. That is where I am right now, sitting in the media office of the Atlantic City Casino, a small but stylish casino, getting ready for the third stop on the LAPT's fourth season to get under way.

Miraflores is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Lima, set almost 80 meters above sea level, with some of the ritziest hotels and restaurants lining the cliffs of Costa Verde ("Green Coast"), overlooking the stunning ocean. It was here that I was lucky enough to eat at one of the prettiest restaurants I've ever been to, La Rosa Nautica (pictured below), a seafood restaurant set at the end of a pier with the waves crashing around you and a view of Miraflores atop the cliffs behind you as you eat. It was stunning! Surprisingly when the bill came it was relatively well priced for a gourmet meal in such a gorgeous setting, and considering the menu had no prices listed in it. That's usually my trusty indicator that I can't afford it!

La Rosa Nautica, Miraflores
La Rosa Nautica, Miraflores

On the cliffs above La Rosa Nautica sits Larcomar, a gorgeous three-story, open-air mall, overlooking the ocean, full of shops, restaurants and, what's said to be two of the best nightclubs in all of Lima. I've only been to one of them, Aura, and it was pretty awesome. It was here that I had my first "Reggaeton dancing experience." All I can say is that it's certainly different to the way we dance back in Australia! The only downside to Larcomar is that the complex is certainly not something typical of Peru, lacking the local culture. This is where you'll find the true Americanization of the area with Tony Roma's, Burger King, Pizza Hut and all that jazz tucked into what I call the "American Corner." If you ignore the corner and take in the stunning view, especially at sunset, then you will remember where you are again.

Speaking of sunset, the perfect place to watch it, if you've brought your girlfriend along, or picked one up on the way, is at El Parque del Amor (The Park of Love), just a 10-minute walk along the cliff side from Larcomar. Some say it's a poor smaller imitation of Gaudi's Park Guell in Barcelona with its rounded mosaic benches and romantic quotes tiled into the walls. In the middle of the perfectly manicured gardens is a giant statue of two lovers embraced in a kiss just to set the scene. Warning: skip this and watch the sunset elsewhere if you're feeling a little lonely -- all the loved-up couples surrounding you will probably just make you cringe.

My last recommendation is to take a trip to downtown Miraflores, right by Parque Central, to enjoy a pizza at any of the restaurants along Calle de las Pizzas ("Pizza Street"). It's a quaint little street lined with bricked restaurants similar to something you would see around Europe. There are a few pubs and bars that fill up at night, so it's a great place to come for a drink or two. The biggest bonus? Free Wi-Fi! After a few minutes of heckling from various restaurant servers we decided on Mezzaluna Cafe & Bar for one of its specialty pizzas and my first sip of the popular local soda, Inca Kola. The Inca Kola was average (perhaps choosing the Diet option was to blame) but of course the pizza was delicious. Although much to my disappointment, the Wi-Fi wasn't working, so there went my opportunity for on-the-spot TwitPics.

Downtown Miraflores
Downtown Miraflores

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