Guayaquil - better than anticipated
Jan 04, 2008
Dec 17, 2008
Caught the bus from a wet Banos via Riobamba down to a very much hotter Guayaquil , which is Ecuadors "second city" (it is actually bigger than the capital Quito) and the place from where I fly to the Galapagos Islands on Thursday morning. The bus journey went through yet more spectacular scenery for much of the first few hours of the six hour trip which helps take your mind off a cramped uncomfortable bus and sore back/bum - Ecuador really is a very beautiful country indeed. Checked into a hotel amusingly calling itself "The Savoy" - somewhat upmarket for me at 7 pounds a night but pretty nice (including cable TV joy) if not quite on a par with the 5-star London version. Alas I had a few chores to attend to in the morning of my one day in Guayaquil , largely in preparation of a week on the boat . In the afternoon I wandered around the city a little and for the first time on my whole trip I actually ventured onto one of the "tourist buses" - the open-topped red things that normally I avoid like the plague ... but with limited time I figured it might help me see the main highlights of the city quickly (ie. in less than 2 hours). It actually turned into a rather entertaining bus ride , less for the sights of Guayaquil (largely car dealerships & shopping malls) and more for the large family party of American holiday-makers that made the bus journey very amusing and at times a bit like watching a "National Lampoons" film .... very sorry to the many wonderful travellers that come from the US but there are some of your country-folk that do bring vividly to life an unfortunate stereotype. Guayaquil was nice enough for a day and probably actually a bit better than expected based on what my guidebook seems to imply. The authorities in Guayaquil are actually making something of an effort to turn the place from what was historically a dodgily unsafe seaport into more of a tourist destination. There is a boulevard along the seafront called the Malecon 2000 which is a pleasant walk catching the sea breeze past various restaurants , fountains , shops , street artists and monuments. At the end of the Malecon there is the old market "Palacio del Cristal" with a small artesans market and outside a very large book fair which I enjoyed and managed to pick up a much longed for "fiendish Sudoku" book. There were a few other places of interest in the city , most noteably the Parque Bolivar which has the very nice Cathedral , the ubiquitous statue of "El Gran Liberator" and most excitingly of all a very large number of huge but tame iguanas who happily wander around amongst the tourists or sit watching from the trees ... the plaza is understandably nickamed "Parque de Las Iguanas" by the locals. Tomorrow (Thursday) I am off the the much anticipated Galapagos Islands on my cruise so unlikely to be any more blog updates now for over a week - when I come back I will also load on the many great Banos photos ...