We are here patiently waiting in the Houston airport for our 6 hour layover to end. After enjoying free wi-fi at all the Ecuadorian airports it did not take long to realize we were back in the “civilized ” world and to get 45 minutes of free wi-fi you had to agree to ads and downloading software. oh well.
Yesterday was the beginning of our trip home. We got on the bus at a town called Olon which is the very start of the line ($11.00 for the both of us. Air conditioned and a movie as well). It allowed us to get seats at the front of the bus and our luggage safety tucked in the back of the storage compartment. (this was a suggestion of our host Bob). A totally uneventful 2.5 hour ride to Guayaquil and after grabbing a snack at the bus terminal (that place totally redefines beehive of activity), we took a taxi to the airport.
Now I have to make a comment on travel advisories. I think the intent of travel advisories from governments may have started with good intent. But now after experiencing Guayaquil, the bus terminal at Guayaquil, and Quito at night, I have to wonder where these agencies get their information. If you are aware of your surroundings, which you should be anyways, there is nothing spooky about any of these places. I am sure people, both tourists and locals have been robbed or had frightening experiences in these locations. However, those things happen to people in London, Paris, Vancouver, Calgary, and Tabor as well. In our concern when we first arrived in Ecuador we avoided the evenings in Quito after dark due to the reports of rampant crime and danger in the streets. If you are overly bothered by “dirty people” and the occasional group of teenagers perhaps you should stay home in Mayberry. Just my humble opinion. We had no problems to mention, yes we did avoid walking by groups or individuals that made us wary, just as we do at home.
Once we got to the airport we had another enjoyable flight with LAN Airlines. Even though the flight was 30 minutes late I didn’t find it upsetting. The staff kept us advised and the departure lounge is so clean you don’t mind waiting a bit. A word of warning about food prices in the departure lounge area. After eating so reasonably nearly everywhere else in Ecuador, having to cough up $6.50 for a bag of Chex was a bit of a shock. They were good though.
On arrival at Quito a very helpful taxi driver Juan Jose Mejia (cel: 095296154) took us to our accommodation, Hotel Boutique Portal De Cantuna on Bolivar St. in the old town. Juan was good pointing out sights on the way over and offered tours if we wished. His English was pretty good, but if you have a little bit of Spanish under your belt he would be fantastic.
Another 2 blocks walk to the Palacio Presidencial and the Plaza Grande. The interior is all done in beautiful antiques, the salon is very relaxing and the roof top smoking area has a small but beautiful view of one of the many churches in the area. The owners are very helpful. If you don’t speak much Spanish you will quickly be directed to the son, Bernardo, whose English is excellent.
Karen and I treated ourselves to dinner out in what is supposed to be one of the fancier restaurants in the old town. The Plaza Grand Hotel restaurant has resurrected to some of its former glory when all the movers and shakers of Ecuadorian politics used to hang out there. The service was very good and the food was great. Sometimes their timings of delivering things to the table were a bit off but it was never an issue. The staff all speak excellent English and are very attentive. (in saying that I should mention that at a restaurant you could wait until closing if you do not ask for your bill. We found that the servers will leave you alone to talk, finish your drinks, or just enjoy the view for an indefinite period of time. Don’t be frustrated, just get their attention and ask for the check and they will bring it right over). The waiter suggested the steak to me. It was not the tenderest cut of meat, but man was it tasty, as well you can’t go wrong when you throw a couple of eggs on top.
We had ice cream for dessert. I still am not sure what the deal is with the ice cream, but it involves being served by a hooded dude with bells ringing and the house lights being dimmed, all a great experience.
After a 3:25 wake up this morning we began our trek home. Juan, our taxi driver was waiting outside at 4:00 just as we had asked. A quick trip to the airport and away we went. If you are ever departing from the international departures at Quito (which I hope some of you will some day), just walk up to the person at the doorway for international departures and show him your passport. He then let’s you in to the area which you will be more familiar with. Once you have checked in head up the stairs and get in the security line, everything moves at a pretty good pace from there. Of course if you are in Quito several years from now just ignore those directions because the government is currently building a new airport just out of Town.
And that ends our first trip to Ecuador, but definitely not our last though. For a country of such a small size the variety and choice of environments and activities to keep you busy is overwhelming.
If you have any questions on visiting Ecuador please feel free to leave a question in the comments section and if I can I will be happy to answer it.
Take care, and safe travels.