General Overview of my trip to Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands
General Overview of my trip to Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands Quito Reviews
May 07, 2007
Quito was very nice, sophisticated and beautiful. As you know, it is the capitol of Ecuador. It was very much like a lot of big cities visited with the normal hustle and bustle, but with very, very reasonable prices for delicious food even in very nice restaurants.(As well as for many other things) (Cigs, too LOL....about 5 a pack here as you may know......1.80 or less most places) Quito is also at a very high altitude (we were told only second to La Paz, Bolivia). You can actually feel it as you walk off the plane. Some people get altitude sickness and have to take medication. We did not, but needed to rest and relax the first night to acclimate.
You may know that appx 7 years ago Ecuador took the unprecedented step of doing away with their local currency and adopting the United States Dollar as their official currency. It was nice because you did not have to exchange currency nor constantly try to convert prices in your head. ATM's dispensed USD just like here. We also took a day trip about three hours into the country from Quito to a smaller city called Otavalo. The ride to here and the area was unbelievably lush and exquisite. Otavalo has a high population of indigenous peoples apparently noted for their artwork and handicrafts and carvings etc etc etc.....saw some amazing stuff. Unfortunately I could only buy a trinket or two because luggage to the Galapagos Islands is strictly limited by size and weight. I needed enough clothing and stuff to last me almost two weeks ( I did not know either how difficult or not it would be to do laundry) so I was unable to bring back gifts for people and only a few things for myself. (Except for two promises for a shot glass and a birthday gift for a co-worker) See, I could only check one bag and carry on one period.
Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island (The Galapagos Islands) (Archipelago de Colon) where our Hotel was located was very nice and charming. Did you ever go to Panama City Beach when we were teenagers or so?
Do you remember the feel way back before MTV started doing Spring Break and all those ghastly condo buildings started going up? Jim and I both said that it felt like that back then with a Spanish flavor. Very laid back in a nice way. My room had no television or telephone but suited me fine. (Cell service did work!) To get there you have to fly to the Island of Baltra (the only airport currently operating in the whole Islands). You then have to board a bus to a ferry that takes you to Santa Cruz Island and then board another bus or shuttle or taxi to the town (45 minutes). It had loads of good seafood restaurants and was just really relaxing. Walking down the main drag (Avenue Charles Darwin) reminded me a little of how the Front Beach Road in
PC used to be around the Blue Dolphin motel area etc. but different. No sand beaches of course. Really nice and friendly and helpful people also. The town was made for walking and you could walk anywhere...and Jim and I walked to the Disco one night (Upon the recommendation of an Irish guest in the hotel) and had a lot of fun. To give you an idea.........no cover charge.......was set up really unique...was high tech....... a free-poured Cuba Libre (and they were not shy about pouring either) (Bacardi) was 2 bucks. Oh another thing, I was amazed at the international tourism there.(but then I guess I should not have been given its uniqueness) Our hotel had people from all over the world staying there. A five minute walk up the street was the Charles Darwin research and science center which has the giant tortoises. Wow, it takes 100 years for them to get to that size as well. You can not touch them but can sit right next to one or walk right around them etc. Was really cool.
A highlight of the trip was a tour to North Seymour Island. Only an official government licensed naturalist
can take you there and you have to strictly follow his instructions. No food, drink, smoking, etc are allowed on the island. From the ship you have to board a little dingy (sort of like a raft) that takes you to the shore. (The ship held 20 people comfortably and had two bathrooms and a galley......we had fresh red snapper for lunch and were able to watch the chef actually cut up and prepare a whole red snapper) The wildlife like iguanas and various birds and such are not afraid of people and come right up to you. The best part was seeing the blue-footed booby birds and the frigates. Oh and the sea lions were amazing as well. The whole experience was interesting and unusual and fascinating....and had a rustic feel to it. BTW, this trip was physically demanding and my Mother did not go on this tour. If you go, it will require a good deal of stamina.
Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador with several million people, but you can tell it is a major business
center for the country. We were all amazed at the very fast pace of the people coming and going. Lots and lots of foot and auto traffic. It reminded me of a smaller version of New York City in a way. Not as many skyscrapers (but several) and hundreds and hundreds of yellow cabs parading around the streets and boulevards. It was there that I had the best paella that I have ever eaten in my life. Food everywhere was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good, BTW, and we all ate way too much.
Will send pictures when I get around to get them developed. I have so much to still do here today and report back to work tomorrow that it will probably be next week before I drop them off. If I get Mom's and Jim's before then I will forward them on.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!