Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Weekend of Travel & a Mishap!

Our travel journey from Bahia to Guayaquil on Saturday morning went smoothly. And, after a pretty 6 hour ride, we departed the bus at the terminal in Guayaquil.

Just a few pictures taken along the way:


The first order of business was a stop at the ticket counter to buy our ticket to Cuenca for Sunday morning. Only, we found out we couldn't buy tickets ahead of time here. Oh well, no worries. The next thing was to find a Claro store so I could recharge my Internet on my phone. Up to the 2nd floor of the terminal, which is also a shopping mall. Within minutes I had 100mb more that should last me for the last 3 weeks. Oh, and for some reason, it was free!! Still don't know why but all is good in our life! 

Then we were off by cab to check in at Manso Boutique Guesthouse right on the malecon. What a delightful place!  All artsy fartsy with theme rooms. Ours was the Lime Room, which is great because green is my favorite color, so I loved the decor!  Enjoy the interior and exterior of our hostal.



After unwinding a bit on the balcony overlooking the malecon, off we went to join the families and lovers strolling and enjoying all the area has to offer. So glad we decided to come back and spend another evening here! 

It was dinner time, so we continued our walk all the way up to Las Penas. This is the beautiful old historic area of the city that we fell in love with our first day in Ecuador exactly 2 months before. We strolled along the cobble stone streets and stopped in several restaurants to check out the ambience and menus. After walking the full length of the Main Street, we decided to go back to the first restaurant, Dali's. We were immediately seated at a window table overlooking the river. Yup, if there's water, I have to be either on it or looking at it!

Memorial on the Malecon

A tour tall ship out on the river.

The lighthouse at the top of Las Penas. 450 steps to the top!
We did this last time we were here on July 7th.

One of the Las Penas hills.


A view from the lower main street in Las Penas.

Dali's, where we had dinner. Note the upside down city landmarks on the ceiling. Hence, Dali!

Las Penas lit up at night.

This is a really cool glass monument to all of the contributors to the restoration of the malecon. Really cool lighting and surreal at night!

We ordered and proceeded to enjoy our first round of drinks. It wasn't until we were finished with our slow sipping of our first round that our meals arrived.  Just a tad bit slow but we're certainly not on a schedule so we just sat back and enjoyed then ordered another round with dinner.  A beautiful stroll back to our hotel by the beautifully lit malecon to enjoy the rest of the evening.

Up and at 'em this morning, I went down to have my coffee and bananas on the balcony while Mike did his usual morning exercise routine.  I got to enjoy watching the malecon police while they stood at attention and received their instructions and duties for the day.  A blissful way to start the morning!

First thing we wanted to do was go try and get train tickets for our train ride through the Devil's Nose, Diablo, which will be next Saturday afternoon in Alausi, north of Cuenca.  We were very successful and walked away with our purchased tickets in hand.  I'll write more about it after we actually take the 2 hour ride next week.

A beautiful bronze sculpture of a wild boar on the malecon.

The train ticket office on the malecon.

Thought I'd cozy up with a Neanderthal thinking sculpture.

Beautiful fern trees!

This little creature decided to fall out of the tree above onto this man's belly!  He was actually just sitting there while the man gently stroked his back.  How cool is that?

This is a huge piece of glass on the front of a building that you see from the malecon. Very cool, don't you think?!

So it was time to check out and go by cab back to the bus terminal.  Walked right in and bought our tickets for $8/each for the 4 hour trip.  The bus was a bit late getting in to the station but within minutes of pulling in our baggage was stored away and we were off to climb from sea level to 8,200' up to Cuenca!  Very excited!!

We were enjoying all of the scenery on our way out of Guayaquil because this was all new scenery when about 45 minutes into the trip the bus pulls over and we begin the process of wondering what is going on.  No one got on and no one got off here but the bus just sat.  Slowly but surely people began to get off.  Mostly the guys because they were taking a pee break along the side of the highway. LOL

The 911 Service Center.

Town of Duran.

A hillside cemetery.

Sugar Cane fields.

 Come to find out the bus had overheated and they put out a call to get another bus.  We were told we had to get off the bus and wait along side the highway with our luggage.  It was hot, full sun, and we were all baking!!  I fortunately had my Costa Rica hat and Mike had his so we were able to shade our faces.  I got the chance to have one final tan tone up while waiting!!

Trying to "fix" the bus!

Don't we look like we're having fun?

Also, I forgot to mention that where the bus pulled over was right by a city dump.  Yeah, what are the chances of that?  The flies were horrendous!!  But as we were standing outside waiting, all of a sudden we noticed that there was a tornado happening inside the dump!!  Garbage started to swirl around and around and up and up!!  We've never seen anything like it.  It just went on and on and the garbage kept getting bigger and bigger and higher and higher in the air.  When it finished all that garbage came falling down on us and the highway.  It was the most amazing thing to watch and, of course, smell! LOL  Only us right? 

Mike took video too and it's just friggin' awesome!! You've got to watch! Just might put these on YouTube.

Look at the garbage in the air!

It gets worse!

Higher and higher! 

And higher and higher!

What goes up, must come down! It was such a mess!

So after an hour on the side of the road, a new bus came along and picked us all up.  Once again the luggage was stored and we were all loaded on more than ready to get the hell out of dodge!

The rest of the trip was uneventful and beautiful! So we just sat back and took pictures and watched as the scenery kept changing.  We went through the Cajas National Rain Forest, which was beautifully lush, to a very dry area with almost no vegetation, to above the clouds, to above the tree line, to the summit and it being 10C (50F) outside!!

We arrived in Cuenca about 4 PM and I was quite amazed at how modern the housing in the suburbs were.  Very cosmopolitan!  Lots of beautiful flowers and colorful homes everywhere.  A very good feel.

Caught a cab and arrived at our Hostal Macondo in Old Town within 10 minutes from the station.  The drive in began revealing why I know expats fall in love with this city.  It's truly beautiful and full of character and charm, old historical colonial construction and new modern to compliment.

An easy checkin to our room overlooking the courtyard gardens.  What can I say, I'm simply charmed!!  Everything I was hoping it would be.  This time the pictures didn't do justice to its surroundings and facilities.  We're happy campers since we'll be here for a week.

The walkway leading to our room. Beautiful flowering trellis arch!

Wall adornment on the courtyard.

The courtyard right in front of our room.

Our room door and outside seating.


"Our" table outside our room.

After unpacking our warm clothes (summer stayed in the suitcases) slowly and trying to let the initial light headedness from altitude adjustment pass, we made our way into the heart of Old Town for dinner.  Since this is Sunday, most shops and restaurants are closed but on the City Park Square (Parque Calderon) things were pretty happening.  We quickly found the recommended restaurant, Raymi Pamba.

A charming window split between two residences.

A beautiful church on Calle Simon Bolivar.

The famous domes of Cuenca.

Old historical colonial building.

The domes.

Me in front of the German Consulate. Since I'm half German, it was appropriate!

Gorgeous old colonial buildings!

Parque Calderon, the center of town.

This place is certainly a feast for the Bohemian and artist juices in us!!  Funky light fixtures and decorations.  Something we'd most certainly do!!  We shared asparagus soup and chicken crepes.  With hot tea and a hot chocolate for Mike, we lingered and let ourselves unwind and relax relishing in the new energy of this spectacular city.

The fixture is made of broken ceramic cups & saucers.

"Our" light fixture of tin cups & saucers. And, you can see the street vendors outside on the walkway.

The main dining area with seating upstairs, also.

This light fixture is a colander with knives, forks, & spoons twisted. 

The upstairs seating area.
Night photos of the historical buildings.

Towers of the cathedral all lit up!

Close up.

Right outside the window we sat by while eating, we watched as street vendors laid out their handcrafted goods for sale.  We watched the haglers and the families enjoying the evening before going back to the start of the week.  When we left, I wanted to look at some hair weaving pieces that I had been eyeing.  Now that my hair is longer than it's been since high school, I wanted a new clip for keeping it out of my face.  Success!!  I found one that's perfect and am already loving it!

My new hair clip! Isn't just so right?

We're now back at "our place" and Mike is listening to his podcasts in the room while I'm out on the patio writing the blog.  Even though it's quite cool, with my Old Navy zip up sweatshirt, I'm quite comfortable.  And, it's begun to softly rain.  The sound is actually quite comforting and soothing.

So for now, I'm going to sign off, as we have a good day planned tomorrow starting with meeting a long time fb friend, Sheila Felker, in the park and she'll be showing us around the city to get us acclimated to all the wondrousness' that will unfold.  Can't wait!!

And, this journey just keeps moving forward with new adventures.... 

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