Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Travel Tuesday: Ecuador!

Before I start, does anyone remember this song? As soon as we got to Ecuador I couldn't stop singing it and Nick had no idea what I was going on about!

I was so ready for a new country when we arrived in Ecuador I was so excited about it, even though we'd been travelling all night and hardly had any sleep.

We arrived at the little bridge over the river which denotes the end of Peru and the beginning of Ecuador. The first thing I noticed was how hot it was. We were surrounded by huge, lush green banana plants and flowers. There were a few street vendors who sat on either side of the bridge, who seemed more content to sit and assess the tourists crossing, rather than sell anything to us.

Unfortunately we hadn't been given the right information, so had to make two trips over the bridge in the sweltering heat! Phew!

Once we had collected our stamps and were legally inside the country, it was onwards to Loja, a small town North of the border.
We arrived late at night and when we followed the Lonely Planet's Top Choice to a Hotel Londres. When we pulled up it looked like Norman Bates was going to come to the door. It was totally run down and in darkness. It was that bad that the taxi driver asked us if we wanted him to wait while we checked in. We told him to head off, but no-one came to the door. It looked like no one had been coming to the door for a few years! So if you find yourself in the Loja area, don't try this hotel!

We finally found a welcoming hotel further down the road, and ordered in pizza and had a bath!

The next day we took a look around the town, but on a rainy Monday afternoon there wasn't much to offer us, apart from an entrance gate that wouldn't look out of place in Disney Land. We grabbed some lunch and then decided to head to our next stop, Cuenca.

We arrived at Cuenca and checked into the Alternative Hostel. It was a bright and airy, open plan hostel with private rooms that were only a dollar more expensive than the dorm rooms. The only down side to this hostel was that because it was open plan it got pretty noisy.

In the morning we took a walk around the little town of Cuenca which was very charming, and looked around the huge museum that was opposite our hostel. The museum was called Museo Del Banco Central De Ecuador, inside the national bank of Ecuador, meaning there are some pretty scary guards standing outside 24 hours a day. Inside is a floor dedicated to Ecuadorian ethnography, and the main pull to it is the shrunken heads on display. They are pretty fascinating to look at! There are also some traditional style huts set up which you can walk through, all really interesting stuff!
The museum was really interesting and they have an outdoor archaeological site which, links onto a nice little park with ponds, nice flowers, llamas wandering around and a tropical bird aviary too (although the birds all seemed pretty distressed to me). A really good, free way to spend an afternoon.
In the evening, we decided to give ourselves a little taste of home by making a Full Enlish for dinner. Yum!
Ecuador, fried breakfast in Cuenca

Another recommendation for eating is El Maiz restaurant, although it's a little pricey(er) the food is amazing! It was nice to have a break from all the chicken and rice that we had lived on in Peru!

We only spent 2 nights in Cuenca as we had decided to move quickly through Ecuador to get a full month in Colombia. So the next morning it was off the coast to Montanita!
Ecuador, caja national park

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