Of course, the coastal weather was also a welcome relief. Day after day of rain and clouds in Cuenca wears on me after a while, I need to head to the coast for warmth and sunshine. And Guayaquil delivered both in glorious fashion!
I've pretty much decided that I'm a coastal girl at heart. I love the relaxed feel of the coast where shorts and flip-flips are readily accepted and that I can have my choice of Sweet and Coffee at every turn. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in downtown Guayaquil and again we were impressed with the service. It was hot and humid when we arrived and as soon as our feet landed at the reception desk we were greeted with two ice-cold moras and cool face towels that were mint infused. Talk about service! We retreated to our room on the tenth floor and immediately turned on the air conditioning and took a nap before we headed for the Malecón.
After having lived in Miami and Bradenton, Florida for several years, we always feel right at home in Guayaquil. The art exhibition of the hummingbirds didn't disappoint either. In fact, I was mesmerized at every turn. Sixty-five birds were intricately painted and each telling a story. Several times we went back to check out the display and every time, I found something different that I missed the first time.
Guayaquil is one of those cities that you can visit many times and still find something new to explore. We finally did Las Peñas the right way -- climbing the 444 steps to the top. We were rewarded with a spectacular view of the city and climbed more stairs to the lighthouse and the chapel. It was about 90 degrees with just about that much humidity and I asked Mark, "Do you think we can call for the helicopter to bring us back down?"
I had blisters on top of blisters by the time we reached the bottom step and I drank two bottles of agua mineral without even blinking. When I reached step #432 I thought we were there already only to realize it was just an illusion. Mark was trailing behind me with an extra reserve of water bottles (thankfully).
It was easier climbing stairs at sea level, but with the humidity it ended up being a toss up. I skipped my work out at the gym that night and opted for a relaxing swim instead. We slept in each day, had a glorious buffet breakfast with omelets prepared to our liking and Belgian waffles with fruit. I wanted to tuck that Pam spray in my purse, but I resisted the urge! It was so nice to be waited on, being pampered and eating out at some of our favorite spots: TGIF and Tony Roma's.
Most folks use Guayaquil as a stop-off place on their way to somewhere else, but we decided to spend a few days there and take in all the sights, which I'm so thankful we did. Our Puerto Lopez vacation will be in June, but this was just what we needed to warm our little hearts up for our true coastal vacation along the beaches.
I made note of some things that I wish we could incorporate in Cuenca, namely the buses that have the exhaust fumes vented out at the top of the bus instead of at mouth and nose level. What a difference a few feet makes! Black soot doesn't blow in your face and you don't have to cover your mouth. I'm not sure why Cuenca hasn't thought of that yet! It makes me want to go around and rig up some piping at the bus stations.
We enjoyed our Sweet and Coffee (even at the bus terminal) which is more like a shopping mall with buses on the side! A woman architect must have been at the helm when they designed that place. We enjoy traveling by bus for many reasons: lots of leg room, reclining seats, movies, and delightful vendors who sell ice cream and snacks. One vendor came on the bus and won my heart! He started out his presentation with trivia questions with free snacks to those who got the right answer. One question made me tear up. "What woman has two hearts?" Answer: A pregnant woman! I never thought of it that way and there were oohs and ahhs across the row of seats. After game and trivia time, the vendor had snacks to sell and, of course, we bought some because he had already won our hearts!
Our coastal vacation was just too short and Cuenca was just the way we left it: cloudy skies and more rain. We're counting the days until our next fun in the sun time.
Until next time...hasta luego!
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