Yep, still tired.
That trip to Europe had me exhausted and having a trip to South America immediately after wasn’t one of my brighter moments.
Would I do it again? If there’s a deal to be had, always!
Ecuador. I have to say I didn’t know what to expect on this trip because I didn’t know that much about tourism in the country. I read all I could about it and kind of figured I’d just have to see for myself when I got there.
Over the Canada Day long weekend, my boyfriend, his 13-year-old-daughter and myself headed to Guayaquil, Ecuador.
I already wrote about how much the cost was for this trip prior to leaving and you can read that here. Until we left for the trip I was SLIGHLTY concerned that there was protests going on in Quito, but prayed it wouldn’t have anything of that magnitude in Guayaquil. I was right, thankfully.
With this post I hope some of you consider visiting Guayaquil as well!
Thursday, June 30th
Technically, this should be June 29th but the flight took off 5 minutes before midnight. Give me some room okay?
Our flight was leaving Pearson at 11:55pm on the Wednesday to have us arrive in Guayaquil the next morning (via Bogota) for 9:15am.
I was still annoyed from all the Pearson bullshit the previous week of travel but this evening it wasn’t too bad. Avianca had shown to be a pretty good airline again during this trip, as it had during my Costa Rica trip in May.
This was the first time in a LONG time I was checking a bag, I would regret that on our return. Stay tuned.
The wait in the security check took about 30-45 minutes for us, but we had arrived two hours early and was no issue for getting to the plane on time for boarding.
Overall, the flying to Guayaquil portion of this trip was pretty straightforward and boring.
We landed on time on Thursday morning and this is where I got my first idea that no too many tourists go to Guayaquil. As I went to speak to the Ecuadorian customs agent they asked me if I was heading to Galapagos and I said no, to which she said ‘oh, okay that’s unusual.’
Can’t say I have ever experienced that response to visiting somewhere.
My understanding was that Guayaquil was basically where folks landed right before they’d head over to the Galapagos islands so the city itself didn’t have that many tourists.
We called an Uber to go to our hotel.
This is where I will mention – the Ubers in Guayaquil are DUMB cheap but the cars are tiny. I am a big human, my boyfriend is a big human and his daughter is a tall human. I believe for 99% of our Uber rides in Guayaquil, I had to sit in the front because us three could not sit side by side in the back seat and fit comfortably. At one point we tried that and my bf and I had to lock the doors just to make sure they wouldn’t magically swing open when cars made a turn. Yes, that small.
Our hotel was awesome. We got to the Radisson Hotel Guayaquil at around 10:30am because we were going to just try and drop off our bags to go gallivanting. We figured that since check in was 3:00pm, we wouldn’t be able to rest, yet. Luckily, the woman at the front was amazing (shout out to Karina for the whole trip) and we got into our room immediately. The journey had been really tiring for us as no one could sleep on the damn plane and it was a red-eye flight so everything was out of sort.
Also, I was pretty sick. From the damn Europe trip and the toll that took on my body I developed a horrible cough. I did about three Covid tests from returning to Europe and going on this trip, negative. Did some more tests when I returned from this trip, negative. I think my body was just over it.
So we got in the room, took showers, ordered some KFC and took a nap before we did ANYTHING else.
The KFC chicken was yummy. Not Jamaica and Trinidad levels yummy, but you know I had to try it.
After some rest we took an Uber over to Parque Seminario in the center of Guayaquil, aka ‘Iguana Park’.
Bet you’re wondering why it’s called iguana park aren’t you? Yes. There are iguanas there, and I am talking like pre-historic sized iguanas. These things were HUGE.
We had come a little later in the afternoon so they were sleeping by then, thank goodness. I don’t think I would want to be there when they were alive and active. Scary looking things to me, glad they were napping or just ignoring everyone in the park.
I will say, aside from the creatures, this park is beautiful. I loved ALL the parks in Guayaquil. Everywhere we went there was always someone landscaping or cleaning the public parks in some way. I think the city here does a great job making these spaces feel very welcoming and ensures they are well maintained.
After this we walked to an area we would find ourselves probably spending the most time at during this trip, the Malecon 2000.
This is the super long waterfront in Guayaquil.
It. Is. Awesome.
I realize Toronto isn’t nice weather for a lot of the year, but when I see Guayaquil’s waterfront I sure can imagine what it would be like here if it was.
They did such a great job with their waterfront. There are vendors, a mall, restaurants, places for kids to play, an adventure park, a little theme park etc. So much to do and so much to see in this area. We must have walked it 3-4 times during the trip.
I should note here – it got dark REALLY early in Guayaquil. If you see the pictures above, it ‘may‘ have been like 5-6pm? This is winter time here and the night came fast and we didn’t see sun even once. It was overcast the whole time, but no rain. Yay.
One of the biggest draws to the waterfront was also the very noticeable La Perla.
I think to get on it was only $2.00 per person. (Note: Ecuador uses USD money, so when I’m saying the dollar amount in this post, it’ll be in USD)
Us three definitely had to go up and ride it, but before we did, I had something pretty darn cool happen. The gentleman we paid the ride to gave us change in USD and there was a $1USD coin. None of us had seen one of those before. In Canada we have loonies, but we legitimately thought this man gave us fake tokens or something. I had to look it up and found out that America at one point DID have a $1 coin like 20 years ago. Now I have a couple I took home with us.
Between all the walking and going up in the air on the ride, we figured it was time to get some food. At the one side of the Malecon 2000 there’s a small food court with about 5-6 fast food spots.
I have no idea what I exactly ordered, but once you see the photo you’ll know I made the right decision.
Chicken. Sausage, Shrimp. Steak. Potato. Plantain. NAME A MORE PERFECT PLATE I DARE YOU!
I believe this meal + a Corona for my bf + a bottle of water came to $10USD. I love it here.
After the main course we all felt for something sweet and got lucky because right down the street from where we were there was a dessert place.
Again, I have no idea what exactly I ordered because all I did was point to a picture. But wow.
Following dessert I thought it was best to go to a pharmacy quickly to find some cough syrup for myself or maybe lozenges. We did find a pharmacy, sadly it didn’t have what I needed but we decided to pick up some body wash for the hotel (none of us like bar soap). The reason I am mentioning this is because my boyfriend had to show ID at the pharmacy to buy the body wash. I’m not sure why that happened?
We had purchased alcohol from a corner shop that we didn’t need to show ID for, but he had to show ID to buy….. body wash? I don’t know if it is because you have to show ID to buy ANYTHING at a pharmacy here, but I found that to be slightly odd. So, carry your ID on you when you’re walking around.
Friday, July 1st
We had gotten a nice night of sleep and made our way to the buffet breakfast included in our hotel stay.
Kudos to the hotel, this was one of the better breakfast spreads I had encountered. Everything from tamales, eggs, empanadas, fresh juices, fruits, pastries and really good coconut oatmeal.
Today we would make our way over to another super cool thing by the Malecon 2000, the fancy pants Aerovia.
The Aerovia Guayaquil is this super neat horizontal gondola that is 4km long and that treks across the Guayas river. I read that the Aerovia was created because the city on the other side of the Guayas river, called Duran, has many inhabitants who work IN Guayaquil. There is only one bridge connecting the folks from Duran to Guayaquil, and apparently it has traffic all the time. So they made this option for them to have better and quicker access to Guayaquil. What an awesome thing to make.
If my memory serves me right, the cost of an unlimited day pass to take the gondola back and forth was only $1.40. The damn subway that is always late in Toronto is $3.25 one way, so I loved this. Sure.
This ride was SOOO cool and smooth. Can’t say the Guayas river is much to look at, but the views otherwise were awesome. Gondolas are now my preferred mode of transport.
Once we reached the other side, we were in Duran!
I have to tell you that as soon as you get off the gondola, go to the mango person. There are like three or four people on the street selling cut up mango cups for $1.00 each. What they do is slice it, and then pour lemon / lime all over it and add salt. IT WAS SO GOOD. I think we bought four of them all together. You must have that as soon as you arrive, trust me.
We didn’t stay in Duran for particularly long because it didn’t feel as though much was going on. Everything was closed or getting ready for the night. It was only 2-3pm and most of the establishments were preparing their BBQs for the evening and getting supplies ready. I think this city must have some good Friday-night ongoings, but we came just too early in the day.
I’m super excited to tell you guys about what happened next. There was this restaurant I had been eyeing FOREVER that I wanted to go to in Guayaquil. It was time to go there.
We rode the Aerovia back to the other side and took an Uber a little out of the way to Pepe Crabs.
If you go through their Instagram page, you will immediately see why I was excited to go there!!!
This was the first time I had to buzz to get into a restaurant and when we were leaving ask for the door to be unlocked so we can leave the restaurant. During the time we were in Guayaquil we noticed a military, police, security etc. presence everywhere we went and that most establishments had bars on their places. But, being buzzed into a restaurant and having to ask to unlock it was totally different for us. The locals, I assume, knew something we didn’t. At least we felt safe with all the precautions.
Let’s talk food.
My boyfriend got some meal with shrimp and his daughter got some calamari and a meal with chicken. But me? Oh I was here for the cangrejo criollo – translated ‘creole crab‘. I went to order from the menu and I thought with my English and the servers Spanish I was misunderstanding things. Luckily, my boyfriends daughter speaks Spanish and double checked for me that I was hearing what I thought.
I got SIX, yes, SIX, crabs in creole sauce (with boiled green banana) for $20.00!!!!! Oh my goodness. All to myself. Six crabs in a bowl. Just me and my mallet.
Do you see the pure joy in my face holding one of them up? I was so happy.
This was such a good meal and for the price, fucking unbeatable.
Because it was still somewhat early in the night, we got back to the hotel and decided to go swimming for a bit. It wasn’t really hot outside but the pool at the hotel was kept nice and warm in the evening. The night dip felt sooooo good.
Saturday, July 2nd
Today we woke up ready for another adventure by, you guessed it, the Malecon 2000.
I’m telling you, everything around this place is the fun stuff to do there.
We were going to take on the Santa Ana Hill Stairs this morning. There are 444 steps on this incredibly scenic path upwards to the Faro Las Peñas. Although I was still sick and felt like death, I totally did the climb and so can you. The steps aren’t treacherous and it isn’t steep either. Also, if you get tired, there is literally a restaurant or a spot for a drink every ten step on the way up.
If you are a cat person, this is also a fun trip experience for you. There was cats everywhere to walk with you and it kind of felt encouraging I must say.
Once at the top of the stairs you’ll see this blue and white lighthouse and a small chapel. Along with that, there is an amazing view of the surrounding area beneath you. Spend some time at the top, take photos and catch your breath.
After the triumphant climb up, we made our way down through the Las Peñas area. There was a lot of art and some cool cobblestone roads.
When we got to the bottom and over to the Malecon 2000 again, we randomly ended up in the middle of the Guayaquil Pride Parade. I loved that for us. I’m always down for a party and they were playing some good music. We really enjoyed that and although it wasn’t a big parade, it was lively and fun.
Following the partying we took an Uber back to the hotel to relax a bit before heading to another food spot we had been looking forward to.
Oh yeah, and during this time I randomly ended up on CTV News. I know that is totally out of the blue, and it was for me as well. They had reached out to me during the trip about coming on air to discuss one of my TikTok’s about Pearson Airport that went viral. Thought that was kind of neat. If you want to see the TikTok in question, click here. Sorry I do not have the TV clip to share. But yeah, pretty awesome thing to happen while on vacation.
Moving back to what IS important, food.
I looked up the best Chifa food in Guayaquil and a place called Gran Rubi kept popping up.
This looked like the Chinese spot we needed to get to for some good eating.
We got wontons, some noodles, fried rice and sweet & sour chicken. My bf also got beers, his daughter got juice and a soup and I got some juice too. Total? $40USD.
Do you see how much food we got in the above phots for $40????? Literally six people could have eaten together. We had so much leftover we had to take to-go containers back to the hotel. If you are someone who loves sweet & sour chicken, this was the best I have ever tasted. You must make your way to Guayaquil and this restaurant to try it. Outstanding.
Sunday, July 3rd
We really didn’t have any plans for today.
Our flight on the Monday morning was super early so today we didn’t want to exert ourselves too much.
The decision was made to go back to the Malecon 2000 and do some more wandering around. There was way more families out today and the vendors and street performers were in abundance as well.
The decision for food today was to go get a variety of things in one of the random food courts we saw along the waterfront, the Mercado del Rio.
We ordered ceviche, sushi, tacos and carrot cake.
None of these items disappointed. I don’t like sushi too much, but this was pretty good. The tacos were ESPECIALLY good though. It took 20 minutes for them to come but when they did, ah. Spicy and well seasoned.
This is when we made our way back to the hotel to pack a little and go to sleep to prepare for a LONG Monday.
Monday, July 4th
The flight from Guayaquil to San Salvador was leaving at 4:30am. We had to be at the airport for 2:30am.
We finally had an SUV-sized Uber come pick us up and that was good because us three and our luggage could actually fit in the car.
Departure was on time to San Salvador and then at 8:20am we left from there to go back to Toronto. Again, in a timely fashion and arriving when we were supposed to.
Once at Pearson we got off the plane immediately and got through customs pretty fast as well.
Then came the luggage nonsense.
The situation in Pearson Airport is totally messed up. Not only with delays and customs, but also with luggage. Because we had checked a bag, we needed to wait for that bag.
30 minutes before our landing, a flight from Frankfurt had arrived and their bags were coming to our carousel for a while. No sign of any bags from San Salvador. We waited for ONE HOUR at the carousel to finally get our bag. It’s like impossible to leave Pearson without something going wrong. Terrible.
Overall, cool trip.
We could have done more, but with me being sick I think they took pity on me and we took our time choosing our shenanigans. At one point we considered heading to the coast but with no sunshine, it kind of seemed pointless.
If you want to go to a place where the prices are awesome and food options are in abundance? You should come to Guayaquil. It was a great city. The prices looked especially good to someone like me who was in Monaco the week before. Stark difference.
I think the four days were the perfect amount of time there for me, not too long and not too short. Beware of the tiny Ubers and also how they look inside. Some of our Ubers didn’t have seatbelts and one guy even had electric tape keeping his safety break together. Also, no one really seems to abide by any traffic rules so definitely look both ways before you cross and this may not be the city you rent a car in.
Hope this enticed some of you to visit Guayaquil and be in a place where there really isn’t any other tourists.