A Travellerspoint blog

Vilcabamba and goodbye Ecuador

sunny 18 °C

´There is no choice in what I must do, nothing is greater than to be with you´Mellow Doubt by Teenage Fanclub

Hola all

It has been ten days since last wrote so stand by for a quick update about our final days in Ecuador.

Monday March 10th
We caught the 9am bus from Cuenca to Vilcabamba, a beautiful town in South Ecuador, set among a stunning valley. The bus journey took most of the day, starting with a 5 hour bus ride to Loja along a very bumpy road with steep falls into the valley below. We then switched to a local bus for a 1 hour drive to Vilcabamba that was only $1.

We were delighted to arrive at our hostel Izhcayluma www.izhacayluma.com and discover it lppked exactly like the pictures on the flyer we had. Set 2km out of town it offered stunning views across the valley, a swimming pool, a restaurant and hammocks outside our room.

We read our books on our hammocks and then had dinner in the restaurant and started to plan our route through Peru.With only 3months left we want to make the most of our time.

Tuesday March 11th
After breakfast we decided to do one of the many treks available in the Vilcabamba area. We set off down the road from the hostel and cut on to a dirt road that led up the valley and offered stunning views of the countryside. It was nice to be out stretching our legs after considerable time soent in cities recently. The air was fresh and clean and we could see why the average local in this area lives to be over 100!

The hike took us around 4 hours. It wasn´t particularly tough and we enjoyed the walk and the views. We had lunch in the tiny town centre and then walked back up the hill to our hostel for a swim and a bit of reading time in the hammocks. We had dinner at 7om and went to bed at 10.

Wednesday 12th March
We got up for breakfast at 9am and decided to hire bikes for the day. We didn´t actually cycle much as the 2km into town was all downhill! We found a book exchange and changed a couple of books we had finished with for 2 new ones. We then had lunch in town and found an internet cafe and priced some internal flights in Peru, booking fliights from Piura-Lima and Lima to Arequipa. The first flight was $102 each, only $40 more than the bus which took 16 hours compared to the 16 hour bus! The second flight was $79 each and again saved us valuable hours.

Our plan is to go down to Arequipa then work our way back by bus to Lima where we meet our friend Craig on March 25th and then fly to Cusco for the Inca Trail.

We had to push our bikes most of the way back to the hostel and we discovered that the old Danish couple we had met in Cuenca on our Inca Oirca tour had checked in. We had dinner with them and loved hearing about all the places they have visited over the years and their outrageous plans to travel around the world in a jeep for 10 years when Erik retires next April.

Thursday March 13th
We got up at 9am for breakfast and then packed our bags and read in the hammocks until check out at mid-day. We then walked downhill into town and wandered around the small shops and had lunch before wandering back to the hostel to read for a bit before dinner.

We chatted to Erik and Marianne and then got a taxi at 7pm It was actually a oickup truck, so we threw our bags in the back and climbed in beside them and sped down to the bus stop. The bus to Loja left at 7.45pm and cost a dollar. We then waited at Loja for an hour or so before our overnight bus into Peru.

CONTINUED ON NEXT BLOG

Posted by murray2701 18:08 Archived in Ecuador Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Cuenca and the Incapirca ruins

sunny 20 °C

[b]´How does it feeeeeel? How does it feeeel? To be without a home, Like a complete unknown, Like a rolling stone ?

Hello everyone

Just a quick update on our progress as I am not sure when we will next have access to the internet. Tomorrow we head further south in Ecuador to the countryside town of Vilcabamba. We are actually staying in a hostel 2km from the town, it looks fab. Lots of hiking opportunities, a swimming pool and a hammock outside our room. The website is www.izhcayluma.com for anyone interested. We have booked in for 3 nights, but may stay a night or so longer if we are enjoying it.

After that we head across the border into Peru and make our way down to Lima where we are meeting outr good friend Craig on March 25th. We´ll stop off at a few places on the way to admire some Inca ruins and hopefully do some hiking.

Tomorrow we have a 5 hour bus journey to the town of Loja, then another 1.5 hour bus ride to Vilcabamba. Pretty much a day of travel. Thankfully we have some good books to get stuck into and the nano is fully charged. We haven´t been up to a great deal since I last wrote, so here is just a quick update.

Friday March 7th
We woke at 9am and Lynn had a thumping headache and a sore ankle. On our way to dinner the previous night Lynn slipped in a pothole on the pavement and sprained her ankle. We had a lovely dinner at the Boca del Lobo restaurant in the new town area of Quito. We did have a bit of wine, but not enough to give Lynn the thumping headache she had.

We checked out around 11.45am and got a taxi to the airport for our 45 minute flight to Cuenca, instead of a 10 hour bus journey - the roads are not the best in Ecuador. It was a tiny plane and a fairly bumpy ride to Cuenca. We got our bags incredibly quickly and got a $2 cab into town and checked into the Hostal El Monastario for 3 nights, the total cost being $42! The room had cable and we had our own private bathroom - result!

We had a walk around town and grabbed a bite to eat at Cafe Austria, before having an early night as Lynn still wasn´t feeling too great.

Saturday March 8th
We got up and had a walk around Cuenca. It is a lovely small city full of old architectural gems. Our hostal is around the corner from the stunning Cathedral de la Immaculada and the main square. We grabbed some brunch at a lovely restaurant in a converted old townhouse. Then I got a haircut from someone who I am not sure if they were a man or woman. After that we walked to the bus station, 2km out of town, to book our bus to Loja for Monday, only $15 for the two of us.

We came back to the room and had a nap, waking to turn on ESPN to find that Barnsley had knocked Chelsea out of the FA Cup. Sadly United had lost earlier that day to Portsmouth. At night we went to a bar called Monday Blue, hopefully a homeage to New Order and had a couple of beers and burritos.

Sunday March 9th
We got up at 7.30am as we had booked a day tour to the Incapirca ruins, around 80km outside of Cuenca. There were 5 others on the tour, an eccentric old Danish couple who intend to drive around the world next year, an American girl, a nice German girl called Peggy and a nice girl from Melbourne called Emma. Our tour guide Sonia was fantastic. We stopped off about an hour outside Cuenca at a small market town and wandered round the stalls, buying some banana´s for breakfast. We then bought some small and very tasty eggs for only 50 cents.

We then drove to the ruins. They were not the most impressive I have ever seen, but they are the oldest in Ecuador and due to the fact that the Spanish ransacked the country, there are not a lot left. If they were not visually stunning, our guide certainly made up for that with her history lessons about the area. They are certainly worth a visit if you are in Cuenca though.

We stopped off for lunch on the way back, arriving back in Cuenca at around 4pm. Lynn went for a nap and I watched the 2nd half of the Middlesborough v Cardiff game. Cardiff won 2-0, it has been a weekend of cup upsets, Boro looked a sorry bunch.

So we head to Vilcabamba tomorrow and should be in Peru by the weekend at the latest. Speak to you then.

Lots of love
Murray and Lynn
xxx

Posted by murray2701 15:04 Archived in Ecuador Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Spanish, Salsa lessons and the Equator

overcast 18 °C

I´ll be there in the mornin´, cant you see I´m tellin´ stories, my sweet angels everlasting true love ways
I´ll wait I sow the seed, I set the scene and I watch the world go by

[i]Tellin´ Stories by The Charlatans[/i

Hola amigos

We are in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, around 3,000 feet above sea level. In the last week we have had 20 hours of Spanish lessons, 3 hours of salsa lessons and we have been to the centre of the earth. Above ground that is!

The lyrics for the current blog are provided by one of my favourite bands of all time, The Charlatans. I have seen The Charlatans on more than 20 occassions and they have never disappointed. They have consistently produced excellent singles and albums and their current album is available to download for FREE via www.xfm.co.uk or the bands website www.thecharlatans.net

The band have provided the soundtrack to many top nights out, especially at the Barrowlands in Glasgow, where I have danced and sung my heart out alongside my brother to The Charlatans on many occassions, including the night before his 21st. Check them out.

Anyway, I´d better update you on what we have been up to as that is the purpose of this blog. This might not be the most exciting blog entry I have written as we have spent a lot of the last week taking Spanish lessons, but today we went to the centre of the earth and walked along the line of the equator, it was quite an experience so read on to find out all about it.

Saturday March 1st
We woke up at 8am and went for breakfast on the roof terrace of our hostel, the Secret Garden in Quito. We gazed out across the rooftops of the old town and marvelled at the Basilican in the near distance. At 9am we met out Spanish tutor, Diana who is only 23. We had booked 20 hours of lessons for only $100 each. Diana was very friendly and professional and we went through greetings, replies, the alphabet, days of the week, expressions of time, months of the year and some grammar. It was quite intensive and the last hour or so felt like too much, but we wanted to condense the 20 hours into 5 days so that we were not hanging around Quito for too long.

At 1pm we finsished and got the trolley into the new town and had lunch at the fantastic Magic Bean Cafe. We then went to a book store and traded in ´To Kill A Mockingbird´ and ´The 60 Greatest Conspiracy Theories Of All Time´ for ´The Memory Keeps Daughter´ (Lynn´s choice), ´The Hobbit´ and ´Amsterdam´.We then discovered another bookstore and bought Dan Brown´s ´Angels and Demons´ and ´Deception Point´ as we both absolutely loved ´The Da Vinci Code´. If you have not read it yet, check it out, it is enthralling, we both couldn´t put it down. So we have enough books to keep us going for a while!

There was BBQ night on the roof terrace, so we went there for food and Lynn had a couple of beers but I felt a bit dizzy, possibly from altitude sickness. We had gone from sea level to 3,000 feet!

Sunday March 2nd
Bit of a boring day studying Spanish until 1pm. We phoned home in the afternoon as it was Mothers Day and spoke to Lynn´s Mum but my Mum was out with my brother and sister.

Went to the superb Tomato Pizza Restaurant in the new town at night for dinner.

Monday March 3rd
We got up at 8am for breakfast and then started our Spanish lessons at 9am. We looked at the joy that is irregukar verbs and more. After that we went to the Post Office in the Old Town to post a load of stuff home, things we had bought the week previously at Otavalo Market. After asking numerous people where it was we finally found it, bought a box and then we were told that we needed our passports. We were not amused!

At night we did our Spanish homework and then went back to the excellent Uncle Hoe´s Vietnamese restaurant in the new town for some nice healthy food.

That day we discovered that Ecuador may be on the edge of war with Columbia, due to Columbian forces entering Ecuador without permission to kill members of a Columbian rebel/terrorist group. We were in an internet cafe after dinner and a drunken young English girl came storming in to find her friends and announced that there was going to be a war and everyone should leave immediately. She then announced her parents had booked her a flight home for the next day. Everyone looked at her for a second and then went back to what they were doing online. She was a little hysterical to say the least.

On the subject of the tensions between Ecuador and Columbia, they are there. There have been numerous street demos against a war on the streets of Quito, but the President seems intent on causing trouble. Hopefully the situation will be solved diplomatically. As I write Ecuador has amassed 3,500 troops on the Columbian border and Venezuela (getting involved for some reason) has amassed 6,000. Thankfully we are heading in the opposite direction and have a flight booked to Cuenca tomorrow (7th March).

Tuesday March 4th
Spanish lessons started at 9am again after breakfast. We had spent the previous 2 days studying on the lovely rroof terrace with views across the old town of Quito, but today the full hostel meant that we spent the first 2 hours inside before surfacing to the roof for the last two.

We booked in for salsa lessons between 3pm and 5pm in the afternoon. Before that we went to the Post Office in the new town and sent our stuff home. It will be like Christmas when we get back!

We grabbed a quick KFC and went back to the hostel just before 3pm for Salsa lessons. The lessons were taught by a guy called Secunda. He is a super cool, super slick black guy, who can glide across the dancefloor like he is walking on air. He taught us the 7 basic salsa steps and we got on OK, deciding to book in for a further lesson at his school in the new town the following night.

At night we got a taxi to the new town and went for a nice Indian, complete with a lovely garlic nan. ´Garlic, bread that´s garlic!´

Wednesday March 5th
It was Spanish at 9am, our final lesson. It went well and although we knew we would never be fluent in Spanish after only 20 hours, we feel more confident and have picked up lots of tips and hints. We gave Diana a box of chocolates as she was a fantastic teacher and we were pleased to hear she may be coming to the UK later in the year. It would be great to show her around Glasgow, also slightly weird!

In the afternoon, after a heated debate, we booked a 45 minute flight to Cuenca for $69 each, instead of a $10 10 hour bus ride.

At night our salsa lesson did not go as well as the previous days. We each had our own instructor but both felt a little intimidated at their level of ability. Lynn was with Secunda and he spun her across the dancefloor, looking great but Lynn felt like she wasn´t learning anything. Meanwhile I was dancing with a Brazilian girl and she made me look like Peter Kay!

After an hour we retired and went for a beer in a cool bar called Strawberry Fields, complete with loads of old posters and newspaper cuttings of The Beatles on the walls. The bar staff played tunes from The Beatles, Stones and The Who and we had a few beers before going to our fave pizza place, Tomato.

Thursday March 6th
No Spanish lessons today, so we didn´t get up until 9am. We spoke to a nice English couple called Kate and Ben from England who produce comedy programs for C4! After breakfast we got the bus to the centre of the earth - the equator, otherwise known as Mitad del Mundo. The bsu dropped us at a massive monument, constructed in the 1930´s to mark the official line of the equator. Unfortunately for the builders, in the 1970´s advanced technology meant that the official line was confirmed as being 500 yards away. This hasn´t stopped the Ecuadorians for continuing to market the monument as ´the´ tourist destination.

We, however, went to the offical centre, the Inti-Nan solar museum. A lot less touristy and commercialised. For $3 we got our own guide to take us round the site and we got to do anumber of experiments that are only possible on the line of the equator.

1) We both managed to balance a hard boiled egg on a nail!
2) We watched water go straight down a plug hole on the centre, then anti-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the South.
3) We walked in a straight line with our eyes shut, arms out and thumbs up no problems on the south and north, but fell about while trying it on the centre.
4) You held your finger and thumb together on the line and the guide could not seperate them, but could north and south.

After that we had a tour round some indigenous buildings and had a go at shooting a blowpipe before getting the bus back to Quito. We are now in the new town and about to go for dinner at a nice Argentine restaurant. MMMM Argentine steak.

Tomorrow we head to Cuenca, catch you soon.

Love
Murray and Lynn
xxx

Posted by murray2701 16:13 Archived in Ecuador Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Galapagos Islands

sunny 18 °C

"And I think to myself, what a wonderful world" What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

Hola

We are back in Quito studying Spanish after a 4 night/5 day tour of the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands are historically, geographically and scientifically important. Unique, beautiful and expensive to get to. We had debated for a while about whether to go and how much we would pay,it is not cheap to get there. For the record we paid $900US each for our boat and hotel, $400US for flights from Quito to the Galapagos, $100US park entry feeand a new $10US charge for an ID card! Was it worth it? Well read on to find out.

Sunday February 24th
Before we went to the Galapagoswe had one more day in Quito.We had breakfast in the new town,suffering from a bit of a fruit overdose as I ordered a fruit shake,a fruit salad and muesli,not realising that the muesli came with it´s own fruit salad! We settled our bill at our hostel - Crossroads, a very reasonable $108US for 5 nights,laundry and one days breakfast.

We headed to the Old Town to check out the Secret Garden Hostel that Scott and Caitlain had been raving about the day before. It lived up to expectations, a beautifully converted old town house with a rooftop bar with splendid views of the old town. that also offered 20 hours of Spanish lessons for only $100US each. As the Spanish lessons also came highly recommended from Scott,we decided to book in for our return from the Galapagos.

After that we wandered up the hilly to the huge gothic church called the Basilica. We climbed the tours and took in the views of the old town and then got the trolley back to the new town and had a quiet night reading and eatingpizza in bed. We are so romantic!

Monday 25th February
Our alarm call at 5am consisted of the night porter knocking on our door. We ran under the shower and then into a taxi to the airport. Our flight was at 7.30am and flew to Guayaquil first and then on to the Galapagos. We got our bags and met our guide called Billy and the rest of our group. 3 Canadian guys called Trevor, Carson and Devon. 3 American girls called Felisa (your stereotypical loudmouth American), Della (very nice,like most Americans) and Laura who was very moody. 1 German woman called Ushi, 2 Japanese girls - Yoko and Marie and 5 Equadorans I can´t remember the name of.

We got in a bus and then a small boat to our bigger boat called Spondylus. We had lunch and set sail to a nearby island for some snorkelling. The visibility wasn´t great, so we spent most of our time on the beach. Saw sea lions and loads of bright red crabs.

We went back to the boat and headed to our destination for the night, having dinner on the way. The food was excellent,as were the staff,boat cleanliness and appearance and we were glad we didn´t go on a cheaper boat. The sunset and we watched the stars with a beer up top before an early night at 9pm.It had been a long day.

Tuesday 26th February
We sailed through the night to a small island in the north called Genovesa. Breakfast was at 7am and at 8am we were on a dinghy to the Prince Philip steps. We had an hour walk around the island catching close up views of red footed boobies, the odd blue footed booby and loads of masked boobies. After that we went back to the boat and got changed for more snorkelling. It was decidedly better than the day before and Ushi, Yoko and Marie were lucky enough to snorkel with 3 hammerhead sharks.

After lunch we had a siesta and at 3.30pm we caught a dinghy to Darwin Bay on the island of Genovesa and went on another bird watching tour.Not usually the thing we get up to but you can´t avoid it in the Galapagos. We saw more birds and got incredibly close to them, they are unbelievably tame/not bothered by humans. We went back to the beach to wait for our dinghy and watched sealions playing on the beach and in the surf.

We went back to the boat and set sail for Isla Santiago. We had dinner and then had a beer watching a stunning sunset from up top.

Wednesday 27th February
We had breakfast at 7am and at 8am we were on our way to Isla Santiago. One of the unique things about the Galapagos, and there are many, is that they were all formed by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, millions or hundreds of thousands of years ago. Isla Santiago has amazing flowers and flaura as a result and also has volcanic rock - baked hard lava. We walked over the rocks,marvelling at the patterns and saw the inevitable birds in the bushes - so to speak.

After a walk we got the boat to Isla Bartolome to climb up a hill that offered spectacular views across the island and down to Sullivan Bay, where we were heading to. We got our snorkelling and swimming gear and headed to the beach. The snorkelling was the best yet. A sea lion swam right beneath me at one point, but the best part was when a little penguin swam beneath Lynn and then popped up to the surface beside her. After lunch we snoozed and read as we sailed to Isla Santa Cruz. We had a few beers watching another gorgeous sunset and after dinner went on to the island for a walk about the shops, it is one of the few populated islands. We were pleased to hear from other people that our boat was a palace compared to theirs.

Thursday 28th February
The Americans and the Ecuadorians left early to get their flight. We had another day to look forward to. It started, after breakfast of course, with us meeting a new guide called Juan. He took us, the Canadians and Ushi to a beach. I decided to buy a football on the way as snorkelling was not allowed off this beach. After a swim in a lagoon we played football. It started with Scotland and Ecuador teaming up. Me and Juan against the 3 Canadians. We took the lead through me scoring with a Ronaldoesque flick after good work down the wing from Juan,but the extra man told and the young Canadians stormed into a 3-1 half-time lead.

After a refreshing dip we made a shock signing.Lynn was to be our keeper for the second half. Juan pulled one back instantly but the Canadians scored two,meaning they only needed one to win. Both sides had chances and Lynn made a great save to keep us in it. I set up Juan for one and then scored another,5-4 to the Canadians. Unfortunately the game ended shortly after with Juan stubbing his big toe. It was a great game, I have really missed my weekly five-a-sides. Lynn made three great saves!

We went back to town and checked into the Hostal Mainao Inn,a lovely Morrocan style building. After lunch we met Juan and got a couple of jeeps to the Giant Tortoise sanctuary in the Highlands,20 minutes drive. As I had a pet tortoise as a kid this was what I had really been looking forward to. I wasn´t disappointed,we saw several giants and got really close to them. Check the pictures at www.flickr.com/photos/murrayandlynn

Tortoises are like dinosaurs. Their shells are beautiful and I still find it amazing that shells grow with them. They look like dinosaurs and watching them in the ¨wïld¨ was a great experience. On the way back we stopped to walk through a 500 metre lava tunnel.It was pretty cool. We have seen some beautiful caves on our travels.

At night we went for dinner and beers with the Canadians and Ushi. The Candians are only 19 and 20,what a great experience to be travelling at that age. They were a good craic and we had a great laugh with them.

Friday 29th February
We got up at 6am and Juan met us at 6.45am to take us to the Charles Darwn Centre. The Galapagos Islands are where Darwin came up with what would eventually be his theory of evolution back in the mid 1800´s. We saw more giant tortoisesand learned about how they were endangered but several successful breeding programs pointed towards a good future,all but for one.The most famous tortoise on the Galapgos - Lonesome George. George was the last giant tortoise tobe found on his tinyisland, surviving hunters and logging. Unfortunately George won´t breed with any other tortoises,despite plenty of opportunities, hence his nickname.

After a quick stop to buy postcards and tshirtswe were off on a bus, then ferry, then bus, then plane back to Quito. Due to severe weather our plane was diverted, we changed planes, waited on the runway and eventually got to our new hostel at 8pm, in time for dinner and a beer on the rooftop bar.

So was the Galapagos worth it? Yes and no. It is an amazing place with stunning scenery and wildlife, but it is also very expensive. If you like bird watching it must be like heaven. Still,typing this blog has made me realise that we had a good time and experieced a truly unique place. I would say that the snorkelling wasn´t as good as the Whitsundays or Great Barrier Reef in Australia and that you should think carefully before deciding if you really want to spend so much money. That said,if you are in Ecuador, when are you going to ever get the chance again?

Posted by murray2701 16:02 Archived in Ecuador Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Goodbye Brazil, hello Ecuador

rain 20 °C

´And we can build this dream together, standing strong forever, nothing's gonna stop us now. And if this world runs out of lovers, we'll still have each other, nothing's gonna stop us, nothing's gonna stop us, now´
Nothing´s Gonna Stop Us Now by Starship

Hello from Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, almost 3,000 feet above sea level. Excuse me for the cheesey 80´s lyrics but we´ve just finished a tour and the car on the way back was blasting out some classic 80´s tunes.

We were quite sad to leave Brazil after a fantastic 3 weeks there, taking in the energy, excitement and passion of the Rio Carnaval, the majestic beauty of Ilha Grande and the old fashioned style of Paraty. We decided to only spend 3 weeks in Brazil for a few reasons 1) It is a massive country and to do it justice we would need to spend at least 2 months there 2) Accomodation prices are crazy during Carnaval month 3) Brazil is a country we will probably go back to, while we may never venture to Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia again.

So we are now in Quito and it is chucking it down with rain. On Monday we are going to the Galapagos Islands on a 4 night/5 day cruise. I have to admit that I had never heard of the Galapgos before we started researching our trip. It sounds like a magical place, truly like nowhere else on earth and it was where Charles Darwin started his theory of evolution. We are really looking forward to it as we had been quite nervous about coming to Ecuador and not being able to afford it. The cost isn`t cheap, $900 US each, plus flights at $400 US and a park entry of $100 US each, but the Galapagos is a once in a lifetime and in the future it may be closed to tourists or only available to the rich.

We`ve spent quite a bit of time travelling since I last wrote, so here is a quick update.

I left you on Feb 17th. That night we attempted to find a Thai restuarant in Paraty only to find that it wasn´t open on Sunday nights. Across the road was an Argentine bar, so we went in for a beer and ended up chatting to the owner due to the number of Boca Juniors pictures on the walls. It turns out that she is/was an official photographer for Boca. We chatted away and ended up ordering steak and she brought out a few picture albums. Her website is www.alearce.com.br

Monday 18th February
We got up at 7.30am and had time for breakfast before catching a cab to the bus station to head to Sao Paulo. The bus left at 9.40am and stopped a couple of times on route, allowing us to stretch our legs and grab some juice. As we approached Sao Paulo a torrential rain and thunder storm started, at one stage I thought the bus would have to stop, it was that heavy. Several cars pulled into the side of the road, but we motored on.

Thankfully it was off when we reached Sao Paulo and we jumped a cab to our hotel. Sao Paulo has a bit of a reputaion for being dangerous and ugly and we didn´t really see anything that first night to make us think otherwise. We got the Metro, very safe and clean, into the Central area and grabbed a bite to eat and a couple of beers before heading back for an early night. Pretty much a day of travel.

Tuesday 19th February
We got up and had breakfast and then jumped on the Metro to the MASP - Museum Of Art Sao Paulo. It was a beautiful building and we wandered around looking at some old Brazilian art before heading down to the modern section.

We absolutely killed ourselves laughing at a crazy exhibition by a Japanese ´artist´ called Tatsumi Orimoto. Orimoto is called the bread man as a lot of his art involves him strapping french bread to his head and swandering around cities taking pictures of himself. He also looks after his Mum, who suffers from Alzheimers and he involves her in his crazy projects, taking pictures of her with bread on her head and old car tyres around her neck. What a load of pi$h! We killed ourselves laughing while some serious looking Brazilians pondered over what it meant.

After that we had some lunch and wandered round a shopping mall, deciding to kill some time by watching the new Johnny Depp movie `Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street`. It wasn´t what we expected but we really enjoyed it. It is a musical and Depp turns in a sterling performance.

We went back to the hotel for a nap and then found a cafe bar nearby that was showing the Chelsea game. It wasn´t much of a game so we had a couple of beers and retired for an early night.

Wednesday 20th February
Another day of travel. We got up at 4.45am, got a cab to the airport and jumped on our 8.30am flight from Sao Paulo to Bogota in Columbia, where we had to wait for a flight to Quito. We had four hours to kill so we had some food and a few beers and then all of a sudden the Celtic v Barcelona game was on ESPN. Celtic played well and went in 2-1 up at half-time. I had to leave the game ten minutes into the 2nd half and found the full-time score was 3-2 to Barca when we got to Quito.

We arrived in Quito and jumped straight in acab to a hostel we had highlighted in our Lonely PLanet - Crossroads. They had a double room free at only $18 US a night, so we booked in and had a walk around the block before falling fast asleep, tired from a day of travel.

Thursday 21st February
We slept until 10am and got up for a walk. A tour agency across from our hostel looked very respectable so we went in to price up Galapagos tours and ended up booking one - easier than we thought! There are all kinds of Galapagos tours from the dirt cheap to the extremely expensive. You can go for 3,4,5 or 8 days. We opted for 5 days after initially looking at 8, deciding that 8 days at sea might be too much.

After that we went to a funky wee cafe called Magic Bean for brunch. We then walked around our area, in the new town, finding a Book Exchange shop where I bought ´The 60 Greatest Conspiracy Theories Of All-Time`. It is an excellent read.

We then jumped a cab to the old town and wandered around the beautiful squares, admiring the old churches and buildings. It started raining so we headed back to our hostel for a bit of reading and then went for dinner at night to a Mexican called Red Hot Chilli Peppers where they showed all the Champions League goals on ESPN. Ideal!

Friday 22nd February
In the morning we flitted between banks, lifting enough money to pay the balance of our Galapagos tour. We then had lunch and got the trolley (tram) into the old town and went to a couple of museums. The museum of the city was excellent and I would recommend it to anyone visiting Quito.

At night we went to a Thai/Vietnamese restaurant called Uncles Hoe`s run by an Irishman. Only and Irishman could open a Thai place in South America! It was quite busy and he told us it had only been open 3 months and that he was loving living in Ecuador.

Saturday 23rd February
We got up at 7.30am as we were getting picked up to go to Otavalo Market, a 2 hour drive from Quito. It was a small tour of 5, us, 2 Aussies - a brother and sister called Scott and Caitlan, and an older American called Richard. Our tour guide Felix spoke excellent English and was a great laugh.

The market is supposedly one of the biggest in South America. The variety of crafts and traditional clothes, rugs etc on display was fantastic and we ended up buying a few things - a woolen hooded top each, a scarf for me, a rug/wall hanger thing that might end up being a bed spread and some small bits and pieces. We will need to send them home.

On the way back we stopped to look out over a beautiful lake and then headed to a town that I can´t remember the name of for lunch. We had an hour to walk round the town, famous for it`s leather goods, and we resisted the temptaion to buy leather jackets, despite them only costing $80 - $100 US. We will wait until Buenos Aires. Lynn did get a nice shawl though.

On the way back Felix stuck on a cheesey 80´s cd and we all sang along. It is now 7.10pm and we are catching up on some research about Ecuador online before grabbing some grub and a beer. Good to see United stuffed Newcastle 5-1. Cheer up Kevin Keegan!

We are off to the Galapagos on Monday so I will update the blog when we return next Friday and also hopefully upload some pictures to flickr.

Lots of love
Murray and Lynn
xxx

Posted by murray2701 15:35 Archived in Ecuador Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

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