In summer 2013 I met Sam during an English exchange in Bournemouth, UK. We ended up becoming best friends, travelling through Europe in the same summer and during 2016 as well, planning to meet again in Ecuador as she is Ecuadorian. Last year the realization of this plan slowly came true, she was supposed to be in Ecuador and I was planning to go to Brazil after Christmas and booked a ticket to Quito staying there for 3 weeks.
The day arrived, I boarded my multiple flights and finally arrived in Quito where she was already waiting for me. Once we were at her place she gave me a little paper with our schedule, all the things we would visit. To be honest, I did not do any research about Ecuador, I had absolutely no clue what to visit nor about their local food but I have a local guide 🙂 Asking me if I want to stay at home and relax or go out (it was already around 9 pm). I could not wait to see something, so we went to the historical centre of Quito to La Ronda Street where we ended in a typical Ecuadorian place with Latin music, I think it was kind of a karaoke night. I tried my first canelazo and had a good laugh at their menu as the translation was pure gold. Churrasco (if you have been to Brazil you clearly know this as a barbecue or grilled meat) here it is a steak with an egg, rice, avocado and fries which has been translated to Meat to Iron or Conbinado which they translated to Cocktail. Starting to get a bit tired I got a quick tour of the street and got to try empanada de viento (find out about their food in Lets talk food Ecuador). A Spanish word I learned today; Buenasso!
After a short night, I moved my body from the bed to the car where I kept on sleeping. Our first stop was at Molino San Juan Hacienda in Cayambe where we had breakfast and I got to try manjar and fruit juices as their fruits are so different from European ones. Then we got a tour of the house, where they used to process grain to make bread or produce artisanal beer. We also got to know about the family as one of their family members was the first Saint of Ecuador and even went to meet the pope. The hacienda is also a Bed & Breakfast, more info here. Another 1h drive away and a bit more in altitude (3.500 meters) we stopped at the Laguna da Mojanda for a little walk. Unfortunately, the weather was a bit rainy and cloudy but it was super beautiful. It was already lunchtime so we drove back to Cayumba to a little cafe with an interior courtyard, unfortunately, I forgot the name. There I got to try the dish carne colorada, just without the carne and veggies instead. Today I found out that avocadoes grow on a tree!
As Sam had to work during the mornings, I could sleep until late which I did. It was a quiet day and in the evening we drove to the centre and went to Cafe Mosaico which is this lovely place where you have a great view over all of Quito. Here I found out how much Ecuadorians love cheese because it is everywhere, in their hot chocolate or on bananas. (Find out more about it in Lets talk food Ecuador). Some of the words I learned today: achachay which is more like a sound you do when you are cold or arrarray when you burn yourself. Really important as there were a lot of things I did not know “Que es eso?” which means “What is that?”
The next day I had breakfast at La Vaca with a friend and she brought me to the supermarket, where she introduced me to all the local fruits and veggies like uvilla, tuna, taxo and many many more (you can also find these in Lets talk food Ecuador). And I had another evening of mainly learning new Ecuadorian words at Ananké with its beautiful view over the valley and some cocktails. “Quien dice?”, mijo, mijin, mijadin, mijitirx all meaning friend.
Enjoying the happy hour maybe a bit too much last night and having a flight leaving at 6 am is always a good combination, especially when the drive to the airport is about 40 min and you only wake up at 4:30 am. We made it though! Tired and hungry we landed about one hour later in Guayaquil where Sams friend was waiting for us and we went to have a typical breakfast at El Café de Tere. After we drove to the centre where we would walk up las Peñas which is a neighbourhood of colourfull houses which ends on top of a little hill where you find a little lighthouse, a church and a nice view over Guayaquil. Back down we walked along the Rio Guayas and stopped to have some beers.
Starting a new day with more typical food, we went to La Casa del Encebollado where I tried, what a surprise encebollado, which is a soup based on fish. I chose the option with fish and shrimps, even though having soup for breakfast is not usual for me, this is one of my favourite meals now. Later we drove to Montañita where we would stay at the weekend. Once we arrived there we got ready for a night out at Caña Grill. The most known club in Montañita is Lost Beach Club which plays techno and I am absolutely not a fan of techno. As you might have guessed, Montañita is mainly about going out and spending the day at the beach or surfing. And this is what we did this weekend.
Another early morning flight brought us back to Quito, where I spend the day sleeping, while Sam had to work and we ended the day having drinks at Sportplanet.
One must do in Quito is the TeleferiQo which is a gondola lift that will bring you up to the Pichincha Volcano and the lookout Cruz Loma. As this is 4.100 meter high don’t forget to bring some snacks in case you will get the altitude sickness, thankfully Isabel brought me there and brought me also a lot of snacks and asked me every 15 minutes if I am feeling fine 😀 From here also starts the hike to Pichincha, an active volcano. On the way back we grabbed some ceviche. After work Sam picked me up and, as the weather was good, we went to the historical centre of Quito. The weather here can change really quickly as Quito is surrounded by mountains. “We can have all seasons within one day” – Sam. We walked around la Plaza de la Independencia and climbed on the roof of la Catedral Metropolitana de Quito. How did we end the day? What do you think, of course with beer and some food 😉 Song of the day “Quiere Beber” which you can find in my Spotify playlist.
Today we had a full schedule, first stop was Quilotoa Shalalá with its view on the Laguna de Quilotoa. We stayed quite a while there because the view and this place are just incredible. On the drive, we would pass all these little shops, where they grilled cuy also know as guinea pigs on the street. Finally, we arrived at the volcano Cotopaxi just to find out that it was already closed… So we decided to drive back and have some (vegan for me) burgers.
Ecuador is called Ecuador because it is on the equator and this line is not too far from Quito. So we went to The Middle of the World but actually there are two, sounds strange I know! The first one is Ciudad Mitad del Mundo which was defined by The French Geodesic Mission but they missed it by 240 meters. So as you might have guessed, 240 meters further is the actual middle of the world where you will find the museo de sitio intiñan. There we had a little tour and they explained to us why the water flushes in the opposite way. Also, I managed to balance an egg on the equator and can call myself Egg Master (even got a certificate)! As always we finished with some local food and trying helado de paila which is ice cream, prepared in a bronze bowl over some ice cubes.
Spending a horrible night because apparently, some of the last day’s food wasn’t too good for me, we woke up early as today was Friday and we wanted to go to Baños. Still feeling sick I slept during the whole bus trip. Once arrived in Baños we booked a tour which would bring us to different waterfalls like Pailon del Diablo and different swings like La Casa De Arbol where a local gave me some coca leaves against the sickness. Happy that the day was over I went to sleep at 7 pm.
“Lets vamos”. Waking up feeling better, we had breakfast and took an Amazon tour. Our first stop was the “door” or the beginning of the Amazon. Second stop was a little village of the Wayuri, where we tried chicha, got traditional face paint and they danced to traditional music. Feeling still a bit sick one of the guides gave me some alcohol with yuca – manioc and it made me feel so much better. Ready for the next stop, the Swing of Death which I would definitely not try ..as I know myself I would kill myself. Lunch stop followed by the instructions “Put on your boots ..or Havaianas” we hiked to the waterfall Hola Vida which was the last stop of our trip. How to finish the day? No, once not with food haha well yes we did have food but as I felt better we went out!
Baños is the mountain version of Montañita, during the day you can do mainly water activities like white water rafting and canyoning, and at night party it is. The last point done the night before just one is missing. We went white water rafting! Also, it was my first time and I was sooo scared! But it was amazinggg! I would have loved to stay longer and try more activities but it was time to go back to Quito.
Ecuador is perfect for all kind of activities, you can hike, visit cities, spend time at the beach or in the jungle and you also have hot springs. We went to the hot springs in Papallacta apparently the view is amazing as it is located between mountains. Unfortunately, I could not enjoy the view as we went there only around 8 pm and it already gets dark at 7 pm.
The last days slowly arrived and also Em, a friend I just met a few weeks earlier, arrived in Quito and stayed at Sams place. After telling me all her adventures (she travelled a while with another friend of mine, I know I know all very confusing), we left with Sams parents to Alausí where we stayed the night.
So what is there in Alausí? Here starts the train Nariz del Diablo and it is amazing!! It leaves in the morning and stops first at a viewpoint where we met the alpaca Rosa Maria and later in Simbabe where the locals showed us some traditional dances and told us about their way of living.
Back in Quito, we visited la Basílica del Voto Nacional and I got to be the tour guide in the historical centre. As it was my last day and I wanted to buy some souvenirs, therefore we went to a handicraft market where I bought ..a Hammock … and many many more things. Tired but hungry I got some choclo with cheese and ají so so good ❤ . As said it was my last day so at night we went to mood bar and then to the club zebra. After another short night, I had to get up super early to get my flight back to Rio de Janeiro!
Find all the songs I listened to while on this trip on Spotify leacrazybambi playlist 2019 – Ecuador. And you should definitely watch this music video by Nicky Jam and Wisin as it was shot in Ecuador. Here you see the view of Quito from Virgin of El Panecillo, Pailon del Diablo waterfall in Banos, La Ronda Street in Quito, Church of La Compañía de Jesús in Quito, Laguna de Quilotoa, Las Penas in Guayaquil, view of Guayaquil and the lighthouse, to just name the places I have been to. Next time I definitely have to go to the Galapagos Islands and more into the Amazonas.
More about my trips in Latin America in “Finding my true love” – Brazil and Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro 2019 or in Asia in Country of smiles – Cambodia, Siem Reap – Angkor Temples, Monks & Pub Street and their food in The food isn’t that bad here – Cambodia. More about Italian food in “Do you only travel for food?” – Rome and Oh Sicily, your food is heaven! or A few days on São Miguel, Azores, Portugal