Arriving in Guayaquil I did not know what to expect but to simply meet my friend Chris and to take the flight to the unique Galapagos islands the day after. Guayaquil is apparently the “New York” of Ecuador, the country’s engine of commerce (this is what I thought before going to Galapagos, lol).
Friends warned me of the bad neighbourhoods in town and of course the first thing I did was to cross one of the “invasiones” which is directly located on a hill next to “Las Penas”, the hip historic quarter of Guayaquil. Luckily, a tunnel was connecting the highway to my hostel and I was simply diving through the dark neighbourhood (it should not remain the last encounter though).
The simple but cool accommodation (Nazu City Hostel) my friend booked was just perfectly located in the centre of Las Penas with easy access to the most important attractions, mainly the river promenade “el malecon” and “cerro santa ana”.
More important for me was the fact they had a spacious garage where I could park my bike during the entire stay on Galapagos without paying any extra costs.
However, after my exhausting ride of yesterday I did not do anything but relaxing in my room for the first day. When Chris arrived the following day I was luckily totally recovered and could start exploring the town together with him.
El malecon was first on our agenda and we spent the first half of the day walking over the beautiful river promenade, having coffee and cake while watching the locals passing by. It is a sort of an artificial environment which is separated by a fence to the rest of the town with guards on patrol, giving nevertheless a secure feeling in an otherwise rather dodgy area.
A market hall in the South of the river promenade seemed first to be an interesting place to visit but soon we realised the area seemed in contrary to the malecon not very safe (we immediately put our cameras back in our rucksacks) and the goods on sale were cheap Chinese counterfeits – nothing special in conclusion.
The city centre of Las Penas was really beautiful with its numerous colonial style buildings which were interesting to see.
After checking tripadvisor for more sightseeing opportunities we decided to climb the “Cerro Santa Ana” where a light tower is looking upon the charming but dangerous city quarter (invasiones). When trying to walk up the hill we first took the wrong turn and were heading straight into the heart of the rough neighbourhood.
It looked rather attractive, similar to the beautiful colourful steps in Rio de Janeiro with pink, yellow and green houses at both sides. Not very soon after walking our first steps, friendly people were telling us immediately to go back because of possible theft or robbery. We gladly followed their advice and asked the next police man for the proper directions. Apparently, numbered steps (exactly 444) are leading up the hill with plenty of police officers after each corner were making it more than easy to reach the light tower. Arriving on top we enjoyed the beautiful view and were watching a couple of kids playing football in the middle of the invasiones.
After a nice dinner and a final drink in a cool rock bar, an interesting day came to an end and we were excited to take off to the famous Galapagos Islands the next day.