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GUAYAQUIL •• Guayaquil - City Center 321
cafés. The stand-alone cafés all charge about $ 1 per hour.
American Cyber (Map p327; (§ 264 7112; Oxandaberro near Isidro Ayorar La Alborada)
[email protected] (Map pp320-l; Unicentro Shopping Center,
1:30am) Located just off Guillermo Pareja Rolando, a few blocks south of the Garzocentro Shopping Center, La Garzota.
CyberNet (Map pp320-l; Luque 1115; ® 7.30am-10pm)
Next door to Hotel Alexander.
Internet 50< (Map pp320-l; Rumichaca 818 & 9 de
Octubre; © 9am-11pm Mon-Sat, 9am-7pm Sun) You guessed it - 50C per hour.
Joelik Cybernet (Map pp320-l; ® 10am-8pm) West side of Parque del Centenario.
Most laundries in Guayaquil specialize in dry cleaning rather than washing, drying and folding. Keep in mind that most are closed weekends. Midrange and top-end hotels offer laundry at often exorbitant prices. The best bet for reasonable rates is to inquire at one of the respectable budget hotels or try Secomatico (Map pp320-l; cnr Colón & Boyaca).
El Universo is Guayaquil's local paper and has all the cultural goings-on about town.
Clínica Kennedy (Map p327; @ 238 9666; Av Periodista) The best hospital in Guayaquil, by the Policentro shopping center in the Nueva Kennedy suburb. Avenida del Periodista is also known as San Jorge. Dr Peterson (® 288 8717; Acacias 608 & Av Las Monjas) Dr Serrano Sáenz (Map pp320-1; @ 230 1373; Boyaca 821 & Junin) Takes drop-ins and speaks English.
The banks listed here all change traveler's checks and have ATMs. There are standalone ATMs all over downtown, especially around Plaza de la Merced, and every major bank in the country has offices here. Banco de Guayaquil (Map pp320-1; cnr Rendón & Panamá)
Banco del Pacífico (Map pp320-1; Paula de Icaza 200; branch Map pp320-1; cnr 9 de Octubre & Ejército)
Post office (Map pp320-1; ® 8am-7pm Mon-Fri, 8am-noon Sat) Part of a huge building bounded by Ballén and Carbo.
There are Pacifictel and other phone com pany offices all over the city. fl
Centro de Turismo (Map pp320-1; Malecón; ® 10am-1pm & 2-7pm Mon-Fri, 11am-1pm & 2-6pm Sat & Sun) Easily the most informative and helpful spot for tourist information is this train car on the Malecón, which offers 15 minutes' free Internet access, plus good city maps and info on cultural events and happenings. fl
Dirección Municipal de Turismo (Map pp320-l; fl @ 252 4100, ext 3477/9; www.guayaquil.gov.ee; Malecón & 10 de Agosto) If you can't get what you need from the train car, try this office in the town hall. m
Subsecretario de Turismo Litoral (Map pp320-1; I W) 256 8764; [email protected]; 5th fl, Paula de Icaza 203; ® 8.30am-4.30pm Mon-Fri) Provides general tourist information about Guayas and Manabí Provinces.
Although Guayaquil is the last stop for the Galápagos, prices are no lower than they are in Quito, and Quito definitely has more travel agencies. However, you do save about $45 on the flight to the islands (and over an hour's flying time). More details are given in the Galápagos Islands chapter (p347). Canodros (lg 228 0880; www.canodros.com; Urbanización Santa Leonor, Manzana 5, Solar 10, Vía Terminal Terrestre; ® 9am-6pm) Operator for Galápagos Explorer II - one of the most expensive cruise ships in the islands. Centro Viajero (Map pp320-1; @ 230 1283,09-975 2433; [email protected]; Baquerizo Moreno 1119 at 9 de Octubre, Office 805,8th fl; ® 9am-7:30pm) A travel agency that readers continue to recommend for its honest and personal service in organizing Galápagos packages. Spanish, English and French spoken. Dreamkapture Travel ((Hi 224 2909; www.dream kapture.com; Alborada 12a etapa, Av Benjamín Carrión at Av Francisco de Orellana) Run by a French-Canadian woman who offers good deals on Galápagos cruises (and speaks French, English and Spanish) and also arranges surfing trips. Ecoventura (@ 220 7177; www.ecoventura.com) Recommended for the quality and comfort of its Galápagos cruises and its highly lauded attention to conservation and sustainable tourism.
Ecuadorian Tours (Map pp320-1; @ 228 7111; www .ecuadoriantoursgye.com.ee; 9 de Octubre 1900; ® 9am-lpm & 2-6pm Mon-Fri) The American Express agent and good all-purpose travel agency. Galápagos Sub-Aqua (Map pp320-1; (g 04-230 5514; www.galapagos-sub-aqua.com; Orellana 211 & Panamá, Office 402) Recommended scuba-diving operator for the Galápagos.
Galasam Tours (Map pp320-1; IB! 230 4488; www galapagos-islands.com; 9 de Octubre 424, Office 9A;
9am-6:30pm Mon-Fri, 10am-1pm Sat) Known for economical Galápagos cruises. Some people have negotiated good deals, but Lonely Planet has also received many complaints from readers of bad service and trips gone wrong. Go in with your eyes open. Metropolitan Touring (Map p327; tt 233 0300; www .metropolitantouring.com; Hilton Colón Hotel, Av Francisco de Orellana) Can arrange luxury trips to the Galápagos and also book tours throughout the country.
DANGERS & ANNOYANCES
Guayaquil has its fair share of poverty and urban woes, though statistically and anecdo-tally it is certainly no more dangerous than Quito and doesn't deserve the bleak tag that is bandied about by foreigners who spend only a few hours in the city. There is a persistent problem with post-ATM withdrawal robberies, so it's worth being extra aware for at least a few blocks after leaving the bank. However, the main tourist areas of 9 de Octubre, the Malecón and Las Peñas are perfectly safe - not simply because there is a visible police presence but also because these are lively, vibrant areas clogged with couples and families, and not the predatory gangs that some would have you believe. The area directly north and south of the Parque del Centenario can feel dodgy at night, but simply use common sense and take the normal precautions when visiting any large city.
SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES
The city has its fair share of sights, most within walking distance of one another. If your time is limited be sure to walk the Malecón 2000 (also called Malecón Simón Bolívar or simply El Malecón) and visit the northern neighborhood of Las Peñas -an especially pleasant destination at night when cool breezes blow off the Río Guayas and the bright lights of the city sparkle below. Sunday is a good day to foot it because traffic is limited.
The riverfront promenade is Guayaquil's own Central Park - minus grass but plus a river - and it's where the city comes to shop, eat, stroll and just plain congregate. Malecón 2000 (Map pp320-1; ® 7am-midnight), one of the most extensive urban renewal projects in South America, is made up of ponds, playgrounds, sculptures, gardens and river views. From its southernmost point at the Mercado Sur to Cerro Santa Ana and Las Peñas in the north, the Malecón stretches 2.5km along the bank of the wide Río Guayas. It's a gated, policed public space with restaurants, a museum, performance space, IMAX movie theater and a shopping mall.
At the southern end of the Malecón stands the handsome, steel Mercado Sur (Map pp320-l), sometimes called the Crystal Palace, a Belgium-designed covered market built in 1907 - at the time the biggest marketplace in Guayaquil. It has now been restored, with giant glass walls, and is periodically filled with art and commercial exhibitions.
Just north of the Mercado Sur is the Olmedo monument (Map pp320-l) honoring José Joaquín de Olmedo (1780-1847), who was an Ecuadorian poet and the president of the first Ecuadorian territory independent of Spanish rule. Just to the north, outside the Malecón's blue fence, is the sprawling street market known as La Bahía (p332) where you can pick up everything from underwear to DVDs of the Latin Grammy awards.
Where 10 de Agosto hits the Malecón you'll see the famous Moorish-style clock tower (Map pp320-1; ®9am-6pm Mon-Fri), which originally dates from 1770 but has been replaced several times. The 23m-high tower is open to visitors to climb the narrow spiral staircase inside.
Across the street from the clock tower is the Palaao Municipal (Map pp320-l), an ornate, gray building that is separated from the simple and solid Palado de Gobierno by a small but pleasant pedestrian mall. Both buildings date from the 1920s. The Palacio de Gobierno replaced the original wooden structure, which was destroyed in the great fire of 1917. The little-visited Museo Naval (Map pp320-l; p 232 4249; Government Bldg, Malecón & Ballén; admission free; S8.15am-noon & 1-4pm Mon-Fri), entered through the door on the Malecón side, has four large galleries with maps, documents, models and other curio of the seafaring history of the country.
A few blocks away in the Plaza de Administración building is the new Museo Na him Isaias (Map pp320-l; «chincha & Ballén; adults/children $1.50/0.50; ® 10am-6pmTue-Sat, nam-4pmSun), which exhibits a collection of sculptures, paintings and artifacts of the colonial period.
Continuing north along the Malecón, you will soon come to the famous statue of La Rotonda (Map pp320-1), one of Guayaquil's more impressive monuments, particularly when illuminated at night. Flanked by small fountains, it depicts the historic but enigmatic meeting between Bolivar and San Martin that took place here in 1822. Few people realize that the curved wall behind the statue acts as an acoustic reflector. If two people stand at either end of it, the whisper of one into the wall will be carried around to the other person.
From La Rotonda, there are good views north, along the riverfront, of the colonial district of Las Peñas and Cerro Santa Ana and, far beyond, the impressive Guayaquil-Durán bridge - the biggest in the country. To the east of La Rotonda, 9 de Octubre (Map pp320-l), downtown Guayaquil's main commercial street stretches off toward Parque del Centenario.
At the far northern end of the Malecón is the modern Müseo Antropológico y de Arte Contemporáneo (Map pp320-1; MAAC; S 230 9400; Malecón & Loja; admission $3 Wed-Sat, $1.50 Tue & Sun; ® 10am-6pm Tue-Sat, 10am-4pm Sun), a museum of anthropology, archaeology and (most importantly for the average visitor) a superb and well-curated collection of contemporary Ecuadorian art. MAAC also has a modern 400-seat theater for plays, concerts and film. Behind the museum is an open-air stage, where musical and theatrical performances are occasionally given. Beside the museum is a modern food court.
Las Peñas & Cerro Santa Ana
These two historic neighborhoods (Map pp320-l) have been refurbished into an idealized version of a quaint South American hillside village, all brightly painted homes and cobblestone alleyways. If you peek inside an open door or window, however, you realize it's a bit of a Potemkin village that's not entirely sanitized as residents still live their everyday lives as they would elsewhere in the city. Everyone strolling the Malecón ends up here, especially at night when the views from the top are spectacular. There are several stylish and attractive bars, and it's completely safe -though one of the friendly security officers may stop you for walking up or down the wrong side of the steep stairway so as not to impede the heavy foot traffic. Then are future plans to create a Disneyfied port area below Las Peñas.
The historic street of Numa Pompillo Liona named after the guayaquileño (1832-1907) who wrote the national anthem, begins at the northern end of the Malecón, to the right of the stairs that head up the hill called Cerro Santa Ana. The narrow, winding street has several unobtrusive plaques set into the walls of some of its houses, indi eating the simple residences of past presi dents. The colonial wooden architecture has been allowed to age elegantly, albeit with a gloss of paint. Several artists live in the area, and there are a few good galleries, including the eponymous Quimbita Galeria (Map pp320-l; I® 231 0785; www.quimbita.com; Cerro Santa Ana; © 2pm-llpm Tue-Thu & Sun, 2pm-2am Fri & Sat), which doubles as a bar and showpiece for the large canvasses of this highly regarded artist. The Asociación Cultural Las Peñas (Map pp320-1; ® 235 1891; Numa Pompillo Liona 173; ® 10am-4pm) is in a lovely old house over the river and sells paintings by local artists.
Numa Pompillo Liona is a dead-end street. so retrace your footsteps and instead of continuing back along the Malecón, hang a sharp right and head up the steps of Cerro Santa Ana (Map pp320-l). The stairs lead past dozens of refurbished, brightly painted homes, cafés, bars and souvenir shops, and up to the hilltop fort Fortín del Cerro ('Fort of the Hill'; Map pp320-l). Cannons, which were once used to protect Guayaquil from pirates, aim over the parapet toward the river and are still fired today during celebrations. You can climb the lighthouse (Map pp320-1; admission free; ® 10am-10pm) for spectacular 360-degree views of the city and its rivers. -3
Back at the bottom of the hill, if you walk inland from the stairway, you'll see the open air theater Teatro Bogotá (Map pp320-l). Behind the theater is the oldest church in Guayaquil, the Church of Santo Domingo (Map pp320-l). The church, which is worth a look, was founded in 1548 and restored in 1938. \m
There are several ordinary colonial-era buildings in the streets immediately south of Las Peñas, but soon all the architecture turns mostly modern and dull. The Church of La Merced (Map pp320-l; Rendón at Rocafuerte) dates from 1938 and has a richly decorated golden altar, but the original wooden church built in 1787, like most of Guayaquil's colonial buildings, was destroyed by fire.
The Church of San Francisco (Map pp320-1; 9 de Octubre near Chile) was originally built in the early 18th century, destroyed by the devastating fire in 1896 that destroyed huge swathes of the city, reconstructed in 1902 and beautifully restored in the late 90s. The plaza in front contains Guayaquil's first public monument, unveiled on New Year's Day in 1880. It is a statue of Vicente Rocafuerte, Ecuador's first native president who held office 1835-39. (Ecuador's first president, Juan Flores, was a Venezuelan.)
The main thoroughfare, 9 de Octubre (Map pp320-l), is definitely worth a stroll, even if you're not shopping, if only to experience the commercial vibrancy of the city.
Parque Bolívar Area
Guayaquil may be the only city in the world that has land iguanas, some over a meter in length, living downtown. These prehistoric-looking animals, a different species from those found in the Galápagos, are a startling sight in one of Guayaquil's most famous plazas, Parque Bolívar (Map pp320-l) which is also known as Parque Seminario. Around its small ornamental gardens are many of Guayaquil's first-class hotels.
On the west side of Parque Bolívar is the cathedral (Map pp320-l). The original building on this site dates from 1547, but -as is common with most of Guayaquil's original wooden buildings - it burnt down. The present structure was completed in 1948 and renovated in 1978. The front entrance is extremely ornate, but inside it is simple, high-vaulted and modern.
A block south of Parque Bolivar, you find the Museo Municipal (Map pp320-l; @252 4100; Sucre; admission free; © 8:30am-4:30pm Tue-Fri, 10am-2pm Sat & Sun) and the municipal library. The archaeology room on the ground floor has mainly Inca and pre-Inca ceramics, and several figurines from the oldest culture in Ecuador, the Valdivia (c 3200 BC). Also on the ground floor is a colonial room with mainly religious paintings and a few period household items. Upstairs, there is a jumble of modern art and ethnography rooms with regional costumes, handicrafts and several shrunken heads.
This plaza, found along 9 de Octubre (Map pp320-l), is the largest in Guayaquil and marks the midway point between the Rio Guayas and the Estero Salado. It's four square city blocks of manicured gardens, benches and monuments, the most important of which is the central Liberty column surrounded by the founding fathers of the country.
Parque Histórico Guayaquil
Historic Williamsburg meets the zoo at this large park (Map p327; @ 283 3807; www.parquehistor ico.com; adult/child Tue-Sat $3/1.50, Sun $4.50/3; © 9am-4:30pm Tue-Sun) across the Guayaquil-Durán bridge, on the east side of Rio Daule. The park is divided into three 'zones:' the Endangered Wildlife Zone, which has 45 species of birds, animals and reptiles in a seminatural habitat; the Urban Architecture Zone, which has a restaurant and showcases the development of early 20th-century architecture in Guayaquil; and the Traditions Zone, which focuses on local traditions, with an emphasis on rural customs, crafts and agriculture.
A taxi from the city costs between $3 and $4 or take the red-and-white Duran number 4/30 bus. It's easier to catch the bus back to the city from in front of the large mall on the main road about a 200m walk from the park.
Malecón El Salado
Like its more famous sister development on the Rio Guayas to the east, the Malecón El Salado is an attempt to reclaim the city's waterfront for the everyday use of its residents. There are several eateries and cafés in a streamlined modern mall-like building along the estuary and a walkway above. Previously known as the Guayaquil Park, the large square just south of the Malecón, now called the Rodolfo Baquerizo Moreno Plaza, is dominated by a large modernist structure, and expositions and events are held here periodically. A series of gardens, playgrounds and manicured public walkways, collectively called Parque Lineal, is being constructed on the other side of the waterway just to the north.
Incorporated into the city landscape a short ride from the center is this cemetery (Map
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pp320-1; Coronel & Moncayo) containing hundreds of above-ground tombs stacked atop one another so that it resembles a mini apartment complex rather than a final resting place. A walkway leads to several monuments and huge mausoleums, including the impressive grave of President Vicente Rocafuerte.
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