Guayaquil (aka Santiago de Guayaquil) sits in the most bio diverse country in the world, Ecuador, where ice cream truck music is played by the garbage trucks, the panama hat was invented and roasted guinea pig is considered to be a delicacy.
Ecuador is not only one of the smallest countries in the world; it is also the closest country to space. The capital of the Guayas province in which Guayaquil sits, it is used as a jumping off point to get to other destinations, especially Galapagos. The city is on the western bank of the Guayas River that flows into the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Guayaquil, where you will find the largest port in Ecuador. Founded in 1538, this is a city where music rules and the scoffing of seafood is mandatory.
You need to be a bit on the cautious side with your belongings, so hang onto them tightly, when you are walking around. Make sure you head to the Malecon Dos Mil, an urban renewal project on the Simon Boliver boardwalk. There are plenty of gardens, fountains, shopping malls, bars and restaurants to explore along here. If you want a 360-degree panoramic view of Guayaquil, you will have to climb 444 steps to the top of Cerro Santa Ana passing a lighthouse, a quaint church and a plethora of artisan shops, art galleries and restaurants along the way. The first neighborhood of Guayaquil, the colonial Las Peñas, sits adjacent to the stairway. Take the time to meander around this colorful wooden housed area that poets and writers would hang out in and still do. The seawater estuary of Malecon del Salado is where to find the best seafood restaurants and if you feel like getting friendly with an iguana head to the "Seminario Parque de las Iquanas". The museum buffs will be happy, as there are numerous to stick your nose into, whilst those with the shopping bug should head to the traditional markets "Mercado Artesanal" for some local goodies.
For a quirky sight, if you are game enough and happen to be in Guayaquil the week before New Year's Eve, go to 6 de Marzo, about 10 blocks from downtown that is lined with paper maché figures of cartoon, movie or political characters, some standing 10 feet tall.
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