Howard Johnson, Guayaquil

In the past we have stayed at the Sheraton here in Guayaquil. When searching for hotel rates about a month ago, the Sheraton was way out of our budget – at over $300 a night when you included taxes and service charge.  I just can’t justify that much money for a hotel room for the night. So Joe continued our search and found the Howard Johnson. It is located in the same area and came out to $110 per night.

Guyaquil 8.7.2013 001 (7)The room is spacious, it has a great king-size bed with beautiful linens, a TUB in the bathroom which is a must for someone who has not seen a tub in over three years and a very nice restaurant with different cuisines.

Guayquil 8.5.2013 (7) Guayquil 8.5.2013 (9) Guayquil 8.5.2013 (11)The room has WiFi, a safe deposit box, a blow dryer and even an extra blanket and pillow, oh sorry it also has a flat screen TV with a zillion cable channels to choose from. The mini-bar was filled with cold beer, water and fruit drinks and they had a fine choice of snacks at a very high price. The room service menu had many options. All rooms are non-smoking actually the entire building is non-smoking.

Guyaquil 8.7a.2013 002

Guyaquil 8.7a.2013 005It is a special place for us to celebrate my applying for Social Security.

Guayquil 8.5.2013 (30) Guayquil 8.5.2013 (29) Guayquil 8.5.2013 (12) Guayquil 8.5.2013 (14) Guayquil 8.5.2013 (15)It is located almost right next door to Mall del Sol and this area also has a great food court in a park type area next door to the hotel. The airport is nearby and the hotel has a shuttle service to pick you up and take you back to the airport as well as a flight monitor with the airlines schedule on it right in the lobby of the hotel. Several newspapers from Guayaquil and Quito are available every day along with the Miami Herald in English.

Everyone on staff has been more than helpful – we have felt right at home here for the last few days.

Meier’s Sabor de Bamboo

We have found a great resource for things that we cannot find in the tiendas here in Clemente. First I must tell you that Meier has been in this area for over 10 years, he has a restaurant and bar at the far northern end of Clemente up near the bluff. He serves a mean almuerzo during the week and his seafood dinners are excellent and priced right and you can get a nice ale on tap. We have gone up a few times for breakfast on Sunday mornings where he serves a traditional American style breakfast including eggs over easy, crispy bacon, real toasted bread served with margarine and jam, fresh squeezed orange juice and an excellent large mug of fresh brewed coffee. All of this for $2.50 and I did not have to lift a finger…But I digress.

He is the local distributor for many brands of spirits, wine and beers making both Joe and I very happy indeed. His prices are great, he delivers right to your door and did I mention he even makes a lovely thin crust pizza after 7pm each evening. Oh, sorry I keep remembering his food. He carries quart and gallon jugs of a fruit vinegar that I have used for my pickling of eggs and vegetables  He has several brands of box wine, probably 25 different varieties of bottled wine, a variety of rums, vodkas, as well as coffee.

He will grind both beef and pork, sell you cuts of both meats, carries a wonderful brand of mozzarella cheese as well as good quality bacon and will order cream cheese for me anytime I want. Sunday we ordered a box of goodies that were delivered Monday morning. If you get him your order early Monday he will have your order delivered to your door by Thursday.

He also has a hostel on the property and it is located a short 1 minute walk to a very quiet beach.

Dinner at Hotel Palmazul

It was a perfect evening one Friday to try out the restaurant at the Hotel Palmazul a few blocks from our house. Joe and I were given a bit of a tour while we were visiting a few months back but did not have the time to try out their restaurant.

You can eat on their pool deck or in the 2nd floor restaurant that overlooks the pool and ocean.

We started out on the pool deck with a cocktail of Club beer but, as soon as the sun set, the wind off the water was a bit too much for us.

Next time I would take a sweater or light jacket because it was a beautiful spot and would have been perfect for a wonderful evening out. We moved upstairs to a table right off the patio area allowing us to view the water from behind huge glass sliding panels.

After a second cocktail, I ordered the three pepper steak described as lomo on the menu which is written both in Spanish and English. It was three thin slices of beef cooked medium with a pepper sauce. Served with what looked to be mashed squash but had a bland flavor.

The dish was served with the long beans popular here. The steak was difficult to cut and even more difficult to chew. If it was lomo it was not very good lomo. I would not order this dish again and was very disappointed because I think this was over $14 which is a huge price for a meal in San Clemente. Joe had ordered a cheeseburger served with a mound of french fries and he loved it and would order this again. His only negative comment was that the roll was kind of chewy around the edges. We ordered coffee and one dessert to share. The coffee was fresh, strong and good. The dessert was not a traditional tiramasu recipe –  it was more just whipped cream in a martini glass, nothing exceptional.

Total bill was $37.21 which included the 12% IVA as well as a 10% service fee. I was disappointed in the food, but the service was excellent and the atmosphere was most enjoyable. We will try it again but probably order a fish dish to see how the chef handles a local item. And, anyplace where you can have a drink and watch a blood red sun dip into the blue Pacific through swaying coconut palms is fine by us.

Ramblings – San Jacinto and San Clemente

We had a very peaceful time in both of these towns. The Hotel San Jacinto was the perfect spot for a quiet week of relaxation.  The hotel, staff, management and food was all good for the daily charge of about $30 for an oceanfront room for two which included breakfast. If I had a negative comment it’s that the pool was not crystal clear some days but besides that everything else was clean and the staff was very attentive. Fresh sheets and towels every day with a good bathroom sanitizing and all floors swept and washed. The grounds were swept, washed down or otherwise put in order as well each day.

Almuerzo (lunch) some days was fried shrimp or calamari. Normally what we have found is almuerzo consists of a fried fish platter so to have shrimp or calamari was a special treat for the cost of almuerzo. For $3 you get a full bowl of shrimp soup with several actual shrimp, a glass of juice or soda, and a plateful of food consisting of a small salad, patacones, rice and either fish, shrimp, calamari or similar. Beer extra. Hard to beat. Did I mention we were sitting at the beach. You know, the ocean for goodness’ sake. Yeah baby.

This is the vichy (soup) that is always a peanut broth. This is a favorite from Manabi. For me,  anything with peanut sauce is out of this world. Several places offered Vichy with camarón instead of fish, all were excellent.

Above are the fried shrimp from one of our lunches at the hotel.

The charrasco platter served by Hotel San Jacinto was perfect, especially while sipping a cold Pilsener and watching the sunset.

After a week in San Jacinto we moved up the coast to San Clemente to the Casa Real.  This hotel also allowed us to continue the peaceful feeling. It’s very small and does not have a full-time staff so cleanliness of the rooms suffered. I removed our own trash, replaced towels – it reminded me of a beach hut so I decided to be in the moment and not to worry about the cleanliness of the room and just enjoy! This hotel has no restaurant but they did have a common kitchen with refrigerator, stove and microwave so you can cook for yourself. Perfect for making a cup of coffee in the morning but we ate our meals out most days, as the location is only 2 blocks to the main street and steps to the beach.

Below is one of two restaurants right on the water in San Clemente. The food was very good although they did not offer an almuerzo (set lunch for cheap). Joe and I had to suffer and order off the great menu. Joe had the beef plate and I had the sautéed fish, both excellent choices. Cost $4 – 5 per meal I think. Big beer (22 oz) is usually $1.25 – $1.50 at the restaurants and bars.

Some flowers on the side of the road!

Anyone that knows me knows that I dislike beer. One afternoon our landlady invited us for ceviche on her porch. She doesn’t speak much English and I could not stop her before she opened a bottle of Club beer for me.  I drank it down and actually found it to be refreshing and an excellent pairing with ceviche. Voila! New Nancy. While on our trip I enjoyed many a shared bottle of Pilsener with Joe.

Dolphins and Eggs

While staying at the Hotel San Jacinto the waitress spotted these dolphins making a pass by the outdoor restaurant one morning. First I must tell you that the breakfast served at this hotel was excellent eggs, toast – yes I said toast with butter and jam, fresh fruit juice different each morning and coffee con leche or you could order any of the Ecuadorian breakfast specialties.  Back to the dolphins: How graceful and gentle these beautiful creatures were as they jumped and splashed by our breakfast table.  How great is this place?

Here are a few more pictures of the courtyard at the hotel.

Los Corvets April 23rd

I saw this sign near Hotel Bleu this morning. The Los Corvets will be performing for the end of season wrap up on Saturday, April 23 here in Salinas.

Their website is found at http://www.loscorvets.com and below is the link to view a YouTube video.

Season, while not officially over until after Easter weekend, is surely dying quickly in the meantime.  The second season, as it were, will be upon us soon in June, July, and some of August. Then we chill until Independence in November, and Christmas and New years which marks the beginning of High season once again.

Plastic Gloves: The New Dining Experience

While in Guayaquil on our evacuation trip we went to the Mall del Sol Shopping Center, located directly across the street from the Sheraton. They have an overhead walkway that takes you from the front door of the hotel to the upstairs food court. While walking through the food court we noticed many people wearing those clear plastic gloves while eating.

What is that all about?

Sorry this picture is out of focus as I was trying to do this without the diners noticing.

We loved the Sheraton – nicely run. Everything was exceptional from the staff to the magnificent breakfast buffet. We will be going back soon.