Bank holidays, or public holidays as they are generally know outside the UK, are considered a good thing. I am a big fan of those extra 8 days off work that we get in the UK without having to eat into your precious annual leave entitlement.
Well I was. Whilst on a long trip away from work, those Bank Holidays are no longer an additional precious day off work, they instead become a bit of a hinderance. This is because things are closed, or close early, and when you are on your travels that just becomes annoying.
So what to do on New Year’s Day in Ecuador? Most attractions are closed, and public transport is extremely limited. We make this little more difficult for ourselves by still being in Quito, a city that we have used as a convenient base for our numerous trips round Ecuador, but it does mean that we have pretty much seen most of what it has to offer. In hindsight we should have probably looked to leave for Peru today, but instead we have to wait until tomorrow before moving on.
Well we start with a lie-in, which after the late night seeing in the New Year is welcome, and then head down to breakfast and meet another couple that are staying at our B&B. They are called Rick and Sue and after chatting to them for half an hour or so, I think they are some of the most remarkable people I have ever met.
They now live 6 months of the year in Uruguay, and 6 months back home in their native Canada (they like to avoid winter as they are “too old for that crap”), but are just starting a month’s holiday in Ecuador. It is an explanation of a previous trip that makes our 6 months independent travel plans look like a Thomas Cook package holiday.
When they were about 40, with 3 teenage children, they decided to sell all their belongings, defer their kids education by a year and spent 14 months travelling round the entire world over the surface. This included being in two countries as war broke out and contacting cerebral meningitis! They never got the travel bug’ out of their system and subsequently have lived in Tokyo, Beruit and Indonesia before ending up with their current lifestyle.
They are well travelled and pass on some recommendations for our trip to Peru – and serendipitously we are already booked into two of their accommodation recommendations.
New Year’s Day in the UK is a traditional day for watching sport, and in particular football. Both our teams are in action, and we head off to find an Irish bar to see if they are showing any games (though I think the likelihood of a League One game being on is somewhere less than zero).
You have to admire the Irish. For a small nation they certainly spread their publicans far and wide – Bolivia is the only country I have visited and not stumbled across one of their drinking establishments.
Within 5 minutes of where we are staying there are 2 Irish Bars which according to the web open early to show Premiership games, But after walking round through the piles of ashes, tinsel wigs and occasional broken beer bottle we find that they are all closed. So we grab a drink in a nearby cafe, watch the world go by and follow our teams fortunes over WiFi and the BBC. Our moods by full-time are mixed 😦
Back at the accommodation we meet another new guest, Sophie. Another traveller from the UK (London) who has just arrived in Quito at the start of a 6 week tour of South America. We chat about some of the places we have been as she is planning on visiting Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.
Another wander round the relative ghost town, and then grab a late lunch in Plaza Foch before heading back to catch up with Nik’s Mum and Dad over FaceTime. I then head out for a run (not a New Years resolution as such but want to make more of an effort to keep fit) and through a lack of local geographical knowledge see more of Quito than I intended and end up running 3-4km further than planned.
As our new friend Sophie is traveling alone we invite her to join us for dinner and we spend our last evening in Ecuador having a lovely meal and chatting away about the joys of traveling.