Off to Ecuador
Yes, OK, it was an early start! Guests staying at our Heathrow airport hotel were on the coach at 4.15am ready for our private transfer to Terminal Five. Dawn had accompanied Richard and the group to help with check-in, but she was now heading home to do yet more washing from our recent China tour (!) and also keep the office going for the next week. Dawn is escorting guests to Ecuador on the 23rd, and we'll all meet up in the coastal city of Guayaquil before heading out to the Galapagos together. Just before Heathrow security Richard and Dawn therefore say romantic farewells - actually Richard thinks Dawn is looking forward to some peace and quiet for the next week!
Talking about Heathrow security, Richard is expecting to be searched. He's carrying over 50 personal radio headsets which we use on tour. Each guest receives a headset and ear piece and we set up our local guides with the microphone and transmitter. The result is a much improved experience during tours and excursions. As expected the box of radios is chosen for a security search. Every redio is looked at in great detail! Naturally all our guests run off and leave Richard too it. Thankfully he is allowed through in time for the flight.
Our first stint is the short hop to Madrid. Yesterday there was a General Strike in Spain but we've heard flights are operating normally today and that proves to be the case. We have ample connection time in Madrid and we join our Airbus aircraft for the long flight down to South America. We take off a little late and land a little early - can't be bad. Arriving at Quito has been "busy" on previous occasions but we proceed through passport control pretty well and all our bags are delivered. Exiting the arrivals hall at Quito normally involves placing luggage through a scanner and Richard is once again expecting to explain the reasons for 50 radios, wires and batteries. However, we're all invited to exit without bag checks, so in no time at all we're meeting our local guide, Santiago, and our coach driver, Johnny. Both guide and driver (and the bus) are hand picked by the Furlongs team so we are in good hands. Leaving the airport area the traffic is busy but Johnny knows some short cuts and we arrrive in the old colonial city centre bang on schedule. The route involves some fairly tight corners for a big bus, and some fairy steep hills. Guests begin to wonder where we're taking them? Confidence returns on arrival at the Patio Andaluz - our Quito hotel. It is an elegant boutique hotel located in a colonial style house originally built at the end of the 16th century. The hotel staff greet us with refreshing drinks and in no time at all we're settling in to our lovely rooms. A tasty buffet dinner is served and guests then retire for a well earned rest.
We've arrived in Ecuador at the beginning of our adventure! The early start at Heathrow suddenly seems well worth it!