Quito to Cuenca

On Sunday mornings, some of the roads in the colonial city centre of Quito are closed to become a pedestrian zone. This allows locals and visitors alike to walk and cycle with more freedom. Our guests spend the morning exploring, some visit the Basilica, some walk along La Ronda, others go for a nice lunch.

With an early evening flight, we have extended our hotel rooms so everyone can relax up until departure. Main suitcases are all collected and checked, and loaded onto our private buses. Mid-afternoon we say goodbye to our lovely Patio Andaluz Hotel and head to the airport.

On arrival at the airport terminal, our check-in is handled efficiently, and in no time at all we have our boarding cards and are perusing the shops, enjoying a tea or coffee, or something a bit stronger!

Running up to boarding time, we notice our airline staff don't seem to be in a great hurry. Then the flight gate changes, so we all head up the escalators to the new gate. From the new gate we realise we should be able to walk directly onto our aircraft rather than take a bus, so we're initially quite pleased! However the gate opens for boarding only 15 minutes before our scheduled departure time, so we are already wondering! We board and take out seats and then wait. And wait. Richard chats to the flight crew to discover there may be a delay as we wait for some additional passengers. Richard suggests the crew offers some water. They duly oblige, with extra cups and water sourced from a nearby aircraft!

After about 45 minutes Richard makes some more enquiries. We are apparently waiting for passengers from a flight that has arrived from New York, and the customs and immigration procedure is taking a long time. While we understand connecting passengers should be given an opportunity to make the last flight of the day to Cuenca, Richard suggests to the flight controller there should be a limit to our patience! He agrees and within 5 minutes the doors are closed and we taxi to the runway. We're late, but we're taking off!

At Cuenca Airport our luxury coach and local guide are waiting to greet us. The transfer to our hotel is quite short, and the hotel staff are ready to greet us. We head straight for some refreshments and then to bed. The hotel staff do a wonderful job delivering all our luggage in record quick time. Well done the El Dorado Hotel. We are all tired but we're safely settled in for our 4-night stay in beautiful Cuenca.

photo © Anton_Ivanov