Arriving in Gorontalo Harbor in the morning, one should have the impression of beautiful harbor with turquoise sea, complete with greenish panorama behind.
The sea-wall is a long array of boulders, spoiling sea wave from incoming ferries.
The City of Gorontalo is located far between mountains behind the port. Expect a 20 minutes journey using bentor (local public transport made of motorized rickshaw) or less if you're using car or motorbike.
It is rather a small city with typical cityscape like in many cities in Java. Colonial buildings are abundant in city center next to old-style buildings from 70s and 80s.
Locals use bentor as public transportation, it is everywhere. It takes you to almost everywhere surrounding Gorontalo, including Limboto, where you could enjoy the big lake and city tower. The price of riding bentor for a day is considerably the same with renting a car the whole day, but bentor has the mobility that any cars would not have.
Other options to explore the city are by renting a car and excursing to nearby beaches and diving spots.
A bentor driver told me to find the nice cuisine center just outside the city by charging me IDR10,000 for a slow ride wandering the suburbs of Gorontalo. He was such a nice guy with a lot of stories to tell, from politic and current affairs to sensitive issues like religion and races. The journey was pleasant and he actually took me to a big restaurant with made-to-order fish grill, amazing.
As I always rely too much on Google Maps when traveling, I took the chance to explore the smaller roads within the city. The basic rule of finding direction is by looking at the sun and clock, also looking at the mosques since they only have one direction when praying.
At one street-quarter, I stood-up quite long reckoning where-the-heck I am.
The actual road name differs from the name appears on Google Maps. It is good to re-check road names or any places' names with locals to make sure that your electronic map gives you the correct information.
Local dish are similar to the rest of Sulawesi; mostly made of or mixed with sea fishes.
The unique thing about Gorontalo's dishes is the exceptional corn in almost every dish. Sweet corn is a substitute for rice. Gorontalo is known as the "Province of Corn". It was not because they have everything based on corn or being the largest producer of corn in Indonesia, but they happen to love corn so much ever since Spain brought the seeds back in the day.
My favorite dish is Milu Siram.
It is made from corn (obviously) and Cakalang Fish, along with some herbs to give the flavor. It is best served with lemon and coarsed chilly. Picture for this dish is attached :)
Gorontalo is well-connected to Manado and the rest of Sulawesi using Trans-Sulawesi network on the land, ferries to numerous port in Tomini Bay and airplanes to major airports, including Jakarta and Makasar.
Expect a 10hrs land journey to Manado, 14hrs ferry to Ampana in Central Sulawesi and one hour flight to Makasar. Jalaludin Airport, the one who serves Gorontalo, is located far outside the city.
Expect a 90 minutes ride with bentor or around 60 minutes using car through Limboto City. The access to airport is sufficient and pretty wide to accomodate traffic jam as it is also a part of Trans-Sulawesi network.
Travel diary shared by yusufputra