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city touring in and around Quito


View Ecuador & Galapagos ... me gusta mucho! - 2015 on Ils1976's travel map.

Unlike a few members of our group, I didn’t had much trouble with falling asleep as well as hearing not a single thing from the loud music outside. I must admit that I was a bit afraid of it as well, but once I laid my weary head on that pillow, I was of to dreamland only to wake up when our alarm clock went of at about 6.30 AM. 

Still a bit woozy, I did manage to get dressed and together with Tania, I walked outside our hotel towards a restaurant just around the corner where we could have breakfast, which on itself was actually not a very bad thing coz the sunny yet cold weather made sure that I was awake from the moment I stepped outside the hotel.

By the time it was 8 AM, the whole group was back together again at the reception of the hotel, ready for a day of sightseeing in the capital of Ecuador.

Manuel, our trusty bus driver awaited us outside and as soon as we all got seated, he drove us straight to the biggest church in the city, the Basilica del Voto Nacional, which is one of the most important examples of neo Gothic architecture in the entire country that is Ecuador. This basilica looks really beautiful with its towers and pinnacles and although I am not always the first one to see the beauty in it, I must admit that I was somewhat impressed with the gargoyles. Most of the time, or always to be more precise, you see those dragon figures or even mystical figures, but here in Quito, they used animals which are so known to them and instead of creepy things, you can see cute turtles, funny armadillos, dangerous crocodiles as well as angry iguanas … you gotta love that!

The inside of the basilica, to me, gave a rather sober impression, except for the stained glass windows, which were incredibly beautiful. I know I am a bit biased because of my predilection of this type of window, but still the colors where so nice, that I am sure that each and every one of our group was somewhat impressed one time or another.

Although our visit was but a short one, I was more than glad to had the privilege of seeing it and our next stop of the day was just the same.
El panecillo which literally means “small bread” in Spanish, is a 200 meter high hill located just outside the old town of Quito and houses (is this the right word??) the statue of Quito’s Madonna which is simply called, “la Virgen”. Made out of aluminum, this 45 meter high statue is quite impressive and it is the first one I have ever seen which has wings as well. To me it looked more like a cute angel than anything else, but since I am not a real expert, I just go by saying that it is a beautiful statue from which you have an awesome view on Quito and the suburbs of this large city.

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Just like our visit to the basilica, it was but a quick one, I guess that is always the danger of traveling organized, but at that particular moment I didn’t mind one bit, I just went with the flow so to speak and was more than curious where we were going to end up next than anything else. About half an hour later my question was answered as we were dropped off at the historic part of the city, to be more precise in the vicinity of “La calle de la Ronda”.

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This street, which is said to be one of the oldest ones of Quito, houses beautiful pastel colored buildings with cute balconies and nowadays it is not only nice for a stroll during the day or evening, you can wonder inside the houses as well and find many little shops which sell not only antiques or woodcarving objects, but delicious things like chocolate as well.As we walked through a few streets, after what must have been mere minutes, we ended up at the Santo Domingo Church were we had a quick look inside, before we went on our merit way again towards Independence Square, the central square of the city and one of the symbols of executive power of the nation as this is the spot where you can find the Carondelet Palace or in not so many words, the seat of the government.

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From the main square it was but a minutes walk towards that other infamous piece of Baroque architecture, the Church of the Society of Jesus or “ La Compania” in Spanish, which is basically a Jesuit church and best-known because of its use of gold leaf, gilded plaster and wood carvings. Although it is forbidden to take pictures, you can be sure of it that me and Tania wanted to capture that impressive gold leaf interior which was just too incredible to believe. Weren’t Jesuits supposed to be poor people ??? 

Still a bit impressed, we left the church and walked further along a few streets, only to end up at the San Francisco church about half an hour later, where we had our lunch. While enjoying a sandwich, we had the company of the sun as well, which dared to appear once in a while but being on the equator this also meant that it felt like sitting on a furnace, it was just that darn hot! 

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As clouds appeared at the heavens above about an hour later, it was time for us to leave the old town behind and as we were picked up by Manuel again, he drove us outside the city of Quito and brought us straight to the Intinan Solar Museum, which is said to be the home of the “true” equator. Since we felt its “power" earlier today, I guess I can say that the entire group was looking forward to learn more about it and I must admit that our lovely guide did her best to tell us more about her country, the indigenous tribes and wildlife still living in it as well as to show us all the tricks the equator has to offer. All in all it was a pleasant learning experience and I just wished our teacher back in elementary school could have shown us this coz it was just so much more fun than reading things straight from a boring book. Especially the balancing of the egg is quite a skill and although I failed to become an “egg master” myself, it was nice to know that at least 2 people of our group had the honor to become one!

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I guess, we were still too impressed of being on the real equator or maybe some of us, including me, were still a bit jet lagged, coz by the time we were back on the bus, Manuel drove us back to the city again, without a single soul realizing that we just passed that other infamous statue, which is said to be placed on the equator. Although Tania tried to say something about it, no-one seemed to care and about an hour later we were back in our hotel again, leaving the both of us a bit stunned!

Still left with loads of questions of what just happened, the both of us weren’t really in the mood to listen to a few women of a local travel agency, who were selling a day trip to the Galapagos Islands. Insuring us that there wasn’t much room to book anything on the islands and with a promise that we were going to see all the interesting wildlife, almost our entire group booked their quite expensive trip, after all … this was the reason we came here in the first place. 

Glad to know that was sorted out, the both of us said our goodbyes to the group coz just like yesterday, we weren’t really up for having dinner with 22 other people. After looking at loads of menu cards of different restaurants and after walking in and out several streets close to the hotel, we surprisingly enough ended up at one of the several typical fast food chains of the country and while the rest of our group were getting ready to have a few cocktails, the both of us tried some of the local specialities. Live life to the fullest I always say!

Still craving for something sweet, we went on the lookout for a yummy dessert but after a bit of searching, we didn’t find something suitable until we passed a small funny looking store called “Republica del Cacao" where we dared to have a dark hot chocolate … I died and gone to heaven! Although us Belgians are famous for its chocolate, I must admit that we have found another country that knows how to handle this yummy delicacy.

Although it was only 10 PM, by the time the store closed its doors, we were on the move again and because nothing really exciting was happening in the neighborhood, we slowly walked back to the hotel, had a nice chat with one of our group members in the lobby of the hotel and by the time it was almost midnight, it was more than time to close my eyes coz tomorrow another exciting day awaited us!

Posted by Ils1976 04:47 Archived in Ecuador

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Comments

Did you have any problem with the altitude?

by greatgrandmaR

not really but we took things slow. I must admit that after a day or 2 I started to take a pill coz it was easier and it really helped out a lot coz some people of our group experienced signs of altitude sickness and it wasn't nice ... especially the headaches, that's when I started to take them. But just for a few days!

by Ils1976

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