November 1, 2015

Cidades do Ecuador: Quito

In our travel plans (which are always changing a bit here and a bit there) we didn’t expect to travel one month and an half in Colombia, since we only had 4 months in South America. The truth is Colombia is huge and once we started traveling to the North we had no way back so we traveled in a circle and visited pretty much all the most important and beautiful places in Colombia.

After visiting the Zona Cafetera (Coffee area) we decided to hitch hike to the very South of Colombia and get a bus in the border directly to Quito, Ecuador’s capital. It wasn’t easy, we had to get a bus since no one gave us a ride. We waited a long time for rides. But the 3 rides we got were super good: to get out of Tolu we joined a family in a seven seat van that were going to pick up their daughter in the airport, they were super opened mind and the other daughter knows a lot of the area so she was our guide of this trip, letting us know about what were those plantations about, the buildings history, etc.
Our second ride was with this couple who had a pick up with a super big motorbike, we managed to squish with our sleeping bags, it was cold in the evening and the driver was speeding big time! We took a break and had a delicious melon milkshake, they were adorable. Since we were in Meddelin and it was night time we decided to stay for the night but our hotel was so nice that we stayed another night to recover and visit the second biggest city of Colombia. Our last ride was from an orange kombi I wish was mine with 4 people of the circus! They were really funny especially the driver and a bit crazy like every single artist :D After all day driving we arrived in the bus station at midnight to reach the border. The day after we arrived Quito.

As you can see, traveling by land is not easy but you meet so many people in the way! Also you get to see the landscape and you start having another perception of the country. Our arrival in Quito was taught since we got stolen in the main bus station. The thief kept my (broken) computer and my canon powershot 510, a brand new camera with a great zoom. Since then, I’m not the same anymore. It was the first time in my life someone stole something from me and I’m traveling for 4 years. Now I’m afraid of leaving my handbag, every 5 minutes I’m checking if it’s there, I don’t like this feeling of not trusting, it’s not me. You bloggers out there understand me, I couldn’t write whenever I feel like, many moments of sadness and frustation came to my heart.

I was able to move on, after all I was finally in a different country and so glad to be alive! When we visit cities we prefer to do couchsurfing so we were hosted by Gabriel and his sister, half an hour by bus from the city center. Mostly of our days were spent in the Old Town exploring without plans, just with a map we got in the Tourism Center (you can get internet for free there). After minutes walking I couldn’t believe how amazing is Quito. I didn’t know much about the place and so far I wasn’t really fascinated by South America cities. In the end of this trip I understood Europe has the most interesting and beautiful cities of the World, because is the old continent with a lot of History behind those detailed and brilliant made buildings. South (and also Central) America has the most stunning landscapes and Nature. It’s also the continent with all different civilizations: Maya, Azteca and Inca and where you can still see indigenous people and their pure rituals, lifestyle and costums.

This is the Basilica, an old historical cathedral well made with pretty details. It was in great shape! But they were asking a lot of money to get and we don’t agree that you got to pay to visit a church, or at least they could ask donations, we understand that this place takes a lot of efford and manutation. You also have an amazing view to the city with all the green mountains surrounding.

Colonial Houses are between my favorites (oh the riads in Morocco), remember when I posted about Cartagena? Quito Center is full of them that come in all shapes, bright and pastel colors mixed with white and cozy balconies. If you are looking for a cheap hotel, I think Hotel Sucre in Plaza de San Francisco is a great choice since it’s a renovated colonial building, with great prices in the middle of the city. Make sure you make a reservation before you arrive because is always full.

There are also a lot of artists and you can tell by the street art in the walls and Calle La Ronda, a street full of bars, restaurants, nice shops and diverse workshops. The museums and churches are in a great amount and pretty interesting, don’t miss them!

Another surprise was the number of vegetarian restaurants in Quito, I thought South America was for meat lovers but here you can find delicious non-meat meals in many places. Yessss! I was delightful with this discover :)

You know that when you are in Rio de Janeiro you get to see Christ everywhere in the city? In Quito you get to see La Virgin de Panecillo (where you can see me in the picture above). Some people were saying that best way to go up there was by taxi because is very dangerous. All the time we wanted to go somewhere more touristy we would get this answer. But we found out there were steps and wasn’t that hard so we went by ourselves and was all good. In the way we stopped several times to comtemplate the view. In the top you’ll reach a huge statue of the virgin and some handmade products in the stalls.

I’d leave your shopping for Otavalo Market though, where all the crafts from the country are made. The city itself is not really amazing but it’s worth going to the market for a day trip from Quito. If you are heading to Peru and Bolivia, well I prefer Peru’s crafts and even more Bolivia’s. But that’s just me.

Our host Gabriel lives nearby Mitad del Mundo, so he joined us for a day of exploration. This is one of the most touristic spots in Quito, it’s where the Ecuador line is divided into North hemisphere and South hemisphere. You can read about how the Sun works here and also you can visit a interesting museum about the ecuatorian population in different regions of the country, including Amazon Jungle (where I’ve been). You pay extra to get in the museum and to go up but I think it’s worth it. You will also find smalls shops selling Ecuador goodies and Lamas, the cutest animal in South America.

Hope you enjoyed this trip to Quito and soon I’ll post about Cuenca (post here), the other amazing Ecuador city. If you want to know any specific details of Ecuador please let me know.

Have you been in Ecuador? Would you like to visit one day?

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