Published: September 4th 2012September 3rd 2012
We arrived safe and sound last night in Quito at around 7:30pm. We slept a few hours on the plane so we weren't too exhausted upon arrival. We made it through customs in less than 30 minutes and found a cab easily outside the bustling airport. It was already dark outside in Quito and it was pretty scary driving through the city at night. Apparently, Sunday is the most dangerous day of the week in Quito because everyone stays at home on their day off. This is when all the "dangerous" activity occurs. All the shops were closed and the buildings were covered with graffiti. We arrive at our hostel, Colonial House, which was completely hidden from the street except for a bright blue door. To get inside, we had to ring a door bell and wait for someone to answer.
Once Paco and Orelia answered the door we felt right at home and safe. Colonial House is an amazing little hostel with bright decor and cozy rooms. There are communal computers with free wi-fi, pool tables, and chickens and bunnys in the backyard. We also decided to sign up for the $3 breakfast in the morning.
After 12 or so hours of sleep, we awoke to a continental breakfast in the quaint dining room of our hostel. The meal consisted of granola, a slice of bread, and an assortment of fruit. This fruit platter included pitahiya which is a white, moist, translucent fruit that has a mild sweet flavor. Neither of us had eaten pitahiya before.
We spent the remainder of the morning and a bit of the afternoon bartering with a local travel agent named Dante over prices for a flight to and cruise throughout the Galapagos Islands. We opted for a five night, six day cruise on the Floreana Yacht. More on this later.
Old Town was the destination this afternoon, which consists of colonial style architecture and array of museums, plazass and churches. Our first stop was the Basilica Cathedral, a gothic-style church with high vaulted ceilings. This structure also had some great stained-glass windows and the famous Jesus painting, consisting of him and the disciples feasting on roast guinea pig for the last supper.
At Carly's request, we stopped for Lunch at a small place named Cafeteria Modelo. I had a lamb stew dish with rice and
half of an avocado on the side. Carly had empenadas de moracho (made with plaintain dough), and quimbolitos (sweet corn dumplings). Everything was excellent.
Next, we headed down Garcia Moreno Calle to La Compania de Jesus, an ornate church. No photographs were permitted, so you will have to make do with my vague description. The interior was coated in gold, from the walls to parts of the altar. Included in some of the pillars were faces of indigenous peoples, which gave the church an eerie feeling. La Compania de Jesus ws spectacular, even compared to the beautiful church we had visited only hours earlier.
We walked through the Plaza Grande, which was busy with locals hanging and children playing. Despite the high altitude, we decided to hike up to the El Panecillo, which is a statue of the virgin on top of a globe stepping on a snake. El Panecillo is on top of a hillside, which overlooks all of Quito. We started noticing a shortness in breath as we climbed the stairs. This is called the "Andean High", which is caused by Quito's elevation of 2850m. "Coca" leave tea, an Andean remedy, is supposed to
help with the altitude sickness. We are now contemplating purchasing this tea tomorrow, even though it is derived from cocaine... hmmm!
After the hike and gorgeous sunset overlooking Quito, we walked back to our hotel to rest before dinner. We took a taxi to the Mariscal district and had an amazing meal at El Pobre Diablo. We shared a tapas tray of chicken, sausage, steak, olives, pickles, and of course empanadas de verde.
So far, this trip has been wonderful and we can't wait for our trip to Octavalo tomorrow!