South America Day 70 - Quito

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March 19th 2019
Published: March 20th 2019
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Today we are doing something we rarely do; taking the Hop on Hop off Bus. We start at the spectacular San Francisco church, an exercise in how much gold can be squeezed into one building. It’s apparently the biggest church in South America. (The Ecuadoreans have a creative way of measuring things to ensure their stuff is bigger and better. For example, Cotopaxi is higher than Everest if you measure from the centre of the earth, rather than sea level.)

The bus heads up the Panecillo, a small hill with an aluminium statue of the Virgin Mary on top. It’s an interesting journey in a double decker, navigating the narrow, winding streets and low hanging electric cables.

The Virgin, which is taller than Christ the Redeemer (obviously) sits atop a dragon on a globe. You can climb to a viewing platform around the globe for a 360 degree view of the city and surrounding volcanoes.

We reboard our bus and travel through the old city to La Carolina Park. It’s a large park with sports pitches, a running track, a lake and our destination – the Botanical Gardens. The best bits of the gardens are the carnivore and bonsai collections.

We catch the bus again with the intention of getting off at some other stops but it starts raining and we’re weary. So we return to the beginning and have a late lunch in a colonial courtyard in the old city, where I order a salchipan (sausage sandwich) and the old man goes, as always, for the biggest thing on the menu.

Then it’s back to the hotel, narrowly missing the torrential downpour, to pack for tomorrow’s return flights. It’s been a blast but I’m more than ready to go home.

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