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South America » Ecuador » North » Quito » Historical Center March 20th 2019

It’s finally here, the last day of our trip. We don’t leave for the airport until 3 pm, so this morning we are visiting the Palacio de Gobierno, which I have finally managed to obtain tickets for. The tour is free but needs to be reserved by email (in Spanish) so I’m quite proud of my achievement. Time to pack one last time. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve packed and unpacked. It’s strange to think that next time I unpack it’ll be in my own bedroom, closely supervised by my cats. First, a weirdly disjointed breakfast; scrambled egg, a cheese toastie, an empanada, onion chutney, butter and jam. What are we supposed to do with the butter and jam? Dip the empanada in it? Spread it on the cheese toastie? Or maybe mix ... read more
Palacio de Gobierno
Palacio de Gobierno
Guayasamin mural

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito March 19th 2019

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 ... read more
Drive through Quinton old city
El Panecillo
El Panecillo

South America » Ecuador » North » Mitad del Mundo March 18th 2019

Today we are going to the equator. On the way there, it rains so heavily it’s difficult to tell if we’re driving down a road or a river. Rubbish floats past the windows when we stop at traffic lights. Luckily it eases off before we arrive. First stop is the Intiñan Museum which claims to be on the GPS equator. Here we take a guided tour which includes such activities as balancing an egg on a nail and trying to walk along the equator in a straight line, plus demonstrations in chocolate making and head shrinking. Then on to the Mitad del Mondo, a kind of equator based theme park which claims to be on the geographical equator. We only have 28 minutes here and in addition to a plethora of equator based photo ops, there ... read more
Equator
Balancing an egg at the equator
Equator

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito March 16th 2019

Today we are sightseeing in Quito and changing hotels. There is an important reason for this prearranged change, but the old man can’t remember what it is. Our new hotel is 1 km away. The old man is too tight to pay for a taxi ($1.25) but worried it isn’t walkable with luggage, so we are to do a ‘trial run’. After staking out our hotel, we head for the Plaza Grande, which is no longer barricaded off. We want to tour the Palacio de Gobierno, but you have to book in advance (thanks Lonely Planet). Next, we visit the Museo de la Ciudad. This is housed in a 17th century hospital and gives (theoretically) a chronological history of Quito. The old man gets impatient and bypasses a group of school kids, so we are going ... read more
MuNa

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito » Historical Center March 11th 2019

Today we’re going sightseeing in Quito – primarily churches as most tourist attractions are shut on Mondays. The Colonial South American town centre is so formulaic I could walk it in my sleep; main plaza with cathedral and government palace. On either side, plazas containing the churches of San Francisco and Santo Domingo. And somewhere in the middle, the Jesuits, who took a vow of poverty but coated their churches liberally with gold. We try to start in the main square but there is a demonstration underway. The square is completely blocked off and circled by riot police. More and more people are arriving and most are wearing surgical masks. And I don’t think they’re doctors…. We bypass the square and head for the enormous Basilica del Voto Nacional. The old man decides to climb the ... read more
Basilica del Voto Nacional
Basilica del Voto Nacional
Basilica del Voto Nacional

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito » Historical Center March 10th 2019

Another interrupted night due to: 11 am – old man returning from his trip. 4 am – text from daughter number one. Both my daughters have A level maths but neither seem able to calculate time zones. 2.30-6.30 am – getting up to check on daughter number two’s progress on Barcelona Marathon App. Regular intervals all night – neighbours using the hairdryer. Either they have some weird hairdressing fetish or they’re holding it under the smoke detector so they can smoke in bed without evacuating the hotel (again). In the morning we head for the airport for our flight to Quito, the world’s second highest capital. We’re going 800 miles further north and 2850 metres higher in altitude. It’s been a long trip so it feels good to be flying 800 miles closer to home. Once ... read more
Plaza de Santo Domingo
La Ronda
La Casa de los Geranios

South America » Ecuador » North January 30th 2019

We are continuing to branch out from our excellent base in Quito. Again we rented a lifeless Chevy Spark for the drive to Otavalo and Mindo, but it was economical; $10 for fuel for the 4 day trip. Driving is a challenge here, potholes that are more like craters on roads that wind up or down mountains. 50km feels more like 200. But it was worth it. As usual, we'll let the photos tell the story. Next: 5 days at La Selva Amazon Jungle Lodge.... read more
His studio
Paco de Lucia
Pre Columbian collection

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 10th 2019

Our first real foray into South America begins in Quito. We have a very comfortable, inexpensive Airbnb here for 6 weeks. As we did in Malaga last year, we plan to use Quito as our home base to take side trips to various sights in Equator. Next up, Galapagos Islands.... read more
Surprise welcome
Quito digs
Venezuelans

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito November 25th 2018

Relaxed start to the day as we didn't have to get to the meeting point for the tour bus until 08:50. There was one meeting point for the tour in the old city and tour to Cotopaxi Volcano officially started at 09:25. The weather didn't look the best for the tour but with just two full days in Quito, we didn't have much choice. The drive there passes many volcanoes so it was an It was a fair distance to travel and after picking up a local guide, Paulini it was 11:00 when we reached the entrance to the park. It was a quick toilet stop before arriving at the visitor centre, where Paulini took the English speakers through and explained a few things about local flora and talked about the volcanoes in the area. It ... read more
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South America » Ecuador » North » Quito November 24th 2018

Still waking earlier than I wanted but that’s fine. We went down for breakfast at 08:00 and out the door just past 09:00. We decided to get a taxi for the ride out to La Mitad del Mundo Or The Middle of The World, meaning the equator. There is a big monument built by the Government in 1972 (replacing a previous small monument) marking the equator which the French Geodesic Mission had marked out in 1746. However, since then the World Geodetic System, used in modern GPS systems indicates the equator is actually 240 metres north of that line. That correct line is marked out in a private museum called the Museo Intinan. Interestingly, when we told our driver where we wanted to go, he took us to the Museo Intinan. We arrived at 10:20 just ... read more
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