Quito, Ecuador

It’s been a few weeks or so since our last posting and our departure from Guatemala. From Guatemala we flew directly to Quito, Ecuador and have been very busy since our arrival—too busy to post on the blog. While in Quito we spent a couple of days exploring the city itself and also used it as a hub for exploring other nearby cities and sites. This post will solely describe some of what we saw while touring Quito. A couple other postings will follow describing some of our excursions to nearby places, i.e. Otavalo, Baños, and Cotopaxi National Park.

Let’s first get our bearings. We just left the country of Guatemala, which located in Central America just south of Mexico. Ecuador—where the city of Quito is located—is in the northwest part of the continent of South America, just below Colombia. Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, is 25km (15.5 miles) south of the equator. My basic understanding of Ecuador is that it has three distinct regions: the coastal region west of the Andes Mountains; the central region located in the highlands of the Andes Mountains—where Quito resides; and the Amazonian region on the east side of the Andes Mountains, where the rain forest is located. For such a small country it has a great variety of climates as well as activities.

Being so close to the equator one assumes that Quito would be a very hot place. We’ve been told that the Amazon region to the east can get pretty warm. But Quito is located in the central highlands of the Andes at an elevation of about 2840 meters, or roughly 9300 feet. That elevation makes for a much cooler climate, which is fine by us. During our time there I estimate that the temperatures hovered around the mid 70’s during the day and got a bit chilly in the evenings. The temperatures are similar to early Fall temperatures in New England.

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Panoramic of Quito from Itchimbia viewpoint

As you can see from the picture above, Quito is a densely populated city at around 1,700,000 people. It definitely had a big city feel but only felt overwhelming when cramming onto the public buses during peak hours. The city sits in a valley flanked by Pinchincha Volcano (4794 m) on its west side. It’s easily walkable and has a great public transportation system, which we used often in the city and for our excursions outside of the city. Public buses within the city cost only $0.25 per ride. We were told by our couchsurfing host, Sebas, that fuel is subsidized in Ecuador, making for pretty cheap transportation all around, i.e. buses, taxis and personal vehicles.

One big reason we had such a great time in and around Quito was because of our couchsurfing host Sebas. He was recommended to us by a fella we hosted at our place in Massachusetts a few times, Dick Schroth. Dick stayed with Sebas in Portsmouth, NH and in Quito. We stayed with Sebas and his mother, Silvia, for almost an entire week and they were excellent hosts. Sebas seemed to make it his personal mission while we were there to ensure that we had plenty to do and were supplied with the best information for how to get from place to place. We’ve yet to be disappointed with our couchsurfing experiences. It’s our opinion that they have provided us with a much richer experience than we would have otherwise had. Thanks so much Sebas! We had a great time!

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Our couchsurfing host Sebas and me (Dave) enjoying a very popular Pilsener brand beverage. Cheers 🙂

My favorite part of the city was by far Centro Historico, or Historical Center. Supposedly, it has some of the best preserved colonial architecture in South America. Some of the buildings were built as early as the 1550s. That’s pretty old for new world architecture.

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Independence Plaza

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La Compania

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On our way to La Basilica

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Outside of La Basilica

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Inside of La Basilica

Sebas and Sarah near one of he recently restored areas of the Colonial Center.

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Sidewalk alterations while you wait. Sweet.

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This was a really cool street in the Colonial Center, but quiet because it was a week night.

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Beautifully lit Basilica in the Colonial Center

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Indepence Plaza at night. I think the building on the left is where the President of Ecuador works.

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Independence Plaza centerpiece.

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Independence Plaza Centerpiece with a very old Basilica in the background.

Tower of the Basilica.

During the day each one of the arch ways at ground level are filled with shoe shining station.

Another cool spot, but requiring a more difficult walk, was the Itchimbia viewpoint atop a pretty big hill. The walk up  was difficult due to the steep terrain and thinner air at the high elevation of Quito, but well worth it. At the top was what looked like a giant green house, but instead of being filled with plants it was filled with giant paintings in preparation for a showing later that evening. We checked out the paintings inside and the awesome view of the city outside while enjoying a small snack of cheese filled bread. So far tasty breads sometimes filled with cheese or other deliciousness have been a popular food in both Guatemala and Ecuador.

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Centro Cultural Itchimbia

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View from Itchimbia overlooking the Historical Center of Quito

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Giant Painting exhibit inside of the Centro Cultural

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Great view of El Panecillo from Itchimbia

During one of the activity filled days in Quito we spent a few hours checking out the artifact and art exhibits in the Casa de la Cultura located in the La Mariscal section of the city. The best exhibit in my opinion consisted of a great collection of prehistoric artifacts belonging to the Inca and other indigenous cultures within the region. Some of the sculpture artwork was amazing. We also got to see a couple of human skulls altered by clamping them with rope and wood.

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Inca man carrying a backpack.

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This man is clearly content with a full belly and cheek full of coca leaves. This statue is about 3 feet tall.

Awesome intricate clay sculpture. Looks like it could be from China.

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Transformed human skull

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Example of a clamp used to transform the skull.

All in all Quito was a very tourist friendly city and we definitely enjoyed our time there. Much credit for our great experience belongs to Sebas, our couchsurfing host. We’d highly recommend paying Quito a visit if you happen to be in Ecuador.

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Categories: Architecture, South America, Traveling | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Quito, Ecuador

  1. Carol Bliss

    Unfortunately most of you post did not load. Only the first picture and description were visible and the script was wider than my screen. Glad you are having a good experience and hope it’s what you wanted and expected.

    • Carol Bliss

      Interestingly, after I saved your post and then opened it this morning it was complete and in normal form for easy viewing.

      • Good, I’m glad the post finally loaded. I’m not sure what the issue could have been. I worry sometimes that our photos are too big and might cause the page to load slowly.

        Regarding our expectations, the trip is definitely meeting them but also exposing us to some things that we definitely didn’t anticipate. But that’s good too.

  2. Dick

    So glad to hear you guys were able to hook up with Sebas. He’s a lot of fun. Say hello for me, and enjoy Ecuador.

    • Yeah, we did have a great time. So thank you for introducing us to him. I don’t think he regularly hosts couchsurfers and he made an exception for us because he knew you.

  3. Thank you so much for posting such wonderful pictures and describing the countrysides that you are visiting! Enjoy your travels and stay safe! xox

    • No problem Janis! We wish you all could have come with us, but we know that’s not realistic so we’re taking lots of pictures. I’m glad you’re enjoying them.

  4. matt

    please tell me you’ve already said “kick his ass, Seabass!” to your couch surfing host!!

  5. Those buildings are awesome. Their architectural designs are very detailed. Love it!

    • Thanks, we thought they were pretty interesting as well. We were told the city has done a lot of work to keep the architectural designs beautiful.

  6. Pingback: Bikes + Cotopaxi + Quito + Dancing = Longest/Best Day Ever « Peach and Bones

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