Lynn & David travelling in South America travel blog

Lynn in courtyard, Presidential Palace, Quito, Ecuador

Corridor to President's Office, Presidential Palace, Quito, Ecuador

Cabinet Room, Presidential Palace, Quito, Ecuador

David, overlooking Plaza Grande, Presidential Palace, Quito, Ecuador

Lynn, overlooking the Cathedral, Presidential Palace, Quito, Ecuador

Lynn with the Ecuadorian Flag, Presidential Palace, Quito, Ecuador

Lynn with guard, Presidential Palace, Quito, Ecuador

Two food vendors (looks like ice cream but never melts), Plaza Grande,...

Inside San Francisco Church, Quito, Ecuador

Inside the Basilica, Quito, Ecuador

Stained Glass Windows in the Basilica, Quito, Ecuador

Stained Glass windows in the Basilica, Quito, Ecuador

Panorama of city from the Basilica, Quito, Ecuador

Lynn at top of Basilica Tower, Quito, Ecuador

View from Basilica Tower, Quito, Ecuador

External Ladders on Basilica Tower, Quito, Ecuador

Inside Basilica Roof, Quito, Ecuador

Quito street scene, Quito, Ecuador

View from the top of the cable car, Quito, Ecuador

David and view of Quito, Ecuador

Snow on top of the volcano near Quito, Ecuador

Mountains behind cable car, Quito, Ecuador

Lynn admiring the view from the top, Quito, Ecuador

View of the city (area where our hotel is situated), Quito, Ecuador

View of city, mountains and church in valley, Quito, Ecuador

View of the mountain from our hotel room (the next morning -...

Thursday 22nd May 2014

Quito, Ecuador

Had breakfast in our lovely Hotel Quito, then back to our room to choose our photos from Galapagos for the blog and pack our bags. The representative from Klein Tours came to pick us up at about 11:30am and we went to our other "lesser" hotel, the Majestic, for the next three nights until we leave on our next trip from Quito to La Paz in Bolivia. After we had posted the blog, we went out to the markets down towards the city and bought a few little things to remind us of Ecuador. We then had an early dinner, so that we weren't out in the dark, and returned to our hotel for the evening. To bed around 11:00pm.

Friday 23rd May 2014

Quito, Ecuador

There was a huge thunderstorm in the night - and they said the wet season should be over - but when we woke up it was fine, so we went out to breakfast round the corner then caught the trolley bus to the city (six stops). The trolley bus only costs 25c a ride - you just need to watch out for pickpockets as it is crowded. We alighted at the main square stop in the old town and then immediately went to the Presidential Palace as there are free tours during the week. Although we were there at 10:15am, the next available tour was 12:15pm because there were a number of schools there visiting. So we strolled round the square looking for a post office to post cards. We finally found it after asking a number of people for directions. We had the same problem in Caracas but at least here in Quito, there was no trouble posting the cards, just actually finding the post office. We then had a bread roll for a snack and sat in the square watching the crowds while we waited for 12:15 to arrive. As we were waiting a brass band commenced playing 'jolly' tunes and the time passed quickly. Once we had passed the security checks and lodged our passports as security, we met the guide who told us that he spoke Spanish and Russian but only a little English. The other 8 people spoke Spanish so the guide spoke to them and then quickly translated for us. The tour was fascinating - the current president Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado has permitted tours since he was elected president seven years ago. He is well respected by the people and this country appears to be more transparent than many others in the region. The president still lives in his house in the suburbs with his family and not in the presidential palace. Anyone can go in free to see all the items in the palace as well as all the rooms, except his offices, some of which are quite sumptuous. We were told that all gifts given to him by foreign governments and dignitaries are considered to be owned by all of the Ecuadorian people. We had our photo taken in the beautiful courtyard and a print was presented to us when we left - as a gift from the President. We then walked up the staircase at the top of which is a huge mosaic telling the story of de Orellana's journey into the Amazon jungle. In front of the mosaic was a beautiful Ecuadorian flag in a glass case and we all had to bow to it (!!) before proceeding with the tour. We went through the Meeting Room where the President meets with his ministers and each carved wooden chair had a plaque with the name of their ministry; the dining room which was laid ready for a function, and has a small chapel to the side; and the Official Function room which has large portraits of all the Presidents and glass cabinets displaying various beautiful gifts. We then walked to the San Francisco Church, the oldest in Quito - finished in 1580 - very dark stone and old looking inside but still with many treasures. This church was built by the Franciscan monks next to the site of the ancient market site that had been used by the indigenous people of Ecuador long before the Spanish arrived in 1534. After visiting the San Francisco Church, we walked about eight blocks up the hill to the Basilica, a towering church high on the hill. Inside it has high vaulted ceilings - it is huge - but feels very austere and cold. It also has towers that you can visit by steep stairs and ladders or by lift. We decided to go up in the lift to the top but which actually only got us to the roof line. David looked at the view from this level but Lynn decided to continue into the tower. First she had to walk across the roof stone trusses underneath the actual roof on a wooden boardwalk, then up a steep metal ladder out onto the roof. She walked around the base of the tower deciding whether she would continue or not. Finally climbed up 2 more ladders which were on the outside of the tower and basically suspended out over the church roof and got an amazing view of the city from the topmost tower which had a small observation area. Quito is set high in the mountains and is a particularly attractive city with many (we were told 47) churches and a number of beautiful plazas and a good ambience. Still it is fairly dangerous at night as there are not many people on the streets. After all these visits, we had a late lunch/early dinner in a fast food restaurant on the main plaza 'Plaza Grande' and then caught the very crowded trolley bus back to our stop and walked back to the hotel. We didn't go out again tonight as there are very few restaurants nearby, we had a late lunch and don't go out in the dark by ourselves here.

Saturday 24th May 2014

Quito, Ecuador

Today dawned fine and clear and, if the day was fine, we had planned to do the cable car ride to the top of the mountain overlooking Quito. So we went out for breakfast to a little place next door to the hotel. When we came back, we finished booking some accommodation for the end of our trip in Chile in July, then we walked up to the Teleferico (cable car) station, directly up the same street in which our hotel is situated. The road up is very steep and the further you went, the steeper it became and the altitude made it quite a hard walk. It was about an hour's walk up to the station and about 3km or so. Almost no-one walks, they nearly all drive or get a taxi. Anyway, we finally arrived and bought our tickets. There were many schools there - apparently there was a marching band competition and the area next to the cable car station was the venue. After a short wait, we caught the cable car to the top (getting $2 discount each as seniors). David never enjoys this sort of ride and this one took about 15 minutes. The view from the top of the cable car was spectacular with the whole city of Quito laid out below. Because it was such a clear day, the best since we had been here, it was beautiful but quite cold. The top station is 4100 metres above sea level (13,451 feet) and we walked up on a track to about 150 metres higher to get an even better view. We admired the view for a while, then came back and had a cheese empanada for lunch, then went round the other side of the cable car for a (bit of a) different view then came back down in the cable car to the bottom station. The bands were still competing so we watched one school perform, then started on our walk back to the hotel. It was much easier this time because it was all down hill. We had an aperitif in our room, then at 6:00pm we went to a pre-departure meeting with the new members of the group (there are 3 new people - 1 Irish guy and a Danish couple, who seem really nice. After the meeting, we went out to dinner with them + the tour leader and driver as well as Kirstin who was on the trip to Quito. After dinner, we caught a taxi back to the hotel (for safety) and then had to pack our bags for the return to the truck tomorrow morning. To bed about 11:45pm.

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