Monday 12th May 2014
Out for breakfast at the little local restaurant where we had lunch yesterday then we went back to the hotel to pack up our bags as we were shifting to another hotel as part of our 11 night Galapagos Islands trip. We were ready and waiting in the foyer as advised at 11:00am and waited until 12 noon for the guide to arrive (south american time...). In the meantime we farewelled a number of members of our group, some of whom were going home to their respective countries and some who were (like us) moving to a different hotel for the next part of their trip. Anyway at 12 we were picked up and taken to The Hotel Quito. We thought we had died and gone to heaven, it was so beautiful. The room was clean.....the view was amazing and all in all it was just perfect. Even the wi-fi worked OK. After we had luxuriated for a while we went out for a walk - a storm was brewing over the volcano that sits above the city, so we took our raincoats and umbrellas while we did some shopping. It didn't rain very much although there was some thunder and lightning. After buying a few things in the markets and investigating where we might go for dinner we returned to the hotel for an aperitif and a rest. Heading out to dinner at about 7:45pm we just crossed the road and ate in a fairly informal grilled steak, seafood, hamburgers restaurant. The dinner was delicious so we really enjoyed the evening. Back to our beautiful room around 9.15pm.
Tuesday 13th May 2014
We had a very nice breakfast in our lovely hotel this morning and were met at the hotel at 9:00am by our guide Guan Carlos, who was taking us on a city tour of Quito as part of our Galapagos trip. The day was fine and warm after yesterday's chill and rain and during the morning we were taken to the Old Town and saw a number of the old buildings. Quito is very beautiful with a very attractive historic centre, much better looked after than many of the previous cities we have visited on this trip. We first visited the Basilica del Voto Nacional, which was started in 1892 but still has unfinished areas. It is interesting because, instead of gargoyles, it has iguanas, tortoises and birds protruding from its sides. We left the inside unvisited for our return to Quito in 10 days time. Quito has a beautiful central plaza with a statue commemorating the heroes of the 1809 uprising against the Spanish (these heroes all apparently died or were jailed by the Spanish for being revolutionaries and independence wasn't obtained until 1824). This square was where the ancient peoples first set up the city of Quito (formerly called Quitu in pre-Hispanic times). We then visited the Church of the Company of Jesus built by the Jesuits over a period of 163 years in the 17th & 18th centuries, the most amazing and beautiful church imaginable. On the outside it was sculpted beautifully and on the inside there was not one surface that did not have artwork or gold leaf (supposedly 7 tons of gold), including the domes and ceilings. We then walked up to another square where the indigenous people have a market every Sunday (in front of the old Franciscan church). The driver then picked us up and we drove to the equator and at this site saw the experiments that they do on the equator and just north and south of the equator. Quite fascinating! One of the things you could attempt was to balance an egg on a nail, on the equator, which David succeeded and received a certificate! We then were driven back to the hotel. After a cup of coffee, we went back out and walked to the cultural centre/museum and spent a couple of hours looking at the exhibitions there. Walked back to the hotel, but on the way we bumped into three of the old group having a hot chocolate, so we joined them for a while then walked back to the hotel. We are going out to dinner later. Tomorrow we fly to the Galapagos Islands, probably leaving at around 6:30am.