After our quick trip to Bogotá, we boarded a super cheap flight to Quito late last Wednesday. Our friend Clark was arriving midday Friday, so we spent Thursday doing our hostel’s free walking tour and researching activities for the next 2-3 weeks we plan to spend in Ecuador.
Quito has a beautiful historic center, which was named one of the first UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites in 1978. Our tour guide told us that this historic city is roughly 4 square kilometers in size and has more than 40 churches in that vicinity! We poked our heads into several of them, including the incredibly beautiful Iglesia de San Francisco.
On Friday, our friend Clark arrived! We dragged Clark and his friend Gabe through a pared-down version of the walking tour we had been on previously, finding some delicious $2 lunch along the way. We were going to climb the church tower, but got there too late. Must be time for happy hour! We headed to Bandido Brewing for a few cervezas (their Hop Rey IPA was our favorite) and pizza before turning in for the evening.
Saturday we went to the Middle of the Earth! La Mitad del Mundo is a monument supposedly marking where the equator runs through Quito. I say supposedly because, well it’s not actually on the equator. According to modern GPS, the exact point of the equator is like 200-something meters north of this point, where the Intiñan Museum claims it has the actual equator… although this is also disputed. Despite these arguments, we had a charming day taking silly pictures, attempting to balance an egg on a nail (Gabe actually managed this!), and watching water flow either clockwise or counter-clockwise depending on which side of the “equator” it was on.
That evening, Clark treated us to an amazing dinner at Urko. We did a ten-course tasting menu that featured dishes found throughout Ecuador. It was so good, and my pictures don’t do it justice (I am clearly not a food photographer). The next day Clark and Gabe moved on to another city while we continued to explore the rest of Quito. The park was the place to be on Sunday, where everyone from food vendors to textile merchants to performers were out selling their “goods” to the countless people enjoying the beautiful day.
The other highlight of our time in Quito was climbing the Basílica del Voto Nacional’s several towers. Designed in a neo-Gothic style, on our walking tower we learned that instead of gargoyles, this church has the animals of Ecuador on its exterior, including tortoises, condors, and jaguars. We paid the $2 to climb the church towers and were treated with amazing views of both the city as well as the beautiful stained glass windows inside the church. The most intense (read: incredibly traumatic) part was climbing an open-air, incredibly steep metal staircase to the top of the Condor Tower. Apparently I have inherited my father’s fear of heights as I’ve gotten older. I started hyperventilating as I was climbing (that’s safe) and was in tears by the time I reached the top. Both a young girl and Vesper - my dear, loving husband - laughed at me. At least the views were worth it!
Quito was fun, but the best part was being able to meet up with a friend from home for a few days! We hope to meet up with as many friends and family members along the way! Plus - you get to be featured in our awesome blog. What more could you want from a vacation?