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Steve and Emma's Travel Tales

Two Days in Quito

ECUADOR | Sunday, 28 October 2012 | Views [332]

We’d booked ourselves in Hostal del Piamonte right in the heart of the Mariscal Sucre district of town.  This turned out to be a converted colonial house and our room would have been the garage / utility room making it a rather odd.  The bedroom was very long with two single and one double bed along its length.  This in turn led onto a long passageway where a tiny bathroom could be found lurking at the end.  The deal was supposed to include breakfast along with cable TV and wi-fi in each room but we got none of these things.  We were in the capital city of a weekend and didn’t want to be spending a fortune watching football out or having to use internet cafes – hey ho!

I’m sure you’ll have guessed by now that we’d quite happily avoid all major towns but somehow you feel you ought to go to a country’s capital; why is that?  Unfortunately we usually have to sort out trips and Quito was no exception as we needed to finalise the plans for the jungle trip we’d just booked.  We’d managed to do all of that and buy our onward bus tickets the previous evening so that gave us plenty of time to have a look around.  For once there was something on offer that had caught our fancy and the weather was glorious.  So we jumped in a taxi and asked to be taken to the TeleferiQo.  What’s that?  A cable car.

We’d read that this was a popular thing to do and especially on a weekend so made sure we were there within half an hour of them opening.  In actual fact it was extremely quiet and we walked straight up to the counter and bought our $8.50 return tickets.  The gondolas only hold 6 people and it looked like we were going to be lucky and have one to ourselves but it ended up being full.  The cable car stretches for about 2.5kms and takes about 15mins up to Cruz Loma where you are at 4100m with fantastic views of the city and surrounding area.  From up there we got our best view of Cotapaxi yet plus we could see right back to the crater rim we’d walked round on the Quilotoa Loop.  There are walks you can do once at the top which range from pottering around to summiting Rucu Pichincha at 4680m.  Plus there are bike racks on the gondolas so you could dangle on a cable to get up and then hair back down on two wheels.

We didn’t have time for any of the above so simply took in the views while supping a warming brew.  What was the rush?  City were on the telly of course!  Hence the frustration of not having cable TV in our room - we were forced to go to the pub.  We pottered around the Mariscal Sucre area for a short while but this modern area of the city failed to hold our attention for long.  The next morning we had to get up bright and early and pay for breakfast so that I could watch the Merseyside derby – we were robbed! 

Sunday morning was a very quiet time in the city and we had all day to kill and most of the evening as we were booked on the 11pm night bus for Lago Agrio and the start of the jungle trip.  So following the football, packing and storing our bags we set off to explore the old part of the city.  Initially we’d planned to stay here as our old Lonely Planet showed we’d be near the bus station but, on reading a much more up-to-date version, we realised things had changed and the bus stations were a taxi ride away.  In the end new part of town had everything we needed from a decent hostel, laundrette, travel agents, loads of mixed budget restaurants and cafes to choose from and the bus to the jungle.

With the city being quiet it wasn’t such a bad walk along a main road, past a couple of parks to the old section.  Our first port of call was the market for a cheap tasty pork based meal to fortify us for a day pounding the streets.  We found many nicely restored, or at least recently painted old buildings along with the usual squares and churches.  We ambled up and down and in and out the streets for a couple of hours but of course soon tired of that game.  We headed towards Plaza San Francisco which proved to be one of the more attractive squares and quieter than the others too.  There was a most inviting looking café underneath the monastery and we were delighted to read sensible prices on the menu.  We ducked in a killed a couple of hours people watching while sipping a fresh juice.  As luck would have it entertainment game our way in the form of marching bands / groups of dancers representing many South American countries.  Obviously we’ve no idea what it was all in aid of but we enjoyed watching them until they all trouped into the church.

We jumped on Quito’s well organised, cheap bus system to get back to Marsical Sucre; the buses have their own car-free lane making them quick and easy to use.  Once there we wandered around trying to find somewhere for tea that wouldn’t break the budget.  We tried killing the last few hours back at the hostel but by 9pm he wanted to close reception.  So we picked up our bags, grabbed a taxi and lurked in the bus station until it was finally time to board.  Night buses might save you a bit of money on digs but its tedious hanging around waiting to go.  Luckily the bus was comfortable so we got a reasonable amount of sleep before embarking on our final activity in Ecuador.


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