Thursday, August 18, 2016

quito, ecuador

Quito is a diamond in the rough, a pleasant surprise. I'll be honest after Peru, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu and the Galapagos, I really wasn't overflowing with excitement about Quito. I mean a city is a city right? Wrong. I loved Quito and was left wanting more days in Ecuador!

Quito is the capital city, high in the Andes mountains at an elevation of 9,350 feet. Quito is home to approximately 2.7 million people and is known as the cultural capital of Latin America. It's mix of colonial and modern architecture. Its also home to the newest international airport in Latin America. Ecuador is known for its rose exports, which I was very disappointed to not visit a rose farm. A dozen "reject" roses can be bought for a couple of bucks around the city. Other exports include petroleum, bananas, shrimp, coffee, cocoa and fish. The American dollar is the official currency so that was nice! I know how much those are worth!

Overlooking Quito from Panecillo Mirador
While Quito is not short on sights to see, we were short on time. We opted for the City Tour where we took a quick tour through La Mariscal financial neighborhood, which was also where our hotel was located. This area is very safe and has many markets, hotels, restaurants and bars. We also visited Independence Plaza where there is a symbolic statue to Ecuador's independence.

Independence statue in Independence Plaza

We were also able to visit the Presidential Palace and watch the changing of the guards. Security at the Palace is much different than the White House, we were ushered right up onto the front porch!

We also made quick stops that La Basilica and San Fransisco churches. The attention to detail and symbology built into churches is nothing short of amazing.

La Basilica

Panecillo Mirador offers views overlooking Quito and an impressive statue of the Virgin Mary with wings.

The thing I wanted to do most while in Ecuador was stand in the southern and northern hemisphere at the same time. We had crossed the Equator a couple of time while cruising the Galapagos Islands, but it just wasn't quite the same. While at the Equator, we also were lucky enough to experience a typical Ecuador rain....and boy oh boy did it rain! But we documented standing on the Equator and didn't wash away, plus it gave us a great excuse to buy some of the best hot chocolate I've ever tasted!

Ecuador is on the list of places to visit again, there is so much more that the country has to offer!

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