I arrived in Quito, Ecuador a few days earlier than planned after leaving Peru and the protests, so I’ve had lots of time to explore!
Quito has one the largest and best preserved Centro Históricos in South America. It’s a Spanish colonial city, so 16th century.
And the heart of the Centro is Plaza Grande.
On one side is the Palacio de Gobierno, the seat of the Ecuadorian presidency.
The next side was the Catedral Metropolitana de Quito with four chapels.
In the museum chapel there was a huge nativity scene with an equally long lineup.
I did take one photo in this chapel, just before the guard told me that only photos of the nativity scene were allowed. Check out the Moorish ceiling!
I would have to duck to get through the door to climb stairs up to the roof. I felt claustrophobic just looking!
There was a wonderful street of architectural gems behind the church. The first was Iglesia de El Sagrario.
A few days before Christmas I was there when a service ended. There was a huge procession coming out, complete with a baby Jesus, a brass band and dancing.
Across the street was Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus.
Geraniums & Gridlock
Though I don’t know how they water some of them!
Pineapple gelato and a chair for $1
Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco
Iglesia de Santo Domingo
Looking up the hill to Virgen del Panecillo, and the stairs I didn’t take.
Arco de La Reina and Capilla de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles
The very gothic Basilica de Voló Nacional towering over the Centro.
In the roof space headed for the viewing decks.
In the distance you can see El Pancillo hill where the Virgen statue is.
TeleferiQo cable car takes you up from Quito’s 2850 m altitude to 4100 m!
A bit hazy. Probably smog. The buses belch a bit.
The ‘Trole’ and it’s three-part articulated cars are amazing to watch as they turn narrow corners. But generally they run north and south on the major streets.
And a hotbed of pickpockets! My $0.35 ride wasn’t such a bargain.
La Ronda district with many shops and restaurants. And a Tourist Police station where I got to make my police report for a stolen phone.
The tourist police were very kind, drove me to the station and got me a taxi to go to a huge mall to buy a new phone.
Fortunately I had an iPad to restore the phone settings. Unfortunately there was a software glitch that said my battery was only 49% full. Tech support ran diagnostics and I ended up with another new phone. Quite the drama over two days but at least I was in a city and everything was good before Christmas closures!
And I thought I was street smart and prepared for the theft here – only a bit of money accessible and a money belt for a copy of my passport and $20.
And no standing on the corner looking at your phone because they will just grab it.
Just google ‘Quito and pickpockets’. One second while I was getting off the Trole, and it was gone.
I met a fellow in the Plaza Grande with a Canadian flag hat. He has lived in Toronto for 35 years but is back visiting for three months. He’s had two phones stolen on the Trole!
But my passport or credit cards would have been a bigger problem.
It does take away a bit of the fun being in crowds and taking public transit.
Taxis are a bargain though. Usually $2-3, maximum $6 for the mall in the north end of the city.
I had seen this woman selling flowers ($2 a bunch) and a legless man selling tickets of some kind sitting outside the shop when I took a photo of the great door on the corner.
Then when I was walking back there was a crowd with media and police presenting him with something. A Christmas gift? He looked happy.
More Christmas stuff – costumes for animals!
A supermarket in the New Town selling turkeys (pavo).
And a real tree! The one in my hotel is artificial.
Some more recent architecture in the New Town, including this church with copper siding.
I was impressed with their recycle station. This fellow was weighing bags, I assume for reimbursement.
Then back to the Centro Histórico for Christmas Day.
It was packed! And because it was Sunday, the streets were also closed to vehicles to allow pedestrians and bicycles a safe place.
And another procession! Very joyous!
This clown had a foam bat that she was hitting the dancers with.
And as usual, a heavy police presence. Even my hotel had an armed guard.
Loved this fellows ‘Steampunk’ creations.
And ice cream vendors every two feet. This appeared to be soft ice cream under pressure that he would drizzle with strawberry sauce.
I was curious about this stuff because she was walking around in the sun and it didn’t melt.
It’s called Espumillas, and is a flavoured meringue scooped into a cone.
And then all the street food! I have a list of things to try.
Ecuador is the largest exporter of bananas. Plantain is also ubiquitous too.
Chifles are deep fried strips of green plantain.
Huevos Chilenos ‘Chilean eggs’ are like chewy doughnut holes. I skipped the sugar they usually sprinkle on. 7-8 in a bag for US$1
Empanada de viento are stuffed with cheese ( and maybe onion) and sprinkled with sugar. Viento means wind, and refers to the hollow centre after they puff up.
Humitas are made from freshly ground corn, onions, garlic, cheese and cream. Tamales are similar but made with masa (type of cornmeal). They are a breakfast or morning snack.
Ecuadorian ceviche is cooked with heat, and then lemon is added. So different from Peruvian which is cooked in acid (lemon or lime juice). Served with a side of chifles and criollo (creole) salsa
Seco de Chivo is a national dish. It’s a creole stew traditionally made from goat but I’ve also seen with lamb, beef and chicken.
This was lamb, boneless, moist, so tender, US$8.50. Best tasting food I’ve had, and decor, but the restaurant is closed now for a Christmas week break.
Arepas are from Venezuela and Columbia. They are made with a type of fine cornmeal, fried, split and then stuffed. I had a chicken and a beef (US$3 for the two). And I was super stuffed!
A menú del día soup, main and juice for US$2.50. The soup broth was delicious from all the chicken bones. The meatballs were also good, but you just can’t escape getting rice!
A much better lunch for $3.75. Quinoa soup, breaded fish and a choice of beer or tea!
Tomorrow I’m off to Cuenca, another city in Ecuador that is supposed to be very lovely!