Beautiful Beautiful Quito

Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
Trip End Jul 06, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hostal Quito Cultural

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Tuesday, January 4, 2011

 Day 1 January 4th Quito - The Day is long! I wake at 350am and depart Chez Di and Josh and head for the A train on 168th street. Maybe a hour or two later Im at JFK. For once I'm 3 hours early, and I find out why, everyone who is on my flight, is checking in 4/5 bags and the queue is slow. I still have a strange feeling inside me, but that could be blamed on tiredness, lack of sleep and still maybe the food from last night. Two Wall St films later and a connection and I'm in Quito. Agree to a taxi ride from Lewis Hamilton, man this guy was pushing the limit, had his girlfriend in the front seat, and of course no seat belts in the back for me. $5, not bad. Get to Hostal Quito Cultural and all is well. The Hostal is perfect, the front door is always locked, reception is super friendly, there is breakfast in the morning and two floors of rooms with a terrace in the centre. The top floor looks out onto the city and you can't help but stand and admire. Its only 745pm, so I figure Ill go grab some food.....but wait.....everything closes early! Bump into a Chinese couple and we find some quick bites and its back to my room for some rest. Quito is very cool at night and so a blanket and duvet is required. I wont make the same mistake as I did in my first night in Montevideo a few years back, I went to sleep in my boxers and entertained bed bugs all night. This time Im fully dressed, including socks to cover all areas.

Day 2 January 5th Quito - Breakfast at 9am, a pancake kind of thing, shaped like a dinosaurs foot with melted cheese in the middle, I'm not complaining. Coffee, freshly squeezed juice and an omlette to finish. I pack my rucksack and head out into the Old Town.

For my adventure I am travelling solo. People always question why I do this but I think to spend 6 months constantly, 24 hours a day, with the same person, is just not natural. Anyway, I always meet people when I travel, and Im always in complete control of my trip. When Im hungry I eat, when I tired I sleep, and when Im cranky, it really doesn't matter. Of course there are times when you wish you could share a moment with someone else, like when I viewed the Hong Kong sky line at night for an hour, but travelling solo really doesnt bother me. Anyway, I get to go on holiday with my brother frequently, so that makes up for all the solo trips.

Anyway, I start in Quito with Plaza Grande. A beautiful square, with benches to relax on, trees to shade the sun, there are shoe shine boys running around and everybody is busy getting on with their day. Im taking the pace easy, Quito is 2850m above sea level and the last time I was this high (Cuzco 06) I suffered badly from altitude sickness. I slowly make my way to Plaza San Francisco, watch a young family feed the pigeons and I continue to potter around, soaking up Quito and enjoying the warm sun on my back.

I head to Plaza Santa Domingo, and some old man asks if I need a guide, I politely say no, and then he sprints off. I check my pockets for valuables, but then I realise hes spotted another Gringo and is chasing her. The Old Town of Quito is just beautiful, every turn you take, you see another amazing piece of architecture or a building of historical significance. Im so glad I squeezed Ecuador into my trip.

To the south of the Old Town is a small hill called El Panecillo and is topped by a huge statue of La Virgen de Quito. The view from the hill is breathtaking, but the view from La Virgen de Quito is even better.

I head back into Plaza Grande for a late lunch. I think it was a simple rice dish with prawns. Then back to my room for a siesta.

In the evening I eat at Hasta La Vuelta, Senor. I had some pork dish and was able to log onto the cricket scores also, now this is bliss. I also had a beer, but beer and altitude just do not mix! Yes, thats my excuse! The entertaining part of the evening was watching the waiters fall over themselves for a solo female traveller. Offering drinks, constant attention and even rolling up the place mat and offering it as a gift. Of course I wasnt offered the same treatment.....maybe I should grow my hair?!

Ok, so I brought a pedometer and Im going to record my mileage. Today, was 2.07 miles. I know it's a bit sad, but I thought it would be interesting to track how far I'm walking, today felt like ten miles and it was only two!

Day 3 January 6th Quito - Today I will explore the New Town, climb the tower of the Basilica del Voto Nacional, get my bus ticket for tomorrow and climb another hill to find another view of Quito. Breakfast was same as yesterday, always a good way to start the day, free food. I walk to Basilica, en route I come across a protest march, so I find a way around that.

Inside the Basilica I find my way to the tower entrance and begin to climb. Hmmm, I'm now feeling the altitude, or more likely my lack of fitness. The stairs are steep, the winding stairs even steeper, but then there are two ladders to climb. The first one, the rungs are close together, yet the second ladder, the rungs are further apart. I feel like an old man, clinging to the ladder for dear life, taking one step at a time!

The view from the top is spectacular! I catch my breath and begin to snap a few shots. A British couple are closely behind and he points out that a floor above us, some workers are sitting on the corner of the tower, legs hanging over the edge with no safety harness on, just enjoying their 11am drink!

Going back down wasn't as fun. I get to an area which looks out onto the ground floor of the Basilica and I lean on a mounted ledge, and the thing starts to move! I crap myself, try hold it in place and walk away. I could just see it, knowing my luck, Ginger Man from UK destroys Basilica!

I now headed over to Quito's new town, through Parque La Alameda and then through Parque El Ejido. It was a welcome break from busy roads and streets that I met before on the way to New Town. The Parque El Ejido had an open air art show, which was pretty fun to watch for a few minutes.

I find my bus terminal, no-one there speaks English, so I sit down, prepare what I need to say and order my ticket with success. My Spanish is poor, embarrassingly poor, but I'm determined to pick it up.

I make my way around New Town, but it doesn't have the same feel as Old Town. There are more ethnic places to eat, more bars and clubs, but this is simply not my style. I find a slice of Pizza for a dollar and chalk it up as a good find, it was pretty tasty!

I then head back towards the Old Town and to Parque Itchimbia. There is a cafe, Cafe Mosaico, which has a balcony overlooking Quito from the East. I climbed and I climbed stairs, dogs were barking at me, I get paranoid by people sitting around, maybe waiting to pounce on me. I finally get to the top, find the cafe, sit and drink a limonade while taking in yet another stunning view of the city. I would say this is my favourite view point of Quito.

It's at this point that I'm down to my last couple of dollars, and yep you guessed it, HSBC have blocked my debit card, even though I told them where i was going to be. I head back to my Hostal to sort out my card, and have a little siesta again.

Dinner in the evening was another cost saving exercise, Carne, with beans and rice. I have to admit to not being hungry in the evening, I think with the heat and amount of water I'm consuming, I can easily drop down to two meals a day.

Before I retire to my hostal, I wander around the streets in Quito. The city is beautifully lit and the streets are peaceful and quiet.

Today I walked a distance of 3.26 miles. It felt like 15 miles, I need to check this pedometer!

Tomorrow, I set off for Guayaquil.

If you have read this far, then thank you for your attention and please feel free leave a comment, small or long, it will give me something to look forward to. Adios.
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Pete Border on

Hey Ant - I tired the trick of growing my hair long but i never got any free drinks....just dead flies stuck in my hair when I walked into the fly paper in the Blackgang Chine changing room! Looks like you are having a blast...lets see how long you keep up the detailed commentary of your adventures...soon it will up, ate, walked, ate, snoozed, ate and slept..job done! Take it easy little bro'

The Real Toni Border :-) on

YUMMMMM CARNE! I love Carne sniff.....Miss you little brother but it looks like you are having a blast :-)

Christina on

Hey Tony!
Glad you got wind of the cricket match and are enjoying your trip thus far. I am quite impressed by the detailed accounts and thanks for the NY shout out :) Feels like I saw you just yesterday and all I've done since then is go to work while you've gone to a new continent! Enjoy the next destination and looking forward to reading more!

ma border and andy on

really enjoying the blogs ant ,and great pics of quito,looking forward to next instalment,take good care yourself,we love you lots.x

di on

what's the temperature there??

Abi Gorringe on

Pete forwarded the link on .... I didn't even know you'd given up on 9-5 life and headed off with your ruck sack. Although, thinking about it, I did think it was weird that Pete didn't mention you in his itinerary for the March UK visit! Just had a sneaky read - sounds amazing. Not at all jealous!

Kimberly Border on

Hey Ant!
Great blog. It brings back memories from when I travelled. I love your nighttime photos of Quito. It's neat that you decided to take a pedometer - keep up the good work! It's -18 here, so enjoy the warm weather. Easton is 6 months old now and is giggling and says a big Hello to his Uncle Ant. Can't wait to hear about your next adventure. Miss you! XO

Arvind on

Wonderful! I enjoyed reading this. You remind me of myself (I also love to travel alone). I'm hoping to visit Ecuador soon, hopefully this year. I'm absolutely fascinated by that country. Have fun & enjoy your trip!

Chris & Claire on

Good read! Thanks.

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