TOO LEGIT TO QUITO
When we were planning this trip around the world, all the way back in March, we had originally decided that “12 countries in 12 months” would allow us a reasonable amount of time to dig into each place so as to hopefully start to feel part of the local culture while at the same time not stand still too long. Also, it had a nice ring to it. But as we looked at an actual map and saw our journey literally fly by certain very desirable destinations without the ability to stop if we wanted to stay within our self-imposed mandate, we decided not to be fools and change our minds in order to schedule a few week-long detours which would eventually bring our count to “16 countries in 12 months,” perhaps less of a tagline but certainly a better use of all this time. The Galápagos Islands were on that list from the beginning…
I was very excited not only to have this opportunity with my family but to share it further with my brother Sebastien who lives in Rio de Janeiro and whom I do not see close to enough. He came over with his girl Paloma and it was wonderful to see both their faces disembarking just 30 minutes after us.
Landing in Quito was reminiscent of landing in San Jose, Costa Rica, sadly, where there’s not much to see, maybe apart from this thing…
But we are very lucky that Gina’s uncle Patricio was born here, before eventually moving to Philadelphia, and he emailed us a wonderful, hour-by-hour itinerary, leading us to the places of his youth and which I will share with you here because it is not only a very useful list of stops but so full of love for the home city he probably doesn’t get back to often enough. Feel free to copy it when you go…
Here is a list of various places that you may want to consider seeing and visiting in Quito:
1.- For lunch or, better yet, for dinner in Centro de Quito (where the Presidential Palace is located, and the Cathedral, all in the same Plaza Grande) I recommend a small restaurant located on the third floor of the Palacio Arzobispal, called Hasta La Vuelta Señor. The placemats describe the legend of “Padre Almeida” and his famous phrase “Hasta la Vuelta Señor”. Food is very good, authentic, typical and inexpensive. On Friday and Saturday nights, there is an organist that plays folkloric music. You may want to try the lamb (Seco de Chivo,) it’s excellent.
2.- Calle La Ronda. The oldest and most typical Colonial Street. Many cafes, restaurants and now discoteques. All with music from Ecuador. Try the Canelazos and Humitas, also typical Ecuadorean food.
3.- Cafe Mozaico is located high in the Itchimbia hill. Try to get to the Cafe at 5:40p.m to witness the sunset over the city. Good for Tea and Humitas.
4.- Heladeria San Agustin. Located in the Calle Guayaquil (going south on the right hand side) before the Church of San Agustin (Cuesta de San Agustin) it is the oldest Ice Cream Parlor in Quito. Order Tamal Quiteño (Only place that makes them in all of Quito). Go early in the morning to get the tamal. They are gone in an hour. 11:00 a.m. is a good time.
5.- Quito is a City that you MUST WALK. Start at the Statue to Simon Bolivar in Parque de La Alameda, and walk south on Calle Guayaquil. You will pass Plaza de San Blas (where I was Baptized) and on Calle Guayaquil you will find a number of Shoe Stores. Great place to buy leather shoes at incredible prices. Follow Calle Guayaquil, south will reach Plaza del Teatro; continue up Cuesta de San Agustin to the Heladeria #4; follow Calle Guayaquil until you reach Plaza de Santo Domingo. Then go up West on one of the side streets to Iglesia de La Compañia de Jesus (All gold pillars; ceilings; altars) Magnificent. Continue West to Plaza de San Francisco (Oldest convent and church in Ecuador) All silver Church. Go back east to Calle Garcia Moreno (Iglesia La Compañia de Jesus) and head South to the Presidential Palace and Plaza Grande (for lunch or dinner at Hasta La Vuelta Señor.)
6.- Visit the Centro de Quito in the morning; but make it a point to return to the same place at night around 8:00p.m. It is a completely different atmosphere. All the churches are lit up; the sidewalks have lights shinning toward the sky and there are hardly many people. It is an experience you will cherish.
There are other main things that I can suggest; and that I will mention in my next e-mail.
Have fun in “La Carita de Dios”. The “Lindo Quito de mi Vida”!
I LOVE that City. My fondest youthful memories are walking the Centro de Quito and exploring its hidden treasures.
I love ALL of you dearly.
If you follow this wonderful man’s advice as we did to the letter, before you move on to the other parts of this beautiful country, you are sure to have a great time. I would only add to this a trek up the mountain via the Teleferico, a great way to quicken your heartbeat and see the sprawl…
After 3 days though, we were ready to depart on a real adventure, the reason we were in Ecuador to begin with, via a stop in Guayaquil, then onto the islands that changed our understanding of ourselves forever!