In and around Quito
Quito Travel Blog› entry 3 of 166 › view all entries
September 20th, 2009 – by: rem120
We set off after breakfast for Parque Itchimbia, which we were told is up high enough to get a good view of Quito. It was a close but steep walk up to the park and very quickly we realised how hard the altitude made it to walk up hill. We plowed on up the hill only to find that we had taken the wrong street and were greeted with a dead end. We were all buggered so we had to sit down for a few minutes to catch our breath. We wandered back down and found our way up to the park. At the top the views were pretty good and there was a Cultural Center for us to check out.
Next we headed to Parque la Carolina which is a bigger park north of the main Quito sights. We got there on the Metrobus - also called the trolley - which has a dedicated bus lane and small bus stations where you pay at a counter before you get on. The park was really busy as Sunday is the day that the locals like to relax and this is clearly one of the places to be. We walked around for a good hour or so checking out all the activities going on. The best was an outdoors fitness class where a bulky guy in far-too-small shorts was up on a stage running the class and a huge number of locals were following along.
The next day we headed to Old Town in the morning. We somewhat followed a walking guide book that led us down some narrow old streets before we came to a central looking square that was quite impressive. A tourist policeman came up to us and recommended places to go and told us to come back later in the morning to see the changing of the guard ceremony. We headed up the street in Old Town that has most of the churches. We hadn't really read much about the churches in advance so we took most of it all on first impressions.
We came back to the square we were at earlier just in time as the changing of the guard ceremony was starting. The presidential palace lined one of the sides of the square, and there was a big musical routine with all these historically dressed guards. At the end the President himself came out on the top balcony of his palace and gave the crowd a wave. There were a lot of school children down in the crowd watching and when the President came out most of the girls started squealing like they had seen a famous singer.
After that we perused the Old Town some more and finished up at the Basilica, which is a very large church a bit of to the side of the main area.
We had the whole afternoon to fill in so we decided to check out the famous monument at the Equator - Mitad del Mundo (translates to Middle of the World). To get there we took the trolley north, got off at some bus depot, and then changed buses for one going to Mitad del Mundo. It took us about 80 to 90 minutes to get there, which I think was slower than usual because of the number of school kids getting on and off. It is also still just a public bus so it darts around outer suburbian streets instead of going direct. The upside to this was that it only cost US 40 cents to get there!
Mitad del Mundo is in it's own kind of mini-town where there are a bunch of shops and restaurants, along obviously with the main monument.
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