Quito - top of the world!

Quito Travel Blog

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Plaza San Francisco, with El Panecillio in the background.
Today started with an early morning stroll around la ciudad antiqua (old town). I just sat and watched the people in plaza San Francisco and plaza independencia from about 745 to 900. Watched people going to work, police shoot the breeze, students going to school, nativos selling fruit, trinkets, candy and cigarettes and had about ten small children ask if they could shine my shoes.

Then I hopped a cab to el panecillo. Definitely take a cab rather than hike to the top. Not only do you have to go through a dangerous neighborhood (my cabbie, Sr. Wilson, commanded me to roll up my window as soon as we started up the hill), but it would also be a very exasperating hike anyway, with very narrow or no sidewalks, and busses flying by blowing diesel fumes in your face. Anyway, at the top I asked Sr.
Quito from El Panecillio
Wilson if I could pay him $15 to wait about 25 minutes and then take me to el teleferiquo. He enthusiastically agreed.

After taking in the amazing 360 degree view of Quito, taking tons of pictures and paying a dollar to go inside the small museo inside the statue, I was ready to go. "no no no" said Sr. Wilson, "vamos mirar a mi ciudad!"

he then proceeded to take me to the northern vista and in ecuadorian Spanish (which is much slower than Colombian Spanish), proceeded to point out various sights and barrios. Then, he offered to take my picture! Totally worth the $15 at this point.

Then on he way to el teleferiquo between pointing out various sights, we taught each other words in our respective languages ("como se dice.
At the top of El Teleferiquo, you can walk even higher...but be careful if you're not used to this altitude!
..?"). He also loved talking about American music, at one point breaking out in song ("I left my heart in San Francisco...").

Once we got to el teleferiquo I decided I enjoyed this 90 minutes so much that I gave him $20.

Onward to el teleferiquo. I have to mention that I had two minor instances of altitude affects since being here. Late last night I had a splitting headache and this morning I woke up at 3am short of breath, which continued until about 8am. But I wasn't worried; I'm not going to have an opportunity to go this high (13,450 feet) again for a while.

I rode up with a family from Alaska. They were very nice folks who had just arrived the night before from panama. We discussed our arrangements in Quito, and they said mine (hotel San Francisco de Quito) sounded alot better than theirs.
With pretty Quito in the background

We made it to the top and I didn't feel anything at first. But one option at the top is a small hike even higher. Walking up the pathway, it all kicked in. About halfway up my lungs felt like they were going to explode. I was gasping for breath! I took a break at one of the vista points with a couple from Boston. We traded picture taking, rested for a bit and then carried on. After this, the breathing got easier, but I was having trouble popping my ears so my head was hurting some. But the very end of the trail is the best part. There, you can find a working farm, where we were greeting by a woman in traditional Incan dress, on horseback; we also saw the most amazing view of Quito between two lush green mountains.

Needless to say, going back down was easier. Once down to the top of el teleferiquo, I decided to have an empenda and a beer.
This is Cuy, baked with potatoe patties and salad! Yes, you eat the eyes, brain and meat off of the head too!
They say alcohol at this altitude gets you buzzed faster; it's true!

Next, it was off to Quicentro, which is a modern shopping mall (complete with a TGI Fridays hahaha). My purpose of visit was to go to Marathon Sports and get a soccer jersey. Unfortunately this Marathon was closed for remodeling! However I did find a smaller sports store. I ended up with an Ecuador national jersey, the one with Pilsner on it. Cost: $28! Can't beat that!

Next stop was a resturaunt in La Mariscal that the guy at the hotel desk said had good cuy. I can't remember the name right now but a review is coming when I get home. Anyway, he was right! The cuy was excellent, even the head. I had it baked, with two fried potatoe patties and a salad, served with peanut sauce and a couple of cervezas (Club). Excellente!

Finally back to old town to wander until dark. I love doing that, so many interesting sights, people and shops. I ended up being talked into an Alpaca sweater at a shop around the corner from my hotel.

Upon arriving at the hotel they have a futbol match on, Liga vs Rio Platte, which is going on here in Quito! Totally wish I knew about it earlier; I'd probably be there. Then while watching the match, who walks in? The family from el teleferiquo! They decided to pack up and move in here for the rest of their time in Quito.

Tomorrow it's back to medellin. However as much as I loved that place, I'm regretting not staying here in Quito longer. I guess that means I'll be back!
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Plaza San Francisco, with El Panec…
Plaza San Francisco, with El Pane…
Quito from El Panecillio
Quito from El Panecillio
At the top of El Teleferiquo, you …
At the top of El Teleferiquo, you…
With pretty Quito in the background
With pretty Quito in the background
This is Cuy, baked with potatoe pa…
This is Cuy, baked with potatoe p…
photo by: Bluetraveler