Day 2 – March 13: Quito City Tour and Equator
Quito Travel Blog› entry 3 of 26 › view all entries
QUITO CITY TOUR:
We had a bit of trouble adjusting to the new time zone, but we were still ready for our city tour at 9:00am. We had a private car and guide, which was nice (particularly with kids) because we could make extra stops and manage our own time at each place.
Our first stop was the Basilica de Quito, which is a magnificent building up on a hill. The gargoyles were actually sculpted into animals from Ecuador and the Galapagos.
Next we went to Old Town Quito and Plaza Grande, which has the Presidential Palace and a cathedral around a nice courtyard. We spent about 15 minutes looking around and then our guide took us up to the balcony and courtyard of the Presidential Palace that is open to visitors. Right on the plaza is a hotel called Plaza Grande, which is the most expensive hotel in Quito.
Our guide then took us on a nice walking tour that included the “Gold Church,” La Compañía de Jesús, and the San Francisco Cathedral. Both well worth the visit.
We stopped at a shop that sold a huge variety of fresh squeezed juices. We bought orange juice and juice from the guanabana (white) for $1.20, and they squeezed it right in front of us.
We had lunch right outside/below the San Francisco Cathedral, which had a nice outdoor dining area with good food and better people watching.
Our last stop was the Center of the World Monument where you can get your picture on the equator. They also have some science experiments and an old indigenous village. It was worth about half of the 30 minutes there, but we had to get our pictures!
Our guide was Juan Carlos Rivera, who was excellent!
PARQUE LA CAROLINA:
Near the Le Parc Hotel is a large city park called La Carolina. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, so we walked over there from our hotel and joined an amazing number of people from Quito. This is a great park for walking, running, or biking around. They have a manmade pond where you can rent paddle boats. There are also a number of playgrounds, a mountain bike park, and basketball courts.
There are a few tourist attractions there. One is the Vivarium ($3/adult and $2/child) which has a large number of snakes, frogs, and turtles. There is also a small but nice botanical garden ($3.50/adult and $3/child). For kids, there is a mechanical dinosaur exhibit.
We were pretty tired, so we had a couple of hours to rest at our hotel before dinner. We went to Mama Clorinda’s, which serves traditional Ecuadorian food in Plaza Foch, an area full of restaurants and bars.
Back at our hotel, we went to the open-air rooftop bar for a nightcap before bed.
Breakfast is included at the hotel. They had bread, sandwich meat, fruit, and juice.
Our lunch at the San Francisco Church started with peanuts and fried plantains followed by a bowl of potato soup, shrimp ceviche, a fruit bowl, and empanadas. All were all excellent and came to $25 including drinks and tip for 3 people.
Dinner Mama Clorinda’s was fine, but we got better Ecuadorian food elsewhere in our trip (Hacienda El Porvenir, for example).