Quito – Bus Tour
The Quito City Tour with its live commentary in Spanish and English was a great backdrop as we drove through the downtown districts of La Mariscal (country homes of the rich in the 19th Century, now full of restaurants and bars), Americas in the Old Town (so named for the streets named for American cities and countries).
Our bus ride up to the 41-metre tall statue of La Virgen de Quito (complete with a crown of stars, angel wings and a chained dragon) at Mirador el Panecillo, involved our double-deck bus having to do a slight reverse and a sharp right onto oncoming traffic to go up the hill. There were houses on the hillside with corrugated iron walls and an outdoor laundry room.
From Mirador el Panecillo, the viewing platform gave a spectacular view of the city especially the old town. La Virgen de Quito is one of the largest aluminium statues in the world it made for a beautiful and towering backdrop.
As we made our way through the old town (particularly on Calle Paseo De la 24 de Mayo and Calle de La Muralla de San Francisco), we were caught in a traffic jam for the next 45 minutes. It was a great opportunity to observe how people live, a large range of items could be done purchased without leaving the footpath with fruit (cherries, grapes, watermelons and papayas), snacks (sweet rice balls, empanadas, nuts with lime and chilli), ice cream vendors with push-carts (who churned by hand and kept cool using large blocks). One-piece monkey suits, tracksuits, keys and cigarettes, clothes and footballs were all on offer.
The residents of the Old Town had a variety of uses for their narrow balconies including a garden of flowering plants, yard for a small dog to run around, balcony for the grandchild to watch the traffic jam go past and a way to get into the Christmas spirit.
The cause of the traffic jam was the last day of school before Christmas, with each child leaving with a free lunch courtesy of the school, some of which was eaten at the school gate.
We had a traditional Ecuadorian lunch at Mama Clorinda.
Starter: Shrimp and fish ceviche: full of lime, chilli and onion – delicious!
Main: Grilled chicken had the smashed fried potato, beetroot and avocado – yum!
Centro de Arts Contemporáneo
Centro de Arts Contemporáneo is a beautifully resorted formerly military hospital modernised with glass while retaining the courtyard and stunning arches.
Basilica del Voto Nacional
Basilica del Voto Nacional (Iglesia La Basilica), a huge Gothic church visible from El Panecillo (lookout); it has beautiful stained glass and a highly decorated chapel which was closed. The exterior of the church is decorated with turtles, iguanas, monkeys and pelicans.
Travel date: 22 December 2018