On our return from the Galapagos we decided to stay another 2 nights in Hotel Quito as we had somewhere safe and easy to keep the truck. This would give us a day to explore the old town as well.
We took a cab early in the morning and got dropped off at the Plaza de la Independancia. We then spent a couple of hours walking round the old town of Quito. It’s nice but not stunning and was also pretty busy (on a Saturday). Quito has a terrible reputation for crime but we didn’t feel unsafe walking around at all – at night it might be a different matter.
In our travels so far we have eaten in a lot of small local restaurants and even from a lot of roadside food stands and we have never had a bad meal. “Typical” food is usually cheap, simple and tasty. Well in Quito we ended our run of luck and had a terrible meal. We made the mistake of going to a place recommended in our guide book and we picked at the food and didn’t really eat it. Instead of a tasty soup it was a watery greasy soup – our main course of chicken was scrawny and tasted like it had been boiled. This restaurant even gave us a pudding of liquid jelly! Ah well at least it was cheap.
After lunch we walked up to the Basilica del Voto which is an imposing neo-gothic monolith on a hill North of the Plaza de la Independencia. We first walked around the inside of the church which was grand but not as intricately worked as many we have seen.
After our inside tour we went around to the main entrance and climbed up the towers. You can access towers on either end. At one end you climb up a series of precarious ladders up the outside of a tower to reach an open air platform with great views of the city.
At the other end the climb feels less unsafe as you climb up the interior of one of the bell towers right up to a small room at the very top of the tower.
Once we’d come down from the towers we decided that we’d had enough and hailed a cab to takes us back to the truck. We had, what I would call a fairly normal evening if we were at home but what we now think of as a luxurious evening, where we picked up a takeaway pizza and a few beers and took them back to our hotel room to watch the French Open.
During the day we had noticed large numbers of people wearing Ecuadorian football shirts. We found out that this was because Ecuador were playing Argentina in the evening. Everywhere we walked past in the evening had the football on unfortunately Ecuador were soundly beaten 4-0.
The next morning we headed off early. We checked out of the car park and drove up to the North of the City to a place called Mitad del Mundo which is a big equator monument. It’s a shame that they put it in the wrong place but this was in the days before GPS. Its only 100m or so from the real equator.
A word of advice if you visit is that the Planetarium is awful, not only that but its really uncomfortable as well so we would recommend absolutely not visiting.
While we were there they had a demonstration of local indigenous dancing which was very enjoyable and the costumes were amazing.