Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Quito-Tips and Observations

I felt much better in the morning. After breakfast we checked out of the Carpedm Hostel. I would highly recommend this hostel: it is close to the Old Town, dorms or private rooms with their own bathroom, super comfy beds, no shortage of extra blankets and linens, healthy breakfast, all ages, and friendly, helpful staff. We had  a private room and bathroom for $45 US per night.

Carpedm hostel is to the left of this church

The hostel staff called us a cab and we moved to our new hostel right in the Old Town. It wasn’t far but still took us awhile to get there because the traffic was so bad.

I have come to realize that many of what they call hostels in Ecuador are more like hotels.

Our new accommodation, Masaya Hostal, is lovely inside with a spacious room and bathroom, both a king size and a single bed with crisp linens. They also supply nice toiletries, chocolates, free welcome drinks and breakfast. Unfortunately, we have booked tours that leave at 6:30am each morning so we won’t have a chance to try breakfast out. Even the hallways and sitting areas are nice.  They have a restaurant, bar, kitchen area, rooftop area and grassy garden with beanbag chairs.

I love the furniture which is artfully crafted from pallets. Brilliant.

Today we decided to wander around the Old Town and check out many of the places that we walked by on our city tour. We started by visiting a few churches/cathedrals. There are a lot of beautiful Catholic churches in Quito. There are also a lot of stores selling religious goods.

We made our way back to the Grand Plaza where we feasted on empeniadas and artisan ice cream while people watching. The brass band was once again playing on the steps of the big cathedral.

We went back to the Basilica where John climbed the tall tower and crossed a walkway over the roof while I watched from below and drank an herbal tea at the cafe. Heights really are not my thing.

John starting to climb the final steps of the tower 

I’m sitting at the little cafe table on the left

We went back to the Central Mercato where I tried the sea bass cerviche. They serve many of their dishes with a side of popcorn mixed with something (this time banana chips). They also squirt lime juice on their popcorn which was surprisingly good.

After a quick break at our hostel we went back to the main square. The band was gone and locals had packed the stairs to watch the street performers. We settled ourselves in an outdoor cafe where we tried corn grain and cheese smoked in a corn husk and a fig and cheese plate. I am enjoying the Ecuadorian food.

After dark, we went to the hotel restaurant/bar and had one of their original mixed shots. We drank it in the garden as we looked up at the lit up winged Mary on the mountain above. The shot was strong. I think it put hair on my chest.

We next checked out La Ronda, which is supposed to be the happening street for night life. It wasn’t too happening maybe because it was only Wednesday and 8pm. We went back to the hostel bar where we watched a salsa class and John had supper....I was feeling a little queasy so I didn’t eat.

Quito is an exquisite city with amazing food, interesting people and beautiful, colonial architecture. Here are a few of our tips and observations when visiting Quito.

  1. Before leaving home, get some altitude medicine.
  2. Give yourself a few days to adjust to the altitude before going to a higher altitude.
  3. Carry Tylenol with you.
  4. Bring lots of US cash. Most places only take cash and you have to search for bank machines that work with foreign bank cards. Places that do take credit cards usually add a large surcharge.
  5. Stay close to or in the OldTown.
  6. Old Town is pretty safe. There is a large police presence. They are often riding segways.
  7. Use common sense: stay out of dark streets and keep valuables hidden. Even better, don’t carry them.
  8. Take a free city tour early on in your visit. We loved the one given by Carpedm Adventures.
  9. Try the food. 
  10. It’s easy to book day tours from your hostel.
  11. Many people do not speak English. Most menus and signage  are in Spanish. Fortunately there are often pictures of the food. A good translation app and knowing a few basic words are very helpful.
  12. Quito is a very clean city.
  13. The weather can change quite drastically over a day. 
  14. If visiting the winged Mary on the hill. Take a cab because you have to go through some tougher neighbourhoods if you walk up.

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