Sunday, 28 April 2013

Quito, Ecuador

What a contrast - from bustling, chaotic, stinky, loveable, steep La Paz to a brand new airport (only open a few weeks) and the modern, glitzy buildings, wide avenues and clean streets of Quito. Only thing is, they forgot to build a new road to the airport, so after about 20km you are back into winding, steep, smelly streets! Same, same but different, as they say!

We'd booked a package which included four nights out in an Amazonian Lodge and two nights either side in a B and B in Quito. A gorgeous little place full of antiques, paintings, fresh flowers and fireplaces ( very handy at night). Also in the package was a half-day walking tour in the old colonial city and, then when we get back, a full day visiting the famous indigenous markets at Otavalo, which I'm looking forward to.

It's a lovely city, towered over by the volcano Pichincha, and the worlds first city to be given UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Awash with historic churches from the early Spanish times - there are 86 in the historic centre, all of which are well used, most of which are extremely ornate, and most of which have huge underground crypts for the wealthy. It's a bit like an amusement park underground in some. The half day walking tour was great - a young man, enthusiastic and patriotic, with a nice sense of humour.

Fortunately Sunday has become people's day and they have blocked off the streets to traffic and opened them as cycle paths. Absolutely everyone does the 40 km lap through the streets every Sun am, then hangs out in the squares and parks for the day listening to music, eating, drinking etc. A delight!

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