Tuesday, March 8
Sleeping in this morning was a welcome change. Barb came by about 8 am, and we had showers and then went down for breakfast. We had no definite plans for the day so once we met up with Barb, we discussed the possibilities. One of the options was to go up the Teleferico, but even this early in the morning the clouds were quite low down, so instead we walked about the city.
Old Town, Quito
First stop was the Tourist Information office at the Plaza Grande. They had a good artisanal shop as well, which we looked around. We were disappointed to find out that, as it was a holiday, the City walking tours were not available today. So we headed off to the Basilica, which is the largest cathedral in Quito. We paid the $2 admission and went in. The stained-glass windows in the nave were quite impressive, although they had a few broken panes.
But unbeknownst to us, the tour arrows led us up into the high towers of the cathedral. In the first tower we climbed up a series of concrete stairs, then crossed over the top of the church on a wooden walkway to the second tower. At this point we were basically in the attic of the church. At the end of the walkway our route became much more interesting as we climbed up a very steep metal ladder to an outside balcony. From here there were two more metal ladders, very steep and exposed, which took us very high up the steeple. From here the views were very good despite the clouds.
Matthew climbing the ladder
View down from highest ladder
The church was built in the 19th century and it followed the standard Gothic church architecture, with flying buttresses and gargoyles. Except that the gargoyles were not fearsome creatures from hell, they were real birds and animals. And not only that, they were Ecuadorian birds and animals! There was a pelican gargoyle, and a frigatebird gargoyle, a booby, a parrot, an armadillo, and even a hoatzin.
We returned to the first tower and continued up the stairs into the belfry. This was an easier climb since it was inside the building. Unfortunately the clock mechanism was not in working order, so the four clocks on the tower were all stopped at different times. After we had finished looking at the gift shop and had a drink in the café, we headed back outside.
View over Quito
After that we walked over to an artisanal market at the Parque El Ejido. We wandered through the various booths, which all tended to have similar things, but didn’t buy anything. We still have to go to the Galapagos and then on our road trip, so we didn’t really want to buy something and carry it around for two weeks. So we headed back towards the hotel. But by now it was 1:30 pm, so we decided to buy some food to eat rather than going out to lunch. The desk clerk at our hotel gave us directions to a pasteleria, where we bought some fruit bread for lunch and also some croissants for breakfast tomorrow. We also stopped in at a grocery store and bought some juice, fruit, and cookies. We ate lunch at the table in the open patio in our hotel, then just relaxed at the hotel.
Old Town hotel
Old Town square
Iglesias de la Campaña de Jesus
For dinner we researched out a few options, then we decided to go to a restaurant named Hasta La Vuelta Señor, which was close by. Dinner was very good and the setting was nice as we were sitting over a small courtyard. Back at the hotel, we packed our bags for our departure tomorrow. Barb had a problem with the safe in her room, which suddenly decided not to open. And the night clerk didn’t have the master key, so we would have to wait until 7 am to get it opened. Since we were scheduled to leave at 7:40, this was a tense situation. However after about half an hour she managed to get it open, so we could all breathe easier.