Quito – exploring the city at last

Back in Quito after our many excursions, we decided to spend a couple of days soaking up the city and exploring the old town. First stop on the list was the teleferico, which the guidebook described as a sky tram but was actually a cable car.

Back in Quito after our many excursions, we decided to spend a couple of days soaking up the city and exploring the old town. First stop on the list was the teleferico, which the guidebook described as a sky tram but was actually a cable car. It’s around a ten minute ride to the top, where you can enjoy spectacular views of both the city and the surrounding countryside. If you’re feeling particularly energetic you can trek even higher, but we decided to content ourselves with the view from the top of the teleferico.

View from the teleferico

Back on solid ground and we decided to head to the historical centre. A leisurely stroll took in all the major sites including the Plaza Grande with the Palacio del Gobierno and the city’s cathedral, as well as other churches and monasteries. Having seen our fair share of religious buildings (and not being religious at all) we decided to give the tours a miss and instead opted to admire the beautiful architecture from the sunny exterior instead.

Quito's architecture

En route, we found an excellent little local café serving Ecuadorian delights including empanadas, tamales (a sort of mashed corn steamed and served in a banana leaf) and quimbolitas (a sweet cake made of corn). Very yummy and also very cheap.

Cafe Modelo

After lunch we visited the Basilica del Voto Nacional. Here, you can climb the clock tower for more stunning views of Quito. To get to the clock tower, you have to walk across a rickety bridge, climb an incredibly steep ladder, then, once outside, climb two more (open) staircases, both of which are equally as steep as the first one, before you reach the top. Having managed the bridge and the first set of stairs, neither of us was brave enough to make it all the way. Trust me, it was pretty hairy looking – I don’t think they’ve heard of health and safety here at all, and we weren’t the only ones to give it a miss. We did, however, still manage to get some great shots from the halfway point.

View from Basilica del Voto Nacional

They also have some awesome gargoyles, representing all the different Ecuadorian animals. Not so much scary as cute…

Basilica del Voto Nacional

That evening we sampled some of the Quito nightlife around La Mariscal, stopping for a few cuba libres at the delightfully titled Dirty Sanchez bar before settling down in the Irish bar, Finn McCool’s for the England-Scotland rugby match (being shown at 2am). At half time, we finally headed home to bed. By now, we’d been in Quito for nearly a week in total and were about ready to move on to Tena, the final stop on our trip before heading into the jungle for a month of volunteering.