This morning I had an 8am flight from Colombia to Quito, Ecuador. At the airport, I took a taxi from the airport taxi stand into Quito (for $25). Interestingly enough, due to a financial crisis in 1999/2000, Ecuador actually uses the US Dollar as it's currency - so I had zero confusion on exchange rates today! The drive took around an hour, and it was equal parts beautiful and car sickness inducing. The roads were winding but the scenery was amazing. I arrived at my hotel, Hostal de La Rabida, and had a really cute room right off of the courtyard. The hotel is so charming and, the best part, there is a pet bunny! The bunny is named Brownie and he is so sweet and tolerant (of being petted) and I just was made probably abnormally happy by this really cute bunny. I cannot thank Hostal de La Rabida enough for sponsoring my stay and for their incredible hospitality. After bonding with Brownie (and facetiming everyone in my immediate family to show them Brownie) I had to take a nap. I was exhausted from an early morning of travel.
After my nap, I decided to head out to explore the heart of Quito! Ecuador does not have Uber or anything like it, so it is always best to ask your hotel to call you a taxi. I had read horror stories of people being mugged by accidentally getting in unofficial taxis in Quito, so I made it a priority to be really aware during my time in Ecuador. I got some recommendations on sights from the hotel and then headed out. My first stop was the Pre-Columbian Art Museum. While this definitely is not my favorite type of art or museum (which has been a little rough considering the plethora of them in Central / South America) this museum was actually really great. It was the perfect size, had an English translated audio guide and descriptions, and the art was all really unique and interesting to learn about.
I finished the museum in under an hour and headed down the street to the Church of Saint Francis. It was stunning on the inside and outside. The church sits on Plaza San Francisco, which was a really great place to just stop and observe for a while. While this was definitely a tourist focused area, I was amazed by how many locals were out and about in the old town area of Quito.
From there I headed to Independence Square, which was a really pretty park near Plaza San Francisco. The buildings in this area of Quito were immaculate and definitely historic. I then walked to a chocolate shop right off of the square to buy the first presents (a few chocolate bars) of my trip!
I next sat off on an unfortunately uphill journey to the Basilica of the National Vow. The walk was supposedly not very long but I had no idea how exhausted I would be afterward. Quito sits at an incredibly high elevation for a city at over 9,000 feet. Other than La Paz, Bolivia, Quito will be the highest elevated capital city I will visit over the course of visiting 197 countries. So the altitude sickness is a very real thing. Bogota sat at over 8,500 feet so at least I have had a few days of altitude so far, but with La Paz and then Cusco, Peru still to come I will probably be pretty light headed and extra tired for the next few days to come. Those are the only symptoms that I have and I hope that it stays that way! The uphill walk to the church was definitely worth it, though. It was absolutely incredible and huge as well. It was one of the largest Cathedrals that I have ever seen, and I took so many pictures (tons of which are in the slideshow below).
I walked all around the church for a good while and then found a taxi stationed outside to take me back to my hotel. After resting in my room for a while (I’m telling you this altitude is killer) I decided to eat dinner at my hotel. I ordered fettuccine alfredo and it was really tasty. I then had such a nice surprise when the hotel made my meal complimentary! It was so nice and I really cannot thank Hostal de La Rabida enough for their generocity. After a busy day, I had no trouble falling asleep, and am so excited to visit the Equator tomorrow!
24 countries down, 173 to go.
Read about my second day in Ecuador here.
To learn more about Hostal de La Rabida click here.