Quito, Ecuador

Our last dinner on the boat was Turkey, with all the fixings!  Then clear skies called us up for another  night of star gazing!  We didn’t linger too long, as we all had a date with a dingy at 5:30 a.m. to go for a walk on  Lobos island.  Once we got the sea lions off the steps, we were able to go ashore, and were welcomed by hundreds more sea lions, blue footed boobies, marine iguanas and finally, the long sought after male frigates, with their pouches puffed up to attract the females to their nests! (Did you see the photos in the previous blog?)

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The waters were crystal clear, and we were able to view a few more sea turtles as we were heading back to the boat for breakfast.

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This is what they call a “Brown Turtle”.  Not much for “hiding” with this color!

Then on to our last island and port,  San Cristobel, which is where we would all go our separate ways.  Some a little quicker than others. In fact the couple from Idaho left first as they had to catch another boat which was leaving right away for another island…down to 9.  The rest of us went to  the pier on the dingy, and then onto the interpretive centre, which explains the natural processes that have made the Galápagos such a unique place.  We had time for a walk on the beach and of course a cold one before jumping on a bus, one last time to head to the airport. Mama Paparazzi and her daughter Michelle boarded a different aircraft, as they were heading to Lima. Now down to 7 for the flight to Guayaquil and Quito.  Jason, Chloe, and Susan all departed in Guayaquil for connecting flights on to London, and Turks Caicos!  Down to four.  We said our goodbyes to Brian and Janet at the Quito airport, with the hopes to have dinner the next night with them.  Danny met us at the airport in the rain which again, I thought was pretty refreshing. Danny and the driver dropped us at La Ronda Boutique hotel  in Old Quito. La Ronda Street It is a beautiful street in the Historic Center of the city and is said to be one of the oldest streets in Quito which has been beautifully restored.  It sits close to the base of the famous “Panecillo” hill which is crowned with a winged virgin statue.

IMG_4618Danny was not going to be our tour guide the next day, but told us “someone” would be there at 9 a.m. to get us.  Wow a sleep in morning!   Andreas was there at 9 a.m. sharp, and we started out on our 1/2 day city tour.   The elevation of Quito is 9350 feet above sea level. The city has been built on a long plateau lying on the east side of the Pichincha volcano. In fact, the city is surrounded by volcanos! The latest eruption was recorded on October 5, 1999, with a few puffs of smoke and a large amount of ash were deposited on the city, nothing too serious.  They expect “something” to happen again soon!   One had to get up in the morning to see the tops of most of the mountains, we chose to sleep in, so clouds shrouded the mountains tops most mornings we left the hotel. We went into several churches and cathedrals, which photos were not allowed, but I have to say, I have NEVER seen anything so beautiful as these buildings!  There are photos on the internet, maybe taken by people a little more gutsy than I, but I have to say, we were in absolute awe in every  church and cathedral we went into. Worth looking up on the internet….so beautiful

Church of Santo Domingo – Church of La Compañía ( began construction in 1605; it took 160 years to be built). – The Metropolitan Cathedral (began its construction in 1562,  The church building was completed in 1806 – Church of San Francisco – Church of El Sagrario.  All worthy of “goggling” but of course, standing in them is the way to go!

Our tour with Andreas ended around 2 pm, and he left us to explore on our own.We wondered around the busy streets of the old town.  Although most “doors” are closed during the day, and you can only imagine about the  wonders behind them.

IMG_3684La Ronda Street  comes alive in the evening, and all the doors open.  Mostly restaurants and bars!  Pretty awesome atmosphere.  We had heard how they “move” large items up and down these streets, as trucks, forklifts etc. just are not manageable on the narrow twisting pedestrian streets.  We didn’t think we were going to see ourselves, but then…….

just throw a fridge on your back, and head down stairs!
just throw a fridge on your back, and head down stairs!

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Our friends from the “boat”  Brian and Janet came down that night for dinner.  They spent some time trying to get into our hotel, as there appears there is no public access, however, they did get the attention of a waiter in the restaurant, who then opened the big old doors for them!  The doors are ALWAYS closed, so you must ring a buzzer to get access!

IMG_3687Through the doors, you are greeted by a beautiful court yard and furnishings from what appears to be from the days it was built! (it was a mansion in its day).Just spectacular.  The café that was suggested to us was full, and so getting thirsty, dove into a place for a beer and to think about our options.  We went into several other places before settling in at an upstairs restaurant. Around 10pm we were all falling asleep, still lagging from our days on the boat!  So we parted once again, and hope to keep in touch through modern technology!

IMG_3602This is the lobby, and court yard dining room. We were on the top floor, which of course with no modern devices, such as elevators, tested our endurance at this altitude.

We headed out to the Octavia Market with Andreas the next morning.  It is a 2 hr drive, and I was not feeling good winding in and out, and up and down.  At one point along the way we stopped, and I just stayed in the car while Gary and Andreas went out to look at the green houses in the valley.  There is over 10 thousand acres of greenhouses in which they grown roses!

Along the way we also stopped at the equator!  IMG_4694There are several different areas in and around Quito that they have displays, and interpretation centres for the Equator, however, we were assured this is (according to GPS) the real deal!  We continued on to the Market, which is a Market.  We wondered around on our own, and then were left to wonder on the “leather” street as well.  We elected to have lunch for our remaining time there as we are not really shoppers anyways.  Afterwards we were taken up more winding roads to crater lake.  Pretty spectacular lake, with islands in the middle.  Obviously, a volcano!  On the trip back to Quito Andreas decides to make a quick pit stop at a large building along the road!  He explains that it is a storage area for “roses”.  Which was kind of  obvious with the truck load of them outside the building!IMG_4732

I got a long stem rose, and when I say long stem, it was about 3 feet!

Once back into the city, we got ourselves organized for the next day, setting out some cloths to be washed.  Went for dinner, and conversation  with other guests in the lobby, a couple “deserts”  and made for another early night.  We had the next day at our leisure, and made a plan to ride the Quito Teleferico, which   takes you up the side of Pichincha Volcano.   This is the second highest aerial lifts in the world, and it has the best views of Quito.  The clouds were rolling in very quickly as we ascended the mountain, and we were afraid that we wouldn’t see anything.  It takes about 10 minutes to go from the base, 2,900 meters to 4,100 meters at the top.  By the time we got to the top, clouds were still moving quickly, and we were treated to a spectacular view of not only city, but of mountains (volcanoes) that surround it!IMG_4771   After going back down, we got the bus to drop us near the Basilica. The Basilica del Voto Nacional is the most important neo-Gothic architecture in Ecuador and one of the most representative of the American continent. It was once the largest in the New World.

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We climbed to the top, above the clocks, and then stopped on our way down, just below the clock, for lunch!

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On July 10, 1892, the first stone was placed, and as of May 2013, it remains technically “unfinished.”Local legend says that when the Basílica is completed, the end of the world will come.  Lot of work yet to do, I don’t think I’ll worry about the legend! This “wing” is finished for the most part, but the rest is still very much under construction.IMG_4796

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Once again, we made it an early night, as we had a 3:00 a.m. wake up call to get to the airport.  For some reason our driver was a little late, explaining he had been stopped by the police, lots of drunk drivers out that time of the morning, and as we travelled though the streets, we saw many still partying from the night before. He wasn’t so late that he couldn’t take us on a bit of a tour through more winding, rough cobblestone streets pointing out different land marks. Of course it was still dark, so we didn’t really see a lot, and just wanted to get to the airport.  I think he was working his way up to being a tour guide, but so far, only acquired status for transporting tourists to and from their destinations!   Once at the airport, checked through and ready to go we had a bite to eat and waited for our departure. And off we go to Canada….through Miami, through Dallas, and on to Vancouver where Claudia and Fisher met us at the airport. Oh, and imagine this, it was raining!   I think it was a 22 hour day, with a few cat naps on the planes!  Had a wonderful visit with Fisher and Claudia the next day, and Gary took us out for lunch, as it was Mothers day! We went for a walk on the boardwalk, and then Claudia and Fisher went for a ride on the sky train, and Gary and I sat in a pub, and watched hockey (well he watched hockey, I watched people).  When they got back, we all walked back to the Condo, and again, had a relatively early night, as school, work, and another day of travel for us. Back to the airport in the morning, to catch yet another plane to Grande Prairie, via Calgary and Edmonton!  We definitely had our share of flights, I believe 17 in all, and am happy to say, our luggage arrived everywhere it was supposed, when it was supposed to.  Pretty amazing I think! Kendal met us at the airport, and after a Costco run and a few other errands we were off to the Farm to see Ashley and Steve, and pick up my Emma!  She wasn’t too sure when we pulled in, but soon was whining and pretty happy to see us, although I think she would have been just as happy to stay on the farm with all the animals, and other dogs to keep her company.

And so ends the Adventures of Peru and Ecuador.  Both spectacular countries and so much more than what I had initially thought they would be.  There were very few bumps along the way, like crashing off the bus in Paracus, to my first nose bleed on the flight to Lima.  I would highly recommend this type of tour when travelling to foreign countries, It was first class all the way, from tour guides to hotels, to transportation. We were so lucky with the weather everywhere, we couldn’t have asked for anything more!  There is so much more to see in both Ecuador and Peru, but for now we have some pretty great memories with pretty great friends.

Until our next “adventure” begins….Keep you and yours Happy and Healthy!

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