After yesterday’s goodbyes, I’m alone for the first time and probably for the last time on this trip. I reflected upon the merits of traveling alone in detail a few months ago, also in South America, in The Case for Traveling Solo: It’s just a very different kind of travel. I miss having a group to lead and having more than one pair of eyes to notice things. I miss having to talk about things I’ve seen with other people. But at the same time, there’s a certain type of unique freedom you get by traveling alone, going at your own pace, doing your own thing, and learning to become your own best friend again.

Today I was fortunate to rediscover the feeling in very photogenic Quito, Ecuador, the capital city and an UNESCO World Heritage Site in of itself.

And what an easy place to travel through as a USA citizen: Due to the Ecuadorian government’s “dollarization” of its national currency in 2000 in order to rescue its economy, only the US Dollar is used in Ecuador. You can imagine how this makes it incredibly convenient for USA travelers. Moreover, Ecuador is known for the most “pure form of spoken Spanish” in the world, which means native Ecuadorians speak Spanish slowly and without frills like Argentines or Chileans; I actually can have a normal conversation in Spanish here!



After arriving in the morning by plane and taking a 40 minute taxi to the city ($28 USD), I freshened up at my hostel in the San Blas district (Hostel Revolution) and started my day at Parque Alameda:


The oldest European observatory on the continent


From there I walked south towards Quito’s Old Town:


Eventually you should orient yourself relative to the Plaza Grande:



If you have time, go dine at the top floor of Vista Hermosa Restaurant:


Afterwards, check out the following buildings surrounding Plaza Grande:


Palacio del Gobierno
The Catedral
Centro Culturo Metropolitano
Iglesia de Sagrario


The highlight for me (and usually for everybody else) was the architectural elements of La Compania de Jesus:



From there, walk a few blocks west to explore Plaza San Francisco:



Walk south a bit and then east to pass by the 18th century Arco de la Reina and the neighboring monastery:



Keep walking east until you hit Plaza Santo Domingo:


She is passed out!


At this point I retraced my steps to Plaza Grande in order to check out the interior of the Cathedral:


The famous statue of the Virgin of Quito slaying the beast beneath her

Where the bishops all hang out


Afterwards I headed north to the Basilica del Voto Nacional:


I found an unlocked set of stairs so I climbed them for a better view of the interior:



If you’re really feeling brave, pay the extra $2 USD to climb rickety spiral staircases and unstable ladders within the clock towers. You’ll be rewarded with stupendous views of the city:



Go as high as possible:



Afterwards I headed back to the hostel and made a new friend in a fellow American from Alaska named John. With not even 5 minutes of introductions, we set off for Parque Itchimbia for 360 degree sunset views of Quito:


Parque Itchimbia


This park closes at 6pm so if you still want to stay in the area to bask in the views and the sunset, find the nearby café/restaurant and you’ll probably have the entire place to yourself:



Enjoy the views when the city lights up at night:



And that was my walking tour of Quito in less than 5 hours.

And I just realized I only slept for 6 hours in the last 3 days. Off to bed….zzzzz….



- At time of posting in Quito, Ecuador, it was 17 °C - Humidity: n/a | Wind Speed: 11km/hr | Cloud Cover: n/a


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April 2014