Quito – an underrated capital?

June 3, 2015 0 comment

I may have misled you with my title a bit given that we spent roughly 36-hours in Quito. The city of Quito is settled high in the Andean mountain range – often a pit stop for travelers heading to the Galápagos Islands or Baños or literally anywhere in Ecuador. Oh wait, that’s us and our pit stop in-between those places. Woops. In all honesty, aside from wanting to see the Equator Line, we had no agenda for Quito. Upon doing some research on Quito, we found one too many descriptions of Quito narrowed down to “sketchy” and “dangerous.” I know, I know, but stories we read mentally scarred us. Plus we didn’t have much time to spare between our desired destinations.

Almost there!

Our first pit stop in Quito – from the Galápagos Islands to Baños – we decided to explore Mitad del Mundo. The 14-hr layover in Quito was filled with adventures like taxi-touring with our new best friend Pedro, and a night out in the New Town hot-spots with our hostel crew. Speaking of our hostel…we stayed at The Vibes Hostel is in the heart of the Mariscal district of Quito. The super hip neighborhood attracted us…but mainly that they had a pool table. Did I mention it was super cheap? For $7/night – we couldn’t complain much. Well, there was no hot shower, and wi-fi only worked in the common room… #budgetbackpackers

Before leaving for Baños the next day, we grabbed breakfast at this tiny café next to our hostel. For whopping $3, we stuffed our bellies with some toast, scrambled eggs, orange juice/coffee, and delicious fresh fruit. If you happen to stay at Vibes Hostel, make sure to stop by! (I had to dedicate a paragraph to the café, it was too good).

Baños blew our minds and stole our hearts in a matter of three days. It was time to head back to Quito to catch our flight to Lima. We decided to stay at the Vibes Hostel once again since we were already a bit familiar with the neighborhood. Our late arrival in the town left us no choice but to grab a quick meal before restaurants started closing for the night. Sticking to our American tendencies, we looked for a fast food chain of some sort and settled for Subway (yes, you’re allowed to shame us). We had roughly 8-hours to spare the next day before our flight to Lima.

We were reunited with our Bestest-Ecuadorian-Friend, Pedro, in the morning.  The first stop on our short-day tour was the TelefériQo – one of the most popular tourist attraction of Quito, and possibly the most overrated one (according to some locals). The TelefériQo is basically a gondola ride, taking off from roughly 10,000ft and arriving at 13,000ft. Phew!

We were slightly unprepared for the cold and wind once we arrived at the top – if you are reading this in hopes of visiting the TelefériQo… Wear. Warm. Clothes. Also, due to the elevation change, make sure you’ve acclimated before taking the trip, take some altitude sickness meds, and drink lots of water! I’m a big fan of mountain-top views so, for me, I really enjoyed the views of Quito from the top. As overrated as it may seem to most, the ride and the views are definitely worth $9. The cold and the wind became unbearable after a while – we spent 45 minutes exploring the trails before heading back down.

Next stop on our half-day tour of Quito was the Old Town. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a bustling area with tourists and locals alike. The beautiful colonial architecture was probably my favorite part of the Old Town.

Due to our time constraint, we skipped out on touring cathedrals and museums…except for one. This cathedral just drew us in plus there was the free entry (with a recommended donation to the church…which we were happy to give).

We wandered around aimlessly around the old town for a few more hours (the best way to explore any city). It was time to call Pedro one last time. Our heart broke a little. Pedro took us to the airport, we bid our farewell and hopped on the flight to Lima. I was excited. I had waited twelve years to visit Lima.


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