The Galapagos islands are located approx 1,000 km off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific, the only way to get there is to fly from mainland Ecuador – from either Quito or Guayaquil. In my case, it was Quito. The highest capital city in the world, it sits at 2,850 m (9,350 ft) above sea level, and is also the closest capital city to the equator.
Feeling the effects of the altitude, I chose to ride the City Tour Bus to see the city. It is a hop on, hop off bus but the wait for the next bus is an hour, so I stayed on and did the circuit in about 3 1/2 hours. It was an easy way to see the city. Some of the sights along the way…
This market is open daily, but every day a different product is sold. On this day it was flowers.
A typical Ecuadorian cafe/store – there is always fresh fruit and juice for sale.
An elderly Ecuadorian woman trying to stay warm
The steep hills of Old Town Quito
Colourful balconies adorned with flowers
Looking down on the city is Panecillo Hill, the top of which is over 3,000 m above sea level.
The city of Quito is long and narrow, sitting on the in a river valley on the eastern edge of the Pinchincha volcano.
The Virgin of Panecillo Hill looks over the city. Commissioned by the city in 1976 it was designed by a Spanish artist and is composed of several thousand pieces of aluminum.
The twin spires of the Basilica del Voto Nacional dominate the Quito skyline
The Basilica del Voto Nacional is the largest Neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas. The idea of the Basilica was first proposed in 1883, construction began in 1887 and it was consecrated and inaugurated as a Basilica by the Pope in 1988. Local lore states that upon completion of the Basilica the world will end, so it remains unfinished.
This is the Presidential Palace, those doors below are actually little shops but they weren’t open when this picture was taken.
Not to be outdone by the President, the Archbishop also has a Palace on Plaza Grande, the “Palacio Arzobispal”.
During my time in Quito I saw some interesting things I’ve never seen anywhere else.
This girl was delivering freshly made soft ice cream cones to this car. The car wasn’t pulled over, just stopped in traffic.
The “Espiral Centro Comercial” – the Spiral Mall. No escalators, you just go round and round, spiralling your way up or down.
Just how many mattresses can you put in a pickup truck?
And finally, quite possibly the best hot chocolate on the planet…