This week it is John reporting on my trip and I'm in Quito, Ecuador briefly, before heading to Baltra and the Galapagos Islands for a one week cruise. With likely poor or no wifi you might not hear from me on the Galapagos for another couple of weeks, but I'm pretty sure it will be worth the wait. Meanwhile here's a Top 5 from 24 hours in Quito.
Top 5 - Quito, Ecuador
1. The Journey
So definitely not a Top 5 highlight for any other reason than this is why you should use a travel advisor to plan and book every element of your trip. To summarize as briefly as possible...
3 hour delay in CLT meant we'd miss the connection in Miami. Rebooked for the evening flight out of Miami while still sat on the plane at the Gate. Arrived Miami and spent 6 pleasant hours in the Amex Centurion Lounge. Boarded and departed Miami on time only to return to the Gate for mechanical issue. Irrepairable and deplaned. Contacted our driver Ricardo who was to pick us up in Quito, who tells us no problem, he will be there whenever the plane makes it. AA find a new plane but fail to find bags or sandwiches and after boarding we sit on the tarmac for another 90 minutes. Finally take off and land in Quito just before 3am. Immigration takes 2 minutes and Ricardo, our new favorite person is there! Smiles all round. This was a long day but without the knowledge and quick work on some of the elements there is a very good chance the delay could have been another 24 hours...
2. Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World)
In the photo above I am located in the Northern Hemisphere while Helen is in the Southern Hemisphere. With a lively guide, this interactive museum experience far surpassed my expectations. Ecuador literally means Equator and here you can understand the meaning behind that. There was a mobile sink filled with water. Placed directly over the equator the water flowed straight down the sinkhole. Our guide moved the sink 3 yards north and the water flowed in a swirl counterclockwise out of the sinkhole. Moved again to 3 yards south of the equator and the water flowed out clockwise. My mind was blown.
3. Cuisine (above and below)
Yes, it never talkes a J5Travel trip very long to get in to the local cuisine. Our great guide Gabi mixed up markets, food and history on our full day tour, and we learned that ceviche (above), potato soup and an apparent hangover cure of tomato, onion and shrimp soup are locals favorties. And the corn, avocado and cheese soup below was phenomenal.
4. Produce (below)
You know a country can eat well when they have a local fruit market like this. Just about everything you see is able to be grown year round in the temperate climate and rich volcanic soils of Ecuador. A new introduction for me was sweet granadilla, a large version of a passion fruit but with much sweeter seeds to suck out the middle. Delicious!
PS. 5 mangos for $1
There are 4 spectacular churches within a short walk of each other in Old Town Quito. Church of La Compañía (above) also known as the Golden Church is stunning. Constructed by Jesuits between 1605 and 1765, so taking 160 years to complete, every single space of the church is decorated with finery. If it’s not in gold it is filled with a painting of a Saint in sumptuous technicolour, created by the great artists of the Quito School.
The Basilica del Voto Nacional is the largest neo-Gothic cathedral in South America. Construction began in 1887 and was largely completed by 1909. For a small fee you can climb and tour the interior upper levels of the structure, providing spectacular views both of the Basilica and Quito (below).
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