We arrived in Quito, Ecuador on a Sunday and while it was quiet and chill for the most part, Amazonas Street was busy with bike riders and El Ejido park was filled with art vendors and families, especially children running around. For our first night, we stayed at Casa Bambu. We really enjoyed the rooftop setup and view, but we wanted something closer to the center so we moved to the Mariscal area.
While walking around Mariscal, there were lots of bars and restaurants that we knew instantly we were in gringoland. I couldn’t stop admiring this yellow house and after a few minutes, I saw a small sign on the window that said Home Hostel. Boris and I checked it out and the staff was so much friendlier, the interior of the house was magnificent, and we were in the heart of Mariscal, so we couldn’t refuse. Johnny, the owner, is so great that our one-night stay here turned into one week’s time.
The old town of Quito is without a doubt, a well-preserved center with many Spanish colonial style architecture and historic places to visit. It was very easy to roam for hours and get lost down an alley that leads to something great, like La Ronda. It was difficult to miss this alley, as there is a huge arm in the middle. During the colonial days, this was home to the most influential people due its close distance to the river. Later in the 20th century, it became a bohemian community where many poets, artisans, and musicians lived.
Not to be missed is La Compania de Jesus (Church of the Society of Jesus). From the outside, it looks like another church, but once you step inside, you are blinded by the amount of gold, seven tons of gold leaf to be exact. It took 160 years to complete construction of this great interior. I badly wanted to take a photograph but photography is prohibited inside and there was security at every direction. While I don’t like to pay entrance fees (they accept student id), I enjoyed my 15 minutes inside the church.
Many make it to the outside of Basilica del Voto Nacional (Basilica of National Vow) to see the gargoyles, but the best part of this unfinished neo-gothic basilica is actually inside. From the third floor, you can climb a metal winding staircase to leads to the inside of the clock tower. Then there is another set of narrow metal staircase that goes to the bell tower. When we peeped out, we could see the winged Virgen de Quito on El Panecillo volcanic hill. When we thought the tour was complete, it got even better. We climbed back to the third floor and crossed a wooden bridge to get to the other side. I started to get scared at this point since the bridge was a bit shaky and then we had to climb this steep ladder that led outside. We were right on the roof so it was hard to dismiss how high we were. Of course the fun just doesn’t stop. There is an outdoor metal staircase, for those daring enough to climb. It took me a few attempts to make it up, but as Boris said to me, I will not regret it. When I finally made it to the top, with a few locals laughing at me, I was wooed away with an incredible 360-degree panoramic view of Quito.
Overall, Quito is a great city to relax in and spend a few days to get acclimated to the altitude. We found a variety of cheap eats and booked a few tours during our stay. Thanks Johnny and Staff at Home Hostel for making us feel right at home.
|What We Paid:||Colombian
|– Bus from Popayan To Ipiales: 8 hours||20,000||11.11||8|
|– Private Double Room with Shared Bath||15,000||8.33||6|
|– Collectivo from Ipiales To Border||1,500||0.83||0.60|
|– Collectivo from Border To Tulcan, Ecuador||0.75||0.53|
|– Bus from Tulcan To Quito: 7 hours||3.50||2.45|
|– Private Double Room at Home Hostel
shared bathroom, hot water, wifi, great owner (Johnny) and staff, central location, free breakfast, highly recommend
|– Local Bus||0.25||0.18|
|– Entrance To Basilica del Voto Nacional||2||1.40|
|– Entrance To La Compania de Jesus: student id accepted||1||0.70|