Trip Start Sep 03, 2007
106Trip End Jul 03, 2008
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Where I stayed
Centro de Mundo
So our adventure in the Galapagos is over and we have arrived in Quito. Quito is a stark opposite to paradise but still cool in its own way. The city sits high in the mountains and is surrounded by volcanoes etc - quite an impressive setting. We had been told about a hostel in Quito that offers a few perks at a very low cost, the most notable of these is free rum and coke 3 nights a week. We´d be mad to turn that down!
Centro de mundo (the hostel) is in the new town though you´d be forgiven for not thinking so. The whole area is basically dedicated to Gringos, eating and drinking. Our first night was surprisingly very quiet. We found a small Vietnamese restaurant and ate something that very loosely could be described at Vietnamese food, but for the price we paid you couldn´t complain!
We had decided that we weren´t going to spend that much time in Quito so on our first full day we decided to head out to the Old town and try and take in some sites. After a jolly walk through the streets and parks we tackled the local bus network that operated remarkable without hitch. The old town is apparently a UNESCO site and to be fair is rather beautiful. Thin streets link impressive churches and beautiful squares. Our first point of call was the San Sebastien monastery. Unfortunately a large section was under renovation but nonetheless the interior was very impressive. This is meant to be one of, if not, the largest monastery in South America and belongs to the San Franciscan order.
On our departure we were horrified to be caught in a storm. We´d had plenty of rain in Vietnam, it rained in the Galapagos, we´re used to rain but hail was a different matter. The hail stones we´re like missiles from the heavens. Was god trying to punish us for using open of his houses as a tourist site....? However shocked we were it lead us to do something we wouldn´t have normally done. We paid to have a tour of the South American San Franciscan religious art. Seeming neither of us knew anything about it it was appropriate that this art was designed to convert the local South American to the faith. Although it hasn´t appeared to work on us we did learn alot and it was thoroughly worth while.
Our next stop, after the hail, was to the Basilcan church in Quito. Little bit of a theme today! However we didn´t go here for religious reasons this was for adrenalin! The Basilca is a church with two very high belfry's that you can climb. Under UK health a safety this would have been prohibited but not here. Essentially you climb 4 floors of very nice stone steps. You then move on to 3 sets of metal spiral staircases and then finally onto a few metal ladders. (unfortunately we didn´t have a camera so I´ve added someone elses so you can see how high.) When you come out at the top you are actually at the top, the very top. There is a small hole you can squeeze out of with no barriers or anything... I mildly nervous, if Caroline says I was scared then we all know she´s lying!!!
On our return to the hostel it was the infamous free rum and coke night. I would love to tell tales of our night but it seems neither of us can remember. There was drinking and a couple of nightclubs, hassle from a gay guy and dancing.....
Write off but it did hail again!
Caroline found a park in Quito that she has convinced herself was named after her. Obviously the fact that they spelt her name Carolina was just a small oversite!!! It was great to see a park actually being used as it should be. Thousands of people had gathered to do aerobics, paddle in the pools, play footie and basically chill.
In the Afternoon we ventured an hour out of town to the Equator. The little museum called Initnan was fantastic. They explained why Ecuador is known as the centre of the world (this is because the Galapagos islands are at 270 degrees from GMT. 90 and 180 are not on land!)m the effects of the flushing loo, changes in gravity and weight on the equator etc. They even threw in some local tribe information for good measure as well as a skin of a 6m anaconda. All in all a very educational day! One tip for men: Don´t pee in the calm water of the Amazon, apparently there is a fish that will swim up your thingy!!!!