Day 1 of tour - morning
With the wedding being over and done with, it was now time to concentrate on my next thrilling and exciting trip!
Our international flight from Lima to Quito departed at 6:10am this morning which meant in my book having to get up at 2:00am. Groannnnn! Having gone to bed much earlier the night before, like 9:00pm, I can't say that I was up and running at 2am but at least all of the excitement and thrills made up for it as I kept thinking that I was finally leaving for Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands today! Hip, hip, hurrah!
The hotel’s taxi drove us to the airport without any incidences and our two and a half hour flight departed on time. By 8:40am, we had landed safely in Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, after much skillful maneuvering of the airplane’s captain pilot as he zigzagged his way all around the Andes Mountains while making the descent! It was a good thing that I had taken my motion sickness pill much earlier, I said to myself as I looked outside the airplane’s window as the plane constantly went from one side to the other!
It's amazing what a person can think of in a moment like this, don't you find! For myself, during the landing I kept thinking that Quito’s International Airport, being one of the highest in the world at 2,800 meters above sea level, was also considered one the most dangerous to land in the world due to its location in the middle of a city surrounded by mountains which pose higher risks! Now, why would I even think of something like that just when we were landing!
Bienvenidos en Ecuador I told myself as I polished my Spanish in my head!
A young cheerful Ecuadorian fellow was waiting for us at the international exit gate holding a sign with our name on it. Hola! His name was Gabriel, 28 years old, a young family man with a wife and a five year old son! He also spoke very well English and would be our very own private guide for the next four days! We also had a non-English speaking chauffeur who went by the name of Wladimir! Can’t say that I remembered the name immediately but had Gabriel write it down for me on a piece of paper!
A beautiful blue sky was what greeted us as we all departed the airport heading down the streets for our morning tour of Quito. First stop of the day was at the Centro Historico, the colonial center of Quito declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 where we enjoyed a panoramic view of the Alamada Park and the Basilica before taking a stroll down the Street of the Seven Crosses named for the seven stone crosses erected by the Spanish after they conquered the city!
We then walked to the beautiful flower filled Plaza Grande also known as Independence Square, which was dominated by a Cathedral adorned with plaques celebrating the city’s founding fathers. Here, we say the Presidential Palace and were lucky enough to see Ecuador’s President as he stood on the palace’s balcony surrounded by guards. Close by, the famous Compania de Jesus was visited as well as having a tour of the historically rich San Francisco Church and Monastery dedicated to the patron saint of the city.
We were driven up a very steep hill way up to its summit where a gigantic statue stood. From there, a spectacular view of the entire city of Quito, the old with its colonial style structures and the new with its modern high rise buildings, could be seen from east to west and north to south surrounded by the Andes Mountains.
By now it was 1:00pm in the afternoon and time for us to head to the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World), a good 45 minute drive from Quito.Monique :-)