Santiago is crowded, smoggy, full of traffic. I enjoyed the time we spent there, and we are going back on our way home. It is great to spend two nights to recover from a flight like ours from New Zealand.
However if you asked me where I would rather spend some extra time, it would be Quito in Ecuador.
Quito or Guayaquil? We were on our way to the Galapagos, and our flight could go from Guayaquil or Quito. Quito was the right choice!
We loved Quito, it seems more relaxed and laid back, it is not as frantic as Santiago. People seem open and friendly – every one says buenos dias as they pass. The taxis charge an honest amount and don’t try and scam you.
Stay near the old city – all time of the day and evening there are people walking and enjoying the city – locals and visitors alike. Wide avenues for pedestrians only are an added bonus.
I can see why it was one of the first World Heritage sites. Round every corner a square and a church – or two or three, (God knows if they are ever full.)
Hotel Quito Cultural
Hotel Quito Cultural was a delight – a funky building in the middle of everything two blocks from the main square. Out our bedroom window we look over the clay rooftops to the Basilica del Voto Nacional reaching to the sky. On the balcony outside we look over to the multi-coloured houses hanging off the hills.
Our host Matteus has just taken over after having worked here for some years. He is from Brazil, and speaks excellent English.
Taxis in Quito and Santiago
When we arrived in Santiago, the taxi we had arranged with the hostel did not turn up. Then we got caught up with touts and a bit of a scam – he tried to get us to pay about 3 times the going rate. Cynthia had to be very firm, At Quito airport, the prices were all listed and transparent – much better for us tourists. I don’t mind paying a fair rate, but I hate getting ripped off!
In Quito Mateus arranged a taxi for us from the airport – no haggling etc $35USD for an hours ride into the city. He emailed two days before to tell us it would be there and it was!
Food in Quito
Cafeteria Fabiolita Independence Square – a small hole in the wall cafe selling simple, fresh and authentic local food. $5USD we had two fresh juices and one serving of Moto con Chicharron – traditional fried pork with boiled corn and a salad. It was amazing – will go back for more tomorrow. We finished off with a delicious serving of caramelised fresh fig with white cheese. In my Tripadvisor review I described this place as Fresh Family Fabulous Food
Best time to go early evening – they are really full during the day and sometimes close at 6pm. We went about 8pm, and he was still open and we got to enjoy the lights of the square in the evening. Carlos had time to chat and told us it has been here for 50 years and run by his grandmother. He works here now with his parents in the kitchen preparing the food.
Quito coffee Just around the corner from Fabliolita in the square, we enjoyed a fabulous Ecuadorean coffee and chocolate – go upstairs to the cafe and sit on balcony on two sweet chairs overlooking the road. $8.50 us + tip for two cappuccinos and piece of delicious fresh apple and walnut cake.
Hasta La Vuelta Senor – We had dinner here upstairs off the Square. It took us a while to find it, but it was worth it. I loved the story behind the name – the legend of Father Almeida and how as a novice he used to climb over the crucifix and out over the walls with his guitar to sing and dance and carouse the local women. He mended his ways and became a leading Franciscan monk. Read the Legend.
Quito Botanic Gardens and Butterfly house
A $5US taxi from the historic centre of town got us to the Botanic Gardens. The highlight for me was the butterfly house – I have never been in one before, and it was wondrous to be surrounded by such beauty.
- Population 2.6 Million 9350 feet 2,800 metres the highest capital city in the world
- Beware – the altitude will affect you a bit, though it was manageable for us without pills.
- The Historic Centre is one of the first world heritage sites in the world
- Straddling the equator – Ecuador is Spanish for equator
- They have a Department of Social and Economic Inclusion – I loved this idea!
We wished we had stayed longer in Quito, so we could have gone up into the cloud forest to see the birds, many people have told us this was a highlight. You can go up for a day trip, or go up to stay. More
We all have an image in our minds about the archetypal cruise. This usually involves cerulean waters, white sands and tropical destinations. And to be fair that is pretty accurate! But there is much more variety available when it comes to cruising holidays. It may be the case that you’re in the mood for some […]
Lan Airlines (now known as LATAM) flies direct from Auckland New Zealand, so a stay in Santiago is a must for those of us traveling that far, if only to recover from jetlag. However the city has over 6 million people – so where to stay in Santiago Chile? Here is my advice for […]
EcoCircuitos is a women focused tour company based in Panama, and is the latest listing on Women Travel the World list of Tour Companies. Women in EcoCircuitos: Women hold different key roles in EcoCircuitos Panama. The women on our team work in the areas of management, operations, sales, reservations and guiding. Whether in the office or […]
Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful places that everyone would like to visit. It is situated in Central America with tropical climate and outstanding rainforest-filled locations. If you want to experience beautiful wildlife on a vacation, then Costa Rica is for you. It has around 800 miles of coastline. It is very easy to reach from many […]
The Caribbean has some of the best tourist destinations in the world. The sandy beaches, the great resorts and the beautiful weather provide just the ideal environment for a wonderful vacation. Even though there are different islands in the Caribbean, some particularly stand out because of their unique scenery and amazing hospitality. When you take […]