There are a number of things I’ve found interesting about Quito, and Ecuador in general:
- The city of Quito is long and narrow (25 miles long by 3 miles wide); it’s shaped like a banana, which is only fitting since its largest agricultural export is bananas
- At an elevation of 9,350 feet, Quito is the highest capital city in the world (now that La Paz is no longer the capital of Bolivia)
- Quito sits almost directly on the equator, so there are 12 hours of daylight all year long; the word “ecuador” is Spanish for equator
- In 2013, Quito’s new international airport opened. It’s a 45 minute-plus taxi ride from the airport to central Quito. Like Denver international airport, Quito’s airport seems to be in the middle of nowhere.
- In the Ecuadorian highlands (including Quito and Cuenca), there are just two seasons – rainy and dry, and the weather is unpredictable all year long. Based on weather forecasts, we expected a lot of rain during our two week stay. Although clouds often rolled in during the afternoon, it only rained on two days of our trip.
- Bus travel in Ecuador cheap, it only costs a quarter to ride city buses and for longer trips, bus far is about $1 per hour travel.
- Roses are a big export. 60% are exported to the U.S. In Ecuador, $2 will buy you 24 roses!
- In the year 2000, the U.S. Dollar replaced Ecuadorian Sucres as the official currency. This makes dealing with money easy if you are traveling from the U.S. However, because the U.S. Dollar is strong now, it’s a good time to travel to countries where the U.S. Dollar isn’t used, so you can benefit from a favorable exchange rate. Regardless, Ecuador is still an inexpensive place to travel.
Although we stayed in Quito for three nights, we didn’t spend much time in the city. We spent one morning exploring Quito, and the other days, we were only there in the evening hours, which we spent going out for for dinner. Although the people were kind and the colonial architecture impressive, overall, Quito just wasn’t our cup of tea. Which is OK…we really aren’t “big city” people anyway. Besides, we probably had a bad first impression as we arrived into the city on a Sunday night, and there seemed to be NO WHERE to sit down and eat dinner. Here’s what ended up in front of me when we finally found a place that was open…
Our second night in Quito, we headed to La Ronda. It’s a restored cobblestone street lined with restaurants and shops. We were a little disappointed that the menus for the different restaurants were all so similar. Because of that, we chose where to eat based upon ambiance. We ended up in a cozy restaurant that had a talented musician playing acoustic guitar. It was nice.
We stayed at a hotel near Plaza Santa Domingo (in the historic district, close to La Ronda). The place lit up beautifully at night.
One of our favorite spots in Quito was sitting on the patio of Dulceria Colonial, a long-standing cafe on the Plaza Grande.
There are SO MANY ornate churches in Quito. Here are the ones we visited (all of which are within a couple blocks of each other).
The city of Quito is quite hilly. To me, it seemed hillier than San Francisco.
Overall, Central Quito is quite scenic. There are views and architecture to admire on seemingly every block in the city’s center. I’m thankful for the opportunity we had to experience it for ourselves.