Hello from 9,200 feet above sea level on the eastern slopes of the Pichincha Volcano in the Andean Highlands. Yesterday we arrived in Quito Ecuador and are absolutely loving it. Finally a city that we can walk in for days on end and overload our senses with the sights, smells and noises of city life. First of course, we need to acclimatize ourselves to the increased altitude which brings with it less oxygen and harder breathing. We were not sure how our bodies would react to the altitude but we are overjoyed to report that other than a little headache, we feel great. Quito is a large city built in 1534 on the ruins of an ancient Inca city in a valley and thus , the streets are a collection of steep ups and downs. To move around the Historic Center, we find ourselves walking up a steep hill only to then walk back down the next street and then up again to get where we want to go. All of this with less oxygen finds us a little out of breath for a bit but ok after a brief rest.
This morning we started out by walking up (surprise) to the Basilica del Voto Nacional which is right above our hotel. Unbelievable. It is perched high above the historical center and for $2 you can climb to the top of the belfry (no there were not any bats) and to the top of the other tower. What the hell were we thinking? We are already at 9200 feet, why don’t we climb some 100 year old (read “steep”) stairs and then some ladders that have since been attached to the outside of the towers? We were amazed at the views but it was a little harrowing to say the least. All of this while a little dizzy and out of breath with our hearts pounding. Oh ya, then we need to climb down. Mostly backwards as I don’t see how you could face forwards and not fall. We highly recommend it for sure. We hope the pictures do it justice.
Then it was off to a little market we found tucked away and walking the many streets finding little spots hidden away and beautiful architecture everywhere. I even managed to fit in the obligatory $3 haircut. Finally it was about noon and well, lunch and cerveza time. What better place to have a bowl of Ecuadorian Potato soup and a beer but at a convent on a plaza. Gotta love it. The afternoon included a little more walking and then it was time for a rest so we retreated to our wonderful hotel, Casa Gardenia, which we just love. Andres and his staff are absolutely wonderful and we would highly recommend a stay if you find yourself in Quito. Enjoy the photos and stay tuned. Lots more to come as we venture out into the other areas of Quito and the areas beyond the city limits. Ciao for now.