Had a good day today. Finally felt the effects of the high altitude, but more on that later. We did some required tourist things today and a lot of walking.
First a couple words about our accommodation. The address we are staying at is Avenida Real Audiencia N74-107 in Quito. Karen found it on VRBO and we are very pleased with it. One thing we are learning here is not to judge a place by its curb appeal. I don’t know all the reasons but they do tend to fortify their homes here.
The inside is very nice. Clean, with a ton of room. You could comfortably sleep 6 adults here. The kitchen is small but functional. And the dining area is large with a great view of the valley.
We have been dealing with Diana and she has been helpful and prompt in maintaining contact before we got here and after we arrived.
It is easy to feel a bit overwhelmed when you finally realize it is up to you to head out the door and explore this new foreign city. Our first adventure was in just getting a cab. Which turned out to be very easy. I just lifted my hand by a busy road and a cab stopped within 5 seconds. A very friendly young man was driving, well groomed and eager to help. The only challenge was language. Unlike traveling in Europe where most people in the service industry speak at least a little bit of English, not so here. It was not a bad thing, just a challenge. The big suggestion I have for anyone who wants to come to this neck of the woods is, take Spanish lessons. The books and CD’s are a good start, but let me tell you, once the locals start talking we were quickly bowled over and left looking like true gringos. Take Spanish lessons! Anyway through good problem solving he got our destination and off we went. Boy do I wish I had my Go Pro camera set for this trip. The taxi drivers here are AWESOME! He delivered us to Teleferiqo. An awesome gondola that takes you from the 9400ish foot elevation of Quito to around 13,300 feet. As we were going up I could actually start to feel the shortness of breath. If you are going to pay the $8.50 to go up top make sure you go first thing in the morning when visibility seems to be at its best. It was gorgeous up top.
Went for a short walk further up the mountain and it truly let’s you know you are out of your element. We were stopping to catch our breath every 100 meters or so. We saw some llamas and horses that were available for the full tourist experience (we skipped that).
As we exited the base station a cab was just dropping off a couple so off we went to the Basilica. The taxi driver was great, he helped us with our brutal pronunciation and took us on a short side trip up the steepest street I have ever seen for normal vehicle traffic. We took a look at the exterior of the Basilica, but will hopefully be returning Monday to do the interior.
We then started our trek through Quito. I have no idea how long we walked (didn’t bother bringing a watch) but we covered a lot of ground just heading kind of south bound. Quito is a big City with a lot of people. Even being a Saturday there we’re thousands of people out in the parks, squares, and just up and down the streets. It was a bit overwhelmimg at times. We didn’t have any problems being the obvious tourists. And let me assure you most of the time we were the only Caucasians in sight. Only one group of young males felt the need to whistle at my lovely wife. But it was nothing like walking around a place like Rome. The only persistent attention we got was from the very young boys who do shoe shining. I never considered that my black boots would attract so much attention.
We finally stopped for a bite to eat at a place called Expressgrill on Av. 18 de September. It was altogether unremarkable. I would not recommend it. The staff were friendly but the food was just ok. We had chicken, ribs, and fries, they weren’t beef ribs. We suspect llama, they were the best part of the meal. We then jumped in another taxi and headed back to our house, our feet were killing us and we had managed to get a bit of a sunburn as well. The taxi got a bit lost returning us but was pleasant the whole time and delivered us with a smile. We went quite a way during our taxi rides and they were very reasonable. They cost us $7, 5, and 6 dollars. The advice we were given was to make sure you can see the taxi meter to see what the real cost was. The first two had the meters out in plain view but the third did not have it visible. However it was the same distance as our first trip and he only asked for $6 for it so I had no problem with that.
The last thing I will share is the cost of buying some groceries. While we were in the tourist areas we paid what you should expect to pay in a tourist area. However when we stopped in at the neighborhood grocery store it cost $1.43 for 2.5 liters of Coke, $1.07 for 3 liters of water, and $4.29 for 6 bottles of beer. Fairly reasonable I thought.
A wonderful way to round out the day.