Quito… I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Ecuador’s capital city. I just knew that it’s the highest administrative capital in the world.
I’ll break this post into Quito’s different neighborhoods to make things less confusing… For me at least.
My visit to Quito was part business, part fun. The business part led me to Cumbayá, the posh section of Quito. If I had money and a job that allowed me to stay in Quito, this is where I’ll go.
This place seems like a world away from what I would call the real Quito. But because of urban sprawl, people have moved to the east for more land and nicer homes.
I discovered this eastside neighborhood because I signed up for a free walking tour provided by Quito Street Tours.
Situated on one of Quito’s many hillsides, this place is considered the artist hangout because only artists were willing to deal with the winding roads of this neighborhood.
My guide, Juan, took me to a local bar where we sat and enjoyed the sunset view of Pichincha Volcano.
Then we went to Quito’s oldest church, the Guápulo Church, with a neoclassical façade.
This bohemian area is the cool place to hang out. With lots of posh eateries, this has become one of the most expensive parts of Quito.
But I went to La Floresta to go to Parque Las Vicentinas to find one specific food stall, Dona Fabiolita. They are famous for tripa mishqui, a dish of guts marinaded for 2 days and is flame grilled to perfection. Each bowl was $2.50, and it was yummy!
There are also other typical Ecuadorian street food like empanada de viento (cheese empanada) and seco de pollo (dried chicken), but this park is only one of a few places around Quito you can find grilled guts.
Quinteros and tourists alike come here to drink and party. With a plethora of discotecas, cafés and international eateries to pick from, I tend to forget I was still in Ecuador. (I also forgot to take any pictures here.)
Historic Old Town
I did the Free Walking Tour of Old Town Quito with my guide, Soli. The tour started off in front of Teatro Bolivar to Mercado Central. Soli told us a lot of the history of the city and some political issues facing the country. I highly recommend the tour. And it’s free!
I love people watching at Plaza Grande because the young, old, a plethora of shoeshiners and tourists all gather there.
What made Old Town enjoyable is that there’s a lot of pedestrian-onlt zones. I went back to Old Town twice, just because I could.
La Ronda is a small street with lots of quaint stores and an artisan chocolate shop that gives out free samples! If anything, treat yourself to a passion fruit truffle. (Drool…)
El Panecillo rises above Old Town at 3,000m up. “El Panecillo” roughly translates out to a small loaf of bread. On top of the bread hill is the Virgen de el Panecillo.
All locals say to avoid walking up to El Panecillo because of the narrow, winding cobblestone roads. Taxis around Old Town ask for $5 to take you up and $10 to wait for you and bring you back down. I refused, and instead found an Uber that took me up for $1.65. There is also a bus that brings you up, but I don’t know the number and have no idea where to catch the bus.
According to the pamphlet I got, “the monument represents the Virgin Mary just as she is described in the biblical book of the Apocalypse: a woman with wings, a chain that captures the snake that lays underneath her feet which represents the beast.”
Mitrid del Mundo
Mitrid del Mundo translates out to “middle of the world”. Basically, the equator runs through this area. To get here, I took a bus to Terminal La Ofelia, then after asking many people, I found a bus (one of many on different routes) labeled “Mitrid del Mundo” to go to the city of Mitrid del Mundo. The bus ride to the monument was 40c and dropped me off right in front of the entrance.
It costs $5.00 to enter the monument. Basically, it was just a big monument with lots of gift shops. And it’s not even the real equator line! There is also a chocolate making exhibit and a church. Inside the monument, there are exhibits of indigenous people found in Ecuador.
A 5-minute walk from the Mitrid del Mundo is Museo Intinan, the real location of the equator. The cost of this museum is $4 and includes a tour guide (English/Spanish available). I really enjoyed this place because of all the science experiences we got to do: balance an egg on a nail, watch the direction of water draining, do a strength test on the equator line. The science nerd in me really like these demonstrations!