Quito … old town, new town

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My lungs kicked in on day two in Quito! … deciding 9,500 feet above sea level was just fine (Calgary sits at slightly over 3,000) … I strapped on my trusty tevas and huffed and puffed along the cobbly streets of old town Quito, exhilarated to be exploring after a lay low day … San Francisco has nothing on this hillside city perched high in the Andes Mountains! Can’t say this is my favourite city in the world exactly but it is a great start off point for exploring parts of the very diverse geography of Ecuador … I am currently in cruise mode as I take in the lay of the land, adjusting for altitude … rushing has never been my forte at any rate … After a good solid hour of scaling cobbly uphills and downhills, I found a comfy cafe perch in the old town square, to people watch, inhaling the atmosphere of the country, enjoying a coffee, served with chocolates that were delicious!! Apparently Ecuador is known for the exceptional quality of their coffees and chocolates … will be testing that theory as I explore. I lingered even longer, later in the afternoon, at Casa Gangotena in the main old town square, enjoying the ambiance, sipping a smooth Malbec and savouring the tastiest barley mushroom risotto ever! There are magnificent cathedrals (thanks to the early Jesuit missionaries) seemingly around every corner …. I walk into some of them and sit awhile ….. something I have always enjoyed doing, whatever country I find myself in …. I enjoy the peace within …. the main Quito Basilica is an architectural marvel!! …. churches for some reason, seem to be, more often than not, on hillsides, or accessible only by walking a million stairs! Maybe the religious powers of their time, when building these churches wanted their congregation out of breath and happy to rest awhile …. 🙂 It is apparent that the early Jesuits did their job well…. Catholicism is a powerful force in South America in general and certainly seems to be the case in Ecuador! …..

In 1978 Quito was declared the First UNESCO World Heritage Site, considered the largest and best preserved historic Centre in the Americas! The lovely Casa Gangotena, is a newly restored historic mansion overlooking Plaza San Francisco and has been included in the city’s cultural heritage inventory. In recent history, the wealthy Ecuador Gangotena family turned their mansion into a 31 room “Inn” ….. it was almost destroyed by fire in the early 1900’s and rebuilt and restored to it’s former glory by a team from Italy … I decided, after my amazing lunch, to book my last two nights in Quito in July, at this fabulous place! It is the large pinkish building in the square.

Did I mention I have not seen a tourist in two days?? The pictures of the town squares are virtually empty of people …. just handfuls of local folk, peddling their wares, lots of pigeons and me ….. except when school lets out and kids flood the streets …… decked out in their various school uniforms.

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