I spent about 10 days wandering around Quito. I was dropped off at a junction outside of the city by Eva (a Slovenian girl who is slowly traveling South America with her van and had been in Colombia and Ecuador a year already) and I had to make my way into Quito’s historic center, somehow! The journey was a mad combination of all of the three types of local buses from first stop to last stop and asking several people for directions. The last leg of my journey included squashing up on the packed Trolle Bus sitting on the ledge between two seats, closed in by people above and around me. It was rush hour, a very bad one to say the least.
Upon arriving to Quito’s historic center I sat down in an open plaza and connected to free wifi. It dawned on me that I hadn’t reserved any accommodation and it was beginning to get dark. Finally after a quick search for “hotels near me” I checked into Esocie Hotel in the historic center. The hotel is located next to the main landmark; Teatro Sucre and my mood sufficiently lifted when the receptionist upgraded me to a studio apartment / kitchenette. Sadly this was only temporary as the one thing I had been craving all day, a hot shower – was not available.
Things To Do In Quito
If you are coming from Colombia I recommend you to reset your expectations of South American cities. Colombia is vibrant, full of life, noise and energy – and Ecuador is quite the contrary. It is not as progressive as Colombia or as innovative and is more about the nature trails and the day trips out of city.
Quito Historic Center
The architectual disinction between the Historic Center and the rest of Quito is as different as salt and pepper. There is something that reminded me of Lisbon, which by the way is my favourite capital in Europe. The mountainous cathedrals, cobbled streets, rustic Southern European buildings… At each corner of the nostalgic setting there are plaza’s where crowds of people sit around eating ice cream or oranges. The streets are packed with people wandering around. Every doorway is open to the public in the form of a make-shift cafe or bakery. There are hords of street sellers offering fidget spinners, sunglasses, avocados, oranges and lottery tickets. It all is quite picturesque and appealing but to really enjoy it, I recommend going out early in the morning because in an odd way; the people ruin the experience of the Historic Center.
As far as basic crafts markets go Mercado Artesenal is as unimpressive as the weather in Quito (which sucks). There are stalls selling jewellery, chocolate, alpacha wool (better to wait until you get to to Peru), clothes & crafts and that i about it. The layout is slightly too tight for my liking and the stalls all seem to look the same. There is nothing particularly unique about this market, rather then the fact that it is the only one of it’s kind in Quito. If it is market that you are seeking then I highly recommend going up to Otavalo Market on a Saturday if you are seeking artesenal crafts.
From Mercado Artesenal I walked to La Floresta. Along the walk I got a broader perspective of the architectural distinction in Quito. The walk took me through a very deserted part of Quito which looked as though it had once been industrial but was long abandoned.
La Floresta itself is suppose to be the hip and trendy neighbourhood of Quito… Once you hit the main strip there are restaurants back to back leading up to the top of the street. It didn’t seem trendy at all to me, it is definitely more upscale then any other neighbourhoods I have visited in Quito but not trendy or hip by my standards though there is a wall of great graffiti in La Floresta but this doesn’t make it trendy or hip – although it was fantastic artwork.
In La Mariscal I lunched at a fabulous healthy Vegan / Veggie Restaurant called Dulce Alhabaca and I left around 3pm. I took a stroll around the neighbourhood which is full of bars and clubs and I noticed that several of the clubs were packed, so full that there were people waiting outside in hopes of getting in – at 3pm.
There were not many tourists out in La Foch – although it is a full of hostels. The bars and clubs looked a bit like trashy dive bars (sticky floors, distorted music) and mainly I saw drunken locals, aged 18-25. It was strange to see so many people out partying to early, but eager to see more I entered a Rock Bar (full of people) and sat on the terrace with a street view of the main strip of La Mariscal. The people sitting behind me offered me to smoke weed with them which I declined.
Probably the best free chill spot in Quito. There was always a free concert in the park while I was in Quito at Itchimbia Park. This park is huge and offers a complete view of Quito.
Day Trips Around Quito
View from my window on a clear morning of Cotopaxi Volcano. Cotopaxi is 50km from Quito and can be seen in a day trip
Mitad del Mundo
Transport In Quito
Getting around in Quito is pretty simple and straightforward. This is something I really like about the city. Public transport is good and cheap. It costs $0.25 for a one-way journey and the routes are well mapped out so you will only need one bus to get to your destination. I didn’t take a taxi in Quito because there is no point as the bus routes are so frequent and inexpensive.
Pro Tip: Avoid rush hour. It get’s bad.
People in Quito (Mood)
Quitanian are shy and can appear timid at most times. I was lucky enough to make friends with the exceptions. Infact during my trip I dated a Quitanian and we saw eachother everyday of the week, it was lovely. My Quitanian lovers friends were a lively expressive bunch of straights, gays, lesbians and queers but I highly think that this is an exception as Ecuador is still extremely conservative and closed minded to new ideas.
The cool thing about this capital city is that it is a mixture of indigenous and non-indigenous Ecuadorians walking around. The indigenous wear their local costumes without shame and the blend is quite strange at first, but it adds character to the city.
Now to the bad… Perhaps I came during a national mourning because after spending days aimlessly strolling around Quito I have come to the conclusion that I have seen no people more tragic looking then the people in Quito, as if all the expression and emotions have been robbed of them. It seems like everyone is walking around with their head low down and riddled with despair. It is hard to accept it as real, that people walk around looking so sad, timid and shy. They must go into shock when they visit Colombia.