Sorry to have been out of touch but after the stressful issues getting to Mexico, I have been relaxing and just realized I failed to blog about our last week in Cuenca and our short four days in Quito.
Our last week in Cuenca was relaxing with several delicious home cooked dinners with our friends Janet & Christian as well as a couple of cheap meals out. Additionally, we had breakfast with my former coworker Joyce’s brother in law who has retired (quite happily) to Cuenca. We joined him (and two of his fellow expat buddies) at a restaurant favored by Americans for a southern breakfast…Mike even had biscuits and gravy! The high altitude issues related to difficulty in breathing at almost any exertion never went away unfortunately. So before we would consider s permanent move here (or Quito) we would want to do a long stay.
The flight to Quito was uneventful other than the aborted landing as was (other than being long) the ride into the city. Quito is HUGE. The picture at the top was taken atop the hill above the historic centro and is showing only one direction. A similar view is seen from two of the other three. That is snow on the Andes at the right corner.
Our hotel was lovely and in a pretty good location. It was between the centro and the new parts of town in a flat area. It was also a couple of blocks from Quito’s party central which we didn’t explore except for food. In the same area there was a HopOnHopOff bus stop which worked great since after the hills of Lisbon and Porto we didn’t want to tackle the hilly centro given our altitude issues.
We enjoyed the HoHo bus (especially after we saw that unlike the area near are Hotel that Quito’s historic district was Lisbonlike!
We rode the bus until we got to the Church of Compania de Jesus. OMG. Never seen so much gold leaf and gold paint!
While waiting for the next bus, we walked through the big city square which had the cathedral as well as the Presidential Palace facing it. There was a huge loud demonstration of some sort taking place. Appeared to be about wages. Not sure if the guards in horses were related but they were heading that way as we headed back to the bus.
We then started up, up, up to the highest hill in Quito where the indigenous people originally settled. Atop this hill now is an aluminum version of an angel found in the cathedral. This was erected relatively recently with much protest from many…I guess every city must have its Eiffel Tower. The view from the hilltop was amazing (that’s one at the top of this post). It let us see just how big the city was…buildings seem to fill every nook and cranny.
After our thirty minute stop on the top, we drove back through the historic part and then into the very modern section before we jumped off back where we started.
Unlike Cuenca, there weren’t as many almuerzas (cheap lunches) but there were lots of options more like what one finds in the US. While we normally like eating the food of the locals, frankly chicken rice and beans while tasty isn’t all that special and after five months we enjoyed having some fast food Peruvian chicken from a chain that we used to frequent in Houston and a bbq stuffed baked potatoe at another place. But our favorite food was at a Cuban restaurant(until recently Cubans didn’t need a visa to leave Cuba to come to Ecuador so there are lots of Cuban expats in Quito) across the street from our hotel. In addition to the best mojitos, we loved their plantain and ropa viejo appetizer. Of course Mike’s piccadillo and my garlic skirt steak with beans and rice were tasty too.
We also had a great meal of salads and tasty potato soup with avocado one evening at another restaurant. The soup was similar to one Mike’s mother makes-not thick, broth with diced potatoes. Only difference was Lois adds lots and lots of pepper ( and doesn’t have a side of avocado) and might not have quite as much butter!
Our overall impression of Quito (based on our very short stay) was favorable-seemed like there was less poverty and more middle class folks than in Cuenca. We had the same altitude issues there so before it could become a permanent locale we agree we would need to spend several months to see if our breathing ever acclimated.