Your enjoyment of Quito, Ecuador and anywhere else in Latin America is heightened enormously if you have somekind of a grasp of Spanish. quito is a good and popular place to learn Spanish, and the best environment is in a one to one lesson. If you have never spoken another language before you will be shocked at how much you pick up in these classes. 2 weeks of 4 hours a day will give you some kind of conversational grounding, you will be surprised at the depth of the conversations you will be having in bars with people about all sorts of things.
Also it is SAFER travelling in Latin America if you understand the language, it helps your general alertness level.
Expect to pay around $80 for a weeks tuition, this is an absolute bargain, and to really accelerate your learning try to avoid the temptation to socialise in your own language!
calle Gonzalez Suarez
At the top of the hill of Guápulo is a street called Gonzales Suarez. It is an upmarket string of flats beginning at the Quito Hotel. The average rent is round about $1000 a month, but the average New Yorker and Washingtonian can tell you that's a steal for the kind of view you get. Down here, $1000 is as steep as the hills leading up to the flats. If you enlarge the photo, you might note the distinct contrast in income from the flats on top of the hill to the hovels on the side of the hill.
Güitig is a true local favourite. About an hour from here in the town of Machachi are springs of naturally carbonated water. Most carbonated waters are artificially carbonated. For years, they sold it just plain, but many folks are like me and think plain carbonated water tastes like the way your foot feels when it goes to sleep. So they added natural flavourings to make it more palatable.
On Tumbaco valley, like 20 minutes east from Quito, there is this special place where recovery therapy for disabled children and adults is being carried on, using horses as the main healing tool.
It's run by Fundacion AM-EN, a not for profit organization managed by a very kind german lady and though it's been focused on helping local people, now they are starting, with good results, hippotherapy-tourism, my best wishes for them!
They also have a place where foreign volunteers can stay free of charge, while help on therapies with children and learn how to ride if wished.
A very good spot to visit if you are involved with high-purpose challenges!
I certainly recommend this interesting shop located under the San Francisco church.
Once you enter, you feel like you are in some sort of dungeonsor catacombs. The things on display are artworks including ceramics, metallic pieces, masks, etc... inspired by pre-Columbian style, but many done with a modern twist. Indeed, the artworks are fantastic.
I understand this is run by a nonprofit organization that supports indigenous and mestizo artisan groups. While the prices are not souvenir-cheap, the pieces are certainly of higher quality and more unique. Do make some purchases support the local people.
Even if you do not or are unable to buy anything, you should still drop by for a meander around the ancient catacombs.