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Parque La Carolina
In the new part of Quito, north of Mariscal, is the huge Parque La Carolina, almost 2km long. Here you can walk along one of the many footpaths or cycle along the bicycle lanes. For someone who wants to do sports there are places for basketball, football, volleyball, tennis and skateboarding. There is also a playground for children and a pond with boats to rent. Especially during weekends the park gets busy (photo 1 is from a weekday and photo 5 from a Sunday).
Inside the park you will find the Botanical Garden, the Natural History Museum and the Vivarium (a place where you can see lots of reptiles and amphibians).
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Great view from the towers
Because La Basilica del Voto Nacional stands on a hill and has towers that are 115m tall the view in all directions over Quito are stunning from the top. Of course I wanted to go up and have a look.
First I took the stairs up to a balcony over the nave of the church (there is an elevator too). Here you can have a closer look at the beautiful stained glass windows. At a platform to the south there are great views over Centro Historico and El Panecillo. There is also a telescope here. I continued up and took the wooden boardwalk over the main roof. In the end of the boardwalk there are steep steps to climb up to the north tower. After visiting the north tower I walked back to go up in one of the higher towers. First I had a look around in the souvenir shop and stopped at the café to drink a cappuccino. There is a spiral staircase and then a set of three very steep metal ladders that will take you past the clock and up to the very top of one of the towers. This last part is absolutely not for people who suffer from vertigo.
To climb the church towers there is an admission of $2 (August 20011). Also in August 2012 the admission was $2.Related to:
- Religious Travel
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La Basílica del Voto Nacional
Construction of La Basílica del Voto Nacional begun in 1892 and it continued to be built during several decades. Even now it is considered to be unfinished. This is because a local legend says that the world will come to an end when the church is completed. However it was blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1985, and in 1988 it was inaugurated.
The basilica is built in a Neo-Gothic style and it has the tallest church towers in Ecuador, 115 metres. Around the church there are Ecuadorian styled gargoyles, they are of tortoises, iguanas, monkeys, armadillos and other animals found in Ecuador. The central nave looks rather grey with tall concrete pillars, but if you look up you will see rows of colourful stained glass windows.
The basilica is open between 9 - 17.
If you are not afraid of heights you should definitely go up in the church towers to get great views over Quito. There is an admission of $2 to do this (August 2011). Also in August 2012 the price was $2.Related to:
- Religious Travel
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A nice thing to do while in Quito is to take the TelefériQo (cable car) up on the slopes of Pichincha. The telefériqo goes up to Cruz Loma at an altitude of 4050m. It is a ride that takes around 10 minutes. If it is a clear day the views are spectacular, but even if it wasn’t clear when I visited the views over Quito and the surrounding landscape were great.
At the top of the telefériqo there are a few restaurants, cafés and stores. I followed a trail and came to a place where it was a hut selling drinks and soup, where it was possible to rent a horse and where the trail up on Rucu Pichincha starts. Rucu Pichincha is 4680m high and the hike takes around 3 hours. In every guidebooks there are warnings though about that hike as there has been assaults along the path. It should be done only at weekends when there is better security. I had been sick the whole night and was still not feeling well, so even if it was Sunday the hike up on Rucu Pichincha was not for me that day (but maybe another time). On the path back to the telefériqo you will pass a small church.
Remember to bring warm cloths as you will go up on a higher altitude with the telefériqo, and it will be colder and more windy than down in Quito.
As a foreigner you should stand in the express line when buying a ticket. The express tickets are more expensive than the regular ones, but as a foreigner you always pay the express price, which was $8.50 (June 2011).
From a few places in Quito there are buses going to El Telefériqo, but as I was not feeling well that day I took a taxi. From Centro Histórico the taxi was $3.25 and going back I paid $2.05.
Uppdate Agust 2012: The price is still $8.50 for an express ticket and for foreigners.
This year I paid $2.10 for a taxi from Plaza Grande to El Teleferiqo, and $2.64 going back.
I have been studying Spanish in Quito on a program that combines Spanish classes with visiting places of interest around the city in the afternoons with a teacher. It is run by Yanapuma Spanish School. There are any number of Spanish schools in Quito, but this is definitely a good one! Quito is a great city to explore and being with a teacher does make it a bit safer as you definitely have to watch out for petty thieves!Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
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Iglesia de San Blas
Iglesia de San Blas was constructed in 1568 and it is one of the oldest churches in Quito. It is a small church with one bell tower, situated at the pretty Plaza San Blas. There are stairs leading up to the church entrance, which is at an higher elevation than the plaza.
When I visited the church was not open so unfortunately I didn’t see the interior. Iglesia de San Blas is open between 8 - 12 on Mondays to Fridays.Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
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Parque El Ejido
Parque El Ejido is a large park in central Quito, situated just south of La Mariscal. Here you can sit and rest on one of the many benches under the tall trees and watch people. There is a big play ground for children in the park and places for football and volleyball.
On weekends there is an Art Fair in the north part of the park when artisans set up their stalls. There are a few stalls selling souvenirs during the week too.
Quito Antiguo Spanish School
For once I thought it would be good to start my trip with a few Spanish lessons. As I was staying in Centro Histórico I also wanted to take lessons there. There are many Spanish schools in Quito, but I only found one in Centro Histórico, Quito Antiguo Spanish School. I sent them an email and I booked 10 one on one lessons for $6 each (June 2011). If you take more lessons it will be cheaper.
When I arrived they were going to charge me $5 per lessons but I told them we had agreed on $6 so I paid that. Maybe I should have paid only $5 because the second and third day I didn’t get one to one lessons, but we were two students. It was fine anyway. I divided the 10 hours between three mornings and that was good because then I could go sight-seeing in the afternoon. I got a book with exercises and I made a lot of notes during the lessons, but unfortunately I never studied outside the lessons. Well, anyway it was good to refresh my Spanish with a few lessons.
ALWAYS CARRY APPROPRIATE TRAVEL INSURANCE
When travelling to different destinations we all have different things that we want to do and see there. This waht make travelling such a great activity..When I was looking at my trip to South America there were many things that I put on my list ...One of the first was to put the appropriate travel insurance for my needs in place..
For me of course was the neccsary medical cover for ALL hospitals and doctors expenses etc. Lost luggage and travel equipment ie: cameeras lenses etc..but most important thing I beleive is a clause in the medical plan for repatriation home in case the unexpected or worse scenarrio happens. I know that I am not bullet proof... and in my many travels have witnessed many bad accidents ..makes you think!!!
Many places especially small towns and villages do not have the neccesary medical attention that you may need ..sometimes this can be life threatening..The costs in most facilities are horrendous for foreigners and for the uninsured can destroy your holiday. Being able to have that ability to get home for the medical attention that I need is imperative. I know when I am travelling that I can be rest assured that I have done the best in case the worst happens.
WE all have different likes when travelling and as I don't jump off bridges or out of aeroplanes I , by keeping a low insurance risk keep my costs down as well..
AS THEY SAY DONT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT..Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
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Parque La Alameda
Parque La Alameda is Quito’s oldest park as it was established as early as 1596. Some of the large trees in the park date from 1887 when there were plans for a Botanical Garden here. The park is around six hectares big and it is situated between Centro Histórico and the new town.
In the north eastern corner of Parque La Alameda there is a lake where boats can be rented. The park is popular with families which come here for picnic, especially during weekends. Then there are also many vendors of snacks and ice cream walking around the park.
In the south western corner there is a monument dedicated to Simon Bolívar. Other statues in the park show the members of the French Science Academy who were in Ecuador between 1736-44 doing measurements. Another monument is dedicated to Ecuador’s former president, Eloy Alfaro.
In the middle of the park is Quito’s Astronomical Observatory.
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Guápulo is a small historic neighbourhood over the hill from Mariscal. It has the feeling of being a village with narrow cobblestone streets and houses with terracotta tiled roofs. There are several cafés and restaurants in Guápulo, but they all seemed to be closed when I visited. Also the church and museum was closed, even though my guidebook had said it should be open (but it is often wrong). I would have liked to visit the church Sanctuary of El Guápulo as it is considered to be one of the most beautiful churches of Quito.
To go to Guápulo I walked up the hill from Mariscal towards Hotel Quito. Behind the hotel there is a lookout with great views over Guápulo, the valley and surrounding green hills. At the lookout there is a statue of Francisco de Orellana. From the lookout I walked the winding street and stairs down to Guápulo. From Guápulo I took a bus and it stopped in La Floresta, I think.
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Quito Botanic Garden is situated in north Quito, in the middle of Parque La Carolina. Here you can find over 300 plant species from all over Ecuador for example the Amazonas, the páramo and the cloud forest. There is also a rose garden and an Orquideario. In the Orquideario there are almost 1000 orchid species. Unfortunately only part of it was open when I visited.
Even if the traffic can be heard in the distance the Botanic Garden is a quiet and relaxing spot in the middle of a big city.
For foreigners admission was $3.50 (June 2011).
The Botanic Garden is open between 9 - 17.
This is at the site of Guayasamin's former home and workshop. The site includes different rooms showcasing his collection of pre-Colombian art/sculptures/items, his collection of religious art (even though he was not religious himself), some of his own art as well as a showcase of a featured artist (at the time I was there, the artist featured was kinda interesting and very focused on women's anatomy, mostly genitalia, including the 'golden tampon' - this is part of my reasoning why I prefer the Capilla dell Hombre up the road). The on-site workers are often happy to give you a free tour of the room. Entrance is a few dollars.
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This is a park in the La Tola/El Dorado neighbourhood and looks over much of the city of Quito. It is a nice, tranquil place to hang out on a weekend afternoon and you can get lunch there. Sometimes there are various festivals (we went for the Orchid festival but didn't go in since there was a huge line up but did check out the market area where I bought my lovely Panama Hat!)
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Bella Vista Cloud Forest
About 2 - 3 hours from Quito, this place is a world away. If you like peace and quiet and nature (especially birds) this is a magical place. The prices include all meals (there is nowhere else to go anyway) and you stay in a charming bamboo house. Lots of hummingbirds and forest trails. The guides are good, but some trails are very steep and we really felt the high altitude. Around $70 per person inclusive of all meals and they can arrange transfer from quito. Which is good because the last 14 km is up a steep rough road which some of the clapped out Quito taxis might have a problem with.Related to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Traveled thur Quito on a Eco Tourism trip. The Marriott was unforgetable. Beautiful hotel in every...more
I knew this hotel as the Sheraton Quito, but I suppose that it was, at least at one time, a Four...more
Good service and very friendly. They have loads of local Ecuadorian roses lining the lobby. Located...more
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