Quito Colonial rings invitingly on Sundays and bustles with business on weekdays. Quaint little hole-in-the-wall shops in this historic center profile the streets. The feel intoxicates.
Festivities of colonial Quito and small attractions entice you with an exceptional vacation.
Pleasant weather wraps you comfortably. Rain downpours from October through May or anytime these days, don't linger long. The rainy season, Quito's "winter," blesses the flowers and brings on the lush.
Mild-to-cool climate comforts even the most fastidious. Typical noon Andean temperature remains at 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 C), as the nighttime low dips to a mere 43 degrees Fahrenheit (6 C).
The sun rises like clockwork at 6:30 AM and sets at 6:30 PM except for a slight variation that a little wobble in the earth axis causes as the world turns to the rhythm of the music of the colonial festivities.
Weather displays some really spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Even rainbows take a vacation in Quito lovingly hovering over the basilica twin towers when your timing is perfect.
Ecuador touring can and should include waterfalls, jungle, beach, volcanoes, plantations and -- for the more active, paragliding, bungee jumping, kayaking, water rafting, and more... of course, those can come after you leave colonial Quito for your thrills.
My very favorite tour guide, Angel Rea of Quinde Adventure del Ecuador, would be most happy to guide you to experience what you want...and what you don't know you want...in this very special old town... the biggest in Latin America.
Besides the UNESCO preserved colonial churches, the following beckon you to explore:
On any holiday or festivity, parades strut through the historic center and some shops close.
The best being a seven-day event beginning the last of November and culminating December 6... Fiestas de Quito. Parades waltz past the shops throughout the city at any moment during the fiesta. In the colonial center, dancing spills out to the streets unexpectedly
As I strolled central Quito, these teens blocking off the street so they could dance caught my attention! Can you imagine them getting away with this in the U.S.?
The nearby colegio (high school) apparently let them off early, probably for a short vacation, and the sun shone brightly, so what else could they do but celebrate? It's fiesta!
The indigenous merrily perform their ribbon dances in the downtown streets as the Fiestas de Quito and the drums roll.
Bands on trucks called chivas sporadically glide through, merrily exhibiting festive, foot-tapping music.
Independence day - El Grito de la Independencia (Shout of Independence) - Ecuador's 4th of July, marks a weekend around August 10.
This fiesta shows off a special Festival of Lights around Plaza Grande for several nights, debuted by the previous president, Rafael Correa. The whole Centro is blocked off for pedestrians only on these evenings culminating at 11PM.
Celebrations just as festive but of shorter duration keep the rhythm going.
Weather clears the pollution with its mini rains that sometimes impetuously join the fiestas.
Since Quito sits pretty close to 10,000 feet high on the Andes (2,800 metros), the lower level of oxygen can create a problem for some.
Hike slowly at first, giving yourself a couple of days for your system to adjust.
At the beginning when hiking uphill, I became a tortoise until my metamorphosis after I'd been here awhile. It's great to come here often just to keep in shape!
To venture outside the colonial center, the the trole - trolley will transport you for 25 cents regular fare - 12 cents for tercer edad (senior citizens)...Unreal.
Trolleys and buses transport easily those who can speak Spanish fluently and move quickly and other brave souls. I prefer the buses because of the room to breathe. Trolleys serve best after the crowds ride to work or school and back.
And then... because of the program, Pico y Placa, more trolleys show up crammed. Pico (peak) y Placa (license plate) allows cars on the road by the number on the plates, daytime hours - weekends excluded - to cut down on congestion.
Your pockets can become an easy target for sticky fingers. My pockets carry nothing in them. Also, I let jam-packed trolleys go on without me and wait for one with more room. I'm usually rewarded with a very short wait. Timing counts, too.
I'm always amazed that a city of about two million can produce so many caring people:
If the shopping lust bug bites you, fix it with one of the low-cost taxis ready to transport you to a mall or a mercado... the best remedy.
Internet cafes that pop up all over the place - and cable TV in hotels - keep you well connected.
The cable car -teleferico - ascends Volcano Pichincha, El Ruco (the old man - because it's inactive) lifting you higher than any other in the world all the way up to Cruz Loma... on the outskirts of Quito. Weather changes occur suddenly... be prepared.
If you're staying awhile in a rental, CNT, previously Andinatel, serves your laptop a month at a time without a long-term contract.
It takes about a week to connect... Connection with a loaned modem, and the monthly fee, cost no more than at home.
Cabinas - telephone booths - mark how much it's costing you to talk to anyone back home, if you don't use a computerized phone.
Cell phones - to serve you locally - can be purchased with cards if you're staying awhile. Movistar and Claro, (previously Porta) service most.
The Mercados out beyond the shops of Quito Colonial feature goodies and crafts of undisputed quality. I'm showered with lots of oooohs and aaaahs for the Christmas shopping gifts I give from here any time of year.
--- Quito, especially in La Mariscal and the colonial center, Manta and Guayaquil are now reporting a surge in crime. Backpackers are easy targets. Use caution ---
On this website, you will discover what I have come to know and love here.
As in any large city, daytime safety brings an edge over night. If you dress conservatively and blend in as much as you can, you should do OK.
It helps me that I look like a local, as well, but being blonde won't hurt as long as you don't look rich or vulnerable... also, wear your cheapest jewelry or none.
I have been warned to watch for credit card fraud, so I do.
Please continue to keep checking as I discover new things to share with you about the Quito I love with its colonial ambiance.
Extra street lights through Venezuela Street have been added in addition to those added on Garcia Moreno for you night owls that must keep going after the shops close.
--- Don't forget to subscribe to Quito Colonial Chatter Mitad del Mes for the latest news and great tips . It will breeze to your email box mid-month to keep you up-to-date on everything unless, sadly, you decide to opt out, but why would you want to miss out on tips like special places to see and other goodies that are not covered on the website. ---
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