November 8, 2014: A Bus Tour Around Quito, Ecuador
November 6, 2014: Traveling from Dallas to Quito, Ecuador
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November 7, 2014
Fred and I Walk Around
Quito, Ecuador


 

Today, Fred and I are going to do some walking around Quito; Greg and Yoost won't arrive until about 9PM tonight, so we are on our own. We will also be moving from the Holiday Inn Express to the J.W. Marriott a block down the street; it is the hotel that the cruise has booked for us. On this page, we'll also take a look at our accommodations at the Holiday Inn.

 

The Holiday Inn Express Quito

Since we arrived a day early, we were on our own for a hotel, so I used some of my Holiday Inn points to get us a room at the Holiday Inn Express on Avenida Francisco de Orellana, which turned out to be just a block from the J. W. Marriott hotel- the headquarters hotel for the Celebrity Galapagos cruise.


The check-in staff at the Holiday Inn was all on top of things. They seemed to know who I was before I even came in the door; everything was ready, with room keys and breakfast vouchers. We went right up to the room, which was not humongous but certainly very spacious with everything that we needed. Before we went out for a walk, I got a picture of Fred sitting in the corner chair, looking at some Quito information in one of our guidebooks. You can see him here.

The next morning, we went down to the lobby and found the restaurant/dining room off the lobby. We had a nice breakfast; there was quite a lot to choose from before we went back upstairs to take some pictures of the room and the views from the windows.

I had arranged for a late checkout, since we couldn't check in at the Marriott until mid-afternoon.

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I thought that I would take a short movie looking around our room, and I did that. You can watch it with the player at right.

We had great views from our windows, which faced south towards the main part of Quito. You can click on the thumbnail images below to see a couple of those views:

Quito is Ecuador's capital city, and sits at an elevation of 9,350 feet; it is the highest official capital city in the world.[1] It is located on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains. From our window, Fred, with his zoom lens, could get an excellent view of Pichincha, which was, at the moment, snow-covered. With 2.5 million people, Quito is the country's second most populous city in Ecuador, after Guayaquil. In 2008, the city was designated as the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations.

The city of Quito has one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved historic centers in the Americas and was, along with Kraków, Poland, was the first World Cultural Heritage Site declared by UNESCO in 1978. The central square of Quito is located about 16 miles south of the equator; the city itself extends to a point a half mile south of the equator. There is a monument and park at the equator itself, and that is to be one of the stops on tomorrow's bus tour.

The views were so good from our room that I took a series of three pictures, stitching them together into one panoramic view:

 

Our Walk Around Quito

Right after breakfast, we headed out to walk around the city for a while; we had to return to the hotel about one-thirty so we could check out and move over to the J.W. Marriott. On our walk, we covered about six miles, which took us to the Basilica of the National Vow and back, in roughly a large triangle. In the scrollable window below, I have put an aerial view of the portion of the city of Quito that we covered in our walk. Our route is marked in yellow, and some of the stops we made, and pictures we took, are noted on the view. You can follow along with us on our walk, starting at the Holiday Inn, which is in the upper right corner of the view.

 

Avenue Francisco de Orellana to the Pan American Highway (1)

The first section of our walk began at the Holiday Inn; we turned left and walked westward along Avenue Francisco de Orellana.


Avenue Orellana Looking Northwest

Just a block up the street, on our right and across Avenue Orellana was J.W. Marriott Hotel. I was surprised to see it so close; my investigation when I booked the Holiday Inn said it was a half a mile away. I had thought we would have to get a taxi later to transfer our stuff, but as it turned out it was just a two-minute walk.

We continued up the street, passing a new office tower and, apparently, an armored car making a delivery to a bank. One thing we did notice in Quito and elsewhere in Ecuador and Peru was the profusion of private security at all kinds of places- hotels, banks, some office buildings, and so on. It wasn't an oppressive display; not like you might envision in a country that had just gone through a coup or something, but rather a certain overabundance of caution. It is one thing to see guards inside and outside banks; it is quite another to see the same thing at a car dealership.

As we crossed Avenue 9th of October (named for the independence movement that began on that date when Guayaquil and Quito declared their independence from Spain and joined forces with Simon Bolivar and Joseph San Martin), I stopped in the middle of the intersection to get a picture of the avenue looking southwest towards the center of Quito.


Colegio Militar Eloy Alfaro

A bit further up the street we passed the military college of Ecuador. It is named for José Eloy Alfaro Delgado (1842–1912), who served as President of Ecuador for 11 years. He was one of the strongest opponents of pro-Catholic conservatism, and played a central role in the Liberal Revolution of 1895. His major legacies are considered to be national unity; the integrity of Ecuador's borders; the increased secularization of the country; and the modernization of Ecuadorian society through the introduction of new ideas, education, and systems of public transport and communication.

We continued up Avenue Orellana until it ended at the Pan American Highway- yes, the same one you've heard about- which is, as it goes through Quito, one of the city's main streets. Along the way, both of us snapped photos of typical street scenes and other interesting things. You can click on the thumbnail images below to see a selection of our pictures from Avenue Orellana:

 

The Pan American Highway to Avenida Patria (2)

When we got to the end of Orellana, the wide avenue ends in another main street- the Pan American Highway. Actually, Orellana goes over the PanAm Highway in a kind of little interchange, rather than an intersection, as you can see here in this picture taken looking back from a little ways southwest on the PanAm Highway.


Rapid Transit in Quito

On PanAm, there was an interesting rapid transit system. The two center lanes of the six-lane street were bus lanes, and every quarter mile or so there were long kiosks like the ones in the picture at left. When the bus (two cars with that accordion thingy in the middle as seen here) stops by one of the kiosks, the doors on the inner side open to allow ingress and egress. This eliminates the crowds on the sidewalks queuing up for the bus and the buses having to work their way through normal traffic. It seemed like a good, cheap solution to congestion.

As we walked along the Pan Am Highway, there were opportunities for candid pictures of interesting sights along the way (including the biggest KFC restaurant I've ever seen; we came to find out that fried chicken is very popular in Ecuador and that there are four or five chains that specialize in that delicacy. These are just typical or odd street scenes, and you can click on the thumbnail images below to have a look at them:


One interesting thing was the way they did their bike lanes. The two lanes, instead of being on opposite sides of the street, were together on the same side, and they were separated from the auto lanes by raised metal guards; someone would have to be totally asleep at the wheel to wander into the bike lane, and I imagine they would damage tires and wheels as well. Click on the thumbnail images below for some more street scenes along the PanAm Highway:

There were a couple of interesting places along the avenue that we stopped at. One was a small park in front of what appeared to be some sort of cultural building.


Palacio de La Circasiana

The Palace of the Circassian is a former mansion of an Ecuadorian aristocratic family, now publicly owned. For decades it was the residence of the Jijón-Caamano-Flores family- notoriously conservative- and stood out as one of the most opulent palaces in the city, both for its monumental features and for its works of art. It is now a library and archaeological museum.

It was an important political and cultural center of prominent figures on the right and the Ecuadorian Catholic Church, and when it was built, it was in an important residential area for the wealthy families of Quito, who had left the Historic Center. Most of these mansions have been torn down; the Circassian and neighboring Najas Palace, home of the Foreign Ministry, are the best surviving examples of monumental architecture of the Quito aristocracy of the early twentieth century. Click on the thumbnail images below to see some other views of the palace:


Today, the Palace, set in an area of cedars, palms and Norfolk Island pines, is the national headquarters of the Institute of Cultural Heritage of Ecuador and the Historical Archives of the City of Quito.


Horse Sculptures at the Palacio de La Circasiana

Outside, between the mansion and the avenue, is a nice little park with a major fountain (not on today), a series of sculptures in marble, a modern sculpture or two, two lions carved in stone and five or six horses made by the Ecuadorian artist Gonzalo Endara Crow. We took a number of pictures here, and you can click on the thumbnail images below to have a look at some of them:


It was a neat little park, and we enjoyed walking around a bit before continuing on down the Avenue 10 August (another name for the Pan American highway through Quito, given to commemorate the beginning of the Quito independence movement in 1809). After just a block, we came to a most unusual fountain.


Fountain at the Hotel Boutique La Circasiana

This unusual fountain was out in front of what the gate guard told us was a hotel, and on investigation for these pages, we found out it is the Hotel Boutique La Circasiana. It was a pretty hotel with a nice courtyard, and off to one side there was a sculpture of an Incan warrior.

The fountain's sculptures were interesting enough that in addition to the picture Fred took (at right), I took another picture of it from a different angle. You can see that picture here.

There was one other stop we made on our way down Avenue 10 August to the big park at Avenue Patria- a small park named for General Julio Andrade.


Parque General Julio Andrade

General Julio Andrade was one of the central figures of the Liberal Revolution in the early 20th century. He was a member of the Constituent Assembly of 1897, and in 1900 he was appointed Civil and Military Chief of Azuay. He eventually became Minister of Education as well as Ecuador's Ambassador in Bogotá, Columbia.


General Julio Andrade

On the night of March 5, 1912, a demonstration occurred at police headquarters in Quito; citizens supporting the Liberal cause clashed with supporters of the Catholic conservatives. As Andrade tried to control the situation, someone, it is not known exactly who, shot him and he was killed. As professor and journalist Carlos de la Torre Reyes put it at the 100th anniversary commemoration of Andrade's death, it was at that moment the light of 'the sword without blemish' died.


Sculptures in Parque General Julio Andrade

One of the major attractions of this park are its large trees; it is a peaceful, tranquil oasis in the middle of bustling Quito.

The other important site in the park is a set of five sculptures of key players in the Revolution of the early 1900s, when much of the liberal character of the city of Quito and the country of Ecuador was established. From its independence until then, Ecuador was very Catholic and very conservative, and the alliance of clergy and the wealthy controlled every aspect of national life. The restrictions and imbalances of that period finally became too oppressive for the people; the Revolution swept away the control the two institutions had over the general population. The church retreated to its proper spiritual realm, while the power and influence of the wealthy were severely curtailed.

We enjoyed the small green space for a bit before heading on in towards the center of Historic Quito. As we left the park, I snapped a picture of a small boy in the park with his mother.


Does This Building Look Vertical to You?

We still had a bit of a ways to go to get to Avenue Patria, and on the way we passed the buildings you can see at left. I don't know about you, but the buildings look like an Escher drawing or something; the walls don't look vertical and I am not sure how the building has remained standing!

To see some addition street scenes that we photographed as we walked along Pan Am Highway, just click on the thumbnail images below:


Eventually, we reached Avenue Patria and the north corner of Parque El Ejido.

 

Avenida Patria/Parque El Ejido to Basilica del Voto Nacional (3)

We eventually came to the intersection with Avenida Patria, and crossed it to enter the Parque El Ejido.

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As we crossed under Avenida Patria, we were on the edge of the park, and there was a group of street performers with a small audience. I made a short film of them, and you can watch it with the player at left.

Then we entered the pleasant, tree-filled Parque El Ejido, which is the biggest park in downtown Quito. It's a popular spot for impromptu games of soccer and volleyball. The north end of the park teems with activity on weekends, when open-air art shows are held along Avenida Patria. Just inside the north end of the park, artisans and crafts vendors set up stalls and turn the sidewalks into Quito's largest handicrafts market.

You can see some views of the park if you will click on the thumbnail images below:


El Ejido is very busy, especially for the large number of offices around it. There are lots of street performers around the park, and the park also hosts groups of senior citizens playing the traditional game of Quito- coconuts. (I'd tell you what it was, but we did not see anyone playing.) We wandered through the park for a little while, and then continued southwest along Avenue 10 August. All the way along, off to our right, all the side streets led right up the side of the mountains surrounding Quito.


Plaza Republica de la India

A few blocks up Avenue 10 August we came to an area between two buildings that appeared to be some sort of park/fountain complex. There were broad steps leading up to a building at the top. The area turned out to be the Plaza Republica de la India. The origins of this little area are a bit unclear, but what I do know is that the plaza was inaugurated on October 13, 2003. Apparently, it was constructed as a result of Ecuador's difficulties in keeping its foreign embassies open; at one point, they closed many of them, including the one in New Delhi. As near as I can figure, the plaza was built with the aid of India itself.

Halfway up the plaza, there was a large granite boulder. When we got close to it, we found that there was a plaque on the front, indicating that it was dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. It wasn't until we got above it and looked down that we could see that there had been something affixed to the top of it. I have done some investigation, and you can see what it used to look like if you click here. Where the bust was on the day we visited I have no idea.

I think there are a couple of fountains here, but they were not on. At the base of the boulder were a number of circular marble plates, and on each was inscribed something that Gandhi said or something about him. You can see one of them here. Across the street at the top of the plaza was the Colegio Nacional Femenino- the National Women's College. We took some other pictures up and down the plaza, and you can click on the thumbnail images below to have a look at them:

We walked a bit further up Avenue 10 August and then turned right to walk up Arenas street. This brought us onto Avenue Luis Torres, just opposite the Instituto Nacional Mejia- a public secondary educational institution founded on June 5, 1897. From the description of it online, we would probably call it a large magnet school. We walked southwest along Avenue Torres to reach the Basilica del Voto Nacional.

 

The Basilica del Voto Nacional (4)

We came out from Avenue Torres and found ourselves between the looking up the hill across a park named for Gabriel Garcia Moreno at the Basilica of the National Vow. The first thing we did, of course, was take pictures from this vantage point and then walk through the park itself. The park was relatively small, with trees that appeared to be witchhazel.


The Basilica seen across Parque Gabriel Garcia Moreno

Gabriel Gregorio Fernando José María García y Moreno y Morán de Buitrón (1821–1875, see his statue here) was an Ecuadorian politician who twice served as President of Ecuador and was assassinated during his second term, after being elected to a third. He was noted for his conservatism, Catholic religious perspective and rivalry with liberal strongman Eloy Alfaro. Under his administration, Ecuador became a leader in science and higher education within Latin America. He staunchly opposed corruption, and donated his own salary to charity. But contemporary accounts say he ruled more as a military dictator than as the head authority of a Liberal Constitution.

When we walked up to the Basilica, we looked back to get a view down the hill across the park. Click on the thumbnail images below for some additional views of the Basilica as seen from the park:


From the top of the park, we walked around to Calle Carchi, the steep street west of the Basilica, and walked up that street to the gates that would take us to the plaza in front of the main entrance to the Basilica. We supposed that this Basilica would be on our bus tour tomorrow, so for today, we did not go inside the nave, but rather explored the outside of the Basilica and climbed the towers.

 

            The Plaza Around the Basilica del Voto Nacional

The Basilica of the National Vow (Spanish: Basílica del Voto Nacional) is a Roman Catholic church located in the historic center of Quito, Ecuador. It is the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas. We first found ourselves at the gate to a large plaza in front of the Basilica.

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This monumental Basilica del Voto Nacional is the most important neo-Gothic building in Ecuador and one of the most representative of the American continent. It was once the largest in the New World. As soon as I entered onto the plaza, I stopped to make a movie of the plaza, the front of the church and some stone stairways in the hillside to my left. You can use the player at left to watch that movie.

The basilica arose from the idea, proposed by father Julio Matovelle in 1883, of building a monument as a perpetual reminder of the consecration of Ecuador to the Sacred Heart. President Luis Cordero issued a decree that year for the building of the church, and 1000 pesos per month were allocated to the project. The local provincial council turned the construction into a religious commitment in the name of Ecuador. The Oblato fathers donated the land and, with the approval of Pope Leo XIII, construction began in 1887. Eventually, donations from believers were accepted for the project, while the state established a tax on salt to continue the building.

The first stone was not placed until 1892, however, and construction was completed on the main cathedral in 1909. Work continued for decades on ancillary structures and the towers. It was not until 1985 that the basilica was blessed by Pope John Paul II; it was consecrated and inaugurated on July 12, 1988. The basilica remains technically "unfinished"; local legend says that when the Basílica is completed, the end of the world will come.

 

            The Basilica Facade

Standing in the plaza in front of the Basilica's main doors, the facade was certainly impressive. I wanted to get a single picture of the entire facade, but I could not get back far enough to get the whole thing in.


I settled for taking two pictures and stitching them together. Even so, I couldn't get everything from the level of the plaza up; the composite picture at left actually begins some ten or fifteen feet up the facade. But it will give you a good idea of how beautiful the facade was. I did the same thing for the lower part of the facade; I took two pictures and stitched them together; you can see the result below:


In the center of the facade, between the center doors and about fifteen feet off the ground, there is a statue of Pope John Paul II, commemorating his blessing of the basilica.


All the doors here in the front of the basilica were intricately carved or stamped in metal, and Fred took pictures of most of them. If you would like to see them in detail, just click on the thumbnail imagees at right.

When Fred walked up the couple of steps to the doors, and went in to the overhang before the actual doors themselve, he could see that there was a window through which he could see some of the stained glass inside. He took a picture looking through that window, and you can see that interesting picture here.

We found that the plaza continued around the north side of the basilica, so we walked around there to see more of the outside of the structure and so I could climb the hillside stairs.

 

            The Hillside Staircase

Before we look at the stairs, you might want to see an aerial view of the basilica complex to get and idea of how things are arranged.


On this aerial view (Google does not have the same quality of image all around the world as it does in the United States and many populated areas), I have, of course, marked the park below the basilica and the basilica itself.

I have also marked the plaza from which we took the pictures of the main facade of the church. As we tour the church, we will go up in two towers; both offered great views of the surrounding city and countryside, although the one at the right allowed me to go up further and get into the room behind the clock face and then to a point even above that.

Northwest of the building, fifty feet across the plaza, there is a steep hillside (which you can't really see in this view) and the stairs that we climbed are in that hillside. Finally, also in the plaza to the northwest of the building, is one of the entrances to the National Pantheon, where the remains of many of Ecuador's notables are buried.

So we walked around to the northwest of the building to see the stairs, which looked quite amazing from the level of the plaza.


The Staircase at Basilica Nacional

I climbed the stairs first; Fred was off by the north side of the nave taking pictures of the outside of the church (see below). Fred came along after a while, and one of my pictures shows him down below me.

The stairs were just opposite the left side bell tower, and as you ascend the stairs, the view gets better and better. I took a number of pictures from the top of the stairs, including a good one of the plaza from which we had photographed the facade. You can click on the thumbnail images below to see some of the other pictures I took from the top of the hill:


I also made a movie from the top of the stairs, you can use the player below to watch it:

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The stairs were fun; before heading inside the bell towers, we walked around the building looking at its outside decoration.

 

            Outside Decoration

We spent some of our time strolling about the plaza northwest of the building; from there, we could get excellent views of the towers on the the northeast end of the building and the decoration on the building itself.


North Side of the Basilica

I have to admit, the outside of the basilica was decorated with as many sculptures, spires, gargoyles and so on as any church I have seen in my lifetime. I am continually in wonderment about how much effort and cost has gone into these monuments to faith around the world- and not just Catholic churches. In any event, Fred is very interested in these decorations, and took some good pictures of them. You can click on the thumbnail images below to see some of these:


From the plaza, we went into the left-hand tower to see whether we could go up in one or the other of them.

 

            In the Northwest Tower

We went in the ground floor of the basilica, and I noticed a couple of people at a small desk; one had a sheaf of printed tickets in his hand. I asked if we could climb the tower, and as it turned out, they were the people from whom you purchased tickets to take an elevator up to a level just above the roof of the nave. That was as high as you could go in the northwest tower, but we found you could go to a higher level in the tower on the southeast. In any event, we went out onto the open area to see the views from here. Here are three separate pictures, stitched together to show you the view to the northwest:

There was also a great view of the hillside stairs from up here; you can see the top of them in the panoramic view above, but that last picture will give you a better view.


We walked around the outside area until we were looking out to the west-southwest; that is the direction in which the church faces and that's the direction you are looking in the picture at left that Fred took of me. From here, we could look down to the plaza where we started out, and you can clearly see the pattern in the tiles. There are two good pictures looking down into the plaza that you can see here and here.

I tried my hand at zooming in on the hill in the distance because I could see a statue on top of it. Fred, of course, was able to zoom in very clearly on the statue. I thought it was a statue of Christ, but it turned out to be sort of a winged angel (although I don't know the significance of the halo).

For this direction, I put four pictures together into a panorama, and you can have a look at it below:

 

            Crossing to the Southeast Tower

We had expected that this tower would be like others we have climbed- such as the bell tower in Bath, England, last year. But there was a lot more here than that.


This level extended across the church from one tower to the other; it was mostly open, and there was a little gift shop, a small restaurant, and some exhibits. Very unlike anything I can remember. And as we walked across to the southeast tower, we found that we were at a level just above the arched roof of the nave. As you can see in the picture at left, and in another one that Fred took (to see that one, click here), that there is a walkway that leads right across the peak of the nave vault; that walkway leads to yet a third tower at the opposite end of the church- one that we would shortly get some good views of.

If I neglected to say earlier, this church was actually built in the early twentieth century, which explains the modern construction techniques that you can see in both pictures- including the metal support for the outer roof. I had never seen a space like this before; it was immensely interesting.

We found that the southeast tower had a lot more to see and do.

 

            Views of the Transcept Spire

When we got to the southeast tower, we found some stairs that led upward to a point in this tower higher than the observation points in the other one. In fact, we climbed to a level maybe twenty feet higher than the peak of the outer roof shell. Look back at the picture of the walkway from the front to the back of the church; we came to a level twenty feet above the peak of the roof above the actual roof of the nave. (NOTE: I sometimes use the terms "front" and "back" of a church. Keep in mind that the "front" doors of a church lead to the "back" of the nave; the "back" of a church building is actually the "front" of the nave or chapel inside.)


The Transcept Spire

The first observation area looked along the roof of the nave towards the end of the church where the altar and sanctuary are. If you remember your classical church architecture, most gothic churches were in the shape of a cross. The horizontal portion is called the "transcept"; the vertical line is the "nave axis". Typically, the gothic church would have two towers (either symmetrical or different) at the end of the long portion of the nave axis; the "front" doors would be at this end of the building. Typically, the opposite end of the church is rounded. In addition to the two towers at the church entrance, there may also be another tower above the point where the transcept and the nave axis intersect. If the church has such a tower, it is usually called the "transcept spire", and this basilica had one. That is the spire that you see in the picture at left (as seen from an observation balcony in the southeast tower).

The views of the transcept spire from here in the southeast tower were beautiful, and it was hard to limit ourselves to just a few pictures. Click on the thumbnail images below for some more excellent views looking towards the spire over the roof of the basilica:

You probably cannot see them in any of the pictures, but if you look closely, as Fred did with his zoom lens, you can see people in the transcept spire; they get there by crossing the walkway you saw earlier atop the vault of the nave. And while we were standing at this particular spot, we could look down along the southeast side of the basilica and see clearly the set of flying buttresses, another gothic construction element; they provided support for the walls of the church to keep them from crumbling outward under the weight of the roof above. (Today, we do the same thing with structural steel or pre-stressed concrete with reinforcing bars.) We could also see Parque Moreno across the street.

While we were here looking east along the side of the church, both Fred and I happened to take a series of pictures that could be put together into a panoramic view. I thought you might want to see them. Here is mine:

And here is Fred's:

We found some stairs that went higher in the southeast tower; Fred did not want to climb them so I left him for a bit to see what I could see.

 

            Climbing the Southeast Tower

First, there were some normal stairs that took me up one level in the tower. Then, in the corner of the room I began ascending a metal spiral staircase, which took me right through the ceiling of that room,


When I first came into this room, I stepped off the spiral stairs and was on the floor below the clock faces. From this angle, I took a picture of the southeast clock face. But the stairs did not stop there, so I got back on them and continued up. The room behind the clock faces was a couple of stories tall, with a wooden balcony running around the inside of the room about halfway up; you can see it in the picture at left. I assume this is for servicing the mechanisms or perhaps the faces themselves.

I have to admit that I was getting a bit nervous; I knew the building was built in the 1920s, not the 1420s, so I assumed it was structurally sound; after all, there were people above me and the basilica has had people climbing the towers for many decades. So was a collapse imminent; I guessed not, but I was still a bit nervous nevertheless.

Finally, the stairs ended on an open platform almost at the top of the tower; only the topmost pinnacle was above us.

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As soon as I got up here, I decided to make a short movie, in which, as it turned out, I recorded for posterity the fact that I was, indeed, a bit nervous. You can use the player at left to have a look at this little movie.

Since I'd climbed all the way up here, I did stay a few minutes and take some pictures from various directions. In the picture looking back at the transcept spire, you can see how far up I have come. And in the picture I took of the northwest tower, you can see the intricate decoration that is all over the basilica. To see these and a couple of other pictures, just click on the thumbnail images below:


Climbing up the tower was really neat, but I went back down to rejoin Fred and together we descended the elevator back to ground level. Our visit to the Basilica Nacional was complete, save for one more picture Fred took of some gargoyles (well, not gargoyles, actually but, for some reason, alligators).

 

Walking Back to the Holiday Inn (5)

From the Basilica, we headed back to the Holiday Inn so we could check out and move to the Marriott.


We followed a different route, heading back down to the Pan Am Highway by some different side streets (passing the little park you can see at left), and then went along the southeast side of the large Parque El Ejido. This put us on Avenue 6 December. Unlike some of the other avenues named for dates, this one was not a date from the Independence period, but rather commemorates the founding of Quito on December 6, 1534.

As we passed along the east side of the park, Fred saw an interesting statue and snapped a picture of it. In creating this page, I had to go look up the subject of the monument- Sandor Petofi (1823-1849). I thought he might be someone important in Ecuadorian history, but in actuality he was a Hungarian poet and liberal revolutionary. He is considered Hungary's national poet, and was one of the key figures of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. He is the author of the Nemzeti dal (National Song), which is said to have inspired that revolution that grew into a war for independence from the Austrian Empire. It is most likely that he died in the Battle of Segesvar, one of the last battles of the war.

Along the way, we took the occasional odd picture of a street scene, something humorous or something interesting. You can have a look at these pictures by clicking on the thumbnail images below:

Back at the Holiday Inn, we checked out and schlepped our bags down a block and across the Avenida Orellana to the J.W. Marriott, where we found that our room had already been assigned by the cruise line. We went up to it and settled in. You'll have a chance to see more of the Marriott two pages hence, on the day we departed for the Galapagos. There wasn't a lot else going on that day save for our travel out to the Islands, so it will be a good page for the Marriott pictures.

 

An Afternoon Walk and Dinner

After we got all settled in, Fred did some investigation of where we might have dinner. Since we hadn't eaten much today, and had walked a great deal, we decided to do dinner sooner rather than later, and about 3PM we headed out for a walk and to find the restaurant that Fred wanted to try.

 

Dinner at Fried Bananas Restaurant

The walk we took, which included dinner, also took in many interesting side streets in the area south of the Marriott. We first walked through an area south of the Holiday Inn, thinking the restaurant was in that area, but it turned out to be more northwest along Mariscal Foch street.


I haven't attempted to mark our route on the map at left; the exact way we went is quite immaterial. But I have marked the approximate location of the restaurant where we ate as well as a second church that we stopped at.

Fried Bananas turned out to be a very small, family-operated restaurant. The hostess was quite nice and we had a nice table by the window- on of only six or seven in the little restaurant. We had a cold avocado soup as a starter, and it was quite good. Then we each had plates of typical Ecuadorian fare. All of it was very good, and quite reasonable. They even brought me ice for my water.

 

Parroquia de Santa Teresita Church

The area of the city that we were walking through this evening is called Mariscal Sucre. Quito today is still divided into parishes, a holdover from its Catholic heritage, and Mariscal Sucre is one of 32 in the urban area. It is an area bordered by Avenue Francisco de Orellana on the north (the Marriott is just on the other side of that street), Avenue August 10th (aka the Pan American Highway) on the west, Avenue October 12th on the east and Avenue Patria to the south. We had walked along all those streets today.

This area of Quito is very popular with tourists- the most popular area outside the old city itself. In the early 20th century, the area was full of the homes of wealthy families; the first businesses did not start appearing until the 1940s. Now, it is an area more commercial than residential, and has hotels, inns, restaurants, souvenir shops and clothing, crafts and cafes. It also has quite the nighlife due to the high concentration of nightclubs, bars, pubs and other entertainment venues.

There are a number of churches in this parish, and the largest is the one we visited after dinner- the church of Saint Theresa (Parroquia de Santa Teresita).


This was a very pretty parish church, right on one of the main streets through the parish itself. The church was classical in its design, and there was a small monastery attached; the church also had a nice courtyard. We took the time to go inside the church, and we found the nave and sanctuary were very richly decorated. We took a number of other pictures of the church, and you can click on the thumbnails below to have a look at them:


We eventually left the church, intending to walk around the area and see what we could see. We planned on doing this until it got dark or until 9PM or so, at which point we would return to the Marriott to meet Greg and Yoost.

 

The Area of Mariscal Sucre

In walking around the area of Mariscal Sucre, both Fred and I took pictures of whatever we thought was interesting. I tend to the quirky or humorous (misspellings are my favorite). I almost followed one sign into a building to learn how to make better salsa until Fred pointed out that it was more likely a dance studio. In any even, click on the thumbnails below to see some of our quirky photos:

Mariscal Sucre was, at one time, an exclusively residential area filled with large homes and mansions. Few of these remain today, but we did see a number of interesting residences- some new, some old. As the city has expanded, single houses have been largely replaced by high-rises. Click on the thumbnail images below to see some of the pictures we took of various residences:

As we walked around, we always had a view of the mountains that surround Quito. Late this afternoon, clouds were moving in, and sometimes the mountaintops disappeared into them. Of course, many of the pictures we took were just street scenes, as we tried to capture some of the flavor of the city. You can see some of these photographs if you click on the thumbnail images below:

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On the way back to the Marriott, we came across an interesting sight, and it is a good way to bring today's album page to a close. We happened to be walking across an intersection when we heard music, and then saw a couple dancing in the crosswalk in front of the cars that were stopped for the light. The music was coming from a boombox that they had sitting on the sidewalk nearby. (Use the player at left to watch the movie I made of them.)

Recalling what Fred had said when we passed the "Salsa School," I at first thought that the couple might just be practicing their moves, but quickly concluded that this would be a crazy way to do it. I figured it out just as the couple stopped dancing just before the traffic light changed and the young man took off his hat and went to the stopped cars asking for donations (which he got, by the way).

This was certainly a novel way to do street performing and earn a few bucks- novel, but not unique, as we were to discover later on in Lima, Peru.

We went back to the hotel as it was getting dark, and waited for Greg and Yoost to arrive- which they did about 10PM.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.



November 8, 2014: A Bus Tour Around Quito, Ecuador
November 6, 2014: Traveling from Dallas to Quito, Ecuador
Return to the Index for 2014