At 2850m Quito can be described as pretty fucking high up which means you can blame the altitude for everything. Drunk after two drinks? Altitude. Can’t walk up a flight of stairs without dying? Altitude. You’re looking a bit porky these days, Claire. Yeah, can’t help it, it’s the altitude. But if 2850m still isn’t high enough for ya, fear not because Quito has many many places where you can go to overlook the city.
I was staying in the New Town which is known as Gringolandia on account of the ridiculous amounts of backpackers. All the bars have drinks offers written in English, lots of them offer a free beer on entry, every night is party night and you never, ever walk on your own at night. The Old Town is fabulous, it’s entirely Ecuadorian and there are heaps of cheap restaurants selling desayunos (breakfasts) for US$1.25 and almuerzos (set lunches) for around US$2.50. It’s a funky little place with a nice atmosphere and an abundance of the aforementioned high places, the best one in my humble opinion (humble? Who am I kidding! Mine is the only opinion you’ll need, bitches) being the Basílica Del Voto Nacional. It’s Gothic, it’s got jungle animals as gargoyles, it’s got two towers you can climb up, what’s not to like?
For a mere US$2 you can edge your way across a shaky, wooden plank to the first tower and climb all the way up to the top for epic views of the city. I’ve never seen a church from this angle before, you notice all the random bits of architecture that serves no actual purpose at all except to look pretty and be photogenic. Once you’ve done that tower you can head up to the clock tower, right through to the belfry. Up and up and up, it just didn’t want to give up, it didn’t want to stop going up. If this was Europe they’d have cried liability four ladders ago, probably at the one with the missing rung, and closed the upper most section off but not here. Here there’d be no stopping until you ran out of tower to climb up. I’m not normally a fan of churches but this one is very cool.
Whilst you’re up the Basílica oohing and ahhing at the views, you can’t help but notice a little hill with a statue on the top on account of the fact it gives you something to photograph other than the city itself. That would be La Panecillo (which I think means something like bread roll?!) and the thing on top is La Virgen De Quito. Well you can’t gawp at it from a distance and not go over and introduce yourself so off we went to have a closer look. It’s not nearly as impressive as the Basílica but that’s a hard act to follow. However. There stalls with beer and food so we chilled out and drank a beer before heading back to the New Town after a hard days sightseeing. I know I know, we only checked out two landmarks but come on, one can’t be expected to do much, you wouldn’t want to risk tiring yourself out. Y’know, altitude an’ all that.
Stayed at: El Centro Del Mundo