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Want to make the best of two days in Quito

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My husband and I are going on a Galapogos tour ending Jan 24 and have two days in Quito, I am looking for things to do in or around Quito. With just 2 days I want to make the most of our time. Is it safe to tour around quito on our own? We are both in our 50s and we like to walk around and sight see? Should I find a tour guide and go on trips outside of Quito? This is our first trip to S America.

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    Hi Westcoastroller,
    Let me start with the biggest issue, safty. Quito is a big city so you need to take the same precautions you would in any large city. Be aware of your surroundings, don't wear flashy jewlery, keep bags and purses in your hands etc. The most common type of crime in Quito is pick pocketing. Also, at night you should take cabs to and fro, don't walk. Any hotel or reasturant will be happy to call a taxi for you, just ask them.

    Now for the fun stuff. I would highly recomend teleferiquo, it's a cable car that runs up the side of one of the Mountains in Quito. It's awesome up there and on a clear day you can spot 5 snow-capped volcanos. A cab will cost 3-5 dollars from the Mariscal section of Quito, it costs 8.50 per adult to go up. Bring some warm cloths it gets chilly and windy.

    Old Town Area:
    Make reservations to eat at Pims at el panecillo. Panecillo is the large statue in the center of the city. Pims is a pricy (about 15/plate) british reastuarant. With a reservation for a window seat you get a fantastic night view of the city.

    Go into the Basilica cathedral. It costs 2.50 to go up into the bell towers.

    With a reservation the metropolitian police will take you on a tour of Old Town. It's reasonably priced and a great way to see the churches and hear some of the history of the city. You can make the reservations near Plaza Grande, which you should go to anyway.

    At night there is a street called La Ronda, they have recently revived it and it is full of life. Definatly worth checking out.

    If you want to do some shopping go to Mercado Artisinal on Jorge Washington and Renia Victoria. There you haggle for all sorts of typical artesan goods from leather products to Ecuadorian chocolate.

    Parque Eljido is a fairly small city park. 4x4 city blocks. They're is usually something going on in there. Street perfromers, musicians, artists etc.

    Make sure you try some Higos con Queso, figs and cheese it's a typical Quiteño desert.
    Also try Canelazo made with Naranjilla. its delicious. Made with Aguardiente a type of sugar cane alcohol.

    Also you sould familiarize yourself with the Ecovia. The Ecovia is a city bus that runs
    the lenght of the city North to South. It costs a quarter to ride and will get you to most of the places you need to go.

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    The only trouble with the Teleferico is that it's very high up - about 13,000 feet, so if you've not already been in Quito for a few days, you won't be too comfortable up there.

    I would start by taking a cab up to the Panecillo, assuming it is a clear morning, and ask the driver to wait for you. Then go back down to the old city. Among the churches, the Compania de Jesus, Santo Domingo and the Basilica del Voto Nacional are all well worth the visit. If you are there on a weekend, the streets of the old city are closed to cars during the day, and on Friday and Saturday nights, La Ronda is hopping, as recommended above.

    In the new city, there is the Fundacion Guayasmin and the Capilla del Hombre, neither of which I managed to make it to but they are both supposed to be good. And of course there is the Mitdad del Mundo, where you can stand on both sides of the equator (though it's not really on the equator.)

    And you can also head to Plaza Foch which is teeming with locals and visitors and where there are plenty of restaurants, bars, cafes, etc... It is one of the few areas in Quito where you can safely walk around at night, at least within those few blocks.

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    We had several days before and one day after our Galapagos cruise ... we did the Ho-Ho bus to get the layout of the city the first day, hopping off to visit some of the places on the route. We visited several of the churches and wandered around our own in the Plaza Grande area. We visited both Mitad del Mundo, as well as Quitsato, to straddle the equator. On two of our days, we hired a guide/driver to take us north to the area around Otavalo, and south to Cotopaxi.

    When we returned from the Galapagos, we visited the Fundacion Guayasamin (the Capilla was closed as it was Monday), and also went up to the Teleferiqo.

    There's plenty to explore in and around Quito, so what you decide to do depends on your interests and your tolerance to altitude ... remember to take it easy and have fun.

    Here's the first of the many posts I did on things we did in Quito ... ... you can find the rest of the posts in the July 2012 archive.

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