In this post, we discuss some logistics and our time in Quito Ecuador. In case you missed it, here’s our previous post in this series.
Getting to the Galapagos takes a little planning. With Silversea, flights are included and they did a very nice job with the schedules. We left from Philadelphia and landed in Quito Ecuador via Miami. Unfortunately our plane was late in taking off and we didn’t arrive at our hotel until about 2 am. The Silverseas representatives were waiting for us at the airport and easily got us to our JW Marriott hotel 45 minutes away in town. On the drive, they explained the logistics for the next few days.
- The following day is a free day in Quito, though Silversea includes a city bus tour starting at 5 pm.
- Breakfast is included (and it was very nice!)
- Silversea maintained a hospitality desk in the hotel with information on additional tours.
- The following day, we were to have our luggage outside our hotel door at 4 am. They opened the breakfast buffet for us and we were to load to our buses at 5 am.
- We were transported to Quito airport where we took our flight to San Cristobol Galapagos via Guayaquil Ecuador.
We decided that we would pass on the included bus tour of Quito because it would mean a late dinner and we wanted to get to bed early. So we went to the Silversea desk in the morning and signed up for a tour of Quito and the Equator with our friends. It turns out the tour was by Abercrombie & Kent – a high quality tour operator we are very familiar with and highly recommend.
We had a great day in Quito; “we” means our driver, the tour guide and the four of us in a nice van. Traffic in Quito is terrible but there were still lots of time for our walking tour and trip to the equator. We even stopped at a small Empanda stand along the way for lunch (best empandas ever!)
The equator is a little less than an hour’s drive north of Quito. Our destination was the Museo de sitio Intinan which has several sections. One includes life in the Amazon including a shrunken head display. There’s an original hut built in 1875 entirely of local materials like mud and straw. And there’s several fun demonstrations regarding the equator itself such as:
- you can walk the actual equator line
- There’s several sun dials
- a demonstration that water swirls one way in the northern hemisphere and another in the southern. There’s no swirl at all when you are right on the equator.
- a demonstration indicating how much harder it is to balance an egg on the equator.
Quito city tour
We walked through the heart of the city. Our first stop was a chocolate tasting at the Republica Del Cacao. We saw the cacao harvesting and chocalate making processes and then had 9 different samples varying by purity, amount of fat and location of the farm. We of course had to take home some samples.
We then made our way to Independence Square. Even though it had started raining, the square and surrounding buildings were filled with people. The square holds the independence memorial and is surrounded by city hall on one side and the 16th century Cathedral Metropolitana of Quito on the other. Adjacent to the cathedral is a very ornate Baroque style church Iglesia de El Sagranio
Next, we walked to Plaza San Francisco and toured the Convent of San Francisco and associated Church. This is a working convent and was so soothing as it was shielded from city street life and had nice gardens. But it also held an extensive collection of art work which we could not photograph (it was too dark anyway)
Dinner in Quito
Once back at the hotel we headed for an early dinner in preparation for our 4 am wake up call. From the Silversea hospitality desk we selected URKO Cocina, a short cab ride from the hotel. We all selected a tasting menu were each course was paired with an inventive cocktail. One of the best meals we’ve ever had!
It was an exhausting first couple of days in Ecuador but very rewarding. Quito is a charming city. Not necessarily wealthy but rich in heritage and architecture. We could have easily spent an additional day exploring the town and surroundings. The city is over 9000 ft in elevation but it’s surrounded by 13,000 ft mountains.
Of course from Quito we went straight to the Galapagos. Make sure you don’t miss our overview post.
Next: our Galapagos trip summary post