Here’s what I knew about Quito before today: zilch.
But when I started reading about the activities, art, food, history — and seeing photos of the most breathtaking panoramic views — not only do I know a whole lot more, but I’m itching to go and explore everything the city has to offer.
Let’s start with the basics and a few fun facts:
- Quito is the capital city of Ecuador
- It has a 0-0’-0’’ latitude
- Founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city
- Considered the most well-preserved historic centre in all of Latin America
- The Historic District was the first official UNESCO World Heritage Site (um, WOW)
- In an Andean valley at the foot of a volcano (called Pichincha)
- Sits 2,850 metres (9,186.35 feet) above sea level, making it the closest capital to the sun (cool, right?)
- Only five kilometres wide!
- Located on the west side of the Cordillera de Los Andes, it’s literally middle earth — without the Hobbits
Quito is where yin meets yang: on one side, there’s the “old city,” where colonial architecture remains untouched; and the other side boasts a modern urban centre.
- First stop: food. Trying local cuisine is one of my favourite ways to dive into a culture, and as I read about seco de chivo (braised goat stew) and helado de paila (copper pail sherbet), I’m starting there. In fact, I’m probably going to have seconds.
- Head into the Moorlands of the Andes for hot springs and horseback riding; I go riding in every country that I visit, so this comes immediately after a gastronomic tour.
- Get to Quito’s Chimbacalle neighborhood to take “the most difficult train in the world” to chugga-chugga-choo-choo my way through the Avenue of the Volcanos — so named by German explorer Alexander Von Humboldt.
- Shopping (and bargaining) at Mariscal. Apparently, it’s one of the best places to procure paintings, pottery and jewelry. Check, check and check.
- I know the Galapagos Islands aren’t exactly in Quito, but if I’m going all the way to Ecuador, I’m going SCUBA diving in the Galapagos Islands. Period. It’s like Mecca for divers.
- Check out pre-Colombian art at the Casa de El Alabado Museum, followed by a visit to the Interactive Science Museum for the kids.
You want to go, too. Am I right? Here’s your chance to win your own resort stay at one of Quito’s Premier 4* resorts. Please join us on Thursday, May 28 at 8 p.m. EST as we chat with @VisitQuito for the #FamTimeQuito Twitter party! Are you ready for the prize of prizes?
One (1) GRAND PRIZE WORTH approximately FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!
Oh, and another little matter of FIVE (5) $100 VISA Gift Cards! The grand prize is a stay at a four-star hotel for two people — for three nights and four days*. This incredible experience includes a day of guided activities, and round-trip economy air from an international airport. Booking is dependent on hotel availability. Meals are not included.