When we arrive back from Otavelo we went out for a meal at a mexican called Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The fajitas were good and very filling. We then carried on to a bar around the corner from our hostal called Aladdins. Nick had a large beer and we shared a water pipe with apple tobbaco.
We had a lie in before breakfast. We then took a taxi to the centro historico. The centre is closed to cars on Sunday, and fills with pedestrians, locals as well as tourists. The heart of the colonial city is Plaza de la Independencia dominated by the Cathedral (1550). There was a band playing in the Plaza with a large crowd of locals. Beside the cathedral is El Sagrario, originally built in the 17th century as the cathedral`s main chapel. We then walked up to La Merced, another 17th century church, in Barogue/ Moorish style. It was built to commemorate Pichincha`s eruption which threatened to destroy the city.
We walked up to Plaza de San Francisco and looked in the San Francisco church, which is Quito`s largest. It is said to be the first religious building constructed by the spanish in 1550. The two towers were felled in 1868 by an earthquake and rebuilt. There were many intricate wood carvings and paintings in the church. We carried on to Plaza Santa Domingo. We entered the church/ monastry just as the people were filing out from Mass.
Next it was the La Compania Jesuit church. It has the most ornate and richly sculptures facade and interior. The whole of the inside of the church was covered in gold. Alot of the churches had paintings by Miguel de Santiago. Walking through the Plaza Independencia we carried on through to La Basillica. It has many gargoyles, stained glass windows and flying butresses. Construction started in 1926 and it took 72 years. Some parts still remain unfinished !
We walked up to the tower for fine views over the city. There was a wooden walkway and three steep ladders up to the centre tower. It didn`t look too safe and Nick was holding on to the railings all the way to the top. It didn`t help that the floor at the top creaked and moved ! We also walked up to the clock tower, again reached by stairs followed by ladders. At least this was inside whilst the ladders of the other tower were outside. The final ladder in the clock tower was up to a mesh wire floor (see through). It was possible to sit on the edge of the tower and look out. Again, not very safe especially as we were about 200m high. Not the kind of thing that would be allowed back in Europe !!!
Back on safe ground we took a taxi to La Mariscal and had lunch at a italian called `Tomato`. It was good food, and reasonable as well. In the evening we spend hours researching the Galapagos islands to find out the best way of getting a good deal.
The whole day was hell !!! We spent it going between several different travel agencies trying to find the best deal to galapagos. Apart from a brief stop for lunch this is all we did. By the evening we were knackered and got a bottle of wine, crisps for Monica and a kebab for Nick and chatted with another couple in our hostel.
Neither of us slept too well as we were having nighmares of boats !!!! In the morning we had made a decision and we went back to the 'Unforgetable' travel agency to book our tour on the tourist superior class boat, the EDEN. One of the guys escorted us to the bank where we got a cash advance and we went back and paid the whole trip in cash.
In the afternoon we took a bus to the Mitad del Mundo (centre of the world). There is a monument to the equator, which was discovered here by a frenchman. However the monument is actually about 250m away from the actual line of the equator, determined by GPS some 8 years ago. There is a park dedicated to the monument and it really is not worth going to. However there is a museum around the corner called Inti-Nan, which is actually on the line of the equator. It was very informative as our guide described the history of the place and life of the local people. She also showed us the pouring of water down the drain on the equator and to the north and south. The water swirls different ways north and south, and goes straight down on the actual equator. We also both managed to balance an egg on a nail (due to greater gravity it is possible). The other experiment she showed us was one person raising there arms and she tried to pull them down. North (more difficult because of the land mass) and South of the equator this was very difficult, but on the Equator is was amazingly easy. We tried it as well and it is weird ! Something to do with weighing less on the equator and more gravity.
In the evening we went for dinner at the texas grill. We went to bed early as we had to get up at 5.30am to get to the airport for our Galapagos tour !
We were picked up at 6am and taken to the airport. We tried to check in but unfortunately they would not accept Monica's ticket as the name was smudged. We phoned our travel agency and they told us that we would either have to change our flight or buy another ticket !!! We were told that we would get a refund once we were over in Galapagos so we went ahead and paid for a new ticket (although it took an age to get our money back in the end). It was all a bit rushed as we made our way through to the gate and boarded the plane.
Tomato - Good set lunch menu, reasonable and a good atmosphere.