Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quito, Ecuador

So here I am finally getting around to my Galapagos posts.
As most of you know, last month I was sent by work to the Galapagos to experience our cruise product there. 
A-MAZ-ING! Wow... fabulous... fantastic... once in a lifetime experience!

But let's start at the beginning shall we.
Where exactly is Quito, Equador and the Galapagos?  I knew it was only a 4 hour flight from Miami, but I wasn't exactly sure where I was flying to.  Well I knew I was going to South America, but wasn't sure exactly where :)
Turns out, Quito is almost directly south of Miami.  I thought it was further west.  I actually thought all of the South American continent was further west.  Learn something new every day.

After the quick flight on luxurious LAN airline (I think all non-US airlines are luxurious) two nights were spent in Quito at the JW Marriott.
Really lovely hotel with all the comforts of home. 
Saturday included a city tour.  Quito is a beautiful city situated 9,500 feet above sea level and was the first UNESCO World Heritage site.  
The first place we stopped was the Basilica of Quito. 
While I have seen many churches in my day, the thing that stood out here was that instead of regular gargoyles, there were animals native to Equador and the Galapagos Islands.

The architecture in Old Town was fantastic.
Independence Plaza
Quito Cathedral
Government Palace

Statue of the Virgin on Panecillo Hill

We also visited the Equator.  
Mitad del Mundo - Middle of the World
Overlooking both the northern & southern hemispheres
I'm in both hemispheres!  I am cool!
I love geography, maps, etc.  so I was very excited to be at 0 degrees latitude.
I have also been to 0 degrees longitude in Greenwich, England, so now I think I am doubly cool :)
This was my first trip to South America and I really enjoyed it.  I can't wait to visit other places in South America, namely Peru, Argentina & Brazil.
One thing that really stood out to me was how unsafe it seemed for tourists there.  Maybe the company was just being overly cautious, but the security surrounding our tour group was really tight.  We had bodyguards with us on the bus and they told us not to leave the hotel on our own.  I appreciate the value/security/information group travel can bring, but I also like experiencing things on my own, so all of that weirded me out a bit.  In the end, there really wasn't any time for me to explore on my own, so that was fine.

On Sunday we took a chartered flight from Quito to Baltra in the Galapagos.
Traveling to and from the islands was so easy!  The company took care of all our luggage taking it from the hotel, to the plane, to the ship.  All we needed for the flight was our carry-ons.  I highly recommend traveling on charters whenever possible :)

After the cruise portion, and before flying home, we spent one additional night in Quito.  We went shopping that afternoon and I picked up this cute little manger set - I love it!
And I also had to pick up some scarves made from alpaca wool!  So soft!
Ummmm, yea...  I need those in Florida :)
My last day in Quito was spent at our company's local office.  It was fun to meet new co-workers and learn what they do to keep this great vacation experience running smoothly.

Next up... the islands and some animals! 

1 comment:

  1. This looks like a cool trip so far! I must say, it wasn't until This Post that I saw where the Galapagos are! Very cool that you stood in both hemispheres!!