Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Our final days in Ecuador!!

Where has the three months gone?!

Our last days here in Quito were filled with taking it easy but still taking time to enjoy what this tremendous city has to offer. If only it had a beach !!  

Saturday I finished the blog, which takes hours, by the way. And, Mike did research on the web. By 3pm, we headed out with the mission of heading uptown to the restaurant/Bar district and to get there by taking the trolley for the first time. BTW, all over town are bike rental locations.  You can rent and return at any of them. Pretty Cool!!

 
The closest stop is only a block down the hill from us at the Domingo Plaza. They run so frequently that there's barely a wait between them. Mike bought our tickets at $.25/each. He didn't ask for the senior discount of half off. LOL. And in we went stuffing ourselves into the very well used trolley system. I was a bit concerned with the close quarters and a bit afraid of pickpockets. But, we were both vigilant in protecting ourselves and nothing happened at all. I might be paranoid but it's your best protection to everything going right!

Getting off at the Ejideo stop, we walked through the park leisurely and strolled through some of the artisans booths on our way north. We had come by the park and this district on our city bus tour so we knew we wanted to explore it more.

 



 
Heading north up August 10th St, we enjoyed the sights and many interesting  jail dings and shops along the way. Once at Wilson St, we turned right and thus began our discovery of the many bars and restaurants. It's only about a 4 square block area with most within a tight 2 square block area with a fun center plaza. 

We enjoyed looking at the artisan craft booths that were a bit different than your typical artisan craft. A bit more cosmopolitan. From there I had eyed a BBQ bar/restaurant, so we went over to look. Deciding to walk the whole 2 square blocks before deciding, off we went to explore menus, prices, and atmosphere.






 
Mike wanted a good microbrew, if possible. So we spotted an Old English Bookstore that was so very British! Loved it!  Inside the owner gave Mike tips for where to go. One being the "G Spot". Yup, that's the name but it turned out not to be where I wanted to go for dinner on a Saturday night. It was a true bar. More about this place later. Here are some pictures of the places in the neighborhood,


 
From there we found a German place but it didn't serve food. So we continued on around the block coming back to the main plaza that had started to come alive. After looking at only a couple of menus here, we did decide to sit down at the BBQ place. Unfortunately, the service was very poor, so we got up and left. 

We walked around the whole square looking at every menu. Actually, the cost of a glass of wine became incredibly important, as the prices were closer to $8 for a glass!  But, we finally prevailed!!  On the opposite corner, we found this quaint beautifully colorful decorated place called Suzette!  Not only did it have a very friendly menu, a glass of decent wine was only $5 with all taxes included!  And, it was happy hour, so Mike had 2 Mojito's for the price of one! A win/win!!


 
We really liked the way they did their menu. They gave a price at the top and then listed every dish offered for that price. And there were 3 different price points all very reasonable for the items. Oh, and did I mention that the restaurant was a Slow Food menu, which was even better to us. And, typical of Latin America, it was slow! LOL. We had a great time people watching and whiling the evening away. 

I had promised Mike that we would go back to the German place so he could have a good beer. We did and the security guard that had carded us before let us in without rechecking. I even got him to smile. :). A fun place that was full of young people. Mike and I would have stood out even if we were Ecuadorian because of our age. Mike was happy to see that the young ecuadorians had an appreciation for good beer.



 
A very nice evening in a bustling part of town. A nice change from typical local fare. 

Mike and I awoke on Sunday morning and were shocked to see that it was 9:30!!  Our bedroom is upstairs with no windows and we couldn't figure out why there was no street noise to wake us up. Well, to our surprise, when we came downstairs and looked out on the street all we saw were bicycles, lots of them, and pedestrians!! As we found out, every Sunday they close off main roads from way south in the city to way north for only bicycles and pedestrians. Our street is one of them, which is why it was so quiet. Thank you, Quito for the unexpected extra sleep!!

Since we knew the G Spot was having US football on, we took the trolley back up north and made our way there. The Bear's game had just started, so Mike was ecstatic that his hometown game was on!!  Just what the doctor ordered!!  Sitting at the bar, good beer delivered, we began to get to know the other Bear fans there. Unfortunately, the game was not turning out quite the way we wanted. :(

However, the food was outstanding!  We both ordered a cheese burger and I have to say it was one of the best I've EVER had!! Oh, I want another right now!!

After deciding the Bears were in a no win situation, they switched the channel to the Seahawks !! Whoop whoop!  Although they were loosing, they were only down one touchdown and moving toward the goal. Yup! They scored and tied it up. And, in overtime in a gut wrenching back and forth, they prevailed and scored!! Yeah, a WIN!!

We watched just a bit of the San Diego game, who we were routing for! but decided to head home via the trolley. The skies had begun to look a bit menacing and we were glad to make it back dry. We just had a huge downpour with lightening and thunder. LOVE it!!  And the sound of the hard pour on plexiglass is an amazing sound!

As it's after 5pm, they've opened the street back up to traffic and the usual car and bus noise with many a horn blowing is back. Now, we have drunk tenants who have just returned to the Hostal and are making quite a racket!  Ugh!  

Monday mornings at 11am, the changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace in Plaza Grande is always a BIG pageant affair. This Monday was a very SPECIAL one according to all the locals. Lucky us!  

When we got to the plaza  y 10:30, there was a huge crowd already with the streets lined with news and media trucks, cameras and reporters everywhere!  Seems a huge political rally was going on in support of President Correa because he wanted to show that regardless of his decision to drill for oil in the Amazon, he had the support of the people. 

Whatever ....  We were thrilled to witness the whole pageantry of the event!  Enjoy the photos and videos. Be aware that the last video is actually 18 minutes long but very good, if I say so myself, since I took it!  Mike and I were separated in different parts of the plaza, so we did get different perspectives of it all.  Video: https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6255983
https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6255919
https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6253669
https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6255946







President Correa in center - the tall one with balding spot.








 


 

















 
Upon returning to the Hostal, I discovered that our friends, Elizabeth Johnson and Dave Kemper, from Alausi were in town to pick up their new residency papers!! We were so excited for them!  What was even better, it gave us a chance for one more enjoyable evening with them over dinner.  Elizabeth picked the spot of the Cafe Mosaico high above the city. We had no clue this was even there!  A GREAT place to city the city lights! Thank you , both!!

 


Elizabeth & Me!!
 
Dave, Mike, Me & Elizabeth!

Waiting for our taxi's.
 
Our last hours of being in the city on Tuesday were spent packing and reducing our luggage weight to 40 lbs in the suitcase and 15 lbs in the backpacks. Mission accomplished!  Actually, we had done a bit the day before and took all of our excess to Elizabeth and Dave, so we felt good that nothing was going to waste!

We wandered the street of La Ronda looking for one last meal but Tuesday & Wednesday are the closed quiet days. We ended up eating at the restaurant right across the street from our place, which always looked interesting. The Gluck located in Casona Solar, a historical old beautiful home that is now a boutique hotel that I definitely recommend people check out. Don't know the cost of a room but the pictures and atmosphere are GREAT!  We were even given a private tour after our scrumptious and generous lunch for only $3!  So enjoyed meeting the proprietors!  We were treated like royalty!










 

Another walk up to the Plaza Grande, a quick walk through the amazing library and it's exhibits, then across the street to another church under the National Cathedral. No pictures but Mike did sneak one and got caught this time. Lo siento!!


Library:

 













 
Cathedral:




It was then time to get back and finalize our bag packing and wait for the taxi. It arrived a bit early and we were off on a real adventure of getting to the "new" airport!  After an amazing back road tour of parts of Quito we had never seen and roads and drivers that make your head spin, we were deposited at the airport an hour & a half later. 

All our work on the luggage weight paid off with no hitches at check-in or going through customs and security!! A very welcome event!  A final drink at the bar, a lot of texting with my daughter back in CT to use up my leftover data (mission accomplished with allot of silliness and laughter), and we were shuttled by bus to our plane on TAME airline. Our seats were very comfortable, the service very good, and a full hot meal!  Not bad for a 2 hour flight for only $550 for the BOTH of us from Quito to Lima, Peru!

We want to give a shout out to all the friends we've made along our Ecuadorian journey!!!!  You guys ROCK!!!  Totally "get" why so many expats now call Ecuador "home" !  May you all continue to enjoy your new lives in a beautiful country!! Hasta Luego, mi amigos and amigas!!!!!!!!  Love to all!!  You have certainly touched our hearts!

We are now safely ensconced for 2 nights in our Hostal in Lima, but that's a whole other story!

And, so our journey keeps unfolding....


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