Getting Into Quito Stride: Cathedrals, Art Galleries & a Movie — A Travel Tale

Ended up making friends with some German guys named Felix and Jan and spent the day with them yesterday, which was useful since it helped me a lot with getting into Quito stride. They brought me to Gringolandia (the tourist centre), where I spent far too much money on lunch and perused the shelves of the largest English bookstore in Ecuador.

View of Quito's sloping streets from the Basilica del Voto Nacional.

And then they showed me how to use the trole — Quito’s public transportation. We decided to see a film (in English with Spanish subtitles) in a non-touristy part of town. It was pretty cool to watch the movie with subtitles since I picked up some Spanish vocabulary along the way!

View of Quito through a round window of the Basilica del Voto Nacional.

But first we had an hour and a half to kill once we got there, so we went to a PlayZone, or arcade. Not my thing, but fun to watch. Apparently, that’s true of all the Ecuadorian school-age kids who were there, too. None seemed to play the games, but they gathered en masse to watch Jan and Felix play.

Cool thing was, the boys were able to enlighten me regarding the “riot” I’d seen before: only a student demonstration gotten slightly out of hand.

Today has been far more eventful. I’ve returned to my now favourite haunt, El Escudero in Quito’s Old Town, to write this after a long day climbing cathedral bell towers and visiting art galleries. I never expected to see an Andy Warhol exhibition in Quito after so determinedly avoiding the one in Toronto last year! I was very disappointed to learn that the two art galleries I was looking forward to the most aren’t open at the moment. The Museo de Arte Colonial is being renovated while the Museo Camilo Egas will reopen on September 25th, a week and a half after I leave Quito.

Start getting into Quito stride by climbing to the tower of the Basilica del Voto Nacional to catch this view of the city.

Never mind, I probably got my fill of excitement for the day at the Basilica del Voto Nacional, where the hair-raising climb up to the towers surprisingly did not turn my legs to Jell-O (I’m notoriously bad with ladders).

On Wednesday, I’d tried to go to the Basilica, but I only had Canadian money (hence my desperate search for a currency exchange). After together consulting my guidebook, South America on a Shoestring by Lonely Planet, the ticket vendor, Juasca, had pointed me in what we both thought was the right direction.

Today he was very pleased to see me return — so happy that he let me in for free!

Then he made me promise to return to the ticket office when I was done. I did, only to find that he had made me a bracelet! Aw, sweet!

Having already seen all the other sights that interested me after my futile quest for art, I returned to El Escudero to write and to enjoy a cerveza grande, about one and a half pints, for $2 (holy shit!).