For the flight from Schipol to Bon Aire I started off by watching Yogi Bear but then spent the rest of the time trying to sleep. During this leg of the journey we got a light snack, dinner (chicken and rice!), and breakfast.
We arrived in Bon Aire at about 3am local time in an airport that didn’t seem big enough for a plane as big as the one were on. The plane was bigger than the terminal building do it was fortunate the majority of people were disembarking. Looking around the darkness and the lit plane kind of had an eerie feeling to it.
Once it was refuelled we reboarded the plane, returning to the seats we had left earlier. A couple of hours later we stopped again, this time in Guayaquil and dropped off most of the remaining passengers before continuing on to Quito. During the flight to Guayaquil I decided to watch The King’s Speech. At this time we were also given immigration forms for when we arrived in Quito though we had some questions about precisely what needed to be declared as we all had a fair bit of electrical gear with us for use on the Galapagos Islands. As a friend would say, it was like we were carrying enough electrical items to open a shop.
Fortunately when we arrived in Quito we found it was all okay and we met up with the representative from Llama Travel. It was then a short drive to our hotel whilst we were told what to expect of the rain. Apparently a few days previously the rain water washing down off the side of the volcano had been so plentiful that there had been metre deep floods. This was particularly bad in tunnels where drivers had to abandon their cars and swim out.
At the Hotel Reina Isabel we dropped off our luggage at around 9:30am and went down for breakfast. It wasn’t a great breakfast as it consisted of bread rolls, ham, and cheese – similar to previous experiences in Cusco and in Athens. It seems that breakfast for that day wasn’t included but the waiter just made a note of our room number – presumably so we could be charged for it when we checked out. Afterwards we quickly got our bags sorted, had a shower and got changed, followed by a short nap until 12:45.
Llama Travel picked us up at 12:45, 15 minutes earlier then they had agreed. Our first stop was on the way to picking the last couple up and was an impressively big Gothic style basilica situated on top of a hill with a large plaza in front. Unfortunately it was closed so we couldn’t look around inside but we did get to take a few photos of the outside. Rather than the normal gargoyles it was adorned with ones resembling local animals such as the condor. Part of the building looked very new due to dome restoration work they had been doing.
Several places were pointed out as we drove along. After picking up the last couple we carried on to a place where local Quito residents are taught important skills but that was closed too. We wandered down the road and back onto the bus that then drove for quite a while around the older parts of Quito and some particularly unsafe places according to the guide. The old town in Quito is a UNESCO cultural heritage site, so is protected against development.
Eventually we got to the top of a large hill where there was a large statue of Mary made from aluminium. The toilets there ended up costing $5 to use as we didn’t have anything smaller. It is something we wish we’d known about previously so that we could have ensured we had change before using the facilities.
We then drove back into the city where we were dropped off. This time we needed waterproofs due to the downpour that had started. To begin with we visited a church of San Francesco.
Our guide then took us past a Jesuit church which was closed but then our guide spotted obvious pick pockets so led us into a library. After hanging around in there for a while he led us over the road into another church where we were asked to keep an eye out for pick pockets again.
The next stop was the Presidential palace where we could take a photo of a pair of Grenados. We didn’t go in however. We were then asked if we’d like to be left there to find food places, etc. or if we wanted to go back to the hotel. As James was feeling a little off we headed back to the hotel.
Having reached the hotel by 5pm we carried on to try and find somewhere local to eat. We wandered for about an hour and eventually found a Tex Mex place that seemed reasonable. From the looks of it I would have guessed it was a place for the locals rather than tourists as the people there did not speak any English. We all had chicken, fries and a drink which came to $25 between us – inclusive of a generous tip.
It was then a short walk around the corner back to the hotel. After such a long couple of days I was tired and was actually in bed by 19:30.