Exploring Quito

We’re slowly acclimatising to local time and our body clocks wake most of us up early this morning. The breakfast room is busy by 7.30am, and we’re all commenting about how comfortable our beds were after our long travel day yesterday! Breakfast is a comprehensive hot and cold selection including local foods and featuring a wide choice of Ecuadorian fruits. Our local guides, Fernando and Santiago meet us at the hotel and we set off for a leisurely walking tour of Quito’s colonial city centre. This takes us first to the Independence Square where we learn about the city’s history and take a closer look at the Presidential Palace. Some of us are lucky to see the changing of the guards which takes place only every 4 hours. Two new guards arrive carrying long spears! We have been asked to stand back and for good reason! The guards walk with spears pointing towards us, then change direction as the old guards jump down from their box and retire. We duck as the spears swing in various directions seemingly unaware there are tourists taking photos directly in their path!

Our city walk also takes us via the cultural centre and inside the Jesuit church, which is richly adorned with gold leaf. We conclude at the San Francisco Square and guests scatter in all directions, but mostly to the nearby café recommended by our guides. Soup, sandwiches and beer seem to be popular. This evening we walk down the hill to dine at one of Ecuador’s finest restaurants, the Theatrum. Located above the foyer of the National Theatre, the restaurant is well known and usually full of locals. Tonight, the Furlongs family has reserved 2/3rds of the tables! The dinner is a great success and, not least, the complimentary award-winning Argentinian Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc provided by the Furlongs management. Having hosted guests well, Richard decides to tell everyone that our departure time tomorrow is slightly earlier than originally advertised. One or two people notice, the rest are too merry … the plan worked!