Quito city tour
We breakfast this morning in a beautiful courtyard of the Patio Andaluz Hotel before heading off on our walking tour of Quito's colonial city centre. Richard sets us up with tourist radios before we leave. Ear pieces in place we can hear our guide commentary loud and clear. Our local guides today are Fernando and Tomas, and our first stop is the main square. The Presidential Palace is to one side, the Cathedral on another, the Archbishop's Palace on the third side, and a rather modern Town Hall completes the picture. Apart from the Town Hall the architecture is beautiful, especially considering the bright sunshine and blue skies. We also visit the Metropolitan Cultural Centre located on the site of an old university and walk up to the roof top to see wonderful views of the main square and beyond.
Perhaps our most impressive visit is to La Compania de Jesus Church, one of the richest churches in America. The facade boasts six Salomonic columns which are a copy of those by Bernini in the Vatican. Inside the church everything is covered in gold leaf so it is quite a spectacle. From here we continue our stroll to San Francisco Square, originally an old market place and now boasting the baroque style San Francisco Church.
As we scatter for lunch and a free afternoon, Fernando and Tomas recommend we watch the weather and carry a rain coat if we are out and about. This turns out to be good advice!! At 2.40pm precisely the thunder starts and the rain comes down. Lots of rain! Heavy rain! And then hailstones! It stops after a while, goes calm, and then starts again for 10 minutes. Richard begins to cross his fingers for a dry spell for our walk to the Theatrum Restaurant this evening. He also has a plan B of course! As it turns out it is dry when we leave the hotel for the short walk to the restaurant. Richard has a bus at the ready and manages to persuade a few guests to use it. The rest of us walk the few blocks to the National Theatre which is where our restaurant is located. Our dinner menu features a typical shrimp "ceviche" served with dry corn and fried banana chips. Beef Tenderloin is the main dish. Exotic Ecuadorian Fruits is the dessert: Guanabana, Babaco, Guayaba, Naranjilla and Chirimoya. The restaurant hands out a photo card featuring the five fruits so we know what we are eating! The dinner is complimented by some nice wines courtesy of Dawn. She doesn´t know about the wine bill yet (Dawn is still in the UK and travels out to Galapagos next Friday). We must make sure we thank her when she arrives in Guayaquil!