Quito to Cuenca

Sunday morning in Quito. The city authorities close some roads and organise diversions to make much of the colonial city centre a pedestrian and bicycle zone. Which is nice, apart from when you need to get from your city centre hotel to the airport for a flight! Anyway, we’ll worry about that later, and enjoy a free morning in Quito to start with. Some guests take taxis to visit Quito’s Botanical Gardens, others follow a walking route through a pretty area called La Ronda, or visit the main square to observe local life passing by. 

Around 12 noon we join our private transport for the journey to Quito Airport. The road outside our Patio Andaluz Hotel has always been one-way, but is now one-way in the opposite direction to normal. We follow a diversion, and one of our guides, Fernando, jumps out and moves a “no through road” barrier, to let us along the road we wish to follow. No one seems to notice. We’re soon on the main road to Quito Airport.

On arrival at the airport we head to the check-in desks for our domestic flight operated by an airline called TAME. We start checking in, but the airline staff seem to have a problem. Their system is showing our names, but not the airline e-ticket numbers, so they can’t issue boarding cards! Richard and Dawn leap into action. They always bring copies of everything just in case, and they start providing the e-ticket numbers so the airline staff can enter them. At one point, Richard sits on the luggage weighing platform next to a check-in staff member to help show the documentation. The check-in lady starts to giggle, because the weight indicator shows the combined weight of one suitcase and one Richard. Rather more than the standard luggage allowance!

After all the check-in excitement, we pass through security without hiccup, and we’re soon aboard the aircraft and taking off on time for the short flight to Cuenca. Approximately 45 minutes later we are circling over the beautiful terracotta rooftops of Cuenca, and lining up to land. The runway here is quite narrow, and is situated in the centre of the city, with houses and buildings close by in all directions. It makes for an interesting landing and as soon as we touch down, the pilot slams on the brakes!

Our transfer to the city centre is only 15 minutes and we’re soon arriving at our El Dorado Hotel to settle in for our 4-night stay.