I was so excited for my trip to Ecuador! I had booked the trip initially more than 2 years ago for April 2020, and was finally able to rebook for this year April 2022. A holiday was long overdue! However, one big benefit to having my trip cancelled and rebooking, was that I was able to get a little more bang for my buck this time round. KLM had issued me vouchers and when I went to re-book, the flights were cheaper, so I managed to purchase some premium economy seats this time around with extra legroom and recline at the front the the plane. Winner!
The flight was pretty flawless actually, and despite the media reporting serious issues with long security waits at Manchester, I actually experienced hardly any waits, and was up in the air fairly stress-free!
Landing in Quito was absolutely spectacular too, with views of the mountains and long drawn out city covering the entirity of the valley between them. I was so excited!
I got through passport and Quito security in record time, and after picking up my bag, grabbing some cash at an ATM and making sure to pick up a SIM with local internet, I then just called for an Uber on my phone. Easy peasy!
My taxi driver was called Franklin, and he spoke very little English, which was perfect for practising my Spanish, we used a combination of his English, my Spanish and google translate, and the 40 min drive to my hostel was a lot more enjoyable than I imagined! I swapped numbers with Franklin and he promised me a cheaper deal for a taxi on the return to the airport! What a guy!
Before my trip I spent a long time trying to decide on the kind of places I wanted to stay in Ecuador. If you’ve read other blog posts of mine you’ll know I LOVE diversity. Some fancy hotels, some local AirBnBs, some hostels… it all helps get a well-rounded experience. And I thought after 2 years of no holidays, travelling on my own and being in a city, a hostel was probably my best bet as it would give me a chance to meet some people and perhaps have a bit of a party! Haha, so for the first 2 nights I booked (apparently) ‘the best’ hostel in Quito, Secret Garden. Being slightly older than I was the first time I stayed in hostels (lol), I decided to try and get the hostel lifestyle with a little class and booked myself a private room with ensuite 😉
However, I checked in to Secret Garden and the hostel had unfortunately messed up my booking, they had no record of it in their system, despite me showing them all the confirmation emails I had on my phone… They did a bit of rearranging, and managed to find me somewhere to stay which was OK for one night, but it was on the top floor directly next to the bar area. Even jetlagged, after a few drinks in the bar making friends AND with my superiour sleeping skills, I still struggled to sleep through the noise of the bar… so on the second day I moved elsewhere and realised perhaps party hostels are not for me anymore! NOOOO!!! Although the bar was cool… perhaps it’s more of a ‘visit and leave’ kind of place haha.
After breakfast (and a small earthquake!!!) at Secrets, I checked out and grabbed an Uber across town to Hostel San Francisco, it was closer to the main parts of the historic town and only a short walk from where I was supposed to get pick up to Mashpi the next day. It was almost the opposite of Secrets, the hotel was completely empty and very quiet. I wished I could have merged the two places!
After checking in I started on a bit of a solo walking tour around the historial centre of Quito. I went to pretty much all the main “hotspots”. First of all I walked up to San Francisco Plaza and the church there, which was preparing for the Easter Sunday parades the following day. They had a huge golden crucifix and Jesus statue which they were fixing to a massive stand ready for the Sunday procession. It was quite cool to watch. From here I headed over to Plaza Grande and the government buildings, (where I stopped for a quick oat latte) and finally walked all the way up to the Basilica.
I really enjoyed visiting the Basilica, which you can pay to go inside and climb all the way to the top for spectacular views of the whole of Quito! There were also quite a lot of other tourists here and I got chatting to a few of them which was nice 🙂
I ended up walking around 5 miles that day! Definitely getting the steps in after 2 years of working from home! I had a lovely day, and thanks to the jetlag, by the time I climbed back down from the Basilica it was still only just lunch time! (I had woken up at 6am!). So after the Basilica I took another uber across the city to a very highly rated vegan restaurant called Tandana. I got one of the vegan pizzas and really enjoyed it! The view from my table was also amazing and I got my first glimpses of a few little hummingbirds (albeit very far away)!
Again, thanks to jetlag (and probably also a carby lunch) I headed back to the hotel for a short nap, before heading out again in the evening for a walk around the town. I walked around Calle La Ronda, which is supposed to be a cool little neighbourhood, but for me felt a little gimicky and had little atmostphere compared to other places I had visited that day.
Then after waking myself up with this walk I headed back across town to another vegan placed called El Maple, and had one of my first traditional Ecuadorian meals called “Menestra” which was like a steak (in my case, a soy steak), served with beans, rice and fried plaintain or patacones (which were my absolute favourite – green plantain smashed and twice fried).
I really enjoyed my first day in Ecuador, but I must admit I was feeling very tired, and more than just the jetlag I think. Quito is at around 2,850m above sea level, which means altitute sickness is quite common, especially if you’re not accustomed to this at all (like me from Manchester!), so it’s quite likely that I was feeling this. But still, so far my experience had been great, they city was beautiful, surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, the people were lovely, and the food so far had been very tasty!
However, I couldn’t stop thinking about the next stage of my holiday, the day after I was going to Mashpi!!! And I was so excited! So I made sure I got an early night so as not to miss my early 7am pick-up from Casa Gangotena 🙂