We hopped up early after finally getting to sleep around 1:30am from our flight into Quito. Our guide Stalin picked us up at our apartment for our half day private tour of Quito.
Stalin drove a small hatchback so 3 of us snuggled into the back seat together. The plan was to visit the historic centers & cathedrals. He explained on arrival that it was not possible since it was Sunday & a holiday. I feel like Viator.com should have mentioned that weeks ago when I booked, but, here were are – so off we go!
It’s New Year’s eve, so we experienced lots of local customs, including wearing yellow underwear. You would not believe how difficult it is to find yellow underwear for men & women in the US. I looked in every store I went into in the past 3 months!!! Thankfully Staci found some, and bought me a pair like hers! I could use all the luck I can get in 2018! LOL !! 🙂
He had a good plan for the day & we definitely did not want to spend it sitting in the apartment! We visited a quaint shopping area, the old square where the president lives & works, we went into St. Francis Cathedral & the Basilica, but we were not able to go beyond the entryway because mass was in session. Both are beautiful! We will try to tour them on the 15th when we get back.
During our shopping, we visited a local cocao shop where we tried chocolate in each stage of processing. We bought some local soap made with honey & mango. It smells awesome! We ate at a super cute cafe for lunch where we sat outside in the open center square and had traditional Ecuadorian food. In the market we tried a bunch of different nuts, sweets and fruits that we had never had before.
We had our first meal in Ecuador, breakfast empanadas and coffee. It was about $12 which was not what I was expecting. Prices in the tourist areas seem to be comparable to the US. I found an ATM and got $100 so we have some cash for our adventures & shopping.
Before we came, we did a bunch of research online. I am finding things are not as cheap as we read that they were. Cabs, food, all of it seem to be higher and I am pretty sure a lot of it is because we are american. We have been paying about $1 a bottle for water & our guide bought them for 25 cents. Grrr!
During the afternoon we walked back towards the apartment. We wandered down Ave. Amazonas which was closed off for the New Years celebrations. We saw some of the effigies they were planning to burn at midnight, the ‘widows’ dressed up begging for pennies & candy (widows are men dressed in drag who dance & beg for cash), and lots of people dressed in Halloween type costumes, which I didn’t understand. There was a live band and tons of street vendors. We made one lap down the road & headed to the hotel. There were a lot of people moving in a herd down the road & not really a scene that was for us.
We walked just a few blocks to the local supermarket. It wasn’t my best trip ever…. we need food for New Years Day since most things will be closed. I picked up beer and wine – of course! But when I tried to put the beer on the conveyor belt at the register, I punctured a can. I managed to get it all over me, the cashier, the sign hanging above our head, the conveyor, cart, floor etc. It was actually pretty impressive. I am not sure why one of my peeps didn’t get a picture of that! Lost opportunity!!
I read ahead of time that New Years is a family holiday so most things started closing down around 4pm. This wasn’t really a city that puts on a great NYE party. There were a lot of small, very loud neighborhood parties, but not a central location with a big celebration.
For dinner we ate a La Terreza near Plaza Foch. It gave us a nice view of the city & the food was good. Overpriced for what it was, but the experience was good. Live music, the locals danced, and the service was good. We walked, and on the way back we saw people shooting off fireworks & hanging out in the restaurants. It was crowded in the handful of restaurants near the plaza, & lightly raining. We weren’t able to get in to sit anywhere so we just headed home. I have felt like I was getting a cold for a while & was ready for some rest! I think this is the first time I can remember going to bed before midnight!!! Not to worry though, the fireworks started at midnight & went on for about 40 minutes. The loudest ones were being dropped from the walkway above my window. I did get to bed early, but I am pretty sure I didn’t get 8 hours of sleep!