As I was walking to school today, it occurred to me that I have yet to write a blog post about Quito. I’ve written about adventures in Cuenca, the Amazon, the Galápagos and shared pictures of many more beautiful places around Ecuador. But Quito in and of itself is a spectacular city (and very proud to be the first UNESCO national heritage site) that deserves some attention, especially since it is the place I’ve called home for the past 4 (!) months.
Nestled in a sort-of-valley, Quito promises amazing views from every part of the city. Want something even more incredible? Take the TeleferiQo and hike up Volcán Pichincha (a whopping 4784 m) or climb to the top of the Basilica clock tower in Centro Historico. Quito is a bustling city with approximately 2 million people. Streets are lined with tienditas (pop up street shops) and food vendors (I know we aren’t supposed to eat street food, but those grilled platinos are to die for). Depending on the hour, passing buses can be so packed it is impossible to get on.
Close to the IES Abroad center is the Parque Carolina, where students gather to play soccer and basketball, children play on playgrounds and city residents can borrow bikes for free! It is also home to El Jardín Botánico.
I live in the Northern-Central part of the city which can be quieter and definitely less touristy. But the Mariscal and Centro Historico neighborhoods are great places to visit and are known for night life, artisanal markets, Churches and museums. In addition to tourist sites, Centro Historico is a great place to get a cheap meal ($2 almuerzo), purchase just about anything (from washing machines to alpaca yarn) and escape the city pollution (many of the streets are too narrow for cars). I highly recommend visiting the artisanal market and Guapalo in the Mariscal and La Ronda, La Basillica, La Compañía, Plaza y Iglesia de San Francisco and Museo de la Ciudad (if you speak Spanish) in Centro Historico.
Although many of these sites are not “exciting” parts of my everyday life, Quito truly is an amazing city. With just 2 weeks left, I am done traveling and hope to soak up as much as I can in my host city.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Kate Paladin and I'm an Environmental Studies major, Math minor at Bates College. I am a research assistant studying lake ecosystems, volunteer in an elementary school classroom and perform Bollywood dance. Most people study Spanish and then decide to visit South America, but I did the reverse - after choosing Quito for study abroad, I took my first Spanish class! Although I have just 2 years of Spanish under my belt, I couldn't be more excited to study in Ecuador.</span></p>