Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Quito, Ecuador
By Walker Simon
QUITO (Reuters Life!) - Perched 9,350 feet above sea level, Quito is a gateway to sweeping Andean panoramas and a UNESCO world heritage monument.
The center of the capital of Ecuador, which takes its name from the nearby equatorial line, is a living museum of Spanish colonial architecture, freshened by over $300 million in recent restorations.
6 p.m. - Board a cable car to climb to 13,500 feet for a bird's eye view. Looming above is the summit of the Pichincha volcano, which belched ash as recently as 1999.
7 p.m. - Soak in colonial-era ambience with a drink outdoors at Tianguez, at the foot of twin-towered San Francisco monastery, whose facade recalls Spain's Escorial.
8 p.m. - Dine at nearby Hotel Majestic. As a guitar duo strums folk tunes, try turnover empanadas made from yucca root and banana flour, spiced with Pico de Gallo sauce using peppers, onion, and garlic. Grab a window table for a view of the cathedral. Its floodlit cupolas are sheathed in a checkerboard of green, beige, yellow and white tiles.
9 p.m. - Head to La Ronda, a cobblestoned 1,000-foot (300 meter) walkway, festooned with red geraniums in vases fastened to wrought-iron balconies. Live music pours from a profusion of bars. Handicraft stores and art galleries are open late.
To warm up drink canelazo, stirred in knee-high ceramic pots resting on fire-lit grills. Brewed from sugarcane-derived liquor, it is flavored with cinnamon, lime and oranges. Continued...