Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Quito, Ecuador

Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:31am EDT
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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...

<p>The peak of Cotopaxi, Ecuador's highest active volcano, is reflected in the Limpiopungo lake in the Cotopaxi province in the 2000 file photo. The summits tops out at 19,347 feet or 5,897 metres. REUTERS/Guillermo Granja</p>