Almost like travelling in a time machine (which I hope becomes a reality sometime soon), but not quite, it is possible to experience sights and smells from two entirely different time periods in Quito. Quito’s old town, a UNESCO world heritage site, was built in the 16th century over a destroyed Inca capital. The area to the north of the historic centre, known as “La Mariscal”, is a late 20th century construct, with plenty of entertainment avenues such as bars, restaurants, discos and associated tourist attractions
After walking out of Quito’s old city and walking few blocks, I entered the trapezoidal El Ejido park. Narrow polluted streets of the old city transformed into wider avenues with this park located in between, allowing people to catch a breath of fresh air. There are handicraft and trinket sellers (and beggars) in the park who surprised me by speaking English.
If the beggars speak English, it must be the tourist central of Quito!
The Spanish started constructing a new district in Quito and as with typical colonial urban design, a city plaza was built at it’s centre in the 16th century. In my opinion, this is a very appropriate place to start touring old Quito. This plaza was among the first sites to be constructed and has some of Quito’s most important buildings around it. Therefore I chose it as the zero coordinate for my trip (you know, the point from which everything begins)
Since I am completely committed to sustainable modes of public transit as opposed to taxis or cars, I was delighted to find that most, if not all, principal sights of tourist importance in Quito can be accessed by public transport. For a mere $0.25, one can navigate a vast network of efficient public transit system to get to different parts of Quito. It might seem slow, crowded and chaotic, but what’s the point of travelling if one doesn’t mingle with the common man and experience all that?
Quito, as you may know, is located in a valley surrounded by mountains and peaks on all sides. In addition, the city has some tall structures from where the views are breathtaking.
1. Basílica del Voto Nacional – atop steep stairs and rickety planks
2. “TeleferiQo” – on the flanks of Volcano Pichincha
3. El Panecillo – from inside the virgin of Quito
4. Itchimbía – the other side
Almost like travelling in a time machine, it is possible to experience sights and smells from two entirely different time periods in Quito by walking from the old historic centre to the modern Mariscal neighbourhood. Guidebooks warn that this stretch is unsafe, but I did it during the day, used common sense and it was perfectly fine.
I am extremely curious about historical sites especially the ones like Quito that are recognised internationally. So, armed with a list of criteria that UNESCO uses to select heritage sites, I started on a journey to experience Quito in a UNESCO way.
I arrived in Quito, the capital of Ecuador today. Since I diligently followed the first two phases of my work-save-travel model for the past few months, I was so looking forward for this vacation.