When I’m not studying Spanish, I’ve been having fun 
exploring the capital city of Ecuador –  Quito!  
This city sits in a bowl of the Sierra mountains at 9,350 feet.  2.6 million people enjoy its high-altitude weather, it’s modern facilities and infrastructure, as well as its beautiful architecture and surroundings.  I have been so lucky to live here 
during the last three months.  
This post will take you on a journey 
through some of Quito’s tourist highlights.  
After reading it, I’m sure you’ll want to come visit me soon!

My friend Ava (from California) and I enjoying the view from one of many Quito Welcome Signs
Sitting atop of the Panecillo, is the Virgin of Quito, a 45 meter tall statue made from seven thousand pieces of aluminum. She overlooks and protects the city.  The view of the sprawling city from her base is spectacular.

Quito’s Centro Historico District is the historic “old town” dating back to the 16th century.  It is known as the best-preserved, least altered, historic center in Latin America and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I love to wander the cobblestone streets, admire the architecture, peak into the churches and sit in the spacious plazas to watch the world go by. 
Enjoying Plaza Independencia and the Presidential Palace with my Host Mother, 
Amparo, her cousin Rocio, and her Aunt. 

Plaza San Francisco 

So many churches to discover….

The Panecillo can be seen sitting atop the hill above Garcia Moreno Street, 
or La Calle de Siete Cruces
The Charming Streets of Barrio La Ronda 
High above the Centro Historico District, opposite of the Pancecillo, 
looms the grandest cathedral of them all, the Basilica.
You can climb to its highest steeple and view the city below!

Walking the halls of the Basilica
One day I was lucky enough to run into a parade with the local high
school band and some indigenous dancers. 
Smack dab in the center of the city is a beautiful park named Parque Carolinas.  This park has it all!
Ecuavolley is a 3 on 3 person volleyball game – and it’s intense!
Paddle Boating around a pond
A huge skate park and roller-blading track
Futball, or soccer fields, plus basketball and floor hockey courts
Creative playgrounds for kids
Moto-cross racing track
Public exercise equipment (yes, those are truck tires!) and a complete rubberized running track.

This park even has a beautiful botanical garden complete with displays on each of the ecological zones of Ecuador.

Plants from the coast, sierra mountain, tropical rainforest and desert regions can be seen here. 

There’s even a Japanese garden!
Finally, as if Quito isn’t high enough, the surrounding mountains tempt me daily to explore a little higher.  So, to do this more easily, I boarded the Teleferico, a 20 minute gondola ride up the side of Volcan Pinchicha.  The top was a little chilly at … let me do the conversion for you… 13,287 feet!
And if you need any help breathing when you reach the top, flavored oxygen bottles await 
along with a spectacular view of Quito!
Hiking along this ridgeline, enveloped in the fog and clouds was a very memorable experience.
My friend Ava loved it too!

Look!  I found Lupine in full bloom along the trail.  I love that I’ve seen Lupine on 3 different continents! In these highlands, lupine grows more like a small shrub with thick stems.  I wonder if it’s the intense sunlight or the year-round temperate conditions that help it live to be so old and sturdy.

I just couldn’t take enough pictures of the beautiful grasslands and the views
of the city and the surrounding farmland.  
I definitely will do this hike again.  Who wants to come along?