Ecuador Day 3: Art, Architecture, and Cuisine

What can I say? Today is a good day for a list post because we packed so much in. I recommend this as a day tour for anyone with a short time in Quito.

1. Parque Itchimbia

This park is run by a private environmental company and the house on top is used for exhibitions. There are really beautiful views of the city, lots of friendly and healthy and well behaved wild dogs, and a photo opportunity from the Quito sign. Steps down to the city have interesting graffiti.

2. Mercado Central

Oh how I love a market! This one reminded me of so many of the Central American markets we have visited. Lots of stands selling prepared foods, meats, and fruits and vegetables. Unique to Quito were stands selling every type of potato you can imagine.

3. Las Corvinas de Don Jimmy

Located in the Mercado, TripAdvisor rates this as #3 of about 1500 restaurants in Quito and I can see why. Don Jimmy’s is serving up deep fried sea bass that looks and tastes like fried chicken. Order one to share!

4. Guayasamin Museum

This was John’s #1 priority in Quito, and he was spot on. We took an Uber there (our most expensive trip at $4) and were able to catch an English speaking tour of the museum and artist’s home. Oswaldo Guayasamín was born to a poor family. The oldest of ten children, his mother was Mesitza and his father was Ecuadorian. After Guayasamín graduated from art school, Nelson Rockefeller attended his exhibition and bought five of his paintings. Rockefeller later arranged for Guayasamin to visit the US and exhibit his art there, which gave him success on a global scale. The tour of the museum was so informative, and our group became enamored with not only his artwork but also his humanitarian message. After the museum, we toured his private home and studio. It was so inspirational and beautiful.

5. Plaza Foch

This was not my favorite area. There were a lot of watering hole bars with deeply discounted booze. Lots of young tourists getting soused. But go get a picture with the sign. Definitely don’t get a hotel in the area.

6. Osaka

When we drafted our initial list of restaurants for dinner, this spot was in the top 5. But we eliminated it, partially because I was suspect of “Peruvian-Japanese fusion.” We actually had Ubered uptown to go to a different restaurant. We were not hungry yet, and there were so many lovely places in the area we decided to wander and menu surf. We chose Osaka for lunch and it turned into one of my top three meals in Ecuador. Delicious fresh fish, inventive food combinations, and a delicious poke salad.

7. Basilica del Voto Nacional

This is a fantastic church that rivals many we have visited in Europe. In fact it was inspired by the Bourges Cathedral in France, which I visited in college.  The Basilica of the National Vow (wow!) is the largest Neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas. It was started in 1887 and is still under construction. You can walk across the nave and see the buttresses from inside! Really fascinating. We also climbed up the tower, which was precarious but ended with stunning views of Quito.

8. Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus

Very different from the Basilica, this Jesuit church was started in 1605 and is well known for it Baroque and Moorish architecture. It is decorated with gold leaf, gilded plaster, and wood carvings. It left me wishing the Jesuits would give their money to the poor instead of gilding their churches.

9. Calle la Ronda

This pedestrian-only area is filled with chocolate shops, restaurants, colorful flower boxes, and iron balconies. It was super quiet during the day when we strolled through, but at night we’re told it comes alive with street performers and hopscotch. We happened to arrive at a quiet time, and I wasn’t happy that the hawkers were out. I need a zen moment when shop owners start screaming at me to come into their establishment. If anyone has a polite way to deal with that let me know!

10. Zazu

This was one restaurant I was truly looking forward to. We had some trouble getting there. We took a cab instead of an Uber and between my 200 Spanish words and the driver’s zero English words, we could not cross the street we needed to cross to get here. We finally got out of the car and braved the busy traffic on foot. Once there it was a calm oasis. The interior reminds me of one of my favorite restaurants in London, Kitchen W8: careful lighting, small tables on several levels, fresh flowers, and gorgeous linens. We ordered an Ecuadorian Chardonnay that was delicious! And a variety of entrees to share. The food was inventive, beautifully presented, and tasty.

11. Abysmo

We stopped for a night cap after dinner and the service was a touch spotty, the drink menu was inaccurate, and I didn’t like my beer. But the others in my party drank things they liked and it is a fun location to try.

 

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