Posts Tagged With: Quito

Day 244: Buenos Aires – Argentina – Feb 16th

Our flight was at 6:40am, so we had to wake up at 3:30am to make it in time for the airport. After waiting for 1hr + 15minutes for a queue about 5 people deep, we finally got onto our flight. There was a group of Argentinean archaeologists in front of us who had two cart loads of scientific luggage. Slowest check-in ever.

On the flight we sat next to this middle-aged man that looks like he was running marathons for a living. Seriously, who flies with a pair of short running shorts? We tried to use our Spanish and had a nice chat with this guy, but man…. was it ever tiring talking in Spanish. Our Spanish was never great to begin with, but it doesn’t help that Argentineans seem to have a totally different ‘style’ of Spanish, forcing us to pay 110% attention and understanding only 10%.

Funny story at customs though. Argentina has a pretty advanced system at customs with mandatory photo picture and finger print scans. Alan though, had a problem with this because ever since leaving Honduras he’s been experiencing some strange skin issues where his hands started peeling about two layers of skin. It was pretty strange and pretty gross, but seems to be healing by now. Well, when your skin peels off, it leaves your finger prints pretty much illegible…. and the customs officer had to try like 10 times before finally getting a passable scan of his fingers. Almost got pulled into the ‘back room’ for some special screening…because who tries to wipe off their finger prints!?!??!

With the flight, time zone difference and the long wait for our hostel shuttle (it was free!), we got into the city of Buenos Aires at about 7pm. In Quito, which was near the equator but 2400m above sea level, it was pretty chilly in the low teens. In Buenos Aires though, it was summer there and felt like low 30s! Between the airport and downtown, the whole place had this Toronto vibe to it, with wide roads, green space and large trees on either sides of the road, and even the familiar green signs on the roads, it all felt very Toronto to us!

Downtown BA is a totally different story. With massive monuments to independence, large public parks with streets full of glitz and glamour, this place feels very much like Europe in some parts, and Manhattan in others. We found our charming and extremely well-run hostel smack dab in the middle of downtown, and were on our way out for dinner. Strange though, was during our ride into town, we noticed that most restaurants were all closed, even as it was close to 7pm. We asked our driver, and he just gently reminded us that “It is just too early.”…

One of the biggest reasons we looked forward to BA was the fact that this city has a rather large Chinese population, and with that comes… Chinese food! Not just any Chinese food, but HOT POT!!!! WAHHH! After taking the subway, walking 8 blocks to Chinatown, we had to take a taxi back to another part of town because the blog we read about BA hotpot gave us the wrong freakin’ address! Hotpot was awesomely good and Alan actually ate so much he felt ‘drunk’…. Impressive! Finishing dinner at 11ish, we finally understood the full extent of our driver’s comment on “It is just too early…” because while taking the bus back to the hostel, we saw lines of people queuing for every restaurant on the street, from coffee shops to pizzerias to McDonald’s, every place was packed! People were on the streets drinking, and the whole city had a very lively feel to it.

Too tired, we slept like pigs. Exploring BA will take some time, but we are starting to like this city already.

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Day 232: Quito – Ecuador – Feb 4th

Ecuador’s claim to fame is, well, is that it is on the equator! And north of Quito, there’s a monument that celebrates this amazing feat of nature, and mankind’s attempt to understand the world we live in. The site is pretty far from Quito town, and you can either take a bus to the north station and transfer for a whopping $1.10 per person, or take a taxi. We decided on the bus route, as it would be more interesting and we had quite a bit of time to spare.

The Quito metro bus runs on its own lanes and is separated from other traffic. It’s pretty fast, clean and safe, all the things that most Central American public transport is not. Riding far past the limits of our tourist map, we arrived at Ophelia station and changed buses. This new bus was even more awesome, with comfy seats and a pretty sweet stereo system playing some Spanish oldies. We determined the best word to describe Quito: Cute.

Peering outside as we drive from suburb to suburb, you get a sense of how big Quito really is but the places are clean, the roads are nice, and despite having graffiti everywhere, even the graffiti was cute…. we even saw a graffiti of Doraemon!!!

The actual tourist site was pretty interesting, with a lot of cheesy touristy things you can do. It also has several single room exhibitions about various things like insectorium, a building dedicated to the ‘discovery’ of the equator by the French Academy of Science back in the 1800s. Next to the monument was an even bigger tourist trap, or a so-called museum. There they had some questionable ‘experiments’ showing you what happens when you’re at and around the equatorial line. Cheesy, but fun!

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Day 231: Quito – Ecuador – Feb 3rd

The first thing on our minds was this: Get our Galapagos trip booked up. We ended up going the easiest way and booked our flights and ship package out with the agency our hostel works with. We were in a rush, and the guy seemed genuinely helpful and forthcoming with everything. Turns out though, we could’ve done the exact same thing if we just headed to the Galapagos ourselves and booked everything there, and saved a lot of money!!! Oh well….

It was a Sunday, and we spent the day wandering around the old town of Quito, a UNESCO heritage site. Did we say it was Sunday? Apparently, everyone in Quito spends Sunday with family and takes the day off, leaving us tourists with nothing but closed shops and starvation!! It was still cool to wander the streets though, as most of the roads in the core were closed off for the bicycles, and there were some pretty cool buildings around. We climbed their basilica, which gave a pretty good glimpse of the city. Quito is cool in that it is surrounded on both sides by volcanos and the streets are hilly, while the flat strip in the middle is where all the buildings are.

We needed to do some last minute shopping, and took the bus up to Quicentro, an upscale mall with one of the best food court designs we’ve seen. One thing we loved about Quito, is the abundance of outdoors-y shops in the malls, which sort of tells you that the general public are really into outdoor activities.

At night we headed into the tourist area of Mariscal, which was located in the New Town and sort of looked like Queen St in Toronto. Problem was, EVERYTHING WAS CLOSED!!!!! Seriously, we’ve never seen such a sad tourist zone, with closed shops, graffiti everywhere and nobody walking around. Eventually we stumbled upon an Irish pub, and spent the evening there watching the Superbowl and eating wings. What a great game!

Note: Apparently, there is an prohibition bylaw that refrains bars in Ecuador from serving alcohol past 4pm. That sort of explains why bars are closed??

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Day 230: Quito – Ecuador – Feb 2nd

The reason we’re in San Pedro Sula is because our flight leaves from this city. Our destination is Quito, Ecuador in South America. Our flight has one stop, and that’s in Miami, USA. It’s one strange trip, but this was seriously the best itinerary we could find, and not to mention we can visit Alan’s sister in Miami!

Leaving Honduras at 7am in the morning, we arrived in Miami for some food, errands and a rendezvous with family. At about 9pm (local time), we rolled into Quito’s old Mariscal Sucre Airport, which was purportedly to be replaced by a new airport…but it’s been like 2 years and they still haven’t switched!

Getting a glimpse of Quito on our taxi ride to the hostel, the city was a bit empty but you can still feel a strong sense of modernization. Anyways, we were too tired to care after a days worth of travels….

Leaving Honduras: At the San Pedro Sula airport they had a Dunkin’ Donuts and a massive bank… where you can pay your $38USD exit tax!!! Jerks. We estimated our cash usage exactly and left the country with 10 Lempiras, or about $0.50 cents! And strangely, when you leave the country, they don’t stamp your passport. And the “customs” officer brought her daughter to work, so this 7yr old girl was running around while they looked over your documents. Awesome.

this is where they gyp you

this is where they gyp you

Who came up with the numbers?

Who came up with the numbers?

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