A trip downtown

We all agreed it was about time for a day downtown, so we climbed into a cab and headed off for some fun time in the colonial part of the city. It is due to the preservation of this sector in Quito that it was designated by UNESCO (along with Krakow) as the first Cultural Heritage site, in 1978. It is not hard to understand why it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Latin America. Most certainly, its colonial sector is the largest and best preserved in the region.

The colonial architecture is certainly beautiful, and among the features I love the best are the lovely balconies. We snapped a few pics as we weaved our way through the very narrow downtown streets.

Initially we had planned on visiting the newly re-opened historical wax museum. We hadn’t counted on the fact that Quito is celebrating its bicentennial this year, it is the summer time (schools out on vacation), and there are lots of activities happening downtown right now. That means lots and lots of crowds. We took one look at the long line waiting to go in to the wax museum and quickly changed our plans. As we walked in a different direction, Julian decided to take this picture of but one of the very impressive doors you can see downtown on so many churches and buildings. This particular one is the door to the little side chapel (Sagrario) right of the Cathedral.

We ended up at what seemed to be the only quiet museum: the City Museum. The kids are great museum visitors, so even though we have been to this museum together several times before, they found new things to learn and admire. The City Museum is located in what once was the first hospital in Quito, and has been restored beautifully.

Photographs of the exhibitions are not allowed, so we settled from some outdoors shots. Well, this isn’t quite outdoors, but pics were allowed of the little chapel.

We found an old wood-burning stove in one of the corridors… I saw so many of these growing up and still wish I could find one for myself.

Alexia took this picture from one of the museum balconies. This is the famous “Panecillo”  hill – you might have seen photos of the Virgin of Quito (Bernardo de Legarda). This is a great place to visit for a great view of the city.

As all colonial houses, the City Museum has not only one, but two beautiful courtyards. The kids naturally wanted to put their hands in the water, splash their faces and cool down a bit.

After the museum it was time for a little lunch, which included bolones de verde (deep-fried “balls” made of mashed plantain with fresh cheese in the middle) and blackberry juice. Yum!

And then it was time for a little shopping (not too much!) before heading home.

I took a shot of this passage way because it brings back so many fond memories. This is actually a small shopping “mall” and I remember coming here often as a child with my grandmother. Kind of a strange sensation to be repeating history, but this time with my grandchildren. And then there is a feeling of continuity…

One of the neat things about shopping downtown is that shops tend to be grouped together in small “districts” according to the different wares they sell. Here for example, you see one little jewelry shop after another, down the entire block. This makes for very convenient comparison shopping. In addition, shopping downtown is soooo much cheaper than anywhere else!

And here is the proof of that previous statement: we came home with 10 skeins of wonderful wool, for which we paid the incredible sum of US$ 10.20. Don’t we all just love a bargain?

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