Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Last Mileage Run of 2016 Part 6: So, Quito....

Quito from El Panecillo- The stairs up here take no prisoners, especially at altitude.
Well, it's been an interesting (half)day in this high altitude city.  It's my first time in Quito, and only second time to this general region.  So far, my opinion on this place for the purposes of mileage running is if you're going to do it, either do it well, or very poorly. That's a terrible sentence so let me explain- you either need 2 days or more here to go up into the rainforest to go hiking, or you need about 12 hours to stay at the airport Wyndham to do 'the turn', and get yourself back to MIA. 

From what I've seen, I'd prefer the former.  This place deserves a second look, and I hope I can give it the dignity.  It's set at high altitude (around 9,000ft at the lower points), and the buildings cover much of the valley, and go on up the hillsides in a variety of colors, making for some memorable views.  It also has that feel of a South American city that is trying to grow and modernize without losing it's heritage, and struggling with the concept. 

San Francisco Church and Square

If you're just here for the day, your first stop should be the 'old town' section of the city.  It has undergone a bit of a renascence, including some effective policing and renovation of the cultural center.  Quito is one of those places where you can enjoy exploring, but you do need to pay attention to your surroundings.  I wouldn't have gone out at night without a guide or a taxi directly to and from a destination.  Daytime felt decently safe, and we did some 'urban' hiking around the steep hills of the city.  If you're particularly ambitious, you can climb the staircase to "El Panecillo," which is a 200-metre-high hill adjacent to Old Town to get some great views of the city below.

Iglesia de La Compania de Jesus 
One thing I couldn't get over is how beautiful the skies were.  It was a treat, especially since every single weather report I found before we went predicted thunderstorms and rain the entire time.  As it turns out, apparently, this is just a thing about Quito.  They always call for rain, and 90% of the time they're wrong.

We stayed at the JW Marriott for the night.  No complaints here, especially given that I actually got a nice upgraded room, which I find is rare at Marriott even for their top level travelers.  It was a comfortable stay, and the executive lounge was well stocked and serviced.  It was a nice place to wind down after the long day of flying in, and exploring the city.

Sunset from the Executive Lounge
As it always goes, the stopovers are short and the flights are early.  Just enough time for a few hours of sleep before heading out again.....


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