Quito, the old and the new

It wasn’t until I was wheezing up the hostel stairs that I remembered that Quito is 2850m above sea level. The seven volcanoes surrounding the greater Quito area and the stark rolling foothills dotted with pine and eucalyptus trees should have been the first clue. Situated just 22km south of the Equator, you might expect palm trees and pineapples everywhere. Instead the weather is a fairly consistent 19 degrees, just warm enough to stick it out in shorts. If it wasn’t for the fantastic Ecuadorian coffee and Quichua-speaking indigenas in beautiful traditional clothing, I’d swear I was back in the Bolivian altiplano.

Quito is divided into two very distinct sections: the Old Town and the New Town. The Old Town transports you to any European city with a church, a basilica, a municipal building, or a café on every corner. The city was dubbed a World Heritage Site in 1978 and rightfully so – the multi-coloured colonial buildings are in perfect condition and line clean cobblestone streets. The New Town, only a 5 minute trole ride away, is like stepping into a different city completely. Backpackers, night clubs, pirated movie sellers, English book stores, and swank restaurants are chockablock in this ultra-modern neighbourhood. You can almost feel the energy rising as happy hour begins and the sun begins to set. Further into the New Town, the high rises begin. Embassies, banks, and severe-looking men and women in suits make the unemployed traveler slightly uncomfortable and misplaced.

The overall feeling of Quito is that it is flush with history with a very modern twist. It offers a little something for everyone and is definitely worth a visit.

Stepping out of my hostel is the picturesque Old Town

The Basilica del Voto Nacional catches your eye right away as it is easily the highest building in the Old Town

The stunning neo-gothic interior of Basilica del Voto Nacional

Hillside Quito homes in the lower Old Town

I took the Teleferiqo up the flanks of Pichincha Volcano to check out one of Quito's most famous views.

The only picture I got of myself all day. Two nice German girls helped me out with this little gem.

A pieced together panoramic view of Quito.

Heading over to the New Town, the city changed completely

At Kallari, a organic cocoa farmer co-operative, I sat down for a VERY tasty lunch

I actually think this is the best chocolate I have ever had.

Things got very religious in Plaza Santo Domingo in the Old Town

Inside Church of Santo Domingo, another beautiful church

I was the only person in the church. It was quite nice.

So ornate and glittery

The Church of Santo Domingo museum offered some interesting artwork