After our amazing days in the Galapagos we had a couple of days together with Marie in Quito before we went our separate ways, Marie to California to get loco at the Coachella festival, and us south towards the Peruvian border.
It was in the middle of Easter week and we certainly hit the jackpot of when to visit Quito as the city is known for its grand Easter parades in the streets! The biggest parades are on Good Friday and we witnessed suffering Jesuses dragging their heavy crosses down the street, with a sea of purple ghosts around them, mourning Marias and marching band music that could make you cry – both because of the sad melodies and because half of the band was out of tune. All together it created an eerie mood in the otherwise light streets of Quito.
Surrounding the parades was a sea of people, some of them dressed up in their national costumes, a lot of street vendors selling anything from candy and deep fried food to brooms or live goldfish, and children eating candy and ice creams as if it were their last day on earth. In many ways it was kind of like witnessing Norway’s national day, May 17th, but with purple ghosts and sad music.
We stayed briefly in the Mariscal area of Quito (Gringolandia) and the Old town area, and for us the Old town was much more interesting place to stay at than Mariscal. The streets and houses have an old charm to them and you are very close to a lot of nice sights. However, we learned a lesson when the hotel we had booked a month ahead in Old town suddenly didn’t have our reservations and were fully booked on Easter Thursday – always confirm by mail or phone after booking through third party sites! (Booking.com, Hostelworld.com, etc.)
Other than the great Easter parades we also took the cable car up to 4050 metres (world’s second highest teleferico), which gave us a good view over the city and surrounding areas (and also a bit lightheadedness), and we took a day-trip to the Otavalo market, north of Quito. The bus-rides takes about 3-4 hours in total from Old town and we ended up only spending about 2 hours there before returning home, so it’s worth either going there very early or maybe spending the night in Otavalo for market-buffs.
More photos from Quito and the rest of our travels in Ecuador can be found here.