We arise to our second day in Quito, already impressed by the grandeur of the architecture and landscape, it’s time to have a look around. We take in a free walking tour to have a poke around, further reinforcing the impression that Quito is a city of notable romance. While the walking tour was fun, the highlight is the central market and having the best market food we’ve had since Oaxaca Mexico. We gulp down some delicious coconut and fruit juices for a buck each before sitting down to the serious food. We ordered our food doing the usual travelling thing, look around and try match up what you’re ordering with the goodies you see around: at this market there seems to be two dishes, so we go for one each. What comes out is nothing short of food-gasm. A tuna soup is rich, hot and delicious but the star of the show is the fried fish with prawn ceviche salsa. The fish has a light crunch and utterly falls apart inside, what a find, Quito just keeps delivering.
At this point we link up with a crazy polish couple, Ola and Piotr along with a few Americans to do a bit of a sightseeing trip. First port of call is the Virgin of Quito, a huge statue high on a hill overlooking the historical centre. The statue is pretty cool on account of its size but the real winner is simply another commanding view of Quito, it’s historical, beautiful, sprawling and busy. It turns out also that the back side of the virgin is the poorer part of town so apparently this religious icon permanently gives the ass to the poor folk, fitting really.
Ticking boxes all over the place, now we’re off to Mitad del Mundo, the centre of the world at zero degrees latitude. Of course here we’re at a bit of a landmark and we take the customary photos with a foot in each hemisphere with our new found mates. It’s a little sad to say but the most entertaining part of this little tourist must-do is that the whopping big monument is in the wrong place, the equator is about 300m north of the spot, an awesome cock up if ever there was one. But undeterred, an afternoon of beers makes everything better. Given the sprawl that is Quito, sucked into a narrow valley we’re barely on the outskirts of town and a good hour away from our hostel, a tad tipsy we leg it back completely unconcerned about the discrepancy, we’ve had a great afternoon either way.
Quito has also offered up the most social time of our trip. It’s no doubt part of our headspace and a bit of dumb luck but Quito’s encouraging ease, intoxicating grandeur and welcoming tranquility are the perfect ingredients to meeting new mates. So much so that we end up on a 5th floor terrace with a million dollar view of historical Quito skyline with our new friends for dinner. The view here is utter romance, centuries old buildings are artfully lit up all around as we down yet more beers and delicious food. It turns out that Quito is a sister city to Krakow, the home town of Ola, our new best friend crazy neuroscientist Polish tornado. From this vantage point it makes perfect sense, this very latin city seeps all the romance and whimsical fantasy that we expect from historical Europe.
In inspiring company to the backdrop of a truly captivating city we momentarily whisk ourselves away to a sense of romantic cinema from a time gone by. The concoction of factors that make up Quito are nothing short of theatrical, and right now we feel centre stage.