We are staying in El Centro Norte, Quito’s modern downtown. South of us is a completely different version of Quito–it’s historical downtown called El Centro Histórico.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Quito’s old town is narrow hilly streets lined with pastel coloured buildings, and plazas bordered with churches, palaces, museums and theatres.
A few days ago after Spanish classes, we found our way to old town on the Trolebus, one of three north-south transit lines (the city is long and narrow), for which we paid 25 cents. We wandered the streets and plazas for about an hour until we were caught in a rainstorm and dove into a cafe to wait it out. It didn’t look like the evening was going to be much dryer, so we made a mad dash for a station and caught a ride back toward home. A kind young woman overheard us trying to figure out stations and in English offered her help. Thanks to two stations being closed for repairs we had quite a walk home, something we wouldn’t have known had she not spoken up.
Today, Saturday, with a much nicer weather forecast, we again headed into El Centro Historico, this time taking the Ecovia (another one of the three north-south transit lines, and also 25 cents a ride). We hopped off at the Alameda station, where Parque Alameda divides the old and new towns. From there we walked about 1km uphill to the La Basílica del Voto Nacional.
We took a long careful walk downhill to Plaza de la Independencia, and then wended our way through the streets until we were exhausted and hungry. Another $2.50 almuerzo re-energized us enough to find a Trolebus station and head north for home.
There is still so much to see and do in El Centro Histórico, we will definitely be back for more.