It was nearly 7:30pm already by the time I reached my hotel, the Sheraton Quito. Nice touch number one: was met carside by the valet/doorman with an umbrella, so I didn’t get too terribly wet in the downpour. Now that’s service…and from a Sheraton! Check-in was pretty slow, taking nearly 20 minutes, but after asking if there might be any suites available for upgrade, they did find a nice junior suite for me.
It was happy hour, and I had lounge access, so decided to go check it out since it was still pouring rain. I was the only person in the lounge, and had a few small munchies and a couple of glasses of wine while I waited for the rain to let up. The hour I was there, I was the only person in the lounge…which kind of made me wonder why they had it open. After an hour of browsing the local area for places to eat, and the rain letting up to a steady drizzle, I decided to first go for a walk around the block. Couldn’t find either of the places I was looking for, but did manage to find a local ripoff of the Pinkberry frozen yogurt chain in DC. Or maybe this came first…not sure.
Didn’t find anything in my wander, so headed to the huge shopping mall near my hotel. Nothing that looked special there, and so far a TGI Fridays was looking like the best bet. It was almost 9pm at this point and I was getting seriously hungry. One more loop around the block, and I found a Chilis, lol. I was hungry, and it sounded good…plus the rain was getting heavier again, so I went in. Are you serious….a 2 hour wait for a table…maybe 90 minutes at the bar? I’ll pass.
Kept walking back towards the hotel and came across a little steak place right across from the Sheraton whose name I can’t remember. But hey, they had sangria, so all was not lost:
Unfortunately, my steak was terrible. It was way overcooked, and way too gristly. I guess my expectations were just too high after having great steaks all over south america. Oh well! At least it was filling. Decided to skip on desert, call it a night, and get up early to explore.
Still managed to sleep in until nearly 9am, just in time to go up and grab breakfast in the lounge. A decent selection of hot and cold items, and plenty to fuel me for the day. Once again, I was the only person in the lounge. I was beginning to wonder what was going on. There were wedding decorations all over the hotel, so clearly it was pretty full, but for whatever reason nobody was using the lounge. Oh well!
Went downstairs and asked the bellman to get me a taxi to go explore, and he highly recommended using a hotel car and negotiating a rate for all the stops I wanted to make. I had three stops planned, and the driver was more than happy to negotiate a flat rate for 6 hours. Sold…I wouldn’t have to worry about finding cars, leaving things in the car, etc. Maybe cost $20 or so more in the end, but well worth it to not have to think about safety/etc.
First stop was the TelefériQo (get it? Teleférico and Quito combined? Clever) which is a cable car that starts at about 10,000 feet and rises to nearly 13,000 feet and was supposed to have great views over the city. Paid my $8.50, and got a Sacagawea in change…I never even see those in the US, but apparently they’re alive and well in Ecuador. This was one of many times I got one.
There was absolutely no line, got my own gondola, and up I go. But first…let me take a #selfie
Great views of the city from the Gondola…I was getting a bit of fear of heights at this point….
At the top, I paused briefly to catch my breath…and start a hike further up the mountain. First stop was a small church: