We have a wonderful hotel in old Quito for our first night that serves a great breakfast (much needed after our mammoth travelling experience yesterday).
Further evidence of non-planning (if needed) comes in the form of confusion over the currency. We are using an app on the phone to work out how much each currency is in sterling and a check on the Ecuadorian Sucre indicates that to withdraw £100 we need 4,000,000 of them!
The cash machine only dispensed dollars? A little research discovers that Ecuador ditched the sucre for the dollar 2 years ago due to rampant inflation which at its peak had 1$ = 25,000 sucre.
At least it will mean that any money left at the end of Ecuador will be useful elsewhere (we are building a collection of currency souvenirs at the moment).
Quito has an old historic centre (yet another UNESCO heritage status area – I wonder if there is a Ladybird book of them we can tick off?) and a new town area.
We spend a couple of hours wandering in old town. Beautiful, lively, sunny, and more western than we have seen for a while. Shopping to replace the lost black cardigan – using a credit card is a long process, ID details entered into the computer, sign twice (they sign it too), write passport and phone number down – you can get a mortgage easier in the UK. This might explain a cultural phenomenon that we have seen – long queses for the cash-points. Perhaps people are fed up with the credit card processing and all use cash?
We have an Ecuadorian Empanada for lunch that is more like a flat spring roll – not bad but I think the Argentinian type is better. Then it’s time to leave one hotel and head to another – a minor pain, but tonight’s accommodation is the first part of our Galápagos Island tour (and it was more economic to stay at another hotel last night).
The tour hotel is a Hilton, so very nice, but very different to anywhere we have stayed on the trip since our hotel at Heathrow. Our room is on the 16th floor and has a far reaching view over the new town. Overall though I think we both feel its a bit sterile and you can close the door and forget you are in S.America completely.
A little apprehensive ahead of our tour briefing, simply because we have been on our own doing our own thing for nearly 6 weeks and now we have to share with 14 other people and follow an itinerary. However our fears of lots of beige clothes & bumbags are not realised and we seem to have a really good group.
Some re packing to be done to minimise the amount of stuff we need to take on the trip as we can leave some of our stuff at the hotel and an early night.