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hello american in equador

San Diego...
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hello american in equador

i am going on celebrity to galopogos june 10-17. i arrive late on thursday june 7 and have a pre planned tour of quito with celebrity on saturday june 9.

so I have to fill 3 full open days

Saturday June 8 (night at marriott)

and

Monday June 18 until 6pm on Tuesday 19

i need help deciding on side trips.

i was thinking of spending one night (or just a day trip) in the bellivista cloud forest ( but i have been to costa rica's best and i'm not sure how special this will be)

and i'm not sure what else i can do ( i would like to go to the otavillo market but i won't be able to do that on market Saturday.

is a day trip or overnight trit to otavillo w/o market worthwhile in itself?

is there any other exceptional uncommon side trips to be experienced

Thanks

Beirut, Lebanon
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1. Re: hello american in equador

Presumably the tour of Quito will take you through the historic center. Check exactly where they take you - if it does not include a trip to the Panecillo (statue of an angel on the top of a hill, nice view of the city), then that is worth doing.

One option for Saturday June 8 would be to hop a cab over to the park El Ejido, which is at the far end of the Mariscal district that's between you and the Marriott. Fun to see Ecuadorian families at play on the weekend, painters ranging from awful to great line the edge of the park with their artwork (they will take it off the wood and roll it for you for packing in a suitcase if you wish), and there is a crafts market there. Then wander through the Mariscal, along Juan Leon Mera or Reina Victoria. There is another covered crafts market just a block and a half north (toward the Marriott) of the Ejido park, between JL Mera & R Victoria.

You could also head one block west and check out the crafts shops at the corner of Amazonas and Robles - the Ethnic Collection and the other one one shop away - very nice stuff, much nicer weavings and other things that you won't find in the markets, like gold-plated jewelry in pre-Columbian designs.

The bookshop LibriMundi along JLMera at Ventimilla has a good selection of coffee table books of Ecuador and Quito. My favorite is the one by a pair of photographers, one of whom is called Rene something.

When you get to the cross-street Foch, be sure to be at Reina Victoria. This plaza (Plaza del Quinde) has recently been renovated and is a great place to have coffee or lunch and people watch. Wine & tapas at Latitudes, chocolate everything at Xocoa. you could either have lunch right at the plaza, or along R Victoria within sight of the plaza is Mama Clorindas, which is a simple & casual but very good Ecuadorian restaurant.

You may or may not feel tired from the altitude, so it's good to plan an easy day. Other things you could do depending on how much time & energy you have are: La Carolina park (Quito's central park) - especially the botanical garden in the center, which is a petite but lovely garden with fauna from all over the country. Very interesting and worthwhile, even for non-plant people (like myself). The Capilla del Hombre - a "chapel to humankind" by Ecuador's most renowned artist, the late Osvaldo Guayasamin, in the Bellavista neighborhood. Just hop a taxi there, and when you're ready to leave, ask them to call you a taxi. The teleferiqo is great, but I think it wouldn't be wise to go from Quito's nearly 10,000 feet to over 13,000 on your second day here. I live here and I was still a bit lightheaded when we got to the top.

If you're at the Panecilo at lunch or dinner time, you could eat at Pim's, which is right there and has a wonderful view. Have the hotel book a tableside window for you. Another favorite restaurant of mine is Astrid y Gaston, which offers Latin American cuisine (including the famous cuy, or guinea pig of Ecuador if you're brave enough). Upscale, lovely restaurant, but still reasonably priced (entreees $8-$18). I also recommend La Choza, which is in front of the Swisshotel, and serves Ecuadorian cuisine in an upscale atmosphere.

If you ate Ecuadorian food for lunch and want something different, Carmine's is great Italian food, in the Mariscal, and next door is Al Forno, for good Italian-style (thin crust) pizza in a casual spot.

I wouldn't do Bellavista as a day trip. Too far, not unique enough if you've done Costa Rica, etc.

My first recommendation would be Otavalo. The market is there everyday, just not as large on weekdays, but the region is well-worth seeing. Explore the haciendas - have a dinner at Pinsaqui (maybe stay there), who has a live Andean band perform every night at 7pm in their cellar bar. Or stay at Cusin, another 400-odd year old hacienda - or just go for lunch and explore the grounds. I also like lunch at Cabanas del Lago or Puerto Lago, both which are on the banks of the San Pablo Lake, and have wonderful views from their restaurants. Or Casa Mojanda, across the Panamerican highway from Otavalo, offering vegeterian 3-course meals and a beautiful view of the hills - call to reserve. Visit Peguche and its waterfall, the leather village of Cotacachi and if you're interested, the nearby Cuicocha crater lake. If you stay at Pinsaqui or Cusin (both upper-end), they will be able to help you arrange transportation.

I would really recommend the above, it's so interesting to see the region of Imbabura (the province of Otavalo), and I think very unique. But if you return from the Galapagos exhausted and just don't want to, the alternative I would recommend is to head to the thermal baths of Papallacta and stay the night in their hotel. Very relaxing, wonderful, bring a book to read, book a massage. They also can arrange to pick you up from Quito.

enjoy!

Beirut, Lebanon
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2. Re: hello american in equador

I should have also noted that the Banco del Museo Central is also next to El Ejido park and worth a visit if you like museums. They have 3-d exhibitions of pre-Incan Ecuador, pre-Columbian gold, colonial art and modern art.

3. Re: hello american in equador

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