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Welcome to our world of business information, museums, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, dining and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “The Welge Report for Quito .
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Recognition: We extend special thanks to the people who manage and/or own the institutions, museums and restaurants featured in our guides. In some instances we have relied on their descriptions and photos.
Birding Opps: Info for our birding friends.
The San Jorges Ecolodges & Botanical Reserves – (eco-lodgesanjorge.com) offers a unique birding experience where you can see over 1,000 species including 60 species of hummingbirds.
Another possibility is to check out the Mindo Bird Tours – (mindobirds.com.ec) where they are very proud of their guides, drirvers, lodging, safety and especially the birds.
Grape Experience – Local wines. Ecuadorian wine is made mainly from members of the Muscat family. The local rum is pretty good.
Transportation: Getting around Quito is a breeze. Check out this site: (quito.com.ec/en/index.php/welcome-1/new-airport/transportation)
Shopping: Shopping in Quito is world-class. Check out this site (getquitoecuador.com/quito-shopping/)
Business Information: Here is help in regard to your business: (quito.com/v/economy/)
U.S. Embassy (http://ecuador.usembassy.gov/about-us/embassy-information.html) U.S. Embassy, Ave. Avigiras E12-170 y Ave. Eloy Alfaro (next to SOLCA), Monday through Friday, from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM, and from 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM. except during holidays.
Exchange Rates (http://www.x-rates.com/)
Day One: After dropping your bags at your hotel our cousin suggests a visit to the Monastery of San Francisco, Lima – Jirón Lampa y Ancash, 51 1 4267377
The church and monastery were consecrated in 1673, and completed in 1774. The church is noted for its architecture.
Its granite carved portal would later influence those on other churches, including the Church of Merced. The vaults of the central and two side naves are painted in mudejar style, a mix of Moorish and Spanish designs.
The head altar is carved out of wood. The corridors of the main cloister are inlaid with glazed tiles dating from the 1620s. The complex includes the temple, the convent and two other churches, La Soledad and El Milagro.
The convent’s library is world-renowned. It possesses approximately 25,000 antique texts, some of them predating the conquest.
Some notable books are the first Spanish dictionary published by the Royal Spanish Academy and a Holy Bible edition from 1571- 1572 printed in Antwerp.
Notable possessions include 13 paintings of the biblical patriarch Jacob and his 12 sons in the refectory by the school of Francisco de Zurbaran.
The last supper painted by Diego de la Puente depicts typical Peruvian cuisine such as guinea pig, potatoes and chilies. The monastery also possesses several paintings attributed to the school of Peter Paul Rubens.
Next let’s visit Casa del Alabado – Tu: 9:30 PM-12AM, W-Sa: Noon-5:30, 9:30-12AM, Su: 12 AM-4:300 PM, Cuenca N1-41, 593 2-228-0940
The museum uses a museology that deals with the cognitive aspects of Andean people and the way they organized their world.
It explores the trends of inclusiveness in cultural endeavors, ancient beliefs and conceptions of the world.
The structure of the museums is set in three areas: the Uku – Pacha (the underworld), the Kay-Pacha (the middle world ) and the Hanan-Pacha.
The Uku-Pacha, is the realm of ancestors, a soothing place where creators of the world live and set the foundations for all that is known, expanding their wisdom through the work of their messengers.
The Kay-Pacha is the world of all living entities, humans and non humans, who struggle and transform their world in order to fulfill their needs and appeal to their gods and ancestors.
The Hanan-Pacha is the place where all deities live with their priests known also as shamans. They exert justice and deliver judgment over all living entities.
This structure allows the museum to break with the traditional chronological structure which is a linear one.
The museum tries to emulate the circularity of Andean thought in which all things repeat themselves in a cyclical manner.
Lunch is at Lua – L & D: M-Sa, Pontevedra N 24-22 y Francisco Salazar, 593 2511 2570
Our special appetizer was the Tiradito grouper with a light parmesan sauce. Several seafood and fish ceviches are available.
Entrees include tuna with chimichurri, lnagostino risotto and NY Strip steak.
Your beverage is a pisco sour and dessert is chocolate mousse.
Our first stop this afternoon is La Capilla del Hombre – Tu-Su: 10-5, EA18-143 Lorenzo Chavez and Mariano Calvache, esq. (Bellavista – El Batan), 593 2 2448 492.
Oswaldo Guavasamin’s Capilla del Hombre overlooks Quito, and it’s dedicated to the peoples of Latin America.
The building was designed to show his art as a history of human suffering and violence in Latin America and the world.
It includes sculptures and murals and integrates the surroundings into an artistic interpretation of the subject.
In the same compound is the Oswaldo Guayasamin Museum – Tu-Sa: 10-5. José Bosmediano and José Carbo, 593 2 2446 455
Guayasamín’s home today houses the museum of his personal collection of archaeological pieces from Pre-Columbian and Colonial times.
Here you will see Guayasamín’s work, which ranges from his early art (“The Struggle of the Indian”) to his “Age of Tenderness” in which his moon-faced, round-eyed, long-handed women and children tenderly embrace in golden, glowing yellow and fiery red.
The collection culminates in Guayasamín’s greatest triumph: the giant canvasses of “The Age of Anger,” where strong colors give life to fists of anger and screams of fierce desperation.
This brings us to dinner at Chez Jerome – L & D: M-F, Eduardo Whymper 3096 y Av. La Coruna, 223 4067
Start with the crispy camembert, steak tartare or the escargot.
Your main is the grilled tuna and foie gras or the crispy suckling pig.
Your wine is the ’10 Alfredo Roca Pinot Noir. For dessert the molten lave cake is irresistible.
Day Two: Our cousin Rosanna suggest breakfast at the Casa Gangotena - B,L,D: Daily, Bolivar Oe6-41 y Cuena, 88 000 100
Your eggs are cooked to order and your omelette is filled with your choice of cheese, mmushrooms, tomatoes, ham bacon or smoked trout.
To get a better handle on the Ecuadorian culture our cousin suggests a visit to the Central Bank Museum – Tu-F: 9-5, Sa,Su: 10-4, Patria Avenue, between 6 de Diciembre y 12 de Octubre, 593 2 2223 258
The Museo Nacional del Banco Central del Ecuador is a great place to start any exploration of Ecuador.
It offers a wide cultural and artistic perspective on Ecuador’s history with exhibits such as an extraordinary ceremonial gold mask.
The Sala de Arqueología contains dioramas and well-displayed artifacts from the pre-ceramic era (4000 BC) through the end of the Inca era (1533 AD).
Techniques for working gold and platinum were astoundingly advanced for their times.
We see an uncanny similarity of some of the museum’s objects to those found in Asia, and in Japan in particular which leads to speculation that there were links between the cultures across the Pacific Ocean.
As for Incan gold shown in the Sala de Oro, we are impressed by the beauty and sheer weight of the body adornments
Further sections on colonial and contemporary art give a different perspective on Ecuadorian culture, as do the separate Casa de la Cultura museums of musical instruments, Ecuadorian art and traditional dress from indigenous cultures.
It’s always a good time to visit the Museo Manuela Saenz – M-F: 10-5, Sa: 10-2, 709 Junín and Montúfar, 593-2 2283908
Manuela Sáenz is one of the great female figures of South America’s fight for freedom. Manuela was the famous paramour of ‘The Liberator’ Simón Bolívar (she was nicknamed the ‘Liberator of the Liberator’).
She was also a woman who fought as much on the battlefields as in the salons of Quito.
She was a very controversial figure in 19th century Quito. The museum is set in an attractive mansion, and consists of 11 rooms in which we can browse the paintings, books and personal affects of Manuela Saénz, and also those of Bolívar and Sucre.
One can read the letters between the two lovers and admire the oil paintings by European painters and religious sculptures from the 16th to 20th centuries.
It’s show time for lunch today at Theatrum Restaurante & Wine Bar – L: M-F, D: Nightly, Teatro National Sucre, Calle Manabi (Guayaquil y Flores), 593-2-257-1011
A good starter is the grilled octopus with mixed greens and garlic chips or the sautéed squid with green onions and rice.
For our main we enjoy the grilled pork tenderloin with potato gnocchi and sun dried tomatoes or the crab and mascarpone ravioli.
The Luigi Bosca Gala 3 composed of viogner, chardonnay and riesling works well with these choices. Dessert is the bittersweet chocolate and orange confit with lemon verbena and ginger caramel.
It’s time for a bit of hiking and plant material discoveries at the Botanical Garden “La Carolina” – Daily: 9-4:30, Av Rumipamba and Rio Amazonas, in the Parque La Carolina
The Botanical Garden “La Carolina” features a collection of plants and trees from different regions of Ecuador. It has a collection of 200 orchid species.
The plants are organized in sections and in most cases, classified by family, genus and species of native trees and epiphytes from lowland Orchidaceae, Bromeliaceae and Araceae familes.
Nature lovers will enjoy the beautiful landscape.
Let’s take time to explore La Ronda with a stop at the Khipus Artesanias Choco-Cafe – Morales OE-1-53 and Guayaquil
This is one of the best places to find local craftsmanship but also the best Ecuadoran coffee and chocolate.
Our final educational experience today is a visit to the Museo de la Ciudad – Tu-Su: 9:30-5:30, García Moreno S1-47 and Rocafuerte, 593-2 228 3879
Here exhibits trace the history of the area from ancient societies (10,000 years ago) to levels of social organization, domestication of species and agricultural invention (3,000 years ago).
This era is followed by the Spanish conquest titled “Colonial Rule” from 1534 to 1600. The last area covered is the Republican era where there was a quest for democracy and socio-economic diversification.
Dinner is at Zazu – L: M-F, D: M-Sa, Mariano Aguilerra 331 y la Pradera, 593 2 254 3559
We’ll start with a Peruvian fish ceviche with lemon, pepper, onion and coriander or the steak tartare with capers, mustard and shallots.
Then, we suggest a tomato and mozzarella salad before our main.
Entrée choices include baked sea bass and chimichurri shrimp with bok choy and coconut rice or swordfish with tomatoes, potatoes and truffles.
Our wine is a ’05 Vina Cobos.
Day Three: Breakfast is at the historic Cafe Plaza Grande - B,L,D: M-Sa, Garcia Moreno y Chile, 593 2 25 10777
Specialties include pastries, omelets and French toast . They bake their own bread. The fresh fruit is our favorite.
This morning let’s make a trip to Otavalo - Otavalo is approximately 2 hours north of Quito on the PanAmerican Highway.
Buses to Otavalo leave from the “Terminal Carcelen” in the north of Quito, and disembark at a small bus terminal in Otavalo along Calle Atahualpa & Jacinto Collahuazo. The bus ride is $2.
Otavalo is world-famous for its indigenous population, the so-called Otavalos, many of which are traveling around the world to sell their famous handicrafts or play in Andean Folk music groups.
Every Saturday there is a Mercado Artesanal at the Plaza de Ponchos between calle Sucre and Jaramillo where indigenous and mestizo people from Otavalo and surrounding communities sell their handicrafts.
You will find a wide range of weavings, jewelry, clothes, wood and stone carvings, paintings, Panama hats and some products from neighboring Peru and Colombia. The rugs and shoulder bags are made of sheep wool.
Although Saturday is the main market day, purchasing handicrafts on any other day is possible.
Otavalo’s largest food market is at Mercado 24 de Mayo and it’s open all week. The food vendors and restaurants change frequently, but with care we’ll find a good place for lunch.
Now let’s take the bus back to Quito and make our last stop at the “Mitad del Mundo” (Middle of the World City) – located at San Antonio parish of the canton of Quito, north of the center of Quito
Over the years countless tourists have had their pictures taken straddling the line drawn down the center of the east-facing staircase and across the plaza.
The pyramidal monument is topped by a globe which is 4.5 meters in diameter and weighs 5 tons.
Inside the monument is a small museum that displays a variety of indigenous items pertaining to Ecuadorian culture: clothing, descriptions of the various ethnic groups and examples of their activities.
Ciudad Mitad del Mundo contains other attractions such as a planetarium, a miniature model of Quito and restaurants.
On weekends, Ciudad Mitad del Mundo’s Central Plaza hosts varied musical and cultural events for tourists. Also, there are local handcraft stores and local food served at several cafés.
Time for dinner at Le Petit Pigalle – L & D: M-Sa, October 9 & Carrion, 095-432-464
Our cousin suggests the foie gras but our budget calls for the octopus with the Spanish ham.
Many of the French classics are on the menu: onion soup, steak tartare, rack of lamb, filet, duck breast, but also a sea bass with an orange sauce and a confit of chicken with pasta and vegetables.
Our wine is Chateau Bertinerie from Bordeaux and dessert, but of course, is crème brulee.
Our lagniappe for Quito is an excursion to the Galapagos Islands. They are an archipelago of volcanic islands west of Ecuador.
There are 18 main islands with a population of about 25,000. You’re here to see the spectacular, and in many cases one-of-a-kind species of wildlife, flora and fauna.
Until next time, best wishes and happy travels,
Dick & Dee Welge
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