This past Christmas, my husband and I decided to spend the holiday a little different. One of the main reasons we travel during the holidays is because of the “free” vacation days like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, etc. That way we don’t have to use as many PTO days! #Win! Our trip was amazing from start to finish. Our flight landed in Quito around 11:30pm, so on our first day we immediately went to sleep! The next day we hit the ground running at 6:00am. We were scheduled to go on a 10 hour day-tour adventuring through Quito with the main attraction being Quilotoa Lake (photos below). The tour was awesome and we had the chance to see parts of the area that we would have never seen otherwise (I booked our tour here), including getting to meet a local family that lived in the highlands (photo below). The family was really kind and gave us a tour of their home (below). If you ever consider going, I would definitely recommend proper hiking shoes! The hiking trail was steep in some areas and made up of sand so it made for a pretty slippery 2 hour hike down. Luckily, we were able to rent mules ($10 each) for the trek back to the top, which is the reason I’m smiling so hard in the picture below. Before this, my face read of misery and exhaustion. It was a LONG hike down! After the hike, we were bused to a restaurant where we ate. The food was decent and I liked that they were able to accommodate me with vegan friendly food (photos below). After the 10 hour day, we were exhausted! On Christmas Eve, we stopped at our Airbnb (it has a wonderful view of the city pictured below), then walked around town looking for food when we stumbled into this place called the Happy Panda. Some of the best vegetable stir fry I’d ever had!
Sher E Punjab
EASILY my favorite restaurant in Quito! The food was SO good and it gave us the chance to try something different. Again, I read great reviews online, so I wasn’t worried about not getting a great meal. The staff was really helpful in explaining options that were vegan-friendly and we were not disappointed! Though my husband isn’t vegan, he’ll order a vegan meal every now and then. He ordered a vegetable curry while I ordered the Chana Masala with a side of garlic naan. For the appetizer we ordered veggie pankoras that came highly recommended by our waiter, accompanied by three dipping sauces. ALL SO GOOD! I’m so glad we took the waiter’s advice because they were arguably the best thing on the table (and everything was amazing).
Quito Street Tours
On one of our last days we decided to take a 3-hour walking tour of the La Floresta neighborhood. It included lots of street art, food and neat little local spots. Our tour guide was super knowledgeable and friendly, explaining much of the area’s history and insider info. He even introduced us to my favorite coffee shop in the area (Ocho y Medio, pictured below). We ended up going back that night to hang out and have tea. What was so amazing to me is that all of this beauty and wonder was a 5 minute walk from our Airbnb and we would have never known how cool it was had it not been for this tour! If you’re interested in touring the area, you can book a tour here!
Another gem of Quito! This restaurant is mostly vegan (I think they offer real cheese) and was so good, I went back for another round! The first time I ordered the “Sustento del Altiplano,” a traditional Ecuadorian meal that includes grilled potato patties, fried veggie meat, soy sausage, mote (boiled corn), lettuce, tomato, onion and avocado. While this wasn’t my favorite meal, it was neat to try a vegan version of local cuisine. For dessert, I ordered a berry stuffed crepe, and hot chocolate- both super tasty. The hot chocolate was SO rich and creamy, it was like a liquid candy bar! Very impressive! During another visit I ordered the veggie burger and it did not disappoint! The fries were perfectly crisp and accompanied by a vegan mayo and ketchup. Definitely worth the trip!
On our last day we explored the center of the earth- both of them. When the line was originally marked, GPS did not exist. Once GPS was created, it was discovered that the line was slightly off. So now there are two lines, the estimated one and the accurate one (one red and the other yellow). This area was about an hour away from where we were staying. One thing that I noticed was how common it was to see people on the side of the street or at stoplights selling bagged fruit. Quito is indeed the land of the hustler!
Have you been to Quito? What was your experience like?