This morning we were up by 5:15 AM to get ready and have our luggage outside our hotel door by 6:00 AM. We checked out of our hotel and headed for the Quito airport by 6:30 AM.
Our flight to the Galápagos Islands made a stop in Guayaquil, Ecuador to let some passengers off and pick up passengers. We stayed in our seats.
When our plane landed at the airport on Baltra Island, we went through Immigration, picked up our luggage and then we were met by our naturalist Galápagos Group Leader, Fernando!
Fernando lead our group of 14 to the bus that took us to the pier where we boarded a dinghy that took us to our yacht for the week, the Tip Top V!
When we got off the dinghy, we were welcomed by our cruise director, Gabriella.
We visited our cabin and unpacked. On our way to our cabin we saw a squadron of golden rays!
After unpacking, we had lunch together. It was our first meal on the ship and if it was any indication of what the rest of our meals would taste like, we would be eating very well! We can tell you our meals were delicious and varied! After lunch we had our safety drill and orientation.
Our yacht navigated to Mosquera Islet. It was located between Baltra and North Seymour. We boarded a dinghy and had a wet landing on the beach. A wet landing meant that you would be getting your feet and possibly your legs up to your knees wet. You could wear your aqua socks or go barefoot. Mosquera was a relatively flat, white, sandy island with many sea lions and sally lightfoot crabs. We also saw some frigates flying around.
Our first sunset at sea!
Every evening we had a briefing with our guide, Fernando, where he would explain our schedule for the next day.
This evening we had a welcome cocktail with the ship’s crew.
The evening concluded with a movie called “The Rock: Galápagos in WWII”. It was an interesting documentary about the United States base built on Baltra Island.
Our group met this morning at 8:30 AM for an introduction of each other and Patricia gave us an overview of our day! There are 13 of us from around the U.S. and Gonzalo with Holbrook Travel will be with us also!
We left the hotel around 9:15 AM and our driver dropped us off in the old town of Quito which is an UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) World Heritage site. Quito is the capital city of Ecuador. It is located between mountain peaks and is at an elevation of over 9,000 feet so it was important to drink plenty of water and take it easy as we walked the city so we didn’t suffer from altitude sickness.
Our first visit was to the museum Casa Del Alabado.
The museum held a collection of over 5,000 objects that were created from various materials and gave a vast information about the cultures that lived in Ecuador from 7,000 BC and 1530 AD. Also, the museum’s collection best represents archaeological possessions of Ecuador.
Below are a few of the items in the museum.
It was fun to see a couple of school groups touring the museum. We also saw them creating their own artifacts made from clay.
As we walked to our next stop, we saw stores selling spices and the San Francisco Plaza.
We visited the Capilla de Cantuna. This chapel was one of the first built after the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.
The Church and Convent of St. Frances was our next visit. This complex was part of Quito’s UNESCO area. It encompassed 13 cloisters, 3 churches, a plaza, over 3,500 works of religious art, and a library with thousands of books and historic documents. We walked through the main courtyard at the Basilica of San Francisco which was built between 1573-1581.
We then climbed up to the second level of the courtyard and then up to the choir stalls of the church. From this location we could look out below to the interior of the church and its altar.
The front facade of the Basilica of San Francisco.
There were over 20 churches just in the historic area of Quito. As we were walking we saw five churches within several blocks! We went in the Jesuit church, Church of the Society of Jesus or to the locals it was the Church of La Compañía. Photos were not allowed but this church was filled with gold leaf and was with ornate details of the Baroque style. It took over 150 years to build this church and it was completed in 1765. It was beautiful.
The Virgin of El Panecillo or the Virgin of Quito can be seen on top of El Panecillo, a hill in the center of Quito. The statue of a winged Virgin Mary was made of aluminum by a Spanish sculptor, Agustin de la Herrán Matorras. It was placed on top of its base in 1975 with a total height of 135 feet.
As we continued our walk in the historic center we passed by the Carondelet Palace (built in the 1500s) which was the seat of the government for the Republic of Ecuador and on its 3rd floor was the residential area for the President of Ecuador.
The Palace was located on the Plaza Grande.
We had a delicious lunch at a restaurant not far from the Carondelet Palace. Our dessert was served by a penitent who was dressed in a purple robe and purple-pointed hood. In Quito you would see a parade of penitents for a Good Friday procession. We had our very own at lunch!
Our group of travelers, minus Dave who took the pictures!
After lunch we met our bus driver and headed to Capilla del Hombre to learn about the works of Oswaldo Guayasamin, a famous Ecuadorian artist!
As our bus headed back to the hotel we noticed the amount of wires on the poles. To us it appeared as a tangled mess! You can decide for yourself.
We had time to freshen up before Juan Carlos Valarezo gave a lecture on past, present, and future of Ecuador. His talk was very informative and we learned a lot.
We left Columbus on time for our first flight to Miami, Florida and we were so excited to board our next flight that would take us to Quito, Ecuador for our adventure to begin!
We arrived in Quito on time and met our Road Scholar guide Patricia! There were five of us on this flight. Tomorrow morning we would meet the rest of our group that would be together for the next nine days!
Patricia gave us information about Quito as we traveled on our bus from the airport to our hotel in Quito. It was a 45 minute ride to the hotel where we would be staying for two nights. Our bus driver, Lanning, was with us for our time in Quito. The check-in process at the Sheraton Hotel was easy and we were in our room to get some rest from our day of traveling!