Quito, the highest capital of the world
At more than 2850 m above sea level, Ecuador’s capital is situated on the slopes of Pichincha, an active volcano in the Andes Mountains.
Though less colorful than Cartagena we enjoyed from the very first step this calm city with its excellently preserved historic center which, along with Krakow, were the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO. We wandered along its streets with a free walking tour in which we found out some facts (e.g. it boasts no fewer than 40 churches, some of which are amongst the most beautiful in the world, like the Compania de Jesus – which is covered entirely in gold on the inside) and whose guide took us to the guard change in the main plaza. And as it was a Monday (apparently it happens every week), we had the chance to see Ecuador’s president together with some other officials greeting the guards and the people gathered in the plaza…we were impressed to see the love all Ecuadorians were sending to their leader…quite unique.
And this is not the only unique thing about Quito. We also had the chance to step on the Equator line or “Mitad del Mundo” where the first measurements that proved that the Earth is in fact round happened. Quite cool, isn’t it?
But the best thing about the city is Pichincha volcano and its teleferico, world’s second-highest cable car (up to 4000 m), where amazing views of the city and its surroundings delighted us. However, the delight was soon diminished by altitude sickness that we felt for the first time. Yes, it is real! At more than 4000 m altitude you feel dizzy, you get headaches and you feel out of breath…we understood how being old must be…frustrating. But we would climb on the top of the world again without hesitation!!!