The Ciudad de los Cielos (City of the Heavens) is the second highest capital in the world (9,350 feet) after Bolivia’s La Paz—and the one closest to the Equator. It has the biggest and best preserved Spanish colonial core in the Americas (built atop Inca ruins), earning it UNESCO’s first cultural world heritage designation in 1978. And improbably, it’s situated atop a fault, and surrounded by active volcanoes. Most visitors spend a night here on the way to the tortoises and boobies and wonders of the Galápagos Islands but they’re missing out. Quito and the surrounding area have their own wonders, from blindingly gilded colonial churches to a technicolor woven textiles to roses the circumference of small plates to a cuisine that pulls from myriad bounty of the Amazon, the Andes, and the Pacific Ocean. Luxe boutique hotels with historical roots, such as Illa Experience Hotel and Mama Cuchara are popping up, and the food scene is heating up with chefs such as Alejandro Chamorras of Nuema, who trained with Peru’s acclaimed Gastón Acurio. And of course there is the Equator, the line that divides the two halves of the world. All in all, it’s a magnetic and wonderfully compelling place and I’m lucky to have friends there.Read More
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