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.almost 3 years ago . Flag
Pro 2014
Arlo Hemphill recommended Plaza de Toros
Plaza de TorosQuito Bullring, Rio Cofanes, Quito DC, Ecuador
4
It's only open a few times a year, and perhaps that's what makes it so special, but this is a place not to miss when it's open for games. Yes, bullfights are bloody, horrible and cruel spectacles, but ... read more
they are also brimming with tradition, elegance and, in the rare instance, compassion. The main bullfights in Quito happen in late November/early December during the Fiestas de Quito. The normally conservative Serranos pull out their best outfits, dressing to the nines and head off in spectacular fashion. And the hats! Oh, the hats! Everyone has to have a race hat! Classy, bold and outrageously silly, it's almost worth coming to the show just to check out the head wear. Most of all, this is Quito's big party. Everyone is in a light mood, fun is in the air, wine and rum pour freely, and you'll wish you could remember what you tried to forget!
.Comment.almost 3 years ago. Report
Arlo Hemphill

You, my friend, are timing your trip perfectly for one of Quito's biggest city-wide parties! The Fiestas de Quito happen each year during the last week of November through the first week of December. Much like what Carnival does to Rio and Mardi Gras to New Orleans, the Fiestas transform this sleepy and highly conservative capital into party central. You'll see and hear drunken raucous 24 hours a day, and are more likely than ever to be warmly welcomed into the culture with a big abrazo (hug) and a shot of trago (booze) running down throat.

Don't miss the bullfights at the Plaza de Toros. This is about the only time they come to Quito and it's a spectacle worth seeing. Perhaps you're not into the violence towards animals aspect? That's OK, I understand. Still, go. It's a peak beneath the surface of the Andean culture you may never get again. It's when the wealthy and middle class of Quito let loose, let down their guard, and show you what a fun time means to them. Plus, the hats they wear are hysterical! I encourage you to buy your own (they sell them on the street outside the bull ring) - and join in the ridiculous pomp and circumstance of the occasion. But show a little respect, wear long pants and maybe even a sport coat when you go to the show.

Another fantastic element of the Fiestas are the party Chivas. Chivas are normally open-aired buses that serve remote communities of the coast and Amazonian regions. They lack sides and have a roof deck that can (and does) support a full Mariachi band. People lease these buses out by the dozens during the Fiestas, roaming around the city in a mobile parties, dancing on the roof of the buses to music blaring so loud you can hear them coming blocks away. If you have a big group, you might think of leasing one of your own (don't worry, you'll have no trouble filling extra space with new friends), but otherwise if you're on your own or just a friend or two, just hop on one. Everyone is outrageously drunk and most everyone welcoming - they usually just help you climb up top and hand you a drink while you're still on the ladder! One word of advice though, watch out for low over-hanging bridges. If you're drunk and dancing on the bus of a roof, one of those bridges could just cause you to lose your head...

Pro 2014
Arlo Hemphill recommended El Pobre Diablo
4
Probably the coolest live music and dining venue in all of Ecuador. The decor is a hip Andean funk fusion, which is reflected in the excellent food. Live music is a regularity here, featuring ... read more
international bands as well as the best of Quito's local scene.
.Comment.almost 3 years ago. Report
Arlo Hemphill

While in Quito, check out El Pobre Diablo for dinner and a night out on the town. Very cool live music scene!

Pro 2014
Arlo Hemphill recommended San Francisco Church
San Francisco ChurchPlaza San Francisco, Quito Canton, Ecuador
5
This is one of my favorite places to visit in Quito. For lack of a better word, it is "amazing". I've never been a big fan of touring old churches, but this one stands alone. It is immense, imposing ... read more
and carries this strange aura of mystery and hidden secrets. It is also still an operating church, popular with old Quito's poor indigenous community, which only adds another level of cultural immersion to a visit here. One of the oldest churches in all of the Americas, the history here is off the charts. When walking around inside, be sure to keep an eye out for the various (usually locked/barred) concealed entrances into the rumored old Quito catacombs. Another great aspect of this church is it's central location in the historic part of town. Have a cab drop you off here and then walk to other nearby plazas, churches, convents, the Presidential palace and some pretty nice museums. There is even an interesting archeological/cultural museum and shop right in the sub-level of this church itself. This is a Quito "must-see".
.Comment.almost 3 years ago. Report
Arlo Hemphill

This is the most impressive church building in the world. No joke. It's also the heart of Quito's UNESCO protected colonial sector, so a great place to orient yourself while exploring this neighborhood. If you don't make direct plans to visit, don't worry - you might end up here on one of those chivas I mentioned earlier!

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