A Travellerspoint blog

Shopping in Otavalo

Exploring one of the most important indigenous markets in Ecuador

As a side trip from Quito, Danny and I decided to head to Otavalo for the famous Saturday Market. We didn't decide on this until Friday night, which meant we would not make it to Otavalo in time for the Animal Market (which starts around 5am Saturday morning). After talking to other travellers, we were told the Animal Market was pretty interesting and worth seeing (unless you're pro-PETA). Regardless, the Artesan Market was still pretty amazing. We spent the majority of the day walking around the Market (too bad we couldn't really buy anything since this was the beginning of the trip and we didn't want to carry everything for 5 months). There were endless stalls of ponchos, straw hats and bracelets (and the occassional Simpsons toy haha).

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Danny haggling for cheap Oakley sunglasses

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Who doesn't love boobies... blue-footed boobies?!

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Ah gor, this one is for you! :)

Around the corner from the Artesan Market is the Food Market. Almost every food stall had a giant roasted pig head sitting on the table. You can't really see it in the picture, but there was actually a girl eating her lunch behind the hanging, slightly above room temperature meat.

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Food market

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Hanging meat

At night, once the Artesan Market is closed (the stalls are taken down daily and reset every day at 5am), food stalls are set up. This was also where we met some super friendly locals.

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Street meat

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Making friends

Besides the Market, the town of Otavalo itself is worth mentioning as we found it to be quite quaint and charming.

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Plaza Bolivar

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Town Hall

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Church el Jordan

Note: Danny was super amazed at the different sizes of Coke they sold at the supermarket. 3 liter bottles up top, seriously!

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Posted by TravellingFries 12:16 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

First stop - Quito

New Town vs. Old Town

After a relatively smooth flight from Toronto (with a short layover in Bogota, Colombia), we finally arrived at our very first destination - Quito, Ecuador! Before we left for the trip, we debated whether to stay in New Town (La Mariscal) or Old Town (Centro Historico). New Town (also known as Gringoland) is known for its many bars, restaurants, and nightlife, while Old Town for its culture and colonial architecture. We decided on New Town because we wanted to be close to the restaurants and the nightlife. What we didn't realize was that 90% of the restaurants would be serving Western food (burgers, pastas, etc.).

The main square in New Town is Plaza Foch, a common meeting place for both Ecuadorians and tourists. Here you can find stores that sell North Face, Hollister and other popular American brands as well as a gazillion tour agencies We even found good ole Subway!

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Plaza Foch

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Rio Amazonas

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Gringo Bars/Tour Agencies

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New Town is so westernized that you can watch NFL Sundays here

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Good Ole Subway! Who wants a Sanduche del Dia?!?

As much as we would love to try an Ecuadorian version of Subway, this was not what we had in mind. We wanted local authentic Ecuadorian food. We ended up staying only two nights in New Town and headed over to Old Town for our remaining days in Quito.

Entering Old Town is like entering a totally different city - there was definitely a greater sense of history and tradition here. We both immediately liked Old Town better. We ended up staying a total of 4 nights (a lot longer than we had initially planned).

The following are some sights around town and some moments that stand out (both good and bad, and in no particular order) in Quito:

  • Climbing up a sketchy outdoor ladder to reach the top of Basilica del Voto Nacional
  • Getting scammed by the taxi driver going to the El Panecillo (Danny is still super upset about this)
  • Enjoying a nice relaxing lunch in Itchimbia Park overlooking the city
  • Being warned by a local woman as we were leaving a restaurant to hide our bags as there could be men outside with ill intentions
  • Summiting (and getting lost) on Volcan Pichincha (see future post)
  • Arguing whether to take a $10 (which turned out to be $8) taxi ride to the bus terminal or the $0.50 local bus for 1.5 hrs
  • Danny getting ripped off by old ladies when buying fruits and pastries (commonly known as the 'foreign price')

In summary, yes, we got ripped of a couple of times (lets face it, it's bound to happen) but all in all, we thought the people of Quito were mostly nice and hospitable (except for the sketchy guy in the corner trying to scam us hahaha).

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The view of Old Town from the El Panecillo

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El Panecillo

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Basilica del Voto Nacional

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Climbing the Basilica

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View of Old Town from the Basilica

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The view from Itchimbia

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La Ronda

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The Presidential Palace

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Hotel Majestica

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Plaza de San Francisco

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Danny trying to bargain 35 cents ice cream

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Independence Square

Posted by TravellingFries 11:11 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Who are the Travelling Fries?

...and how it all started

Hello and welcome to Small Fries, Big Travels!

So...who are the Travelling Fries? We are Christine (me) and Danny. I am from Toronto, Canada and Danny is from San Francisco, USA. A year ago Danny decided to quit his job in San Francisco and move to Toronto. And more recently, we both quit our jobs to travel the world (or as much of it as we can)! But of course, if you're reading this blog, chances are you probably know who we are, so there's no need to say more. :)

What you might not know is how it all started. Well, I've always loved travelling and have always dreamed of doing a round-the-world trip. But it has always been nothing more than a dream - something that I never thought would actually become reality. Danny has also always loved to travel but has never had the opportunity to do an extended trip (10 vacation days a year will only get you so far). From time to time, we would joke about quitting our jobs and running off to see the world but it wasn't until Danny decided to quit his job in SF (a job which he's been at for 9 years) that it hit us. Why can't we go? What really is stopping us? I mean, the most important thing at that moment were our jobs, but if Danny was going to put his career on hold and move to Toronto anyways (and lets face it, I was never much of a 9 to 5 kinda gal), this would be the perfect time! It's something that we've both always wanted to do and agreed that we wanted to do it before we settle down with kids and a mortgage. And so we decided, lets do it! Lets travel the world!!! :)

So here we are. A year of planning and saving later, we are finally on the road! We plan on travelling for 8 months (that is, if we don't run out of money) and hope everyone back home will follow us by means of this blog and share in our experiences as we embark on a journey of a lifetime! ;)

Posted by TravellingFries 19:11 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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