Friday, February 17, 2012

Cruising to South America, Ecuador

 January 15th, 2012.  The ship pulled into Manta, Ecuador.  Manta is a relatively new port for the cruise ship as the city tries to woo the cruise ship industry.  There's not much to see or do here: it's claim to fame is that it's a large tuna fishing port.  A new museum has been built that we got a brief tour of.  The museum is trying really hard to tell the history of the area, from tribal times to now and wasn't expecting a couple busloads of cruise ship passengers to arrive on a rainy morning.

  As we were driven through the rainy streets the bus driver wanted us to see the bustling port, the ship repair facilities and all the 'new industries' coming to the area.  I was reminded of Seward, Alaska.  A small city trying to expand and grow and not knowing which way to go.

Ships hauled out for work along the road.
 Ship repair facilities were in their infancy.  

The big reason we were in Manta is so a group of us could fly to Quito for an overnight.  Quito is the capital of Ecuador, and it located about 8000 feet up in the Andes mountains.  The city has a population of several million people and is a completely modern city.  I didn't know anything about the city or the country.  I need to study so many things about South America.

View from the Swissothel, our home for the night.

 The Swissothel is a 5 star hotel located in the heart of the city.  Buses met us at the airport, brought us to the hotel where a buffet lunch was waiting. 
 Roses are a huge export for Ecuador.  We were greeted with beautiful roses, roses were left on our pillows and there were huge bouquets all over the hotel.
 The lobby of the hotel.  The staff of the hotel are decked out in long tails and top hats.  You can't push a button for an elevator, open a door, carry a bag larger than a purse, or walk across the lobby without being intercepted and asked if you need something.

Our beds were turned down at night, chocolates and roses on our pillows, terry cloth robes and slippers in the bathroom.
The inner courtyard and small swimming pool.
The inner courtyard.

Anna at one of the many parks and sculptures in the city. 
 We were taken on a tour of the city that really emphasized the beauty of the area, the volcanic history and the art and culture.  Quito is surrounded by volcanoes that are dormant but have erupted in the past city. 
 A view from one of the overlooks.  This cathedral is huge and ancient.  Built hundreds of years ago it was the center of the city for a very long time.
The city is dense with millions of people on the flanks of dormant volcanoes.  There are 7 volcanoes ringing the city.

At the top of one of the ridge is a winged angel statue that is the pride of the city.

The city streets are very narrow and people usually have right of way over vehicles.

Restoration work was being done on one of the cathedrals in the city.

 Me and Mary Kay in the lobby of the hotel waiting for the bus that was taking us to a monastery for dinner. 

 The San Francisco monastery in Quito where we had dinner.  This is still an active monastery and the huge dining room is often used for large groups of VIPs.  (We're VIPs?)   There is a museum within the monastery that was opened in the evening during our visit.
San Francisco monastery

While we wondered through the monastery and was served with drinks and appetizers, discretely stationed monks and/or their staffs directed us to places, like restrooms.  The building was all stone, lit dimly throughout with uneven rock floors that were difficult to walk on in heels.  It didn't take long to get turned around in the long stone hallways, especially in the almost darkness. 

The dining room.

Our dinner menu

 The hotel provided the servers for the dinner.  White gloved, bow tied staff served each table.  I was really impressed with how smoothly everything went, from dinner to dessert to after dinner coffee.
Our dinner expertly served by the staff of the Swissotel.

No comments: