Location: Quito, Ecuador

After a long-awaited journey, our first day finally began this morning at 8:00 when we woke up to sunny weather and an action-packed day ahead of us in downtown Quito! For a simple start to the day, we ate an American style breakfast (cereal does not go well with hot milk, we found out though.) Following breakfast, we headed over to the Itchimbia Park where we played some “ice breaker” games in the park with a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains and city. After a quick peek at local artist’s paintings, we headed off on an afternoon tour of Quito. We started the tour off by stopping in at a little ice cream shop and bakery – “the best in the neighborhood,” according to our hilarious tour guide. We continued our journey by climbing the horrifyingly steep spiral stairs and narrow ladders up to the top of the bell tower and a high church tower of the Gothic cathedral “Basilica del Voto Nacional” finding that the terrifying climb was worth the incredibly rewarding breathtaking views from the top. Next stop? The Plaza Grande, which included the president’s palace and statues. From there we stopped at the La Compania de Jesus, an old church built in 1605 with 54 kilos of gold. The paintings were fascinating, but a bit creepy. Overall it was very interesting. Our last stop was the Plaza of San Francisco where we did a little shopping and then headed home to get ready for an authentic Ecuadorian dinner. We then packed and went to sleep for a super early departure for the Galapagos!