Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Rucu Pichincha

Sunday was the "big" day for having a hike to one of the highest surrounding volcanoes of Quito. Together with friends from Spanish school we met at the TeléferiQo. Eighteen gondolas soar up the walls of the mountain range to the west of Quito leading to the Pichincha Volcanoes. We have expected an easy walk but just at the very first beginning the altitude of 4100m was to high for one of our friends. He had to go back! The rest of the hike up to the summit was very exhausting.

It took us at least 3.5h to reach the top. To be on top of this volcano was a great feeling. We even could see a falcon very close to us and then taking of down the crater. We spent some time there in 4680m to enjoy the sun and then went back down again. One of the most strangest things was that we have met several Austrians on the hike. They came from Vienna to Voralberg. Some have been teaching, others have been working voluntarily and a few have been there for vacation.

Back in Quito we've rested a bit before we went for a "all you can eat" Mongolian dinner. It was really great to have this nice day fade out with a good meal and nice people.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Cuban Son - Ecos De Siboney

This weekend was full of activities. On Friday I've decided to go to the city center after class and have dinner. I took the trole bus and suddenly at a bus station I saw a stage and a few guys playing music. So I got out of the bus and listened them a while. The group after them was a big surprise. It was a well known group from Cuba: "Ecos De Siboney". The music was a mix of traditional Cuban son and other influences. The crowed was also in great mood and danced a lot in front of the stage. I also had to dance because there is no way to stay in front and don't dance. I met some really nice people there and after the concert we had a nice time in a bar called "Bungalow". There we continued dancing till the late night.

Friday, 26 October 2007

El Panecillo y Centro Histórico

Today I've decided to go sightseeing after Spanish class. The end of my class is usually at 16:30 but it always finishes later. Nevertheless I was out of school around 17:00 and took the Trole bus (electro bus with a dedicated lane) to the historical city center. The center is really beautiful. The government has really put effort in polishing up the city. Many historical buildings are renovated or are in progress. The whole city is well illuminated and there are just a few places where its highly recommended not to go. By incident I have walked around in these areas and it was perfectly safe. From time to time I met some people who were surprised to see a gringo at night walking around.

After walking around in the city I decided to go up a mountain close to the city center. Its called el Panecillo and has on top a statue called "la virgin de Quito". Of course I didn't pay attention to the guides and locals recommending avoiding going up by foot. Going up the stairs was like hell for me! The little hill was at the end 200m high and the top is over 3000m. But after arriving at the top it was great. Feeling dizzy and elevated without drugs ;) I've spent some time at the hill until it was dark. Then I went down to the city center where I've again walked around and had a look at the colonial buildings.

Tomorrow is Friday and weekend is coming up. I didn't yet decide to stay in Quito or make a short trip to the surrounding villages and volcano's - Let's see what comes out!

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

First days in Quito

After arriving on Sunday I didn't have much time to explore the city. I was busy attending Spanish lesions. My schedule is 4 hours at the morning and 3 at the afternoon. After so much Spanish the my brain hurts. But I already have learned a lot. The lesion is 1:1. That means one teacher one student. There is no time to relax but this method is most sophisticated.

Today I made a big walk through the city. Quito has a historical part with colonial buildings and a new part - called "Gringolandia". There are no ruins from the pre-Spanish times left! The weather is most interesting here. First of all you have all seasons in one day and second is the crazy weather. At one side of the street in can rain and when you cross the street the other has sunshine. You must be prepared for every weather condition here. The temperatures are quite constant. All the year between 9 and 14 degrees Celsius. People also ask me here if I don't need a jacket ;)

Monday, 22 October 2007

First Impressions

After arriving in Quito I had to look for a place to stay and a Spanish school. Both was quite easy to find and I'm now staying in a simple hostel for two weeks and visit the school around the corner. It's the Crisóbal Colón Spanish school. They have a 1:1 student teacher system and I've already met a teacher. Her English is just a little better as my poor Spanish. So I expect to have a hard time.

The weather here is cloudy and raining and between 9-12°C. After all not so bad for an altitude of 2850m. Tomorrow I will check out the city and see if I can take some interesting pictures.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Back To School - In Ecuador

Ecuador: This is the country where I will try to improve my lousy Spanish. Because I need more practice I've decided to go to school - and only to school without being disattracted! At least two weeks are planned to attend one of the over 80 language schools in Quito.

The journey will start in Graz where I get into the train to Vienna and then to the airport. With Iberia I will fly to Madrid and stay there over night in an airport hotel. At Sunday noon I will take the plane to Quito. I have good memories of such an airport hotel in Madrid. A few years ago at such a stay, the hotel staff forgot to scramble the adult entertainment channel - It only was blocked in the morning - as far as my red eyes could recognize.