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Fidget Bones' Diary... The Galapagos

fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,234
edited February 2019 in The potting shed
This is the story of a big tick off my bucket list.  23kg bag allowance , so I can't take you with me, but I hope this will give you a glimpse of my big adventure. Those of you who hate other peoples holiday photos, stop reading now.  I will post a days worth each day.

You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3


  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,234
    Thursday 29th January  2019

    Yesterday Manchester airport was closed with snow. We are flying from Birmingham. Will it be closed? Will there be a delay? Will we miss the connection?
     All these are going around in my head as I look at the clock again. 12.30 am  . The alarm goes off at silly o clock and we get ready for the taxi coming at 3am. Outside we have freezing fog, but it is Motorway all the way to Birmingham airport and we arrive before 4am checkin. Frost but no snow between Nottingham and Birmingham.  I feel like a zombie. I realize the bananas I meant to pick up from the table in the kitchen are still there. They might be a brown sludge by the time we get back. The milk I meant to throw away after making coffee will be cheese.  I had less than two hours sleep last night.
    Yesterday when I checked in online, I upgraded the seats for the long leg into business. A 12 hour flight with a lie flat bed for £350 extra had to be a good idea.  No extra luggage and we can’t use the lounges , but still, a bed, and better food. Our first flight is 20 minutes late taking off, so a quick gallop round the Schipol terminal and 15 minute wait for the next flight.

    So nice seats that have a foot rest, or lie flat. Plenty of room in the overhead lockers. Yes I think I will have the proffered glass of champagne. Even though it is before  midday, I have been up for 10 hours already.   Lunch is served then I put the seat flat, pull up the duvet, fluff up the pillow and go to sleep.  Dinner is served, Haagen Daz ice cream ,  and a dinky little bottle of bols gin in a little delft china house to take away.   I think the business class is not as good as Singapore business class which I regard as the creme de la creme.  However  it is a lot better than in the back, and certainly worth the cost of a last minute upgrade.

    12 hours later, our bags come off the plane first, we get out, our transport  is ready and we are off to the Marriott in Quito for two nights.  We are high in the Andes and I have a racing heart and a blinding headache.  The Silversea rep rabbits on  all the way for the 35 kilometer trip to the hotel.  Meanwhile I have zoned out. Very easy check in. Sign here. Here are your keys. We have a nice view of the swimming pool and what looks like a car storage area, all lined up in  colours.

     The important bit is the bed. Big, soft and loads of pillows. A bath deep enough to swim in. I have a bath then go straight to bed.

    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,208
    Looks like the grounds of a car factory I pass on the way to Belgium.

    How were the bananas when you got home?
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,234
    We had turned the heating down, so they were very ripe, but not fly infested. I peeled them and froze them for smoothies.  A neighbour bought me a pint of milk over, discovered the old milk and poured it away. :) Nice to have good neighbours.
    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,208
    Yes.  Treasures.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 10,229
    Looking forward to watching the tale unfold 😀
  • AnniDAnniD South West UKPosts: 10,585
    Beautifully described, l could relate to the zombie like feeling and remembering the forgotten milk in the fridge ! Looking forward to the next instalment .
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,107
    Lucky you! Inland Ecuador is on my dream list, for birdwatching. We were just finalising our trip there a few years ago when a volcanic eruption scuppered our plans and we were forced to pull out. One day...
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,234
    edited February 2019
    Friday 1st February.   Quito.

    8 am we venture downstairs for breakfast.  On the way down a flight of stairs, I remark that the half landing with its seats and table would be a good place to have cocktails in the evening. 
    While OH is adventurous with the local Tamales , I stick to eggs and fruit. Some very interesting fruit. I picked up what I thought were two passion fruit and a long mango. The long mango was a banana passion fruit. The big round yellow passion fruit was a passion fruit. The red passion fruit was a fruit from a  tomato tree. Thick skin like a passion fruit but the inside was like an orange  flavored tomato. I also had what I think was something like  the red skinned dragon fruit I had in Bangkok, but this is spiky and yellow on the outside, but very dragon fruit like on the inside.
    Walking back up from the breakfast buffet, I realised why the half landing and chairs. The altitude sickness got to me and it was like walking through treacle.  I felt like I was 90 walking up a flight of stairs.
    After a lie down  we decided to go to the Quito Botanical garden.  The hotel  concierge called a taxi, and advised us $5. The taxi driver asked for four and I gave him five.  Nice botanical garden but it is not Kew.   The little cafe had an interesting beverage for sale. It took a while for OH to understand it was a basic version of Columbian marching powder and not cocoa.
    The orchid houses were nice.There is an interesting cactus garden and a bonsai display area.

    The Orchids are in a greenhouse, the pitcher plants in a large steamy polytunnel.
    The cacti are outside, some looking more like trees.

    We go over a little bridge and into the bonsai garden. Some are over a hundred years old, and wired onto the bases. The structure is made of very large bamboo, very decorative.

    We took it slowly and took full use of seats around the grounds.
      Feeling unable to walk the 800 yards back to the hotel we found a taxi outside an adjacent shopping centre. Taxi back $2.  Everything in Ecuador is priced in  US$.
    There were various tour options offered, such as going to see the equator line, but we opted for the included evening tour of Quito. This was mainly Cathedrals and a giant Mary.  The giant Mary  known as the Winged Mary or Mary of the Apocalypse
    From Wikipedia..
    "In 1976, the Spanish artist Agustín de la Herrán Matorras was commissioned by the religious order of the Oblates to build a 45-meter-tall stone monument of a madonna which was assembled on a high pedestal on the top of Panecillo. Called "Virgin of El Panecillo", it is made of seven thousand pieces of aluminium.
    The virgin stands on top of a globe and is stepping on a snake, which is a classic madonna iconography. Less traditional are the wings. Locals claim that she is the only one in the world with wings like an angel.
    According to a bronze placard affixed to the monument, the woman represented by the statue is the Woman of the Apocalypse, as described in the Book of Revelation (12:1–18). "

     It is on a hill that overlooks the city, and from the base of it you can see why the airport is 35 km away. The entire city is built on the sides of steep hills. The roads  were not built for cars and are a nightmare. We saw a bus doing a three point turn to get around a corner.
    Again from wikipedia.
    "The Basilica del Voto Nacional
    The largest of all Quito‘s churches, and inspiried by Bourges Cathedral in France, this awe-inspiring edifice with its towering spires is several streets northwest of the historical district. This is also the largest of all neo-Gothic cathedrals in the Western Hemisphere. Construction began in 1887 and was largely completed by 1909. An urban legend claims that a final completion of the site will occur shortly before the end of the world. "
    The gargoyles are animals, turtles, sharks , monkeys.  I was somewhat perturbed by the fact that all the lower levels were used as shops.

    The Church and Monastery of San Francisco

    The oldest of all of Quito’s churches, the Church and Monastery of San Francisco began construction in 1534, and continued for 150 years. The curved steps leading up to the main entrance were originally designed for the Belvedere of the Vatican, before the plans were utilized for this structure. They are like a giant version of some at Hidcote,  with a circular landing half way up.

    There is a mass on so we creep into the back for a look. The amount of gold leaf in the place is staggering.  Why do the catholic church spend so much money on their churches when the population are destitute. ? It seems to be that the poorer the people, the more lavish and decorated is the church.

    We go into a chocolate shop for a tasting. Three bars for $19. Not when I only buy Lindt when it is two for £3.
    Early to bed. Another 4 am start. Two silly o clock starts in three days. I am going to need another holiday to get over this.

    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    Really stunning fidget. That cactus looks like solid, giant kale!
    I love all the structures - the bamboo, 'winged Mary' statue and the gargoyles. Gorgeous pix. I can never quite decide if gargoyles are fascinating or creepy. Mix of both  :)
    Don't envy you the travelling though  :D

    Looking forward to the next part of the story  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • TopbirdTopbird Mid SuffolkPosts: 7,334
    Lovely writing and pics Fidget. Rather envious of your trip - although not of the altitude acclimatisation. Been there - done that - it does make you feel like you're 100.

    Those cacti and the bamboo structure are stunning.

    PS - Mr TB says Thank You for helping to keep his pension going. Sounds like you flew with his old airline🙂
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
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