Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Beginning -- Vacation starts in Quito

Here we are with George and Carol at the Cuenca airport, luggage checked and all ready to go.

We like this sign at the Quito baggage área!

We spent a couple days in Quito before boarding the train.  The extra day or so gave us time to shop for clothes for the beach and warmer sweaters for the higher altitudes we knew we'd pass through on the Train Cruise.

The Watsons showed us this great shopping place on a previous visit to Quito.  Most of the wares are from Otavalo and there are lots to choose from!  Alpaca shawls, gloves, scarves, hats, blankets.  Cotton shirts, tees and long beach pants.  Lots of little trinkets, too.  A great place for one stop shopping.

It's rows and rows of goodies, located in the Mariscal district on Av. Juan Leon Mera.

We got a little sidetracked.  This vendor was a lot of fun, trying to get us to buy alpaca slippers.  We thought about it, but passed.  They were nice and warm, but none of us wanted to carry them on the trip.  Maybe next time.

On the day of departure, we left the hotel bright and early.  The Quito train station is lovely.

We admired the trains, awaiting.

There is a small museum at the station with old, interesting stuff.

Eloy Alfaro, former President of Ecuador, was a major supporter of the train system.  He's a hero in these parts.  He envisioned a railroad system that would connect the Coast and the Sierra.  The Quito station is named after him.  (Alfaro is a colorful leader in Ecuador's history, you can google him for more tales.)

On the Train!

We passed through some fabulous scenery.


Lunch was served at an old hacienda by the name of St Agustin de Callo, circa 1470 - 1500.
It was built on an old Inca Palace.  It later served as a monestery and a temporary home of the French Geodesic Mission. 

In 1921, a former President of Ecuador, Gral. Leonidas Plaza Gutiérrez, bought the property and it remains in the family, now owned by a granddaughter, Mignon Plaza.

Chapel with Inca stone walls.


Llamas!  Time to feed them carrots!

We stopped at a handicraft shop.  Here are Rich and George posing with new friends.
Our evening was spent in another beautiful old hacienda, Hacienda Hato Verde, which has been in the family for 4 decades.  
A beautiful view of the south side of the Cotopaxi volcano can be seen from the property.
It's now a working dairy farm with its own bull fighting ring. 
The gracious owner of the property is helping with luggage. 
We had a wonderful dinner and slept soundly in the quiet and beauty.

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