Quito, Ecuador - Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th May 2013
Although there is a walking tour route for Quito in the Lonely Planet Guide, we spent the evening of the Wednesday night walking around the city centre in the company of our guide, Xavier, before returning to explore on our own the following day.
The picturesque city centre is dominated by Spanish colonial architecture and surrounded by hillsides where the greenery is giving way to precariously perched housing. The whole town is surmounted by a gigantic winged statue of the Virgin Mary, which disappears into the cloud cover every now and again, then suddenly looms large as the mists clear.
There are also a number of beautiful churches in the centre, including the gold-bedecked Church of the Company of Jesus, where we encountered a French orchestra practising Beethoven and a graphic painting of the torments that sinners can expect in Hell (much fire breathing on the genitals, apparently).
More down-to-earth were the many shoe-shiners doing steady business around the sides of the Grande Plaza and the irresistible sweet shops, with tinselled pinatas hanging from the ceiling and baskets of sweets and toys promising the best childrens' birthday parties ever.
All too soon it was time to leave Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands behind us. Whilst this wasn't a walking holiday in the true sense, we walked along interesting trails amongst unique wildlife and comfortable streets in a friendly and bustling capital city - a trip that got better and better as the days progressed and which will stay in the mind for years to come.