Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Galapagos - Quito (Day 10)

Sunday, September 7th, we were back in Quito following our 7 days on Celebrity Xpedition. The transfer by motor coach from Quito Airport took about 15 minutes. We arrived at the JW Marriott Quito where we checked back into our hotel rooms.

We had time to relax before departing by motor coach for a shopping trip to a local craft market. Since our flight on Monday wasn't until 11 PM, we would have the entire day to spend in Quito. We spoke with the Celebrity representative and arranged a private tour to Mindo Cloud Forest. I'll talk about this tour in my next post.

By the time we got up to our hotel room, our bags arrived from the ship. The hotel did a fantastic job with luggage throughout the entire trip. We never had to deal with the bags ourselves. As far as I know, everyone had all their luggage without incident.

We went up to the 9th floor to the Executive Lounge and had something to drink and some snacks before heading out on the shopping activity. We met in the lobby and boarded the motor coaches for a short ride into Quito. The coaches dropped us off by the market and the Celebrity representative said they would return in an hour to take us to another location.

They told us that the crafters expected us to negotiate on price and set us loose. There were several rows of crafters in a covered area. Each aisle had crafters on both sides in small booths. There was just enough room to navigate down the aisles. As we'd walk down the aisle, the crafters would try to get your attention to look at their merchandise. Many of the booths carried the same products. The majority of the merchandise was handmade.

You could get handmade scarfs, jewelry, religious and other items. I found some earrings that I liked. They were only 3 USD. Keep in mind that Equador uses US dollars which makes it quite easy to shop there. I didn't have the heart to negotiate, so I paid for my earrings and went further. We had already done some shopping earlier in the week, so we didn't buy much at the market - just a few items.

Boarding the motor coaches one more time we headed to a more exclusive gallery. There were various art pieces and sculptures. Several of the items peaked our interest, but we really didn't have the room for any large boxes, so we simply walked around the gallery admiring the craftsmanship. Some people were having items shipped home and others were taking the boxes with them.

After an hour or so, we boarded the motor coaches again for our return to the hotel. That ended the escorted portion of our day in Quito. Dinner was at our leisure in the hotel. We had a choice of a chicken or beef entree. We were hoping to meet another couple but were unable to reach them. So, we asked another couple from our cruise to join us. More people started arriving at the restaurant and eventually most of the passengers were there. We had the restaurant to ourselves complete with entertainment. It was an enjoyable meal.

Following the meal it was time to say our good-byes to all our new friends. Some of the people were leaving as early as 4 or 5 AM for their flights home. Most likely we would only see a few people on Monday. It was a bittersweet moment as we said our good-byes. With a small group like this, you really get to know people. It was like saying good-bye to friends we'd known for years. After dinner, we just went back up to our room to relax.

In my next post, I'll talk about our final day in Quito.

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