“I Get So High I Just Can’t See It…” – Cruz Loma, Looking Down On Quito *

Staying in Ecuador’s capital Quito was never something I had longed to do, as it happens. However I had wanted to cross the equator by foot for the first time in Ecuador, so with Quito being fairly close by, it ended up being the obvious place to stay. Once I got there I realised that this is a special city. Built high into the mountains, oozing itself outwards in all directions, steeped in Spanish colonial history, dangerous to the core, lively at night and changing with the times. It’s a place I’m pretty glad to say I stayed in. I use the word colossal to describe a number of cities so Quito is definitely that. I will not use the word “monster” however, I reserve that title only for Sao Paulo, Brazil.
As I was budgeting big time, staying in Quito means there was no trip for me to Guayaquil (Ecuador’s largest city) or a venture out to the famous Galapagos Islands. However, a German mate, Norbert who was staying in the same hostel as me was heading to Galapagos next. First though, we toured the New Town of Quito together, and early morning made the trip up to Cruz Loma.
Quito as a city is high enough on it’s own, nestling itself into a lofty altitude of 2,850 metres, but when the chance to get a cable car higher up out of the city and up to the mountains at Cruz Loma was around, we went for it. We would be looking down on the colossal mayhem of Quito from an even less earthly 4,100 metres. A test of altitude sickness for most, however having acclimitasied to this I was fit and healthy in Quito. I had just come back from not only The Inca Trail in Peru, but also 2 of the highest cities in the world, La Paz and Potosi as I worked my way round Bolivia.
So to get to Cruz Loma, Norbert and I walked from our hostel (Colonial House Hostel) down to the nearest bus station which was Marin Central.
I like Quito’s bus network, like the way you basically have to go through a gate to get into each station – no jumping on. n fact I found every city I went to in South America to have a totally different bus network style. Loved it! From there we got a bus to Seminario Mayor.

 

It was a bit of a walk from Seminario Mayor to the bottom of the mountain entrance to the cable car, so we opted for a taxi. Cheap, handy, cultured and safe. My Spanish was up to scratch at the time and we managed a wee conversation.

 

The taxi took us to the bottom, where we saw the entrance to get on the Cable Car to the top. I’m not a big fan of Cable Cars, I normally find them too touristy, but this was well worth it, taking us very high out of the city.

 

Other cable cars I’ve done include Queenstown (New Zealand): pictured and The Needles (Isle of Wight).

 

I always think I look younger than I am and often use this to blag “student fares” on entry prices and this has worked wonders on my travels, with a lot of places believing I am a student. In theory, I had recently been studying Spanish in Uruguay. But here in Ecuador, they wouldn’t let me in for student price. This meant I had to pay $8.50 for the privilege of going up, rather than $4.90. Would you believe that is enough to get me a bus across Paraguay, or from Peru into Bolivia! Ah well, it had to be worth seeing, so we were soon inside the cable car, the experience known as TeleferiQo up to Cruz Loma.

 

So Norbert and I had to pay full whack, which was US Dollars. Not cheap. But a good chance to see Quito from high up.

 

The day before had been very hot, yet today was cloudy, misty and overcast. We hadn’t thought that would affect the view initially.

 

Though we underestimated the pure height this cable car takes you to at Cruz Loma. We ascended fast, leaving behind Quito endless sprawling suburbs as we were high in green, crisp mountainside.

 

The city below seemed sleepy and quiet. A far cry from the Quito we had just left…

 

And then the mist came, the clouds came and Quito all but disappeared. This was a trip to the top of a mountain to relax then and not to gaze down on the sleeping city. We were a world away, with a lonely barking dog.


The dog followed Norbert and I as we talked to the edge to see if the view got any better.


It got a bit better at the start then gave way to mist again. A proud moment to fly the flag so high up, but with the mist in the background, this could be anywhere!


Being so high up and named after a telecommunications company, this is also the base for satellite and phone masts of course. They didn’t obscure the view, rather added to the eeriness of a sleeping city below. An invisible sleeping city.


Then it cleared and you could hear a pin drop against the madness of Quito below. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. This was a phenomenal moment in life to be honest. I was in awe of the city I was staying in. I just couldn’t believe it. When you’re standing on planet earth looking down at something this collosal from over a kilometre above it, while still standing on the grass, you really pinch yourself. The photos don’t do any justice to the feeling. Imagine a nice cool wind hitting your face as you stare down on that…


Three photos of me taken by Norbert with the colossal Quito in behind.


While the mist cleared and the city came back into sight, I pulled the Northern Ireland flag out again.


Some great, more clear and close ups including capturing the football stadium, which I later visited.


The Cable Cars head back down.


The madness of Quito from above. Another “believe your eyes” moment.

The actual building where you get on and off the Cable Car – also a bit surreal seeing it there, think there was a coffee shop too, but it had cost enough to get up so we stuck to water and gave the coffee a miss.

Time for one last photo with Quito stretched out behind me. It was back down…

To be honest there weren’t that many other people on the Cable Cars that day, or at the top of Cruz Loma. We didn’t even need to avoid getting other people in the photos we took – we were alone most of the time up there! Which made it more sublime. On the way back down, funny then that we met 3 others. We chatted away to them. A Spanish couple, over visiting from Barcelona and their local host, an Ecuadorian lady from Guayaquil. The couple in our Cable Car on the way up had been from Afghanistan, but as with almost everywhere I went in South America, I remained the only Northern Irishman around…

Arrival back at the bottom. This trip was a very unexpected one for me – in that I didn’t expect it to be that good. I have to thank Norbert immensely too – wouldn’t have been as good travelling on my own that day, as I had been the day I crossed the Equator on foot. Norbert had 2 things to do – visit the LAN office and change his flight and visit the travel agent and book his Galapagos trip. I wanted to do the football stadium and Irish Pub, Finn McCools, so I later popped into the pub and waited for him while he sorted his trip out. We both did the New Town and the football stadium, and dinner together. The next morning, it was my time to leave Quito behind, not without some fond fond memories. I still cannot believe I was there.


What Was It? – The TeleferiQo


What’s It About? – Basically a Cable Car from the edge of Quito city up to Cruz Loma


Height – A staggering 4,100 metres above sea level. Yes, over 4 kilometres higher than the Atlantic Ocean


Weather and Atmosphere – (Bottom) – hot, sunny, stuffy, noisy
(Top) -colder, misty, cloudy, windy, quiet

Who Went – Jonny Blair, Norbert Braun

Transport Used – Bus, Taxi, Cable Car

Nationalities Met – German, Afghan, Ecuadorian and Spanish 

Key Songs – 
(they’ve been used by me before, but they fit here, again…)

1. OCEAN COLOUR SCENE – HUNDRED MILE HIGH CITY:

2. OASIS – THE HINDU TIMES (“i get so high, I just can’t [see] it”):

My Videos of Cruz Loma –

HEADING TO THE TOP IN THE CABLE CAR:

VIEW OF QUITO FROM CRUZ LOMA – PART 1:

VIEW OF QUITO FROM CRUZ LOMA – PART 2 (you can hear the barking dog!):

VIEW OF QUITO FROM CRUZ LOMA – PART 3 (video was playing up!):

VIEW OF QUITO FROM CRUZ LOMA – PART 4 (sky has cleared a bit):


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About Jonny Blair

I'm Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. Since leaving my hometown a decade ago I have managed to visit over 100 countries and over 600 towns or cities across all 7 continents. Along the way I have worked in countless jobs! Join my journey on Don't Stop Living - a lifestyle of travel as I provide you with tips and inspiration to live your travel dreams! Safe travels! Follow me on Jonny Blair Google Plus
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