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Ecuador, December 2012

Quito, capital of Ecuador

18th December

People walking along a pedestrian street in the historic centre of Quito, close to Independence Square.People walking along a pedestrian street in the historic centre of Quito, close to Independence Square.

The corner of the Carondelet Palace seen from Independence Square. The Carondelet Palace (also known as the Palace of the Government) is the seat of the government of Ecuador and home to the president.The corner of the Carondelet Palace seen from Independence Square. The Carondelet Palace (also known as the Palace of the Government) is the seat of the government of Ecuador and home to the president. The present palace was constructed in the late-18th and early-19th centuries in neo-classical style.

View across Independence Square. This historic square dates back to the 16th century.View across Independence Square. This historic square dates back to the 16th century.

Path through Independence Square lined with formal flower beds and trees.Path through Independence Square lined with formal flower beds and trees.

A military band marching into Independence Square from the side of the Carondelet Palace.A military band marching into Independence Square from the side of the Carondelet Palace.

The military band marching past. The men are dressed in red jackets and black berets. Those immediately in front are banging drums.The military band marching past. The men are dressed in red jackets and black berets. Those immediately in front are banging drums.

Monument in the centre of Independence Square dedicated to the independence heroes of 10th August 1809. This is the date when the first declaration of independence from Spain was made.Monument in the centre of Independence Square dedicated to the independence heroes of 10th August 1809. This is the date when the first declaration of independence from Spain was made.

Bronze cast of a lion at the foot of the monument. There is also a cast of a condor sitting above.Bronze cast of a lion at the foot of the monument. There is also a cast of a condor sitting above.

Tony in front of the monument.Tony in front of the monument.

View across the square towards Quito's cathedral. The cathedral's exterior is painted white with a tower at one end and a dome in the middle.View across the square towards Quito’s cathedral. The cathedral’s exterior is painted white with a tower at one end and a dome in the middle. It was completed in 1567, making it one of the oldest cathedrals in South America.

Tony sitting on the side of a fountain in Independence Square.Tony sitting on the side of a fountain in Independence Square.

The glass-roofed courtyard of the Metropolitan Cultural Centre (Centro Cultural Metropolitano). This historic building has served various functions through its history, including being the Royal Lima Barracks in the 17th century and more recently the Central University.The glass-roofed courtyard of the Metropolitan Cultural Centre (Centro Cultural Metropolitano). This historic building has served various functions through its history, including being the Royal Lima Barracks in the 17th century and more recently the Central University.

People walking along a street outside the Metropolitan Cultural Centre.People walking along a street outside the Metropolitan Cultural Centre.

Main entrance into the Metropolitan Cultural Centre.Main entrance into the Metropolitan Cultural Centre.

Tony outside the main doorway belonging to the Church of the Society of Jesus (Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesus)Tony outside the main doorway belonging to the Church of the Society of Jesus (Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesus). Construction of the church began in 1605, but it wasn’t completed until 1765.

Outside the Church and Monastery of St Francis (Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco).Outside the Church and Monastery of St Francis (Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco). Building of the church and monastery began in 1535, just months after the Spanish founding of the city, and took 70 years to complete.

Tony with an Ecuadorian guy. He was born in Quito, but brought up in the US, and returned to live in his native country.Tony with an Ecuadorian guy. He was born in Quito, but brought up in the US, and returned to live in his native country.

Inside La Virgin del Panecillo: a 45-metre tall statue of the Virgin Mary. It stands on El Panecillo, a 200-metre high hill, south-west of the historic centre of Quito. The hill's peak is at an elevation of 3,016 metres above sea level.Inside La Virgin del Panecillo: a 45-metre tall statue of the Virgin Mary. It stands on El Panecillo, a 200-metre high hill, south-west of the historic centre of Quito. The hill’s peak is at an elevation of 3,016 metres above sea level.

View of Quito's suburbs and the mountains beyond from the statue.View of Quito’s suburbs and the mountains beyond from the statue.

Souvenir stalls immediately down below and again good views out across the city beyond.Souvenir stalls immediately down below and again good views out across the city beyond.

Tony with a group of local children on the statue's viewing platform.Tony with a group of local children on the statue’s viewing platform.

Another excellent view across the city. The historic centre in the middle distance.Another excellent view across the city. The historic centre in the middle distance.

Looking up at the aluminium Virgin Mary statue. Unusually the statue has wings like an angel. It was inaugurated on 28th March 1976.Looking up at the aluminium Virgin Mary statue. Unusually the statue has wings like an angel. It was inaugurated on 28th March 1976.

Tony at the base of the statue.Tony at the base of the statue.

19th December

Tony in the TelefériQo cable-car heading up the eastern flanks of the Pichincha Volcano.Tony in the TelefériQo cable-car heading up the eastern flanks of the Pichincha Volcano. This is claimed to be the world’s second-highest cable car taking visitors up to an impressive 3,945 metres (12,943 feet) above sea level. It runs from the edge of the city centre to the Cruz Loma lookout.

At the top looking down at a misty view of the city spread out below.At the top looking down at a misty view of the city spread out below.

Buildings at the top end of the TelefériQo.Buildings at the top end of the TelefériQo.

Behind Tony a view of the surrounding landscape. Exposed grassy slopes. The surrounding volcanoes are mostly hidden by the cloud.Behind Tony a view of the surrounding landscape. Exposed grassy slopes. The surrounding volcanoes are mostly hidden by the cloud.

Looking towards a recently built church situated close to the cable car station.Looking towards a recently built church situated close to the cable car station.

Another view of the church and the landscape beyond.Another view of the church and the landscape beyond.

Tony inside a cable car heading back down.Tony inside a cable car heading back down.