Quito is probably a real estate agent’s dream: "Location, location, location!" The location is indeed breathtaking – and due to the altitude (about 2,900 meters) in more than one way.
I could actually feel the altitude a bit: I got out of breath more easily, especially when going uphill or walking a little faster. I have therefore explored the Old Town (which is quite hilly) at a more leisurely pace.
Not taking the short walk through town before going to Galapagos into account, I started with the great view from the tower of the basilica. Given the fact that you had to climb the tower on foot, this was perhaps not the most relaxing start, but the effort was worth it: The view over the old town with the two other towers of the basilica in the foreground is very nice indeed.
Afterwards, I visited some of the other churches in Old Town – after all, Quito is a colonial town. One of these was the very impressive La Compañia (which is covered with golden decoration).
I also walked through La Ronda, a supposedly very popular street with small shops and snack bars. There may be more of a crowd in the afternoon or in the evening; at the time of my visit, though, it was quite picturesque, but also very quiet.
In the afternoon, I went on a organized tour to the nearby equator. We started with the quaint Intiñan Museum. There we could see (among other things) shrunken heads from the Amazon region, a traditional hut from the Andes, and some experiments on the equator. I am a bit skeptical about the latter: I do not think that the difficulty of balancing on the equator line has anything to do with the location. I rather believe that the fact that we had to do it with our eyes closed made it difficult. What is more, I can not imagine that one is significantly weaker at the equator than just one meter away from it (although I am not sure how they managed to create that illusion). But of course, the opportunity to be in the Northern and Southern hemisphere at the same time cannot be missed.
The "official" Equatorial monument, called Mitad del Mundo, is located about 200 meters south of the equator: Back in the 17th century, the French expedition simply did not measure accurately enough. Nowadays, this area has basically been changed to an amusement park (and there is an admission fee). As we had only 20 minutes, we limited ourselves to viewing it from the outside.
Finally, the tour concluded at a lookout point over the Old Town – a fitting end to my short city stay.