Quito has earned a UNESCO heritage listing as the best preserved, least altered historic centre in Latin America. To take full advantage of this we spent most of our time in the Centro Historico, visiting several beautiful churches and museums, eating and drinking at rooftop venues, enjoying street tango performances and taking a tour through the presidential palace. A highlight was the rooftop restaurant/bar/reception at our hostel, which was run by a friendly Aussie bloke who had fallen in love with an Ecuadorian girl while traveling in London.
Quito also has plenty to offer outside its historic centre. Perhaps the most famous attraction is the Mitad del Mundo monument, which marks the meeting of the southern and northern hemispheres. At the monument site, we took a tour featuring half a dozen science experiments that showcased the differing forces at play on each side of the equator. Sam was awarded a certificate for balancing an egg on a nail (only possible on the equator) and we both enjoyed seeing water drain in different directions on either side of the line.
We had an interesting mix of taxi drivers in Quito. We had one who drove with his mum in the passenger seat, was convinced that every car that drove next to us was full of car jackers and didn't know what the historical centre of town was (let alone how to get there). Another drove through a road block and almost ran over a policeman. For one cab ride we paid less than one tenth of the fare paid by some other gringos we met. Traveller lesson number one is to remind cab drivers that they are required to run their meters, although this doesn't always prevent you from being ripped off as we had one cab driver take us for a tour of greater Quito when we only needed to get two kilometers down the road. Lesson number two (particularly useful in the 90% of cases when you're told the meter is broken) is to ask for a fixed price and check before you leave the hostel what that price should be. This again is not foolproof as one driver wanted to charge us extra because he got lost (his words, not ours) and launched into a ten minute tirade of abuse at us when we refused.
Taxi drivers aside, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Quito and were glad that, having spent four nights there initially, we were able to come back for one more night before flying off to Peru.
The same can be said of our time in Ecuador generally. The country has recently launched a global tourism campaign entitled 'all you need is Ecuador'. There is a lot of merit in this title, with the country offering amazing diversity in culture, landscape, flora and fauna for a country its size. In just over three weeks we saw Amazonian jungle, the unique Galápagos Islands, white sand surf beaches, a historic high altitude capital, an amazing lake formed by a volcanic crater and an adventure playground in the foothills of the Andes.