Ava and I had a girls shopping day which was a lot of fun. We began by walking to the famous street, Calle La Ronda, a cobblestone street with brightly coloured houses and wrought iron balconies decorated with flowering plants. Calle La Ronda is a cobblestone street that dates back to the 14th century when it was an Inca trail, it was later remodeled in the 18th century by the Spanish. The street became a popular hang out for artists, musicians and poets during the early 20th century. The street has been renamed Calle Juan de Dios Morales, but it is still recognised as Calle La Ronda.
Calle La Ronda is described as a lively pedestrian only street, but I guess at 11 am when we were there was a bit early and there were very few people around. The street is filled with upmarket galleries, Artisan workshops, restaurants and chocolatiers. A lot of the stores and restaurants were not yet open, we did go into a couple of chocolatiers and sampled some Ecuadorian chocolates.
We caught a taxi to the new part of Quito to visit the Artisanal Mercado, unfortunately I put the wrong thing in google maps and ended up at an Artisanal shop instead. Eventually after asking a few people we ended up in the right place and it was so worth the effort. The market is fantastic!
I actually think it is one of the best handicraft markets I have been too in our travels. There is close to 200 stalls spread over the block, selling everything Ecuadorian from silver jewelry, art, ponchos, sweaters, alpaca blankets, leather products, chocolates and much more. I think we easily spent 1 1/2 – 2 hours wandering row upon row of stalls.
My favourite stall or stalls, was run by one friendly man who had artwork ranging from paintings on feathers and coca leaves to canvases of different Ecuadorian animals and landscape scenes. I will admit to going back a couple of times.
Not only is the market filled with handicrafts, but the walls surrounding it are covered with artwork. The artwork features indigenous Ecuadorians, landscapes, cityscapes and animals.
You are expected to haggle, but I found the prices didn’t move a lot in comparison to places like Morocco or Egypt. The streets nearby the market have individual artisanal stores with fixed prices, some are upmarket with unique products and others sell similar products to the market, but with less variety. One store I would recommend is Jiwaki, their prices are reasonable and the products are very unique. I bought a lovely handbag there, but they also had some beautiful wall hangings which the owner makes on site.
After shopping until we were ready to drop, we wandered back to the main tourist area, Plaza Foch and had some lunch. The plaza is very touristy and marketed to the backpacker population, it was not really our scene, but it does have a variety of touristy eateries and we were starving.
An interesting thing about Quito is the artwork. There is artwork of varying forms everywhere on the tunnels
the cafes and restaurants,
and even the street signs.
I highly recommend spending a couple of hours in the Artisanal market and some of the smaller stores in the surrounding area.