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In the mood for love

These days, the word marriage doesn’t always inspire romance. Worse still, the word church. In Quito, however, church is a strange place to light the passion. We are not referring to the pain-stricken faces of the religious icons.

Yes, it may be difficult to convince your partner about a date in a church – you might not want to get too serious too fast – but how about climbing the narrow steps up to the beautiful tessellated domes of the Cathedral to gaze upon the Plaza Grande and feel the sheer power of the Andes? Now that sounds like a plan. It is, no doubt, an excellent place to take the relation up a notch.

Now star-gazing would be the obvious romantic thing to do in a place like Quito… we’re so close to the stars. There are many viewpoints, for sure, all perfect for sun sets, but at night many of these places get too cold and lonely. The clever thing to do, in this case, is reserve a star-observation session at the Alameda Park Astronomical Observatory.

Viewpoints, of course, are a (mountainous) Quito forte, and sunsets, more so, as the skies turn every color and the churches, undoubtedly more romantic from a distance, illuminate their domes one by one.

One of the most special viewpoints is the Parque Itchimbía, especially along the west side. You can sit on the lawn facing Pim’s Restaurant (where you can also grab a drink or hot chocolate). The same view is a prime attraction at Café Mosaico, with its romantic balcony (order some hot wine to warm up). And while El Panecillo may be too busy to reach the desired level of intimacy, the Pim’s branch at the site offers a nice moment for two in front of the panoramic windows that dominate the view of the Historic Center.

Another corner for lovers is the orchid house at the Botanical Garden; here you can also walk hand in hand along the landscaped pathways and sit amidst the beautiful Japanese garden.

The quiet Calle Vicente León in La Tola is one of our most picturesque streets, while a special nook in the Historic Center is the second-floor balcony of Heladería San Agustín. As far as historic museums go, the one that most evokes love and passion would have to be the quirky one dedicated to Manuela Sáenz, which recounts the intense love story between this brave Quito heroine and the great Libertador of South America, Simón Bolívar.

But Quito is also ideal for a quick escape, offering warm encounters in cloud forests where you can sleep to the sound of the river in places like El Monte Lodge in Mindo and wake up wrapped in green and surrounded by the nature’s chorus at dawn. Or perhaps you’d prefer an isolated mountainside where you can snuggle in front of a fireplace in any of the local haciendas. Consider also the Papallacta hot springs, a hot dip by moonlight warms the heart… or, why not, escape without escaping, reserving a luxury room and pampering at the capital’s most renowned boutique hotel, Casa Gangotena.

For the most spontaneous at heart, a most special neighborhood to connect with your partner is Guápulo.

Love in all its stages can be rekindled in this eclectic city-village… Its platform/viewpoint pointing east always welcomes couples who seek to meet their gaze on the horizon and a spectacular view of the outlying valley (a la L.A.). To walk kicking stones at Guápulo Park is nice for getting to know him or her, while a spicier moment of intimacy can be sparked inside the red room of Ananké Pizzeria. And eventually, if you are one to equate romance with marriage, there is no more romantic chapel, with its ancient frescoes and old hardwood finishes, than Guápulo church. A good place to make your vows.

Roses all year

Here, giving one rose is considered cheap… Let’s talk 50, 150… of every color or of just one. The regions surrounding the capital produce the most beautiful, tallest and most vibrant roses in the world. In addition, prices here would be the envy of any inhabitant of the developed world (from where, ironically, the flowers come): romance comes cheap! One place to take your partner, where the roses are protagonists, is La Compañía, near the town of Cayambe, with its fabulous showroom. You can also visit the house and chapel and stay the night in the beautiful nearby Molino de San Juan.

TAGS: Quito, romance, love, park, itchimbía, Panecillo, Historic Center, sunset, guápulo, Alameda, Astronomic Observatory, viewpoint, Café Mosaico, Pim’s, Botanical Garden, La Carolina, La Tola, Heladería San Agustín, Manuela Sáenz, Monte lodge, Mindo, Cayambe, Termas, Papallacta, Casa Gangotena, dinner, roses, Molino San Juan


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