Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman -
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Riobamba, just under 4hrs south of Quito or 1hr 20mins south of Ambato by bus, is a city worth spending a day or 2 in to enjoy the sights
and also the views of the mountains around it.
The city has plenty of colonial architecture, nice plazas, a bunch of museums and fascinating
markets. Riobamba is the best big city in the mountains to visit between Quito and Cuenca
! From the bus terminal I walked a good 20mins towards
the center of town and checked into a hotel directly opposite the train station. They do have taxis in Riobamba, it's just that I like walking!
From here I was close enough to explore the whole city and also near to 2-3 Chinese restaurants.
Plaza Sucre is the main and most central
plaza in the city, this is the best place to start getting to know Riobamba and work your way out from there. Plaza Sucre is dominated on
one side by the monumental green building with magnificent architecture, the national college - Colegio Nacional Maldonado, built from 1921
and inaugurated in 1927. The plaza has beautiful gardens, the Neptune fountain and other well-kept historic buildings all around.
away is park Parque Maldonado, another equally handsome part of the central city. This is where the stone cathedral is found.
The cathedral is
constructed from the rocks of the original that was destroyed in the 1797 earthquake.
3 blocks from the cathedral is Parque La Libertad (Liberty Park)
which has an impressive domed church on one side (Basilica del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus).
Market and Plaza Roja
From Liberty Park I walked to (market) Mercado San Alfonso
which has a nice old church opposite, there are churches everywhere in Riobamba. At Plaza Roja nearby are the art markets which also has cloths,
hats and shawls for the cold climate at night.
Trains North and South
I explored while I made my way to the train station to enquire about trains, particularly the
Devil's Nose Ride from Alausi
. Did you know that the train system runs from Quito all the way south until around Alausi, then turns west to
? There are trains in the north around Otavalo
also. There are around 8 excursions you can take including trains to lakes,
volcanoes, ice, ancestors, devils nose, inca and the 'sweet train' (sugar-cane and cocoa plantations and rice paddies). The Tren Ecuador website
has all the information and on Facebook
Views of Chimborazo Volcano
Outside the train station is Plaza Alfaro where the tracks run straight through the middle of it.
In the late afternoon not far from the train station I walked up the small hill beside church San Antonio to the park Parque 21 de Abril. This park is
at the top of a staircase that has a grand tiled mural at the top featuring Liberator Simon Bolivar (1783-1830). Late afternoon is a
great time to get views and photos of the city and mountains around the city apart from the prize jewel Chimborazo Volcano which is north-west of Riobamba and
this is where the sun sets. I came back before 8am the next morning and got a fantastic view of Chimborazo on a clear sunny day! I spent the rest of this day
exploring places not so central in the city, walking of course, kms and kms. The Plaza de Toros (bullfighting), street art and murals, statues and busts,
cultural bits and pieces, Plaza Guayaquil, historic facades, people... There are views from many parts of the city of a snow-capped mountain in the background.
South by Bus
I enjoyed Riobamba a lot from a photographic perspective and also as a nice place to just hang out and enjoy. Early
the next morning I took a taxi to the bus terminal (I was tired of walking) and headed south 35mins to Colta to see the lagoon for an hour then continued another 1hr 25mins further south by bus to Alausi