Cuenca, Ecuador
2° 52' S 78° 58' W
Aug 01, 2004 18:14
Distance 78km

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Text written in: English

Cuenca

Cuenca is the most beautiful city in Ecuador and its third largest. It was described as such in my guidebook and so I decided to include it in the only three places I would see this time in Ecuador. Because of all the time I enjoyed in other countries I have to cut corners now in the last three countries. Apart from Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the Devils Nose train trip Cuenca was the number three on the list.

Not nice in Cuenca was the hotel. Well, to be more specific the hotel was OK, but the bed in room 216 was not. I can officially declare this bed to be the worst I have slept in on this continent and possibly in the world. After the first night I thought it was me, but after the second night it was not me. On the thirda day I did not want to change hotels again for just one night so I got another horrible night to go. OK, the place only cost 4.50 dollars and for that price you actually get a clean room and hot shared showers. It was just that bed!

Cuenca is a university city and that explains the numerous nice bars and restaurants to hang out and enjoy a good meal. The best meal in ECuador was unfortunately the Goulash a la Vienna in the Cafe Austria. Sad that it had to be a western restaurant to get the honours of the country.

Walking along the Rio Tomebamba would make you forget that you are in the third largest city in the country. It feels like a wild mountain stream in the middle of nowhere. Nice quiet place just south of the city centre. The Inca ruins along this river, just a few hundred meters to the east were absolutely rediculous and not worth the mention it got in my guidebook.

The colonial streets of the city centre of Cuenca are worth seeing especially on the clear day I got. Blue skies and sun caused great shadows on the balconies that hung over the streets from the ancient buildings.

The city is dotted with beautiful old colonial churches and strolling though the streets with interesting markets in every suburb was a pleasant way of spending a few days here. The locals were surprised to see a stranger walking the markets in those suburbs as most tourists just stuck to the main streets and the museums.

The Museo de Arte Moderno on the Plaza San Sebastian was one of the free museums and worth a visit. Plenty of interesting sculptures and paintings by local and interlocal people. The main square was very attractive and not called Plaza Bolivar or Plaza de Armas but Parque Calderon for a change. There are two cathedrals. The new one actually looks older than the old colonial one which is much smaller. Yes, Cuenca is a great place with friendly people and indeed worth a visit.



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