Our journey to Cuenca-Ecuador #1

I have to say when I started browsing about Cuenca, I find myself looking at places in Cuenca but in Spain, therefore I have to re-write my entry and specified the country- Ecuador.

Cuenca is located south of Quito, 458km of distance. Around seven hours by car and by bus can be up to 10hours depends if you travel during day time or night (night shifts does not make stops along the way). There are daily flights too (around 150$ round trip).

I traveled this time with my partner-in-crime. The adventure started in Quito. At Terminal Quitumbe we took a bus to Cuenca, a day bus usually takes longer time because it stops in towns along the way.

Buses to Cuenca run every hour during night time starting at 17:00 to 22:30.  On day time only one or two bus company runs every other hour. Most of the bus companies have only one shift at 7:30am.

Our journey to Cuenca by bus last around 9 hours from 13:00 to 10:00pm. The bus was ok, seats did not feel comfortable  after many hours of traveling, windows shades (canvas) did not close completly so at the end of the trip was a little cold. The bus stopped in a couple of towns that is why it took 2:00 hours more than night shift (7hours ride).

However the ride is enjoyable. Colored mountains filled with agriculture fields, active volcanoes, if the weather let you, is posible to see Cotopaxi and Chimborazo snow caped mountains.  Just after passing the end of Chimborazo province (Alausi) there are two mysterious path. One is a semidessert land, nothing more than sand and some pines on the side of the rode and second a misty path where you can see nothing trough the window but clouds; after this we entered the province of Cañar, almost 3 hours away from Cuenca.

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Río Tomebamba, Cuenca

Once in Cuenca from the bus terminal we took a taxi to the hotel. The ride lasted 10 minutes and cost 1.50$ to downtown (with not traffic). Minumun charge is 1.75$. Taxis are quite cheap in comparison with Quito. Even long rides about 20minutes can charge you 3$.

We stayed in a hostal called Colonial, was very nice and cozy. The place is quite cheap (20$ up to 25$) por two people room. It has private bathroom (shower did not work well), cleanservice, WIFI, cable, breakfast is included and is located close to Parque Abdon Calderon (donwtonw). Safe to walk at night even after midnight. LGBT friendly hostal.

This time we emphasis our tourism into gastronomic venture. Holding a “libro de huecas” (book about cheap and traditional food of Ecuador, incluinding Cuenca). We stroll the city in search of authentic Cuenca’s soul food, and it worked fantastically. It was easy to walk around downtown and only tiwce we took a taxi to parts outside of downtown.

After having breakfast at the hostal, we walked to el parque central, on the way we stopped at “Plaza de las Flores” (outdoor flower market). Everyday in this plaza vendors array numerous fresh flowers, with diversity on shapes and colours.

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Feria de las Flores, Cuenca

 

 

The Carmen Asuncion Monastery is also located in this plaza, that is where our first taste of Cuenca flavors began.  Un vaso de “Aguita de Pitimas” (herbal infusion) prepared by the nuns of El Carmen Monastery. It cost 0.50$ a cup. It is a cold beverage were many local come to buy not only the agüita but also candels, ostias, rosaries everything made by las monguitas. It has valerian infusion. I like it, my girlfriend did not.

La tradicional Agüita de Pítimas. Elaborada por las monjitas conceptas.

Next stop Cuenca Cathedral. If you are walking around downtown, the cathedral will be the monument that you can spot from everywhere, it became my compass reference. The Cathedral begun its construction in 1880 and never been finished (Its towers are truncated different from the original planning ending in high pics). The Cathedral is covered in marmol, inside there is main altar and a giant floating Jesus. The cathedral inside is “impresionante” because of its size.

 

We paid 2$ each to go up to take a close look to the domes (walked up 200 stairs). From outside is posible to observe the main park (Abdon Calderon), and its surroundings. There was even a protest going around the park whenn we were there.

After, we walked in the park chasing for pokemons 🙂

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Parque Calderon, Cuenca

After we decided to take a tourist bus around the city, best decision ever. (Advice wear hats and sunblock). The tour take around two hours, and ride trough downtonw (old and new city). There is a guide talking about historic and touristic places. This tour gives us a wide idea of Cuenca and it s beauty. You can also visit Turi and high sightseen place where you can observe Cuenca city. If you have short time to visit Cuenca I will recommmend it you strongly. The ticket cost 8$. There are tourist buses running every half and hour and the bus stop is at the main park (next to “Cathedral Vieja”).

 

There is also a relaxing and romantic walk (could be also sporty if you decide to run o ride a bike) along Rio Tomebamba. A river that cross the city and full the landscape with green trees and beautiful strolls. Because Cuenca manage they rivers very well (the city has four) they do not smell or has garbage.

 

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stairs to Rio Tomebamba

 

THE HUECA TOUR IN CUENCA

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Dulcería San Blas

Hueca in Ecuador means a place where locals and tourist can have traditional soul food, cheap price and usually small places. Huecas are about flavour, grandmas recipes, sometimes outside tourist places, not fancy decoration.

 

 

There are many restaurants in the guide book we had. We decided ramdonly where to go. First we head to “El Brujo”, its signature dish is Seco de Chivo with a traditional drink called Horchata (2.50 USD$). This hueca is located close to Iglesia de San Blas. At the entrance of the place they sell also staff for cleansing your body from bad luck, or elixirs to find love, etc.

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In the following days we visited many huecas, mostly of the dishes were made with pork. However we also tried artesanal beer, millon of delicious and creative sweets, corn in different presentations, finally we went to a trendy and well know restaurante called El Tiesto to closed the gastronomy tour, and it was gold.

I have not seen in any other city in Ecuador than Cuenca more sweets/pastry stores…..all  of them incrieble yummi, even on the streets, vendors selling very nice pastries.

Between the gastronomic tour, we also visited some interesting tourist places around the area: Ingapirca (Cañar province) and Pumapungo (Cuenca).  Ingapirca and Pumapungo has a another post in my blog.

Us having fun

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Seco de Chivo, restaurante El Brujo

 

 

 

#dessert #cuenca #dulces #iglesias #turismo #pastry #sweets #gastronomia #huecas

LINKS

Turismo Cuenca http://cuenca.com.ec/es/inicio#page-header-top

Bus ticket price (one way) 13$ USD (Quito-Cuenca)

Viajero Contento (https://latinbus.com/) Horarios de buses y nombres de empresas a diferentes ciudades de Ecuador

https://latinbus.com/tickets.htm?From=Quito%2c+EC&To=Cuenca%2c+EC&Key=a5560d10b6bf4499a6dae08ae569c068&cbResetParam=1

Blog comidas en Cuenca http://morterodepiedra.com/tag/corpus-christi/

Hostal Colonial – Dirección:Grand Colombia 10 y 13 y Padre Aguirre

https://www.tripadvisor.co/Hotel_Review-g294309-d2562080-Reviews-Hostal_Colonial-Cuenca_Azuay_Province.html

Guía de Huecas en ciudades patrimoniales del Ecuador. Nuestras Huecas !Para chuparse los dedos!  Proyecto de Patrimonio Alimentario. Ministerio de Cultura y Patrimonio-2013  https://es.scribd.com/doc/257840089/Guia-de-Huecas-Completa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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