Cuenca City Tour
During breakfast, Richard and Dawn raid the local supermarket for water. Some small bottles and some large 5-litre bottles to act as top up and save the world of some plastic waste. This morning we are joined by our two regular guides, Franco and Xavier. Within the last year, Franco got married, and Xavier and his wife have a new baby, so Richard and Dawn catch up with their news. With guests ready to set off on our Cuenca city tour, we board our nice big coach and head off for our first stop – the Homero Ortega Panama Hat Company factory. Here we learn about the processes of manufacturing Panama hats, and hear that a simple hat can be woven in one day, whereas a super fine hat may take up to 8-months to make. The prices reflect this of course. Purchased direct at the factory, a simple hat will cost around $30, and a super fine hat may cost over $2,000. The tour is fascinating, and naturally we end up in a large showroom boasting a wide range of hats for both men and women, plus some unique handbags and jewellery. Numerous purchases are made before we re-board our transport to continue our city tour. From the Modern Art Museum we begin our walking tour. We stroll along the Calle Larga and enjoy views beyond the River Tomebamba, over the rooftops of the new city. We also visit the busy food market, stop by the pretty flower market, and step inside the New Cathedral before concluding our tour in the main square, or Parque Calderon.
The weather forecast for this evening looks unsettled so we arrange coach transport to a beautiful boutique hotel called Mansion Alcazar where we are hosting dinner. The streets of Cuenca are narrow and not easily negotiated with our large coach, so we end up taking the long route via slightly wide roads! 20 minutes after we left the hotel, we are back heading in the other direction! One of the reasons for the streets being more congested than normal is that Ecuador will be celebrating ‘The Day of the Deceased’ where friends and family come to remember their loved ones, bringing meals to share with those on their journey to the next life. Plus, it is also ‘Cuenca Independence Day’ in the next few days so people are flocking into town.
At Mansion Alcazar we are seated in the main courtyard, with a central fountain in the middle. We are treated to a very special dinner in very special surroundings!
photo © A Jellema