Cuenca City Tour
After breakfast we join Neptali on board coach for a short drive to the Homero Ortega Panama Hat Company. Here we enjoy an interesting explanation of the manufacture of Panama hats (although we should really call them Ecuadorian, rather than Panamanian!). We learn about the process, from preparing the materials, to weaving, shaping and finishing. During the visit we are treated to a local drink called canalas – it’s served warm and contains sugar cane alcohol. Rather pleasant, and surely meant to make you happy before you visit the shop at the end of the tour?! It seems to work too, as many guests buy hats and other souvenirs. As we’re about done, Dawn hands Richard a nice silver ladies necklace and announces loudly that she likes it. Clearly he has no choice but to get out the credit card.
After spending all our pocket money, we’re dropped off back in town to begin a walking tour. We visit the Museum of Modern Art, mainly to see the building itself, which in previous times acted both as a temperance house and a jail. From here we walked through the old district to the central food market. Colourful and busy, there is a huge selection of fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs. We make a particular stop at the chocolate department! Here they sell 100% cocoa chocolate with no added sugar. It’s strong and bitter, but has to be tried. From the food market we continue via a clothes market, pass by the flower market and conclude our tour with a visit to the Cathedral.
This evening we visit Mansion Alcazar for dinner. A small boutique hotel, Mansion Alcazar has a pretty courtyard style and two dining rooms. We occupy both! We’re at the long Imperial Table and in a Garden Room. The menu includes a chef’s courtesy, Caesar salad, sherbet on a sugared rose petal, a main course of seabass, and fruits with ice cream. Everyone seems to approve.