This is just a quick word about a city we didn’t expect to fall in love with, Cuenca!
We needed to make our way down to Peru from Ecuador and wanted a place to stop in between the long bus ride from Cotopaxi. I was always planning to stop in Cuenca, Ecuador’s third biggest city, but I had read in a forum someone said not to bother with it because it was “just anther city” so I wasn’t giving it much thought and not really being city people I said to Harry, let’s just stay two nights, have a day at Las Cajas National Park and get out of there. We arrived late at night and the next day we were all about getting errands done. I also wanted somewhere to work on the blog so the first day we didn’t even leave the Blue Bird Bed & Breakfast until around 11. The sun was shining and as we walked around to check out the city we felt like we were somewhere in Europe.
The streets were so clean, the buildings were different to other colonial cities we’d been to and all this was surrounded by mountains. As we looked for somewhere to eat lunch we saw a river and being the nature lovers we are, of course we wanted to eat lunch by it before soon realising like in a lot of Latin American cities, we either wouldn’t be allowed to sit on the grass or there wouldn’t be any seating. We were pleasantly surprised when there was well kept grass and benches all along the river bank and a nice walk way, even an outdoor cafe perfect for relaxing with a coffee and a book whilst listening to the running river. The water of the river was clear, unusual in a city of this size, especially when we have the Yarra in Melbourne to compare it to. There was barely any rubbish in the river, I think I saw one piece, and we also saw a man stop his bike to pick up a plastic bottle and bin it, the opposite of what we’re used to seeing in our 8 months of travel. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch sitting by the water and talking about how impressed we were with the city and decided right there that we would stay another two nights!
Cuenca has several churches and while we’ve come across countless churches while travelling, these ones seemed more impressive somehow, especially the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, (dramatic name right?) which is in the main square.
While we didn’t actually do much with our time in Cuenca, we simply liked the vibe of the place, walking around we visited the usual market, ate for cheap, basked in the sun reading on the river bank and enjoyed the lack of hustle and bustle you usually find in cities. We did a day trip to Las Cajas National Park and decided if we had have stayed in Cuenca a week, would have visited again in the hope of a sunny day as it was an easy 45 minute bus ride away.
Cuenca really got our attention and we decided that if we were city people, Cuenca would be the type of city for us. Good weather, enough nature around whilst still in a city, clean, cute buildings…oh and a great ice cream place, sold!
I love being pleasantly surprised by destinations, what cities have you been unexpectedly impressed with? I would love to visit more!