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While this very popular town is visited mostly for its colonial architecture, dating back to the 16 century, and friendly people that live here, I found the surrounding countryside and quant folk art villages of Gualaceo, Chordeleg and Bullcay to be the real highlight of what Cuenca can offer.
Nearby is the very friendly HOSTAL CHORDELEY (T824-611) which costs $5 US for a single, and $8 US for a double. Situated at 11-15 Gran Columbia it also has a tour agency called GENERAL TORRES. If the HOSTAL COLONIAL is full and you want to stay in the center this is the next best option.
A few streets away is the very popular HOTEL MILAN (T835-351) at 9-89 Presidente Cordova. A single costs just $3 US, and a double $4.50 US. It is often full with backpackers.
Directly across the road, is the
slightly more expensive but better HOTEL ALLI-TIANI. The
service is very friendly, while rooms have TVs balconies, hot
water and continental breakfast is included. A single room
costs $4.25 US, a double $7 US.
The NEW YORK PIZZA RESTAURANT on Gran Columbia 10-43 make pretty good pizzas and calzones. A very large pizza will cost around $2 US, while a very filling calzone costs just 50 cents US. There is a take away menu and a home delivery service on 842-792.
There are many cheap chicken shops on Presidente Cordova, where a quarter chicken and chips will cost around 70 cents US. Also there is a supermarket on the corner of Luis Cordero and Presidente Cordovo, where simple items like milk and bread can be bought.
Cuenca is well known for its
pastry and sweep shops,
and these litter the town. The sweet chocolate biscuits seem
to be the most popular and are cheap around 5 cents US.
A much better nightclub, is the relatively unknown and unnamed place, down near the Rio Tomebambe just pass Avienda Todos Los Santos. Situated in the foundation of an old colonial bridge, it has a very gothic feel to it, and is open only very late at night. Drinks prices are much lower here than the nightclub above.
There are English films shown at the Cinema on Padre Aguirre, which show pictures which a relatively new out of Hollywood.
Easily the most impressive Cathedral and one of the best I have ever seen is the relatively new INMACULADA CONCEPCION. Built in 1885, and designed by a German, nearly the whole town attends the Sunday service it has. Directly opposite this (across the plaza) is the old cathedral, EL SAGRARIO CHURCH. This was built, the same year Cuenca was founded in 1557. However it is probaly most famous in the fact that in "1739 the churchs spire was used by the French Geodessic Mission as a reference point in detemining by triangulation the length of a degree of the earths arc" (said on tour).
Considered the best tour agency is the EXPEDICIONES APULLACTA on Gran Columbia 11-02 (837-681). It organises great day trips which all cost $35 US. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday is the EL CAJAS tour which takes you to the famous National Ecological Reserve. Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturday is the Ingapirca tour which contains the best preserved Inca ruins in Ecuador. Easily the most popular tour is the Sunday folk art village tour whereby a bus takes you to Gualceo, Chordeleg and Bullcay to witness and purchase items at the towns respective Sunday markets.
Another good tour agency is the English speaking INFORMACION Y VENTAS on Av. Espana 10-91 (865-054).For $15 US they give the everyday city tour, which is split up in four catogories of Handicraft Tour, Museum Tour, Shopping Tour and City by Night Tour. Departing everyday at 9.00am is the one day program tour, which goes to either Ingapirca (Inca Ruins), Banos (history), Yanguilla (sightseeing), Gualaceo (handicrafts) or Cajas (natural area). Cost is $35 US.Every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday is the very popular Devil's Nose Train ride. Departing at 6.00 am and costing $75 US, a bus takes you from Cuenca to Alausi, then a train takes you down the devils nose to Chanchan.
Where is it?