Although I’ve mentioned about our accommodations, I haven’t actually shown you what the outside of the hostel looks like. On the wall just inside the entryway there is a buzzer that rings in the landlady’s house across the street. The landlady’s name is Esperanza and is very friendly and accommodating.
After a brief rest we set off again. I was looking for a pocket-sized notepad for taking notes and a pen (it is amazing how fast they disappear). We stopped in at the bookshop. They didn’t carry those items but directed me to s small shop around the corner where we purchased a nice thick notepad and ballpoint pen for $0.86. We then set off towards the central plaza in front of the new cathedral.
Along the way we passed a building that was being renovated. We met the owner, Johnny. He had purchased the building a few years ago and is now starting the renovation. The building is 19m x 45 m with three interior courtyards.
Johnny’s plan is to convert the building into a 35 room hotel to accommodate the increasing number of tourists coming to Cuenca. He hopes the inner courtyard will look something like this.
The plaza is a very pleasant place to be. There are numerous walkways, tall trees that cast inviting shade, statues, benches for resting and colorful flowers.
This is the large statue in the center of the plaza.
The new cathedral is on the West side of the plaza. The other sides of the plaza have interesting old colonial-style buildings.
Cathedral as seen from the Plaza
Restored colonial building
Another fine restoration
Construction on the new cathedral, Catedral de la Immaculata was begun in 1880. It is designed to hold up to 10,000 celebrants. It was designed to be 105 meters tall but the architect miscalculated – the bell towers were too heavy for the building to support and so they were never completed.
On the South side of the plaza is the Tourist Information Booth. They have some good maps of Cuenca if you can convince them to give you one.
We heard music as we walked towards the flower market on the South side of the Cathedral. There were two Equadorian flute players. They were good enough that we bought two of their CDs.
At the flower market we encountered several ice cream cone vendors. We purchased two ice cream cones ($1 total) and they were pretty good. There were lots of beautiful floral displays for sale. They are made and sold by native ladies wearing their traditional costumes.
We spent some time exploring the native arts and craft market on the next block. I purchased a small backpack for carrying purchases on our shopping excursions. Nan found aa Alpaca wool sweater that she loved but it was too small and they had nothing similar in her size.
At 5:00pm we met Toni and Steve and went to the Gringo night at Zoe’s bar and restaurant. They have a microbrewery so I tried some of their beer – it was pretty good. Nan had a blackberry (Mora) yogurt drink that she enjoyed very much. We met several new people including Mike and Marilyn from Dryden, Ontario and Neil and Inga from just north of San Diego. They have just rented a new fully-funished one-bedroom, 2-bath apartment for $280/month. The kitchen has oak cupboards and granite countertops. After a while things got pretty noisy at Gringo night so Toni, Steve, Nancy and I headed over to the Austrian restaurant for coffee and supper. We were beat when we arrived home and just crashed.