We headed for the city center today, to get an overview of the famous Parque Calderon and its environs.
The street we live on is a straight shot to the downtown, so we chose that path for our first walk downtown. The walk took about forty minutes (we took Thoreau’s advice and sauntered), and along the way we visited an outdoor food market and observed the city life.
The Parque lived up to expectations as a beautiful central square with trees, flowers, paths, benches, live music (bought two CDs), and lots of people enjoying the area. It is surrounded by beautiful buildings, along with many males – young and old -- requesting to shine our shoes.
|Parque Calderon or Calderon Park (main city square)|
|Street harpist in front of old cathedral|
Two of the more spectacular buildings consist of an old cathedral which began construction in 1557 (now a museum) and the “new” cathedral which was built in the late 1800s and is massive and very nice. Supposedly the population of Cuenca when the church was built was 10,000 people, and the church could accommodate 9,000 of them. In pic below note that the intended spires have been truncated because the architect did not specify enough foundational support for the weight. The museum (the old cathedral) shows a church that decorated with frescos unlike the carved golden ornamentation of the Quito churches we visited. There are also shops and a city administration building surrounding the square.
|New cathedral with truncated spires|
|Old Cathedral that is now a museum|
We then attended “Gringo” night at one of the restaurants which was attended by about thirty people – much visiting and exchanging of stories and perceptions of Cuenca.
We finished the night with a very nice meal at the “California Kitchen” (operated by a couple and their son). Carol, the owner, was the person Juleen talked with on the street last year, and that chat was the seed which began our journey to Cuenca. We then took a taxi home at the cost of $2.
This morning, we are seeing horses and riders traveling on the road past our apartment. We are trying to figure out if we are missing something cool downtown or if it’s a typical Saturday ride for horse owners. Stay tuned!