Published: November 10th 2010November 10th 2010
So yesterday Spain had their second holiday in two weeks. GO SPAIN!!! In reference to the pool being closed on this holiday, my coach said p*** piscina. However, its not their fault its a holiday! Its Spain. So crazy. It was only a holiday in Madrid though, it was the day of their patron saint, Saint Almudena. It was supposed to rain in Madrid, and everything was going to be closed, so I peaced out! There are so many towns around Madrid that I want to go to, but I decided to go to Cuenca. It was a two hour bus ride away. The train took the same amount of time but was more expensive. Kelsey was visiting me, but she was going to Cordoba and Malaga, much further away and way too expensive!!
I woke up too early for a day off and went to the bus station. There were about 5 people on my bus. Hahha. It was one of those charter buses. And it was a new one I guess because for a while no one could find where the numbers were for each seat, since when you get your ticket you are actually assigned a seat
number. But this was a huge ordeal for the two old couples trying to find their seats!!! It was pretty hilarious, because the bus was totally empty. I mean, they weren't freaking out that bad, but they wouldn't let it rest! We finally found the numbers though... I slept pretty much the entire bus ride. When I was awake though, the scenery was very pretty. A lot of the countryside surrounding Madrid is shades of brown and red, with some dark greens thrown in there. When we got to Cuenca I was on a mission to find some green tea, since I was a bit sick and cold. It was freeeezing out!! Like 5 degrees. I found an information kiosk though, but it was closed, but there was a map on it and I decided to wander over to where it said there was another information point. Found some awesome chocolate filled pastries on the way!!
Finally found the other info. kiosk, way outside of the downtown area after I just decided to follow this river, the Rio Huecar. I decided to walk along it because it looked really pretty and there were lots of trees surrounding it!!! The
trees were all turning colors, mostly yellow and orangeish. SO pretty! I didn't really know what to ask the man, but he gave me a map and showed me a route of places to visit. The old town of Cuenca is set above the downtown area on a hill, which seems to be in the middle of a canyon. I walked up this hill and found the Puente de San Pablo. This bridge connects one side of the canyon to the hill in the middle. It had a great view of the valley and river below. It also had a great view of the hanging houses, or Casas Colgadas, which is what Cuenca is famous for. These houses are pretty much built into the side of this cliff, with all their patios hanging over and whatnot. A really really cool sight!! One of the houses is now a restaurant, and the other is the contemporary art museum.
But I still stayed canyon side and wandered past the Iglesia de San Pablo and the Parador de Turismo, which is an insane hotel basically set on edge of the canyon. I wandered around it to find an awesome vista of the
valley below. I just kept wandering and found two bikers struggling uphill. Hahha I followed them to a hiking path and went on a walk there for a bit!! It was AWESOME. Exactly what I was hoping to find over there. I was just wearing regular boots, no kind of walking or hiking shoes, so I didn't go too far but went for a walk for 30 minutes. It was sooo pretty! Walked through gorgeous trees and greenery and took lots of photos. Then I went back to the center of old Cuenca town on the hill and went to the Catedral. It was really really pretty!! The outside looked familiar, but was actually unique because of the squareness of the facade, rather than having a rectangular shape. Pretty sweet! But, this is hilarious. I asked this guy to take a few pictures of me in front of the cathedral. Well, I thought he was taking great pictures! He looked in the view finder, moved the camera around a bit, repositioned himself, even got on his knees for one photo. But STILL couldn't figure out how to get a picture of me with ANY of the facade in the picture!!!!
This I find hilarious because so many times I ask people to take pictures of me in front monuments or cool views, and the cut the monument or view out of the picture rather than cutting legs, or even feet, out of the picture. AHAHAHAH. I was even extra nice to him after he took the pictures because I thought he was taking good ones. NOPE!
Then I wandered around to a few churches, and then went to Piazza Mangana where there was the Torre de Mangana. It was SO windy over there!!! The square was absolutely deserted, which I think this was partially why. There was also construction in the are. But I walked over to a lookout point and thought the wind was going to blow me over. The view was amazing though!!! You could view downtown Cuenca and the town neighborhood of San Anto'n and another river, the Rio Ju'car. Then I walked around the edges of this side of the town. It was really pretty, but totally deserted. I just couldn't get over the views though.
What also made me wonder, is with so many of these towns that are old, and beautiful but
totally abandoned, what happens with all this property? All these apartments? They didn't look in use. At all. They looked somewhat maintained, but not in use. Why not? I've found this with many towns, especially in Sicily. Then I wandered over to this Castle. I kept following the signs, and following the map. I ended up on the other edge of town, looking into the other side of the valley, and onto the side of the canyon where I had hiked. So pretty! It was also great because I could view the bridge and the hanging houses from there, as well as the neighborhood of Tiradores. Sooo pretty. I just sat there for a while, in the 'park' that was on the edge of the cliff. It was so cold though! Then I finally figured out that the castle was only remains. There was one gate remaining, with stairs so you could go on top. I did that. But by that point I had been walking for literally 4 hours straight!!! I was dead. But then went to the Contemporary art museum that had reopened. Siesta here was big. Everything closed from 2-4. Even allll of the tourist attractions! Hahahah. I loved this museum though. It was in one of the hanging houses, so had nice views. The art was also very unique and featured a bunch of Spanish artists, and was set up very nicely. After this I was tiiiiiired so I headed back over the bridge to take more pictures. I had originally wanted to stay through sunset and take pictures of it from the bridge or castle area, but I had been cold allll day and was so tired so I had to go back to the bus station and change my ticket to an earlier one. Of course the sunset was GOOOORGEOUS!!! Oh well. I have a reason to go back now!
Here are some photos attached!!!!