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Published: June 26th 2010
is a lovely city, located 6 hours south of Banos, with a very nice old colonial center. It is considered one of the top cities in the world for retiring to, though we must admit we have not seen many foreigners in its streets, but I guess in few years it will be more like in Panama.
We have not done much in Cuenca, actually the only attraction we went to see is the local production of the famous 'Panama Hats'
- well, why Panama hats if they are made in Ecuador in Cuenca? Apparently the called like that due to historical mistake! The French company that was digging the Panama Canal have bought these hats for its workers in Ecuador, and that is how it got its name. The truth is, that the origion of these hats is in this area of Ecuador, where the local villagers are still seen wearing them. The factory / Museum we visited, is making high class hats, and have extended it way beyond the original white only kind of hat. The hats are hand made from special type of leaves in the villages surrounding Cuenca. Final touch in done in
this factory, where they give them shape, cut edges, color or make them white with chemicals etc. We could not resist trying on many of the hats - it was fun! As we are not participating in many horse races (like the British Queen), we found no reason to buy hats for 20$ or more...
The other thing we spent time on in Cuenca was banks. We were trying to pay for our Galapgos tour, a huge amount of money, but had many difficulties managing to withdraw such amounts. So, after visiting something like 6 different banks, looking for the Visa or Mastercard local offices, drawing money at two different ATMs - we managed to do it! If they seriously want more Americans to come and retire in this town, they would have to do something about their banking system....
From Cuenca we made our way to Guayaquil
. This is the biggest city in Ecuador - yes, bigger than Quito the capital. It is the commercial center of the country and it has a big port. Guayaquil has a reputation of a dangerous city, so we have tried to avoid its center, yet our impression from the city
was fairly good, and we did not feel it is any different than any other city we have been to. On the contrary.
We spent half a day in its center: first we visited its Iguanas park then its promenade. The Iguanas park was great, and the kids loved it - there were many huge monstrous Iguanas there, and the kids actually touched a few of them, as the iguanas are used to the proximity of people and are not afraid.
The promenade, called Malecon 2000, was another great surprise - it is probably the most beautiful promeande we have seen around the world. It has a combination of nicely setting along the river / sea, with towers overlooking far at the view, along the street next to it there are many well rstored colonial buildings, there are parts of the promenade that are woddden like a deck, there are playgrounds along, pond with golden fish and ducks, and there is a beautiful tropical garden at parts, etc. Tal and the kids took a mini-train for exploring the promeande, while I walked behind them (yes, the mini-train was that slow...). All in all, a very nice afternoon.
We also got to see a bit of the malls and shopping life of Guayaquil which are definitely very modern and lively. There is lot of construction of modern houses, buildings, hotels and all kind of complexes in Guayaquil and its surrounding and it sure shows that this is a city in great development.
From Guayaquil, we took a flight to our next destination, one of the highlights of our journey - Galapagos!
To see all our photos from these cities, hit the following links: Cuenca Photos
Photos from Guayaquil
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