Saturday 20th January – Baños was an amazing place to visit! Located in the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, this small village was full of colourful buildings, craft markets and quirky coffee shops.
We got to ‘Hotel Floresta’ at around 2pm, checked in and then headed to a local coffee house/café for lunch before going to explore!
Baños has a good nightlife scene so after going out for dinner, about 5 of us did a bar/club hop. I decided to sample quite a few of the local cocktails – it didn’t seem like such a good idea the next morning! But they were so good, always fresh fruit served with the cocktail!
Sunday 21st January – My roommate and I went for brunch at around 11am at a traditional indoor food market. My brunch was a fried egg, salad, chorizo, fried Yuka with cheese. This is a local, traditional meal called Lapingachos. (Columbian-style potato cakes). Delicious!
In the afternoon, I had booked in to go horseback riding with two of the girls on my tour. We were gone for about two hours, a walk through the towns (very interesting to see the style of housing etc.) and then through the mountains. Our guide for the horseback riding was lovely – a Peruvian guy.
We went out for a casual supper at a vegetarian restaurant – a had a vegetarian burrito which was delicious. Vegetarian/vegan food can be very expensive in the U.K. but in South America, it was about the same price as any other food.
Monday 22nd January (Baños to Cuenca) – first, we stopped by a small, local sandwich shop to buy lunch – fresh Subway-style sandwiches! At about 8:30am, our road trip started. We stopped a few times to take scenery photos. In the afternoon, we arrived at the ‘Incapirca’ (the oldest Inca ruins in Ecuador). We spent about two hours there – very interesting.
At around 6pm, we arrived at our hotel in Cuenca – ‘Hotel La Casona’. Cuenca is Ecuador’s third largest town with colonial architecture, art galleries and museums. Very western/modern in comparison to Quito/Baños. Our hotel was an old hotel with lovely big rooms.
Tuesday 23rd January (Cuenca) – in the morning, Henry (our tour guide) took us to another local indoor market. This one was much bigger. A huge selection of fresh fruit, hot snacks/street food and mostly cheap prices. After, we went to a small hat museum. It didn’t take us long to look around, they had a rooftop coffee shop so we went to have a coffee there and enjoy the views…360 views of Cuenca!
For supper, we went to a Mexican restaurant (one of my favourite cuisines!) just down the road from our hotel. They happened to have 50% off all food and drinks if you ordered before 7pm and we got there at about 6:45pm! I had a tequila sunrise and chicken enchiladas. As this was our last night in Ecuador, we went to an ice cream shop/café to use up our Ecuadorian coins! I had a banoffee-style ice cream in a cone…delicious!
On our way back to the hotel, we happened to hear a lot of commotion coming from the local, large park (about 30 metres away). We walked over and saw that there was a local dance class going on, so we spontaneously decided to join in! It seemed to be a mixture of freestyle/Zumba/hip hop. Such good fun, although we all felt exhausted after!