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Cuenca Ecuador City Bus Tour to Turi + New Cathedral Terrace (Episode 55)

Join us as we tour the New Cathedral Terrace before hopping on the Cuenca Ecuador City Bus Tour. The city bus takes us up to Turi Ecuador, which is home to the iconic white church and offers amazing views of Cuenca from high above the city. This is one of the best things to do in Cuenca!

Cuenca Ecuador City Bus Tour in a Double Decker Bus

The Cuenca Ecuador City Bus Tour, operated by Van Service Internacional, is a great way to get beautiful views of Cuenca and the Andes Mountains, as well as learn about Cuenca’s long and varied history. The tour guide speaks in both Spanish and English so us gringos can also understand.

Cuenca Ecuador City Bus Tour

We arrived at the City Bus Tour departure area in Parque Calderon a little before 1PM, but they take a lunch break during that time so we had to wait for the 2PM departure.

The cost is $8 for adults and $4 for children, and they depart every 30 minutes starting at 9:30AM, except for 1PM and 1:30PM. The Turi bus tour takes about 1:45 minutes with 35 minutes to enjoy Turi. We haven’t taken the northern route yet. Look for that in a future video.

City Tour Bus Cuenca Hours and Cost

We’ve shown the Turi Church in several of our videos since we like to hike the stairs to Turi for exercise.

Turi Church Ecuador

The views of Cuenca and the mountains are breathtaking.

New Cathedral Cuenca View from Turi

Cuenca Ecuador New Cathedral Terrace & Tour

Since we had an hour to kill, we decided to hike up to the New Cathedral Terrace, which is open to the public. It costs $2 per person and there are lots of stairs. If you have physical issues, it might be a little too tough for you.

New Cathedral Cuenca

The views from the terrace are spectacular! And it’s really cool to be so close to the New Cathedral’s iconic blue domes. It’s well worth the price of admission and the copious stairs.

New Cathedral Cuenca Domes

The inside of the New Cathedral is equally stunning. There are several altars around the perimeter dedicated to different important figures in the Catholic religion. There are always lots of people praying and soaking in the beauty of the church.

New Cathedral Cuenca Altar

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias!

Video Transcript

>> Amelia: Hi veggie lovers.
I’m Amelia with Amelia And JP.

JP is behind the camera.

Today, we are going to go on the city bus tour.
We already have our tickets.

And we are going to take a tour of the New
Cathedral as well.

We’re hoping to go up to the terrace
and walk through the cathedral.

We post videos every Tuesday, Thursday and
Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Eastern

and we stick around for about an hour afterwards
to answer..

[Loud Motorcycle]

..that was noisy.. to answer any of your questions.

Respond to any comments.
Things like that.

So give us a subscribe, give us a like,
ring that bell

so you get notified on all our latest and
greatest.

[Upbeat Music]

We are inside the New Cathedral.

We are gonna walk up the stairs to the terrace,
which we hear has amazing views.

We are gonna find out.

FYI it does cost $2 per person to go up into
the terrace.

Oh it’s nice and cool in here.

It’s very warm outside.

Wow this is really neat.

That was a tiny little door that I could not
figure out how to open.

>> JP: [Laughing]

>> JP: Happens to the best of us.
>> A: Yes.

[Upbeat Urban Latin Music]

>> A: Oh look.

[Upbeat Urban Latin Music]

>> JP: Must be for the choir.

>> A: Yeah.

[Upbeat Urban Latin Music]

And we continue.

[Upbeat Urban Latin Music]

>> A: We are standing on the terrace
on top of the New Cathedral,

which is funny because
this Cathedral is still pretty old.

They started building this in 1885 and
finished construction in 1967.

The views up here are pretty spectacular.

You do have 360-degree views Cuenca
and incredible views of the Andes Mountains.

One thing we learned today was that the spires
were supposed to have bells in them,

but they do not because
there were structural issues

so the church was actually never completed.

But they do use this. There are services regularly.

Luckily, there aren’t any services right now
so we’re gonna go downstairs

and film the inside so you all
will be able to see that as well.

It’s quite lovely.

As you can see behind me,
they are refurbishing the domes.

I believe they are painting, doing some tile
work, re-grouting, cleaning..

things of that nature.

They look incredibly beautiful at night.

[Calm Piano Music]

We wandered next door to the courtyard.

There are several restaurants, coffee shops
and some regular shops

where you can get some souvenirs here as well.
And you have an amazing view..

..of the New Cathedral and the domes.

It’s quite lovely.

Interesting note.

When we were in the church, we observed somebody..

..it looked like he had a white rose,

just the flower itself; not the whole stem.

And he climbed up onto..

I don’t know what it’s called..

Whatever the thing the railing is and rubbed
the flower all over Jesus

and then got down and gave it to his friend

who then rubbed it on his forehead on his
head on the other guy and his arms, legs

and lifted up his shirt in the church and
rubbed it all over his body.

So, never seen anyone do that before.

It was quite interesting

and I guess that was some sort of religious..

I don’t know. What is it JP?

>> JP: Ritual.

>> A: Ritual. Thank you. I’m not religious!

JP grew up Catholic.

[Laughing]

You didn’t rub Jesus with a
white rose for good luck?

>> JP: No.

>> A: I should not make fun.

Hey, that guy could be truly
blessed right now.

I don’t know. It was just interesting.

We are on the bus.

This is a double-decker bus.

The nice thing is, is that if it starts raining,
which it often does, we can all go downstairs.

Also, we have a beautiful view of Parque Calderon.

I forgot to mention that you pick up the city
bus tour in Parque Calderon

and there’s usually people out walking around
selling tickets so it’s really easy to find.

It’s $8 and they run every hour
except at one o’clock,

which is when we were here ready to go. [Laughing]

But that’s okay because then we were able
to go see the New Cathedral.

[Upbeat Urban Latin Music]

We are enjoying the view from Turi.
But I did comment to JP

that it is strange to be up here
without climbing those stairs.

We took the south route,
which takes us to Turi, obviously.

They stop here for about a half hour so you
can enjoy the sights, and

do some.. souvenir shopping.

There’s a little store over there.

I think we’ll walk over on the other side
too so you guys can see

the the back part of Turi.

We walked over there thinking it was really close

and ended up walking a long way one day,

but it was amazing.
Today you will just see it from a distance.

[Upbeat Urban Latin Music]

>> Tour Guide: This is the end of the tour.

[Inaudible]

We hope you enjoyed our day of sightseeing
as much as we did.

We really learned a lot on the city bus tour.

What’s nice is that it is in
Spanish and in English.

And it tells you a lot about the history and
just certain historical landmarks.

A couple interesting facts to share…

The Tomebamba River, the Tomebamba name, comes
from a Quechua word

and that actually means “the knife valley.”

You’ll notice that many of the streets in
Cuenca are named after dates.

These are important dates in Cuenca’s history.

For example, Doce de Abril, which is the 12th
of April, is the date that Cuenca was founded

and that was the year 1557
so Cuenca has been around for a long time.

Another important date is Tres de Noviembre,
which is also a street here in town

and that is Cuenca’s Independence Day.

Cueca is a religious city.

You’ll probably notice a lot of
churches on our tour.

There is a church for every Sunday
in the year.

52 churches.

So you can go to a different church every
Sunday for an entire year

if you really want to experience
a lot of different religion.

>> A: We have not done that.
>> JP: It’s all the same religion.

>> A: Oh.

>> A: Well, we don’t know that.

>> JP: It’s mostly the same.
Yeah, all of those churches are Catholic.

>> A: Lots of Catholic churches.

>> A: We had a really good time, but we are
a little tired; the sun was very intense today.

But, hey, it’s summer in Cuenca.
I can’t complain.

Please remember to subscribe.

Ring that Bell so you get all of our latest
and greatest

and we will see you soon.

[Beep]

Please remember to bring your sunscreen and
hat or a sombrilla (umbrella)

when in Cuenca during the summer.

Actually, all year-round

because the sun is intense.. as I mentioned..
blah blah blah.

La Virgen del Rocío | The Church Built Into a Mountain in Biblián Ecuador 2019 (Episode 51: Part 1)

This is Part 1 in our 3-part series from day trip we took from Cuenca Ecuador with Flavio from Polylepis Tours to Biblián, Cañar and Ingapirca. Our first stop was La Virgen del Rocío in Biblián Ecuador: the church built into the side of a mountain.

Other Videos on this Day Trip from Cuenca:

Part 2: Cañar Ecuador Indigenous Market
Part 3: Ingapirca Inca Ruins Ecuador + La Cara del Inca

Biblián Ecuador Day Trip from Cuenca

Cuenca to La Virgen del Rocío

Cuenca to La Virgen del Rocío

La Virgen del Rocío – Biblián Ecuador

Biblián is home to El Santuario de la Virgen del Rocío, or the Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Dew. This church was built into the side of a mountain after the residents of Biblián believed a miracle happened.

La Virgen del Rocío Biblián Ecuador

La Virgen del Rocío en Biblián, Ecuador

A long drought in 1883 killed all the crops in the area so a farmer placed a statue of the Virgin Mary on the side of the mountain and prayed for rain. Within a few days, the rain came and saved the crops and the people. Soon after, construction of the church began to honor the Virgin Mary and the miracle.

La Virgen del Rocío Biblián Ecuador Statue

La Virgen del Rocío Statue

The church is literally built into the side of the mountain with the altar and support structure carved into the stone. The Catholic people believe this is a very holy site so they place important pictures, plaques and other trinkets in and around the church and pray for miracles.

La Virgen del Rocío Biblián Ecuador Church Altar

La Virgen del Rocío Church Altar

If you’re familiar with Catholicism, you’ll recognize the Stations of the Cross in the video on our hike up to the top of the mountain above the church. This is a steep hike and a challenging climb at such a high altitude, but at Easter we’re told this trail is packed with people of all ages and abilities performing the Stations of the Cross.

La Virgen del Rocío Biblián Ecuador Station of the Cross

Virgen del Rocío Station of the Cross

This informational plaque on the top of the mountain tells us a little about the Canton of Biblián. While veganism is growing rapidly here in Ecuador, many of the traditional dishes are of animal origin.

La Virgen del Rocío Biblián Ecuador Informational Plaque

Virgen del Rocío Informational Plaque

We’ve noticed that the Ecuadorians don’t have the same issues with meat reality as Americans. It’s common to see the entire animal, head, hooves/claws and all, served up for everyone (including children) to see.

To us, it’s utterly disgusting, but they’re exposed to it from birth so it seems normal to them. Along with several Ecuadorian vegan friends who are equally disgusted, we’re working to help people realize animals are here with us, not for us. As the rates of diet-related disease increases here, they are becoming more open to the idea of returning to their traditional mostly plant-based diet.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day with Flavio and Christian.

La Virgen del Rocío Biblián Ecuador Church Stairs

Flavio from Polylepis Tours at La Virgen del Rocío on the Church Stairs

La Virgen del Rocío Biblián Ecuador View

View of Azogues from La Virgen del Rocío Biblián Ecuador

Our next stop is la Ciudad de Cañar to visit the Sunday indigenous market. We’ll show you that interesting experience in our next video.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias!

Video Transcript

>> JP: Hi veggie lovers!
I’m JP and this is Amelia.

And we’re with Amelia And JP.

This is part 1 in our three-part series from an

excursion that we took north-east of

Cuenca to Biblián, Cañar and Ingapirca.

>> A: Yes. Yes. Biblián was our first stop

and my favorite part was going to see

El Virgen del Rocío, which is the church that

is built right out of the mountainside.

It is incredible and I think you all

will like it as well.

>> JP: It is really incredible.

Alright so we post videos every
Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time and

we hang out for about an hour afterwards

to answer any questions
you guys might have.

So please subscribe to our YouTube

channel and hit that little
notification bell.

Where is it? Down here somewhere?

Hit that notification bell
so you make sure

and get notified when we post new videos.

And we’ll see you after this

after we show you the sights of Biblián.

>> A: Yes, see you soon veggie lovers.

[Upbeat Music]

>> Flavio: My name is Flavio.

I am the tourist guide.

And introduce you to Christian our driver.

>> Christian: Hi.
>> JP: Hola Christian.

And now we need to drive to Ingapirca
archeological site.

One of the most important
archaeological sites in in Ecuador.

And different stops, for example,
in the..

Virgen del Rocío church,

indigenous market

and I hope you two enjoy it.

[Calm Latin Guitar Music]

The capital of Cañar province…

…probably in the city we have about 60

50, 60 percent of the people, the families

who have immigrants in the US.
Okay?

The economy from these little

towns it moves from the immigrants.
They send money. Yeah?

>> A: That’s wonderful.

>> JP: So the people move to the states
or move to another country and

then send their money back?
>> F: Exactly.

The live in the US. Yeah?
People live in the US.

They go 30, 40 years ago, probably.

>> JP: And they still send money back

to the family.
>> F: Exactly. Yeah.

This is the reason it’s normal
in this kind of mountain

we find a beautiful houses.
Big ones.

Good constructions. These are the people
who send money.

>> A: Yeah.
>> F: Yeah.

They are like they’re rich people
in mountains. Yeah?

Indigenous people.

It’s like a competition.

>> A: Really?
>> F: Yeah.

>> JP: [Laughing]
>> A: Interesting.

>> F: This is my BIG house

and probably my family sent me
a lot of money.

And they have a BIG one, house.
[Laughter]

The construction of the..

..Virgen del Rocío church..

Virgin of the Dew, no?

Rocío dew

>> JP: Virgin of the Dew.
>> A: Oh. Ok.

>> F: The dew.

1883.. and the temple, the construction
of the temple, was in 1924.

>> A: Oh. Ok.
>> F: Yeah.

[Calm Latin Guitar Music]

Zhalao hill the name of the mountain here.

But, around 1893,

in this part..

we have we have a big problems
with the drought.

>> A: Oh. Ok.
>> F: The drought. Yeah?

and.. the people, local people
come to here with a

little image of the Virgin.

But, it destroy everything.

The farms don’t have a more production
of the vegetables, you know?

And talk with a bishop and
come to here

the Zhalao hill..

and put the little image of the Virgin

in a little hole like a waiting

a miracle, okay?

and the next day or a few days..

>> A: It starts to rain.
>> F: Yeah.

This is the dew, okay?
>> A: Okay.

The dew and say well is a miracle
of the Virgin.

This is the name it, for example,

Virgen del Rocío

The Virgin of the Dew, yeah?

And then all the Catholic people come to here and

the different processions bring all the

materials from the mines near to here and

they construct this kind of church.

It’s like a faith. Faith of the people.
>> A: Yes.

[Calm Acoustic Guitar Music]

>> F: Look at this.

This is an actual mountain. Rock.
>> A: Yeah.

>> F: And the church is carved
in the middle of the rock.

>> A: It’s amazing!

[Calm Acoustic Guitar Music]

>> F: In every little towns,

the towns in Ecuador.

Soccer field.
>> A: Oh, of course.

[Laughter]

>> JP: It’s the second church.
>> F: Exactly! Yeah!

>> F: Second temple.

[Calm Acoustic Guitar Music]

>> A: We’re up on the top of the mountain

and right behind me is a Azogues and

Virgen del Nubio or Virgin of the Clouds

so we’re standing on the Virgin of the Dew

so Virgen del Rocío and then
over to.. my..

>> JP: In that direction.
>> A: In that direction.

[Laughter]

My left; your right.
Is Cuenca.

So we’re not that far.

It’s absolutely beautiful.

>> JP: Where are we?
>> A: We’re in Biblián.

>> JP: Biblián?
>> A: Yes, we are in Biblián.

[Calm Acoustic Guitar Music]

It’s very peaceful up here and it’s also

good preparation for Cajas because we’re
at higher altitude.

Although I’m not really feeling it.
JP is.

>> JP: Yeah, I can’t breathe.
There’s no air.

>> A: It’s not that bad.
[Laughter]

We’re still alive.

[Calm Acoustic Guitar Music]

>> JP: What are we looking at?

>> A: That giant bug!

It doesn’t even look real!

>> A: That’s a good idea.
>> F: The dimensions.

>> A: Yes..

[Calm Acoustic Guitar Music]

This church is built into the side of
the mountain.

It’s incredible. You can see the rock
right behind me.

There’s also pictures.
And those are pictures of

loved ones that they place here
to keep them safe.

Our tour guide Flavio is saying that

sometimes it’s people who are going to

the US and they won’t here for them for

months so they look at this as a form of

protection and also for people

undergoing surgeries and
things like that.

[Calm Acoustic Guitar Music]

>> JP: Hopefully you enjoyed the beautiful

scenery in Biblián and the Santuario..

El.. What is it? El Virgen del Rocío?
>> A: Sí. The Virgin of the Dew.

>> JP: The Virgin of the Dew.
>> A: Rocío means dew.

>> JP: And Amelia thought it was really cool that

they built this in the side of a mountain.

>> A: I think it’s incredible, and
they built that by hand.

It’s amazing!

>> JP: Yeah it was a 100 years ago
120 years ago

they built it by hand out of the side of..

the mountain is the inside the church.

It was really cool.

>> A: Very cool.

>> JP: And we walked up to the top

and the Stations of the Cross

if you’re Catholic you know what

that means. Amelia’s not Catholic.

>> A: JP had to explain this.
>> JP: Yeah.

So I was raised Catholic and so they had

the Stations of the Cross that lead all

the way up the mountain and I guess

people come up there and do the Stations

of the Cross around I guess..
>> A: He said Easter.

>> JP: Easter. it’s mainly at Easter time.

And they.. it’s really steep and
to go up..

>> A: Well and he said that elderly and the sick do it

everybody comes and does it in the area

comes for the Stations of the Cross.

>> JP: So if you saw all of those
white and blue crosses in the video,

that’s what those were:
the Stations of the Cross.

>> A: Yes.

>> JP: Alright so stay tuned for our next video

which is going to show you Cañar and

the indigenous indigenous marketplace.

>> A: Yeah, that was a major change
from Biblián.

>> JP: Yeah a big change from Biblián,
like going back in time.

>> A: It was fun.

>> JP: Alright. We’ll see you next time and please

remember to subscribe and hit that
little bell.

>> A: Isn’t it down here?
>> JP: I don’t know.

It’s down here somewhere.
>> A: I think it’s down here.

>> A: Alright, bye.
>> Buh bye.

[Blooper Beep]

A: They also have something else
going on in January 20th you know

there’s always celebrations happening in

and around the Cuenca-land area.

>> JP: That was irrelevant. [Laughing]
>> A: Ok. [Laughing]

>> JP: Unrelated to what we’re talking about.

>> A: Well.
>> JP: Anyway.

>> A: Anyway.
>> JP: Anyway.

Mirador de Turi Ecuador: The Colorful Cuenca Countryside (Episode 2)

Our hike through Mirador de Turi Ecuador and the Cuenca Countryside was like stepping back in time. Small farms dot the landscape and friendly people were eager to talk to us.

La Iglesia de Turi Ecuador (The Turi Church) is a beautiful white church situated in the “V” of two mountains on the south side of Cuenca Ecuador. It can be seen from most places in Cuenca, making it one of Cuenca’s most memorable landmarks.

You can get to Turi by taxi (about $5), by tour bus ($8 from Parque Calderón) or by walking up 439 steps, which is the route we took in the video.

On the day of our hike, there was a Fiesta de Parroquialización de Turi celebrating 165 years since the church was built. The party started at 9am and it was still going strong at 9pm when we went to bed (we could hear it from our house almost 2 miles away).

People & Places (and Animals)

La Iglesia de Turi (The Turi Church) – Cuenca Ecuador

Turi Church Cuenca Ecuador

 

The Turi Church can be seen throughout Cuenca Ecuador. It’s nestled between two mountains so the white church looks spectacular against the Ecuadorian blue sky.

On the day of our hike, the church was celebrating its 165 year birthday with a parade and fiesta. The local residents were out in force to watch and participate in the activities.

The Stairs to Turi Ecuador

Stairs to Turi Ecuador

There are 439 steps on the hike up to the Turi Church. At an altitude of more than 8,000 feet, these steps are not for the faint of heart. Several benches offering panoramic views of the city are there for you to use. Take water. Take breaks. Take your time.

The Turi Church – Cuenca Ecuador

Turi Church Cuenca Ecuador

The church is a beautiful sight from far away and from up close.

Inside the Turi Church

The inside of the Turi Church is pretty typical for an Ecuadorian Catholic church, at least the ones we’ve seen. Some of the older cathedrals that we visited in Quito were more ornate with lots of gold leaf, but the majority of churches look like the Turi Church. It has high ceilings, several religious statues and wooden pews.

Always remember to remove your hat as a sign of respect when visiting the inside of an Ecuadorian church. If you don’t, you’ll get lots of dirty looks and someone will probably ask you to remove it.

The View from Turi

View from Turi Church Cuenca Ecuador

Turi offers amazing views of the Andean valley where the city of Cuenca, Ecuador is located. People have lived in this valley for thousands of years and some of the Incan ruins can be seen from this viewpoint, if you know where to look.

Fiesta de Parroquialización de Turi

Turi Church Parade Cuenca Ecuador

The Turi Church was built in 1853, and the residents were celebrating its birthday on the day of our hike with a Fiesta de Parroquialización de Turi. The indigenous women wore their traditional vibrant colored dresses as they marched in the parade up from the valley behind the church.

Sidewalk Trenches

Turi Sidewalks Cuenca Ecuador

Gaps in the sidewalk are a common occurrence in Ecuador so be careful to watch where you step or you could seriously injure yourself with a 5 to 15 foot fall.

Trash Racks

Trash Rack Cuenca Ecuador

While you’re busy watching for disappearing sidewalks, remember to look up, too. Racks used to keep trash bags out of the reach of stray dogs are used on walls along the sidewalks. For those of us over 5 feet tall, they can really hurt if you walk into one.

Centros de Rehabilitación Social (CRS Turi)

CRS Turi Cuenca Ecuador

This is the local prison or Social Rehabilitation Center located in the picturesque farm community behind the Turi Church. Ecuador has a very low prison population, with its prisons currently at only 38% occupancy.

Part of the reason for the low occupancy rate is culture that provides the basic needs for its population, as well as their successful inmate rehabilitation programs that help keep people from returning once released. “The rehabilitation program includes work, education, sports and other activities to keep everyone busy.”

Turi San Agustín de Punta Corral – Mirador de Turi

San Agustin Church Turi Cuenca Ecuador

We ate our lunch on the steps of the San Agustín Church in Punta Corral, the heart of Mirador Turi.

Church on the Hill in Mirador de Turi

Church on the Hill Turi Cuenca Ecuador

We spotted this tiny church on the hill on our way back home. The Andes mountains in Ecuador are full of amazing views and beautiful churches like this.

Luis de Ecuador

Luis in Turi Cuenca Ecuador

We met Luis and his family on our way back home. He was extremely gracious and offered us a cerveza (beer). He welcomed us to his country, saying “Ecuador es mi país y es su país.” (Ecuador is my country and it is your country.)

His children (niños) were adorable and eager to meet a couple of gringos out walking through their countryside. Luis told us he lived in Michigan for 10 years, which is why he could speak English.

Many Ecuadorians speak English, especially in and around Cuenca. They teach children how to speak English, starting in preschool. And adults who speak English have more job opportunities so it benefits them to learn the language.

We’re often stopped on the street by Ecuadorians asking us if we speak English. They want to practice their English as much as we want to practice our Spanish.

Share the Love

We hope you enjoyed our hike through Mirador de Turi Ecuador today. Please remember to like, comment, share and subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you’d like us to make a video about something specific or if you have questions, please let us know in the comments.

Spanish Words & Phrases

Hoy es domingo – Today is Sunday
el cuenco – the bowl
La Ciudad de Cuenca – The Bowl City
la acera – the sidewalk
dos vacas – two cows
el cacto/los cactus – the cactus
Centros de Rehabilitación Social – Social Rehabilitation Center
Turi Le Da La Bienvenida – Turi Welcomes You
la tienda – the store
hola – hi/hello
¿Cómo se llama? – What’s your name?
Da la mano – shake hands
Las montañas son muy bonitas. – The mountains are very beautiful.
con gusto – with pleasure/nice to meet you
Bienvenido a Ecuador – Welcome to Ecuador
Ecuador es mi país y es su país. – Ecuador is my country and it is your country.
Con gusto conocerlos. – Glad to meet you.
¡Chao! – Bye!
la cerveza – the beer

Bumba Artisanal Market Cuenca Ecuador + Tour of El Centro & Lunch at Café Libre (Episode 1)

Today, we went to the Bumba Artisanal Market in Cuenca Ecuador before venturing onward to a popup outdoor textiles market and then to lunch at plant-based Café Libre restaurant in Cuenca.

We love to visit the artisanal markets like the Bumba Popup Market for fresh, organic, delicious, locally sourced vegan foods.

People & Places (and Animals)

The Roundabout at Av Solano y Remigio Crespo Toral

Av Solano y Av Remigio Crespo Toral Cuenca Ecuador

In this photo, Amelia and I are playing Frogger at a busy intersection in Cuenca near the fútbol (soccer) stadium, Estadio Alejandro Serrano Aguilar, where the Club Deportivo Cuenca plays (that’s Cuenca’s local fútbol team).

In Ecuador, pedestrians do NOT have the right of way. The pecking order from top to bottom is Busses, Taxis, Cars/Trucks, Motorcycles, Dogs and then Humans.

Drivers don’t stop for pedestrians. In fact, we’ve noticed a lot of drivers speed up when pedestrians are trying to cross the street. It seems very odd to us since everyone is a pedestrian at some point in this highly walkable city, and the Ecuadorian people are very tranquilo (calm and nice)…unless they’re driving.

We have seen a few elder Ecuadorians step out into traffic with their arm outstretched in a “stop” gesture and cars come to a screeching halt for them, but I’m not sure that works for young people or gringos. Amelia and I have been too scared to try it.

Having grown up in the fast-paced United States, Amelia and I are fast walkers (like a lot of the gringos who live here). However, unlike us gringos, Ecuadorians are very tranquilo when walking so it’s common for us to experience mild irritation when walking behind people who are strolling on Monday morning like it’s Sunday afternoon. But when they’re behind the wheel of a car, normal tranquilo Ecuadorians turn into NYC taxi cab drivers with only two speeds: stop and fast.

Please, be careful when crossing the street.

Colegio Benigno Malo

Colegio Benigno Malo Cuenca Ecuador

Colegio Benigno Malo is beautiful high school in Cuenca, Ecuador. It has a French neoclassical architecture and was built in 1923.

Students in most of Ecuador’s schools wear uniforms and this one is no different. On most days, the students wear navy blue slacks and a white polo shirt, but on some days, they dress up in skirts and sport coats.

Bumba Artisanal Market Cuenca Ecuador

Bumba Popup Market Cuenca Ecuador

Bumba Fruits & Beer is a popular Ecuadorian hangout with a great view of the Tomebamba river. The Bumba Artisanal Market is also a big hit with gringos and Ecuadorians alike. Follow Bumba’s Facebook page and keep an eye out on GringoPost for the Bumba Popup Market dates and times.

Rio Tomebamba

Rio Tomebamba Cuenca Ecuador

This is one of the main rivers that runs through Cuenca on the edge of El Centro (the center). It divides the old city and the new(er) city. The Bumba Popup Market is located next to the river, as you can see in the video.

Kelbert from ArteSana

Kelvert from ArteSana Cuenca Ecuador

We visit Kelbert from ArteSana Panadería y Pastelería (ArteSana Bakery and Pastry/Cakery/Cake Shop) at least once and sometimes twice per week. His wife bakes fresh vegan bread with all natural ingredients and Kelvert sells it (and washes the dishes!).

Kelbert also helps us with our Spanish and enjoys teaching us new words like “estaba haciendo ejercicio,” which means “I was exercising.” He sells bread on Tuesday and Thursday at a restaurant next to our gym so it’s super convenient to pick some up on my way home.

Sourdough from ArteSana

ArteSana Sourdough Bread Cuenca Ecuador

Our favorite bread from ArteSana is their sourdough. We have to ration ourselves or we can eat a whole loaf in a day!

The New Cathedral

The New Cathedral Cuenca Ecuador

The New Cathedral of Cuenca is the largest cathedral in Ecuador and the blue domes help give Cuenca its amazing skyline.

Even though this is referred to as the “new” cathedral, construction began in 1885. That’s over 130 years ago! But it’s still newer than the “old” cathedral (see below).

Marisól at the Popup Mercado Next to the New Cathedral

Marisól at The New Cathedral Popup Market Cuenca Ecuador

We’ve visited Marisól before. She sells some very nice sweaters and scarves (bufandas) at the popup market that appears most weekends and holidays. The market has lots of different types of clothes, shoes, jewelry, toys and food.

The Old Cathedral of Cuenca

The Old Cathedral Cuenca Ecuador

La Catedral Antigua de Cuenca or The Old Cathedral of Cuenca was built in 1557, making it over 460 years old. That’s more than 300 years older than the “new” cathedral (see above).

It currently serves as a museum of religious art. I suppose we should venture inside someday, but that’s not really our cup of tea. We’ve seen some of Ecuador’s religious art, and it can be brutal and gory. The Spaniards used religion as a tool of fear and control after they invaded South America, which is reflected in the religious art of the time.

Parque Calderón

Parque Calderón El Centro Cuenca Ecuador

Situated between The New Cathedral and The Old Cathedral, Parque Calderón is a beautiful city park and a popular destination for tourists and locals, alike. We’ll share more details about this park in a future video.

La Iglesia de San Alfonso

La Iglesia de San Alfonso El Centro Cuenca Ecuador

The original smaller La Iglesia de San Alfonso was completed in 1894, but the larger extension shown here was completed in 1911. The designer of the new extension was Huesgen Ziegelmeir, a German architect, which explains why this church looks like something you’d see in Germany rather than South America.

Café Libre Plant-Based Vegan Restaurant

Café Libre Plant-Based Restaurant Cuenca Ecuador

Café Libre is one of my favorite restaurants in Cuenca.  It was also recently voted the “Best New Restaurant in Cuenca” by the popular Ecuadorian website, GringPost.com.

Considering it’s a plant-based restaurant without any meat on its menu, that says a lot about the quality of the food. Not only does it taste delicious, but the presentation is always picture worthy.

If you’re in Cuenca, you must try this restaurant and tell Paul, the co-owner, that Amelia and JP sent you. While you’re there, if it’s not too busy, ask Paul to tell you the story about how Café Libre came to be. It’s very interesting.

Jack’n Jack Gua Bao (BBQ Jackfruit) at Café Libre

Café Libre BBQ Jackfruit Cuenca Ecuador

This is one of my favorite dishes and I order it regularly. It’s BBQ Jackfruit that Paul sources from Guayaquil. It’s served on a vegan Bao Bun, which is a type of bread that’s steamed instead of baked, making it very soft and doughy. It comes with a side salad and either housemade papas fritas (french fries) or chips (shown here).

Curry Curry Curry at Café Libre

Café Libre Curry Curry Curry Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia ordered this plato principal (main dish) for the first time today and she loved it. As the name implies, or rather, explicitly states, it’s a curry dish with tons of flavor and a variety of colors and textures. It was served with a side of fresh avocado topped with some rock salt and cracked pepper. Yum!

Parque de la Madre

Parque de la Madre Cuenca Ecuador

Parque de la Madre is one of the most popular parks in the city and it’s centrally located between the old El Centro and the newer part of the city to the south. There are always lots of children playing (you can hear the soothing sounds in the video) and adults exercising, playing basketball, talking and relaxing. We’ve even seen running groups and concerts there.

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Spanish Words & Phrases

el centro – the center
el rio – the river
panadería – bakery
pastelería – pastry/cake shop
¿Te gusta la bufanda? – Do you like the scarf?
Sí, mucho. – Yes, a lot.
¿Cómo se llama? –  What is your name?
Catedral Antigua de Cuenca – The Old Cathedral of Cuenca
Parque Calderón – Calderón Park
Parque de la Madre – Mother’s Park
Canton – area of land referred to as a county in the US
los aretes – the earrings
estaba haciendo ejercicio – I was exercising