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Cuenca Ecuador Hat Museum + Lunch at Origami Sushi + La Chakra Mercado Natural (Episode 91)

The Cuenca Ecuador Hat Museum (Museo del Sombrero) is a nice place to model some Panama hats, learn their history and see how they’re made. It’s also a great place to drink a cup of coffee while enjoying the view of Cuenca.

Several people have asked us about organic or natural stores here in Cuenca, so we show you two of them in this video. Plus, we had some delicious vegan sushi for lunch at Origami.

As a reminder, we’re leaving for Amsterdam and India in a few days so our posting schedule will be a bit erratic. Please sign up for our newsletter and I’ll do my best to let you know when we’re going to post our next video.

La Chakra Mercado Natural

Our first stop was at La Chakra Mercado Natural on Doce de Abril near La Universidad de Cuenca and next to Samsara Yoga. They have all sorts of natural food and beauty products. They also have a La Chakra Facebook Page.

La Chakra Cuenca

We bought a bag of organic, locally sourced maca powder that we put in our breakfast oats. We also bought a protein snack bar from Panda Cakes Cuenca. My vegan rock climbing friend, Pietro, makes those and sells them in natural stores around Cuenca. Amelia also bought some cruelty free natural deodorant, which is quite a bit more expensive in Ecuador than back in the states.

La Chakra Snack Bar

Cuenca Ecuador Hat Museum: Museo Del Sombrero

Our second stop was the Cuenca Ecuador Hat Museum, Museo Del Sombrero, to get my hat repaired. It got really wet while Stephen was rock climbing, which caused the band to come loose. We love our panama hats and it’s really nice that they keep them maintained for free.

Museo Del Sombrero

Amelia and I tried on several hats while we waited just for fun.

Museo Del Sombrero Cuenca Amelia Hat

Museo Del Sombrero Cuenca JP Hat

While these hats are commonly known as Panama Hats, they originated in Ecuador. The Cañari indigenous people who originally made the “paja toquilla” or “straw hat” still wear them today.

Pauto Mercado

We also went upstairs for a cup of coffee and beautiful views of Cuenca.

Museo Del Sombrero Coffee Shop

Museo Del Sombrero Cuenca View

This is just one of many museums in Cuenca that are worth a visit.

La Primavera El Centro Cuenca Ecuador

There are several La Primavera stores around Cuenca. They carry a variety of health foods, like protein powders, nuts, seeds, vitamins, etc.

La Primavera Cuenca El Centro

Our friends Jimmy and Sharon told us the one on Mariano Cueva y Calle Gran Colombia sold Mate de Coca or Té de Coca, which helps with altitude sickness.

La Primavera Cuenca El Centro Map

Sometimes I get a little light headed and short of breath when the weather changes, and this tea helps alleviate the symptoms. Unfortunately, they were out of the tea so we’ll have to try someplace else.

Mate de Coca

Origami Japanese Kitchen and Sushi Bar Cuenca Ecuador

We like going to Origami Sushi in Cuenca because they have a lot of vegan options and it’s far less expensive than Noe Sushi. Origami is located on Calle Larga y Mariano Cueva. They have a tiny storefront that’s easy to miss. Just look for the Origami sign on the door.

Origami Sushi Cuenca Door

They have an entire page dedicated to vegetarian (it’s actually vegan) sushi rolls and options. Plus, their Miso Soup is also vegan and they don’t use oil in any of the rolls or the soup.

Origami Sushi Cuenca Miso Soup

We ordered the Yasai Combination plus a Mango Roll.

Origami Sushi Cuenca Yasai Combo

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

Cuenca Ecuador San Sebas Neighborhood + Marc’s Consignments Tour (Episode 77)

This day in the life video features a walking tour of the Cuenca Ecuador San Sebas (or San Sebastian) neighborhood. We also stopped by Marc’s Consignments, The Museum of Modern Art, a Vietnamese Pho restaurant run by our friend Rick, and a few other colorful places.

Marc’s Consignments Cuenca

Our first stop was Marc’s Consignments. One of our very first subscribers, Marla, will be moving here to Cuenca in June and she requested a tour of one of the consignment stores.

Marc's Consignments Cuenca

Marc’s Consignments is located in the Cuenca Ecuador San Sebas neighborhood just a couple blocks from San Sebas plaza. In addition to brokering furniture sales, they can also help with relocation services. And if you need something special that they don’t have, they can find it for you. Their stock rotates about every 2 months and they get new items every week so check back often.

Marc's Consignments Cuenca Store

There are two other consignment stores that we know about that are popular with gringos: Cuenca Consignments and JD Muebles. We’ve never been to Cuenca Consignments, but JD Muebles is very similar to Marc’s Consignments.

Cuenca Ecuador San Sebas Plaza Cuenca

One of the prettiest, old-world plazas in Cuenca has to be San Sebas Plaza. Locals and gringos alike are often seen relaxing near the fountain, surrounded by flower gardens. Café San Sebas is popular gringo hangout with a nice patio and views of the plaza and the Museum of Modern Art.

San Sebas Plaza Cuenca

Cuenca Museum of Modern Art – Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno de Cuenca

We’ve been to Museum of Modern Art several times. It’s a beautiful, quite and relaxing art museum in Cuenca with several colorful gardens.

 Museum of Modern Art Cuenca

Museum of Modern Art Garden

However, on this day, there weren’t any art exhibits. The museum is in the process of doing a comprehensive renovation so none of the art was on display except for the outdoor sculptures. We still enjoyed ourselves none-the-less.

Pho Vietnamita Restaurant

After we left the museum, we walked a couple blocks to Pho Vietnamita for lunch. As far as we know, this is the only Vietnamese restaurant in Cuenca, and it’s muy delicioso.

Pho Vietnamita Cuenca Sign

We met Rick, the head chef and owner, during our Visa process. We rode to Machala together to file our paperwork soon after we arrived in Cuenca.

Pho Vietnamita Rick

Rick made us some delicious vegan rice paper spring rolls as an appetizer.

Pho Vietnamita Vegan Spring Roll

We ordered the Vegetarian Pho, which is actually vegan, for our main course. The Vegetarian Ramen uses egg noodles, so it’s not vegan. The Pho bowl was very flavorful and filling.

Pho Vietnamita Cuenca Bowl

INTI-RAYMI Galeria

After we left Rick’s place, we walked down Simón Bolivar toward Parque Calderon. If you’re in the market for unique furniture and home decor, the INTI-RAYMI Galeria might have what you’re looking for. They have more furniture on the upper level so be sure to check that out, too.

Home Decor Store

The Cuenca Flower Market

A walk through El Centro wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Cuenca’s world famous Flower Market. You can see more of the Cuenca Flower Market here: Cuenca Flower Market + Fresh Tea & Cold Beer in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 20).

Cuenca Flower Market

Cuenca Flower Market Lilly

Fogón del Zorro Peruvian Restaurant

After we left the flower market, a dark cloud appeared from out of nowhere (as they often do here in Cuenca) and the sky opened up. We stepped inside Fogón del Zorro just as it started pouring rain. They do have a few options on the menu for us vegans, but since we had already eaten, we just ordered a delicious Peruvian beer to sip while we waited out the storm.

Fogon del Zorro Beer

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

A Walk Around El Centro Cuenca Ecuador + Old Cathedral Museum Tour (Episode 70)

This day in the life was a day of firsts. We took a walk around El Centro Cuenca Ecuador and it was the first time we visited the newly renovated San Francisco Plaza. It was the first time we toured the Old Cathedral art museum. And it was our first time having lunch at Funky Sauce, a new vegan and vegetarian restaurant on the corner of 3 de Noviembre y Benigno Malo by the Tomebamba River.

San Francisco Plaza in El Centro Cuenca Ecuador

The San Francisco Plaza was our first stop on our walk around Cuenca Ecuador. It has been closed for renovation for well over a year. When we visited Cuenca on our exploratory trip in early 2017, we bought a few things from the pre-renovated plaza. It was super crowded and kind of dirty. Now it’s a wonderful place to hang out with friends, let your kids play in the fountain or shop for clothes and souvenirs against a backdrop of the iconic blue domes of the New Cathedral.

San Francisco Plaza Cuenca

Some people have complained that the merchandise is mostly cheap Chinese imports. While there is a lot of that, there are also some handmade Ecuadorian clothes and knick-knacks. You can’t make everyone happy, especially cranky gringos.

The Old Cathedral Tour in El Centro Cuenca Ecuador

After wandering around San Francisco Plaza for awhile, we ventured over to The Old Cathedral Museum of Religious Art. We weren’t sure they would allow us to film inside since some of the older cathedrals in Quito don’t allow photography. However, I asked the lady at the front desk, “¿Puedo filmar?” (Can I film?) and she said, “Sí. Claro.” (Yes. Of course.) So we went in.

The Old Cathedral Cuenca

We were very impressed with The Old Cathedral Museum of Religious Art. The cathedral was built in 1573 making it almost 450 years old. Several of the murals in the cathedral have been restored after being painted over with industrial paint. How could ANYONE think that painting over 400+ year old murals was a good idea?! It’s mind boggling!

The Old Cathedral Cuenca Mural

We avoided this particular museum in Cuenca because we thought it might have graphic religious art like some of the cathedrals we visited in Quito, but we were pleasantly surprised. For the most part, it was just a lot of really old paintings and a nice photography display showing old pictures of Cuenca. If you haven’t been inside the Old Cathedral in Cuenca yet, it’s worth the $2 price of admission.

Vegan Lunch at el Funky Sauce Cuenca

After touring the Old Cathedral for over an hour, we walked back to el Funky Sauce for lunch. It’s a relatively new vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Cuenca that we hadn’t tried yet.

Funky Sauce Sign

The atmosphere is adorable and the people are super friendly. We had a nice relaxing lunch with classic rock on the stereo and the sounds of the Tomebamba in the background as a gentle breeze flowed through the open windows.

Funky Sauce Amelia

Since it’s a vegetarian place, some of the menu items have queso (cheese), huevos (eggs) and leche (cow’s milk), but they also have several vegan options. Be sure to tell them you’re “todo vegano” and they’ll show you the vegan items on the menu. They also have free Wifi, as do most restaurants in Cuenca.

Amelia had the Quinoa Burger with a side salad and a cup of Americano coffee. It looked delicious, but she didn’t let me taste it. Didn’t even offer! And she had SEVERAL bites of MY lunch!

Funky Sauce Quinoa Burger

I ordered the Vegan Pesto Penne Pasta dish and boy was it delicious. The pesto was made with nueces (nuts) instead of parmesan cheese. It was also made with olive oil, which I generally don’t eat. Most of the time, I ask restaurants to cook without oil, but we were so excited to try a vegan pesto that we didn’t think about the oil, which is a major ingredient in pesto. Next time I’ll ask if they have anything “sin aceite” (without oil).

Funky Sauce Pesto

They also brought us out a complimentary waffle that was made with oat flour and bananas. It was so moist and delicious that we ate it plain without anything on it!

Funky Sauce Waffles

We’ll definitely be returning to el Funky Sauce for bebidas y comida (drinks and food). It was super relaxing with great service and delicious food. It would be a great place to meet friends for drinks.

We really enjoyed our day of firsts and hopefully you did, too. If you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Step Back In Time at the Pumapungo Inca Ruins Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 31)

The Pumapungo Inca Ruins Cuenca Ecuador is one of Amelia’s favorite places to visit. We both love walking around the beautifully landscaped grounds and learning about the Inca history. Entry is free and it’s very peaceful and relaxing.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Cuenca, this is at the top of our list. There are lots of museums in Cuenca that are worth a visit, but this one is our favorite.

On the day we filmed this video, it was so windy that my microphone didn’t work well so most of the audio was unusable. Instead of an Inca history lesson, you get to enjoy the beauty of Pumapungo with some relaxing music.

Pumapungo Inca Ruins Cuenca Ecuador

The Inca ruins in Pumapungo are amazing! It’s like stepping back in time! The Spanish conquerors used a lot of the stones to build Cuenca, but many of the walls and footings still remain. The Inca building in the picture below is a reconstruction to give us an idea of what was sitting on the foundations.

Pumapungo Inca Ruins Cuenca Ecuador Inca Ruins

Pumapungo Inca Ruins Cuenca Ecuador Inca Building

Pumapungo Inca Ruins Cuenca Ecuador Amelia Ruins

We especially like all the flowers and the small lake. There are several benches that you can sit on to relax and contemplate life.

Pumapungo Inca Ruins Cuenca Ecuador Flowers

Pumapungo Inca Ruins Cuenca Ecuador Lake

Pumapungo Inca Ruins Cuenca Ecuador Amelia Cactus

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