Cuenca – ‘The Athens of Ecuador!’
Cuenca, Ecuador is the most amazing place to study Spanish! It was such a welcoming city, I found I could learn, study, make friends, and practice my Spanish, all with ease. It’s a unique part of Ecuador with history so special that it has been chosen as a Unesco World Heritage Trust Site!
There are so many things to see and do in Cuenca, including admiring the amazing views of the Andean Mountains which surround the city! Cuenca is also a bustling university city, so I was always sure to find both international and local students amongst its streets mingling among the locals. The city had an awesome atmosphere – a real mix of old and traditional and youthful and modern everywhere I went.
I loved exploring Cuenca on foot and never grew tired of the colonial feel its cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings give off. It’s easy to imagine what it was like living here 100 years ago. I spent a lot of time walking through the narrow, cobbled streets of the old town city center, marveling at the gorgeous colonial architecture, and the iron balconies which don the beautiful buildings. My school was in a fantastic location, right in the center of the city in an impressive detached building, overlooking the Barranco River.
I did my research before my trip and arrived in Ecuador armed with guidebooks galore and quite the list of important “must dos” while studying in Cuenca. Ecuador is an amazing part of Latin America, and Cuenca was a great base from which to play explorer! Luckily, I didn’t have to go it alone and the school gave us some great tours around Cuenca, and excursions out and about the surrounding areas on the weekends. Although, I must say Cuenca itself had more than enough to keep my tourist thirst quenched – there are museums, galleries, and cathedrals to see as well as its fascinating history; a story of a mix of colonial settlings and ancient Inca ruins. In fact, the church of El Sagrario is even built on top of ancient Inca ruins!
However, the most memorable excursion of all was my trip to the Galapagos Islands – absolutely amazing! The Galapagos Islands had always been something of school text books and natural history legend to me. I had never imagined that I would really be able to go there and see all the different types of plants and animals that in habit the islands. Getting to see them up close was a real treat for me- any nature lover will adore this. It was a close contest but my close second favourite trip was hiking in the Andes! It was an incredible experience and the views were utterly breathtaking, and is something that I will never forget… and I took over 100 photographs just to make sure!
My trip to Cuenca was incredible. I learned so much, met some fantastic people at my Spanish school and sharing such amazing travel experiences with them just made my time there all the more special. I am now hooked on Latin America and the Spanish language and already planning my next immersion vacation!