Friday, July 23, 2010

Hosteria Duran

I heard about Hosteria Duran long before we arrived in Cuenca, so when my good friend Maddie said, "Would you like to spend the day in Banos?" I jumped at the chance! The mineral springs/spa of Hosteria Duran and Piedra de Agua are just two of the places that were on my list to visit. Right outside of Cuenca (approximately 20 minutes -- depending on traffic!), you are transported to another world.

Maddie and I rode the #11 bus and then hoofed our way to "Piedra de Agua," but never quite made it there! So after much thought and two pairs of tired feet, we decided on our original destination -- Hosteria Duran. It definitely did not disappoint. We paid a whopping $5.00 to enter through the gates of the mineral baths, but not without a "bathing cap." When the gentleman at the entrance held up a black pair of something, I thought for sure it was a pair of "speedos" and politely declined! Thankfully, Maddie who is fluent in Spanish explained it was a bathing cap that was mandatory for all guests. If you do not have your own (and who does -- really?), you can purchase one for exactly $1.00. Total cost for the day came to a whopping $6.00.

Once we changed into our swimsuits, took our obligatory shower to enter the mineral springs, we decided to have an appetizer first, which consisted of "bignets" filled with ice cream and chocolate sauce. And I wonder why I'm not losing weight here! I'm sorry, I would love to show you a picture of those little delicacies, but my camera was checked in securely at the locker area. There's nothing like a perfect day with blue skies, white fluffy clouds and lots of sun to increase your appetite!

After we took a dip in the mineral springs, we ordered lunch which consisted of shrimp, prawns, potato soup (Cuencano style), and a perfect view of the gardens. I'm not sure when it happened (before or after lunch), but I forgot to reapply my SPF 100 suntan lotion. I don't have to remind you that we are near the equator and the sun is very direct. It wasn't until later that I realized my back was toward the sun and even through my towel, I got "hit" with a lot of vitamin D in the shape of my bathing suit!

After realizing we had enough "vitamins," we took a self-guided tour through the facilities of  Hosteria Duran. The rooms overlook luscious green gardens and combined with a spectacular view of the town of Banos, it's definitely one of my favorite places thus far. Overnight stays are reasonable and would make a great weekend escape. It's hard to believe that just 20 minutes out of the city and a 25 cent bus ride, you can be in a different world.

We never made it to Piedra de Agua, but I'm sure it will be next on our list!

Until next time...hasta luego!

Consuelo y Marco

P.S. At the time of this writing, Mark now wants to go to Hosteria Duran (and he's a Mountain Man!).

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