Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Tale of Two Banos!

On Sunday for my 55th birthday, my hubby had a surprise… Piedra de Agua.

About 10 minutes outside of Cuenca, you can be in the crater of a volcano and enjoy being pampered like a princess. I’m not sure if Mark knew it or not, but while we were basking in the warm waters of the mineral baths, we were in the center of the crater! Not that it should make that much difference, but remember…we just had an earthquake not too long ago and while I was enjoying the soothing mineral waters and the candlelit cavern, I thought, Hmm…I wonder if this is stable ground? Not to worry, nothing happened except a very invigorating experience.

Afterwards we had lunch at the restaurant (al fresco) and enjoyed a steam bath (very, very hot!). I think we should have had the steam bath first and then lunch (oh well, next time). There are a variety of treatments at Piedra de Agua including mud baths (don’t wear a white swimsuit!) and a variety of massages (inside a cave) for ten dollars extra or access to all treatments for $30. The service was impeccable and I felt truly pampered.
Now, I have to tell you, I’m hard pressed to decide which “banos” I like better. You see, just down the street (or up) -- depending on the direction you are coming from -- there is another “banos.” Actually, if you want to get technical about the whole thing, “banos” are everywhere in Banos. We haven’t tried all of them yet, but today just for the fun of it we headed to Osteria Duran to do a little comparison shopping. We arrived by taxi ($3.00) at Osteria Duran and saw several tour buses. Not what you want to see because the pool is not that big. After paying $5.00 for the entrance fee which also includes use of the grounds and steam baths, we found the pool to be packed and no tables available. It looked like a banos convention. I checked out the look on my hubby’s face and thought, Uh-oh, I think we won’t be coming back here again! But as it turned out, in two hours everyone went “home,” and we had the pool to ourselves which was lovely.

If I had to tell you which experience I liked better, it would definitely be “Piedra de Agua.” For $5.00 more, you have personalized service, access to all the mineral pools, the steam room, and a polite and courteous staff that makes sure your experience is exceptional.

There you have it…”a tale of two banos.” Now, I just need to check out the rest of the mineral baths and spas!

Unril next time...hasta luego!

Consuelo y Marco

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