No other city in Ecuador is pedestrian in concept. Most have mutated from their original simplicity to become a challenge for those who get about on foot, while others are topographically challenging in the first place, where walking is a very specific activity, an almost “only if you have to” chore, or feasible or enjoyable only within a specified area. Cuenca, however, was not only created for walkers, but in essence, the fundamental right to walk is still cherished.
You just have to look at the ground. The historic center of Cuenca isn’t paved. There is an almost organic transition between sidewalk and street, without inviting cars to rip across town. Beeping automated noises, announcing that its time to cross the street —you’ll get used to them, although at first they sound like digital cuckoo clocks sounding off from a second-storey apartment— counterpoint throughout town from every corner. By your second day in the city, you’ll stop noticing them, as crossing streets ‘Cuenca-style’ becomes second nature. You’ll spend your day on foot. You could spend every day on foot, walking up and down to the river and back, to the other two rivers and back.
The flat city, the pedestrian-friendly city, the city where getting places is easy; you have glorious promenades bordering the ever-rolling rivers and, above all, a reason to raise your eyes from the ground, to enjoy the spirited façades and verandas of each and every building.
For those who aren’t used to it, you’ll feel the tingling in your feet. It means that they’re excited, they can’t wait to hit the streets again!