I was dithering around and thinking about what to do when I left Cuenca because I had a few days before I was due to go into the jungle. Should I continue south to Vilcabamba or go up to Riobamba and ride the Devil’s Nose Railway? My mind was made up when Daniel told me that he was off to Baños to cycle the Rutas de las Cascadas and he invited me to join him. You can remind yourself of my previous visit to Baños by clicking here and find out how I did NOT enjoy that little outing along the cliff top the last time and how I had regretted not cycling it, so that decided things – I would go east with Daniel and give it a go.
Banos looking peaceful. Who would guess that one of those mountains is a very active volcano
Together we caught the night bus which deposited us in Baños at 3am. Waking the night receptionist at our hostel we were very generously allowed to sleep on the floor with him – or at least on the giant bean bags in a corner of the bar until the morning rather than paying for a bed for what was left of the night. The three of us and a cute little American Pit Bull puppy soon dozed off – waking just a few hours later to the wonderful sight of the mountains which encircle Baños and the waterfall thundering down the cliff outside.
peeping out from behind the waterfall
Despite very little sleep we were very soon up and out and off to hire a couple of bikes. And then it began to drizzle. But undaunted, we swooped off down the main road which I have to admit was a bit scary with some monster trucks whirling past rather too close for comfort. We went past the hydro-electric dam which disappointingly wasn’t operating this time around and then we were peddalling like mad through the first tunnel. On our bikes we then swung off the main road and onto the tiny track which clung to the side of the mountain and which had so terrified me the last time.
It was worst in the chiva bus
It was a thousand times better travelling under my own steam. I could relax and appreciate the view. We stopped at the rickety bridge to watch some crazy soul leap over the edge with what looked like just a velcro strap tied to his ankles and we oohed and aahed at the waterfalls which splashed down the cliff opposite.
down at the bottom of the ravine
There is something about the majesty and the only-just-contained power about a waterfall. There is no mystery about them – lots of water makes a river, river meets a cliff, water tumbles over the edge – but people flock from all over the world to wonder at them and stand, faces upturned into the light spray.
it stopped drizziling and made rainbows in the spray
Parking our bikes at the top, Daniel and I trekked down to the bottom of a couple of the falls. The sun had now come out and miniature rainbows were sparkling and dancing in the droplets of water which were suspended in the air. Everything was accompanied by the thunderous roar as the cascades crashed onto the rocks in the river beds below. I don’t know if it was because the morning had started off damp but we also met very few people along the route.
another fear conquered
The spectacular finale to the morning was the trek down to the Pailon del Diablo. Translated as something to do with the devil we clambered down steep steps and at one point reached out and we could touch the water as it roared past. We crossed a couple of rolling rickety rope and wood bridges to get deeper into the chasm as the noise richocheted around inside our chests and we could physically feel the beating of nature’s drum in our bodies.
The impressive Pailon del Diablo
I had not visited this cascada previously when travelling with M and I had sat at the top eating my cheesy puffs but I am so glad that I finally got down there. By now, after nearly a year of travelling in Latin America I was no longer quite so terrified of trip trapping across ricketty wooden bridges or charging down the long track which precariously clung to the side of the ravine on my bike. I had been striding outside of my comfort zone and pushing those boundaries way back into touch.
don’t be fooled by the force of that water
Our initial plan had been to cycle the sixty one kilometres all the way to the jungle town of Puyo but the road had begun to creep uphill and we were told by a local that it was uphill for the rest of the way. Lack of sleep and the exhertion of the climbs up and down to the river had taken their toll so we flopped at a bus stop and we waited for a ride to take us and our bikes back up to the town again.
Later that evening, a crowd of us decided that we should visit the thermal baths. I had been to these on my previous visit but I do enjoy a hot bath. I was missing my luxury of a bubble bath and while these didn’t do candles and music and a glass of red wine, they did do floodlights, a waterfall splashing down alongside and some very funny local people. Our little band of happy travellers was expanding and Daniel and I were joined by Laura from the UK, Ashley from the US and Inigo from Spain among others.
the picture doesn’t do this place justice with the waterfall crashing down in the background
The next day was another repeat adventure for me when we hired a cab to take us to the Casa del Arbol and the Swing at the End of the World. This time the cloud was a little higher and the sun was out although disappointingly we were still unable to see the smoking glowing crater of the active Tungurahua volcano. But swing we did and I went ever higher this time over the edge of the mountain. In a fit of fitness and much to Laura;s disgust we decided to let the cab go and walk back down to the town. It was a long way but at least it was all downhill and we took a short cut which accidentally but luckily brought us out at the mirador and the cross high above the town where we paused to catch our breath and wonder at the view below.
The swing over the End of the World
We hung about in the large bar of our hostel that night which did free dinners a few times a week and was an excellent marketing ploy as it ensured that the bar was busy. Early the next day I said goodbye to Daniel and Laura and I yomped with my rucksack through the town to the bus station for my bus to Quito and my usual hostel when in that city. Here, without checking in, I swapped my stuff around between my bags so that I could leave the big one behind because I had a night bus back out late that night to the jungle town of Lago Agrio and a really exciting four days ahead.
I am going to pause in my story at this point and fast forward you to Ecuador. I met some very special people when I got back to Cartagena and I shall continue my Colombian story in a later post, but for now, mid October found me in the south of Ecuador in Cuenca.
The colonial gem that is Cuenca
Described in every guide book as a ‘colonian gem’ I have to say that I have seen better on my travels but this city in the south of Ecuador oozes calm and tranquility.
old architecture in pristine condition
I stayed at the Mallki Hostel which was only opened six months ago by Andres. Along with his partner Eliana he has converted a derelict building into a home away from home, breathing life into its old bones. It is a hostel like many others with dorms and private rooms, a kitchen and a roof terrace, but what sells this hostel above many others is the ambience that Andres and Eliana have created.
The Mallki Hostel
Breakfast is included and there is a really great seating area with a large TV, an extensive DVD library and a Playstation with many games. A nice touch are the different guitars which are dotted around for guests to play and the beers in the fridge which are paid for with an honesty system when you settle your bill.
My Israeli friend strumming away on the roof terrace
There are optional daily (free) activites available to guests as well as plenty of free bikes to hire. They offer a free dinner to guests once a week, a cocktail evening, bike tours and group walks too. On my first afternoon there were no other takers for the bike tour but Giovani who works at the hostel didn’t hesitate to take me along for a tour of the parks and along the river banks.
Bikes and breakfast in the sun
On my second morning a group of us walked with Andres, Eliana and Vincent (their rescued from Peru Old English Sheepdog) to the large weekly produce market. I love markets but what made this one special was the presence of Andres and Eliana. They pointed out many of the different fruits and vegetables and even purchased different things for us to sample and then we all sat down to a filling set lunch which cost us very little indeed.
local colour and fresh produce
It was here at the Mallki that I met Brian. He is from the US and has been travelling for over four years on his BMW 1200cc motor bike. Beginning in Alaska he is working his way down to Buenas Aires and as I write this he is somewhere in northern Peru. You can check out Brian’s route here – but as a bike owner and rider myself I was very envious of his trip and mode of transport.
Brian preparing to set off for Peru
One evening Andres boiled up a big cauldron of magic which included a bunch of flowers, and then with the generous addition of home-made shnapps we all tested the local drink known as canelazo.
cooking up a storm in the local market
An extemely funny convoluted game of Jenga followed with ten of us from all nationalities playing until late into the night. Despite the large amount of canelzo, or perhaps, because of it, we all took it very seriously although we did end up bending the rules quite wildly.
Vincent surveying the dining area
Another afternoon and evening found a lot of us piled on the sofa and huddled under a blanket from the cold watching DVDs. We watched three in a row and was just like a grey autumnal day at home – I think we all needed this downtime.
yet another pretty church
Cuenca has some cool museums and architecture but much of its attraction lies in the surrounding countryside. I never actually made it to the Ingapurka ruins which are apparently Ecuador’s version of Machu Picchu but I did get to the Parque de Caja.
one of the lagunas at Parque de Caja
Formed from glaciers this region reminded me very much of Dartmoor in Devon – it was just bigger and higher with the muted greys and dusky greens and the Ecuadorian versions of gorse and heather. This park also has one of the highest concentrations of individual bodies of water in any highlands with over 271 lakes, ponds and puddles.
water water everywhere
We – two Spaniards, a French woman and a Chilean woman set off to walk around one of the larger lagoons. We had been warned not to attempt any of the larger hikes due to the inclement weather and the thick fog which was due to come down later. Sylvi, Gonzo and myself followed this advice and finished early, waiting for the others in the on site restaurant over a late trout lunch. We waited, and we waited and eventually we had to run so that we didnt miss the last bus out. Luckily the other two turned up in Cuenca having actually walked out of another entrance earlier.
another angle,another laguna
On another evening Andres led a group of us up to the Mirador. We climbed many steps up to the pretty little illuminated church at the top and stood and watch the city light up as the darkness fell.
marking the top of the mirador
I visited the largest museum in Cuenca – the National Museum of Banco where bizarrely, the ground floor was given over to an exhibition of erotic art whilst upstairs there were tableauxs and displays depicting life through the ages,m including a display of shrunken heads.
one of the little shrunken heads
The best bit about this (free) museum were the extensive ruins behind them. They were quite impressive and had some good information boards and some really nice gardens and water features, as well as a rather nice Belgium waffle place.
Cuenca had a very nice Indian restaurant which I tested with Connor from Australia and a not bad Italian place which I sampled with Daniel. I was really pleased when a young man from Colombia sat next to me in the central park with his seven year old son and began chatting to me. Colombians are so friendly and will chatter away to anybody and as you know I fell in love with Colombia and found it to be mostly safe but this man’s story showed the dark side of the country.
B and his son – I have disguised his face
B was a refugee who had fled from Colombia with his wife and two young children in fear for his life. He had been working as an anti-narcotic police officer in Cali but (and I really hope/wish that my understanding of his Spanish was incorrect) three members of his immediate family were very recently assasinated by members of the drug cartels when they found out he was a cop and he feared that he and his children were next on the list so he left his home and country
He was searching for work in Ecuador but had no papers and basically very little money to live on. I apologised and said that I had no spare money but wished I could help – but B was quick to tell me that he wanted simply to chat and forget his troubles and was not asking for anything from me. I believed him and despite his problems he was smiley and polite and his little boy very sweet yet subdued and quiet.
I gave his son some money for an ice cream and then I had to leave them to go and collect my computer which was being repaired. That didn’t cost as much as I had expected so I searched for B who was still wandering around the park and I gave him the difference that I had set aside for my computer repair. If I ever wondered at the truth in B’s story I didn’t doubt it when I saw the look on his face as I gave him the cash. He was lost for words and gave me a massive hug as did his little boy. I wish that I could have done more but hopefully he and his family at least had a decent meal that evening.
Cuenca is one of my favourite places in Ecuador despite being a bit cooler than others. If you visit and want a place to stay I highly recommend the Mallki hostel. If the efforts put in by Andres and his team so far are anything to go by the place can only go from strength to strength and get better and better. And if you want secure off-road parking for your motor bike he can supply that too.
I have stayed in countless hostels and I firmly believe that the best ones are owned or run by people who have travelled themselves. Andres was born in the jungle and is a qualified jungle guide as well as an adventure guide (leading rafting and survival courses), and as I have already mentioned, he has travelled himself. He can give you information on the local area as well as your further, onward travels and he plays a mean game of Jenga.
Disclaimer: Note:- Whilst I received some complimentary accommodation at the Mallki Hostal this did not influence my opinion or review in any way. I have portrayed an honest picture of my stay
So what does Latacunga have to offer apart from the natural beauty of the area?
There is a tiny but cute museum known as Casa de la Maquesas where a little old man un-padlocked each of the doors for me, switched on lights and proudly showed me around. I never quite fathomed out whether I was visiting outside of the opening hours or whether he had just not bothered to open up that afternoon, but it housed a few interesting objects in a lovely old building.
The museum curator and Mama Negra
The gentleman tinkled the keys on the various pianos and organs and opened doors and drawers of the exhibits and talked at me the entire time in Quichua. I didn’t understand a word he said!
There are numerous churches, pretty parks and squares, a lovely ice cream parlour and when the clouds lift, the Cotopaxi volcano can be seen on the horizon. The streets in the old town are narrow and most have cobbles and the buildings are made of stone. At night the old fashioned lamps glow with warm shades of yellow, green or orange and look so inviting. I was out walking after dark and felt completely safe in the surrounding streets. The Hostal Endamo is situated a block or two from the main square and is very close to a cute little park.
After some initial confusion at check-in I was shown to my room. The room was small but neat and tidy with a flat screen TV on the wall and somebody had done some towel art, which I always appreciate. There was a nice wood effect parquet floor, thoughtfully placed electric sockets and lights and a tasteful picture. The bathroom fittings looked new and it all smelt really clean and fresh.
My small but perfectly adequate room
Access to the hotel was through a restaurant and once I was settled in, the ladies on reception were keen to find out why and how I was travelling. Or maybe they weren’t but I was keen to practice my Spanish and I told them anyway. And they were very polite considering I had just turned up on the doorstep and they asked me lots of questions and practised their English.
I was offered lunch in the restaurant which was really very tasty. I had soup, a main course and a little pastry as well as a juice. It was busy at lunchtime with many business people dressed in suits dropping in to eat. The owner and manager, Enrique Naranjo told me the following day that the restaurant can seat thirty people but will also double up as a conference suite suitable for up to fifty people. It was long and narrow but with the roses and tablecloths it was welcoming and it was certainly popular.
The restaurant at Hostal Endamo
The following day at breakfast, the owner and manager sat with me and explained about the history of the hotel. He has been here for five years and has been doing a lot of work to the building. He very kindly gave me a tour of many of the rooms which are situated within two blocks. The front of the hotel containing the garage (parking for guests is VERY useful in these narrow streets) and the restaurant with some rooms above is a modern addition to the structure. Behind the restaurant, the reception can be found in a roofed courtyard close to the kitchen. A large water-feature plays here and stairways lead up to the much older part of the hotel.
Reception and its water feature
There are twenty three rooms which range from the smaller once such as the one that I was in, through to some family rooms and some suites. Enrique is also converting a room to a self-contained unit with a small kitchen for guests who want to stay longer. All of the rooms have new bathroom fittings and are tastefully decorated and all have natural light and ventilation. There are no nasty fans in the bathrooms – they all have windows to the outside or to the central atrium. And they have shower gel dispensers too which is always a nice touch.
The relaxing lounge area at the top of the hotel
At the top of the hotel there is a peaceful seating area with panoramic windows and views to the surrounding mountains and the Cotopaxi volcano. There is also a ping-pong table here should you wish to get active. The whole area is enclosed with light plastic roofing which keeps the place warm. At the top of the front building of the hotel is an open roof terrace with a 360 degree view of the town and the volcano.
I read somewhere that Latacunga has the highest concentration of barber shops per capita in Ecuador. That is very possibly true – they are everywhere, but it also appears to be the hub for embroidery shops – you know the ones – places that will embroider your tracksuit or polo-shirt with your business name. There are banks of these shops here with machines busy whirring away and shiny tracksuits and trophies in their windows.
Sun setting on Cotopaxi viewed from the roof terrace
Latacunga also has an airport and I was told that the only planes which fly in and out transport flowers or broccoli. The surrounding hills house poly-tunnels growing mainly roses which the region is famous for. I expected to see little cargo planes using a small runway, but walking around the old town I actually ducked as a huge plane, one step down from a jumbo took off, its undercarriage still down as it appeared to just miss the rooftops. The blast from it set off all the car alarms. They must grow one hell of a lot of roses here.
What Latacunga doesn’t have – take note any entrepreneur – is decent coffee shops. I found just one and that one was disguised as a bar – but the town does have some very nice ice cream outlets and I felt it was my duty to sample as many of the flavours that I could on several occasions.
Half the population here are wearing the latest fashions – the other half (the women) wear traditional dress of coloured skirts, knee-high white socks, green trilby hats and fringed shawls. These clothes are not confined to the older generation either – I have seen many teenager girls draped around their boyfriends sporting white socks and hats – but maybe I am simply ignorant and it is these girls who are the height of fashion.
The roof top lounge area and its pool table
Latacunga is a traditional town with few tourists but I liked it. It is a perfect town away from the craziness of Quito but close to Cotopaxi and Quilotoa.
- If you want to relax, head up to the roof of the Hostal Endamo with its comfy seats and great views – take your camera at sunset
- Lunch at the Hostal Endamo is great
- Enrique and his wife are a lovely couple – very friendly and smiley
- Try an ice cream or three at Nice on the corner of Santo Domingo square
- Just wander and relax.
Note:- Whilst I received complimentary accommodation at the Hostal Endamo this did not influence my opinion or review in any way. I have portrayed an honest picture of my stay
M does like a nice waterfall and in Banos there is a road that runs for about thirty kilometres along what is known as the Ruta de las Cascadas so this was a must for us to do. Many people choose to hire bikes and they freewheel down the road and then later they catch a bus back up to the top of the hill with the bike loaded on the roof. However, the day that we planned to do this route it was raining hard and I allowed myself to be persuaded by M to take a trip in a Chiva bus instead. As we boarded the open sided truck I wondered if I was making the right decision as the driver turned the music right up VERY LOUD and we boomed and thumped our way out of the town.
At least there was a wall at this point
To begin with it was all very nice. We drove over the top of a very high dam where the water charging down the mountain was harnessed and powered a hydro-electric plant. Clouds of misty spray and rainbows filled the air and the truck vibrated with the force of the water plunging down. We soon came to the mouth of a tunnel which was cut into the mountainside …but our chiva negotiated a little slip road to avoid the tunnel and followed a teeny tiny track around the outside. It was at this point that it dawned on me that the Spanish for chiva is goat; and goats, especially the mountain kinds, have a fondness for bouncing around on the sides of mountains.
The Yank behind us started jumping around screeching ‘Holy Sh*t’ over and over and I tell you, if I could have unpeeled my clenched hands from off the bar in front of me I would cheerfully have clenched them around her throat – and I wish that I had done when we reached our first pit stop.
zip lining madness
If somebody was as afraid of heights as she was making out they would not be first in the queue to launch themselves across a wide deep ravine on a zip wire. And certainly not face down, trusting themselves to a single saggy cable. Actually our party in the truck were an adventurous lot with the majority giving the zip wire a go, including a twelve year old girl. Of course, I decided to stay on firm ground and watch from the relative safety of a rickety old bridge.
Back in the chiva we continued to slowly pick our way down the track, inching below overhanging rocks and pausing under waterfalls which clattered onto the roof of the truck. I next considered strangling M for subjecting me to this torture but all my energy was focused into not hysterically breaking down. At least on the bike I could have clung to the inside edge of the track and gone as carefully as I liked. I had believed that my fear of heights was almost cured, but this trip was proving different.
no way was I getting in this
We rattled over a bridge which appeared to be made of loose planks and continued to our next optional addition – another of those cage baskets which traverse ravines. I hadn’t climbed into the one in Mindo and I certainly wasn’t going to get in one now. Obviously our Yank friend had a go and she travelled over to the other side for a closer look at the waterfall. We could see the cascada perfectly well from our side of the river and I was quite happy doing just that so I stayed firmly put and took more photographs.
The final straw was a stop at what was to be the best waterfall of all, but we were then told that we would have to cross two rickety plank and rope bridges. My nerves gave out completely at this point so I plonked myself down on a rock and ate a bag of cheesy puffs after asking M to take some photos so that she could show me what I was missing. All of our group returned safely and it was time to head back to Banos. By now it was beginning to get dark so the truck turned on disco lights inside and out to go with the thumping music and we headed back up the mountain.
swing over the edge of the earth
The next morning having recovered from my terrors, me and M shared a cab with H and L and we drove up the mountain to the “swing over the edge of the earth”. Hanging from the branch of a tree hung a swing. It was nothing swanky, just a little wooden seat and a sort of seat belt which was a mere nod at Health and Safety and up in the tree above was a cute little wooden tree house. The idea was that you swang (or should that be swung) out over nothingness. Well, obviously there was something below but it was a long way down. I wasn’t sure if I would try it but I did eventually give it a go, swinging out into the low clouds. It was beginning to drizzle by now so we didn’t hang about too long and we went back to our waiting cab. Me and M checked out of the Santa Cruz hostel, got the bus to Ibarra and then checked in to the Hotel Fevilamir.
After Baños it was back on the bus for the six hour journey north to Ibarra. Or it was sold to us as a six hour journey but obviously it was always going to take nearly eight. We got off to a bad start when the bus dropped us at a deserted petrol station in the dark in the middle of nowhere rather than at the terminal. We looked sad and pathetic and asked a lady if we could share the only cab with her to our hostel as we didn’t fancy standing around on the deserted dark streets. Luckily she agreed because as we drove down silent back streets behind the market I was getting a little worried – and these worries escalated as our chosen hostel appeared – cloaked in darkness.
the modern interior of the Fevilamir
Our cab driver waited whilst we rang the bell and eventually a man appeared to let us in. Climbing the tiled staircase with its stainless steel handrails we speculated why there was no indication from outside that the place was open or occupied. To be fair there was a whopping great big illuminated sign spelling out ‘hostel’ but a little lamp inside the door would have helped. I was just relieved to have M with me and the lady waiting in the cab.
The next day the Fevilamir hostel luckily redeemed itself. The gentleman who had opened the door to us the previous evening introduced himself as Geovanny and couldn’t be nicer, and we also met and chatted to Maria who cooked us some good eggs for breakfast and made us juice.
There was an airy dining room at the top of the building. Breakfast wasn’t included in the price but it was very reasonable and it was tasty and filling. We stayed two nights at the Hostal Fevilamir which was a heap of contradictions. Arriving at night it looked run down and empty. The prices were very very reasonable for a room for the night indicating that perhaps we should not expect great surroundings or service. However, once inside, the place was immaculate, nicely decorated and with real modern touches like the staircases and the decorations in the dining room. Geovanny showed me around many of the rooms and was meticulous in his presentation of them, squaring tables off and tweaking cushions in order to give a good impression.
The Fevilamir’s dining room
We had stopped off at Ibarra to break our journey to the Colombian border and although we didn’t expect too much of the town it wasn’t too bad at all. We tracked down the tourist information place and picked up a good map with all the places of interest marked on it; but bizarrely the place that we found the most fascinating – the museum which contained some excellent exhibits inside the by now, expected colonial building – didn’t get a mention or a pin point on the map at all!
Whilst at the museum we happened upon a presentation of poetry by local school children and we got chatting to one of the teachers. He then introduced us to other teachers and soon we were having our photos taken by them all. We were introduced as almost-celebrities but we were more fascinated by the female teachers clothes and were dying to get our own photographs of them.
The other draw at Ibarra was the park. This new park is very much still work in progress but it was a lovely place to wander around. It is the most unusual shape resembling a tennis racquet with a large area at once end and with a very long thin ‘handle’. And it was long – stretching way off into the distance. When we arrived they were in the process of removing giant sculptures of hummingbirds from packing cases and positioning them around the string end of the tennis racquet. The birds were all decorated in different ways and were really very beautiful. It seemed that they had been sponsored and represented different things from the local area. Some unusual types of water features and fountains were dotted around, there were sports pitches, a Japanese garden (planted with cactus) and a couple of long slender footbridges. The strange shape was eventually explained when we discovered that the site was originally the airport. I would expect that the majority of local governments would have sold the land for housing and I think that it is a very progressive, socially acceptable thing to turn such a large space into parkland.
We took a bus to the nearby Laguna Yahuarcocha. The lake is also known as Blood Lake due to a massive battle which took place here centuries ago and in which the lake turned red from the number of corpses floating in it. It was a nice lake but nothing special although I suspect in high season it is crowded with tourists on the little boats. We stopped for a while to eat some fresh fish cooked in a pan outside one of the little cabins whilst trying to avoid the sinister dogs which were roaming around. Ever since we got attacked by a horrible dog in Cajabamba, me and M are very nervous around some of these street dogs.
And I can’t finish writing about Ibarra and not mention the helada de paila. This is ice-cream to die for and originated in this region. It is made by stirring fruit puree inside large bowls which sit inside even larger bowls containing ice. Gradually the fruit mixture freezes and sugar is sometimes added and egg whites but nothing else. It is an almost sorbet and an almost ice cream – but the explosion of fresh fruit flavours makes it stand out from the rest. The best places make it in front of you – not in a pretentious way, but simply because that is where and how they make it and we found what was supposed to be the cafe in which it was originally was invented, so of course, we had to try a flavour or three.
Would I recommend the Hostal Fevilair? Yes, and please don’t be put off if you arrive at night when the streets are deserted – just ask the cabbie to hang around while you gain entry. During the day the streets are a hive of activity with the overspill of the nearby market stalls. There are some suites with their own private outdoor patio areas and some family rooms as well as the usual twins and doubles. If you want some modern comfort at very reasonable almost hostel prices go along and check out the Fevilamir.
one of the suites
Note:- Whilst I received complimentary accommodation at the Hostal Fevilamir this did not influence my opinion or review in any way. I have portrayed an honest picture of my stay