Jan. 11th- Jan. 15th
We’re finally starting to get our groove (insert “gettin’ jiggy wit it” dance). In between a beautiful city and great accommodations, the puzzle pieces really started to fall into place here. Our stay was with the best Airbnb host possible, Lia. Her home is beautiful and right in the center of downtown. We shared meals, received cooking tips, had many laughs, and also gained a friendship. I was able to learn some Portuguese, and taught her a little English too. Staying with her is our most memorable thing in Curitiba. The town itself was also awesome. A very safe area all day and night, something appreciated while traveling abroad. The stay there was for 5 nights, getting extended from our original 2 since we loved it so much.
Viewing the different generations of influence through architecture and artwork makes sightseeing popular in cities and rightfully so. They had a double decker tour bus which took you by all the most popular tourist destinations in and nearby the city. There was a total of 24 stops varying from museums, theaters, and parks. The total ride was a 2 1/2 hour loop from start to finish. The ticket included 5 stops and ran all day to late afternoon. It was perfect for us with her living in the heart of town. We viewed all the local sites by foot and hopped on the bus for the further destinations.
Here are a couple of highlights from the tour. One stop was at the Bosque Alemão. It is a small village amongst a wooded area, reflecting the german immigration in the city. It was styled as a Hansel and Gretel story (Joãozinho e Margarida in Portuguese) having a walk through with various cottages and wooden bridges. Another stop on the tour bus was surprisingly humorus. We arrived to the Oscar Niemeyer art museum being awestruck by the huge “eye” like sculpture, which ended up being a building you could enter, featuring more art. Now, let me start off by saying Uriah and I are not modern artsy people whatsoever. We look forward to earth science or historical museums, but everyone and everything had been ranting and raving about how awesome this place was. Although not cheap by our standards (aka. free), we entered excitedly. The layout was interesting, having different sections featuring various artists. We walked through the first few sections, scratching our heads and holding back our giggles (a 100 piece feature of old polaroids, with people and objects you can barely make out…okay). There was another exhibit nearby with a line waiting to get it. We think, oh this has to be good, so we waited, and now is the part where things start to get weird. It was a dark room with various glowing and black light objects. Some were strings assorted in different ways and others were glass test tubes filled with various liquids….okay kind of weird…so we exited and went to visit the “eye” section. You have to go down a tunnel and then up stairs to get to. This place must have been a secret CIA facility with the security that was here. For example, they have water filters with cups placed around the museum. Hey I’ll go get some water…start to walk….guy starts running after me, NO NO NO. Then, I read the sign, WATER IS ONLY PERMITTED IN THIS SPECIFIC LOCATION. DO NOT LEAVE…..okay good job security man….Uriah and I also start to notice that more and more guards are getting closer and paying a little too much attention to us. “EXCUSE ME SIR YOU NEED TO PUT YOUR BAG IN A LOCKER.”….uh what, everyone is walking around with bags and purses….”SIR YOU NEED TO PUT YOUR STUFF IN A LOCKER”….uhh okay…put the stuff in the locker…After the getting through the CIA security clearance we arrived to the top of the eye exhibit…oh…my…weird… We are greeted by a large dark room with an image of a face smiling, shaking so fast you could barely make it out. Inside were various lights moving in different directions and other weird things our unartistic minds could handle. Let’s just say I booked it out of there real fast, spending the next tour ride doing various exercises to make me feel normal again.
Another stop we did on a different day was the Jardim Botanicals of Curitiba. This was a free park that featured a large glass greenhouse. Unfortunately, the greenhouse ended up being closed the day we went. There also wasn’t a ton to see and do, but was a good way to pass the time being it was free. It is hard to appreciate some things when you’ve seen better. The Jardim Botanicals in Rio were so amazing and had so many different features that it was difficult to compare. It’s like going to Disney and then going to Fun Spot. Still fun, but not the same in comparison. The other stops on the sightseeing tour were good as well, featuring many things we did not even get to see. We think this town might be a place to explore again in the future, but we will see!
Our absolute favorite day in Curitiba was not actually spent in Curitiba, but a neighboring town. The town of Morretes (MOR-ET-CHES) is known for it’s Serra do Mar Paranaense 3 hour train ride through the Atlantic Forest. The train only goes to the town 1 time and back per day, but was on our to do list for a good reason. Knowing how to cut a budget (insert smile and thumbs up) we decided to only take the train ride once, being that was the same views both ways. We chose to take the train ride back because it was cheaper as well. The local bus only had two times for transport to get to the city Morretes. We decided on the earlier to have more time to enjoy the day in the town. Uriah has many great things about him, but waking up early and getting places on time are not two of them. We ended up having to run, yes run, to the bus station at 7 o’clock in the morning due to *eh hem* tardiness of different sorts to put it nicely. After our lovely morning workout we arrived to the “wonderful” town of Morretes after an hour or so bus ride. We stepped off the bus being greeted by a dumpy bus station and somewhat of a snack bar. As we start to walk, we are confused as to why everyone was talking about this town. We started to discuss how, no offense, people tend to think, “Aww look how old and dumpy this town is, it’s so chic”. So we were thinking this was one of those moments of where people don’t see old small cities a lot so they think they are cute. I start to get cranky because I haven’t eaten or had coffee, if you don’t know me, this is a scary sight, and now were walking around an old dumpy town aimlessly. We tried to find a place that was open to eat, but nope, nothing was open of course. Before the slew of tourists get there around noon, this place is a ghost town. So I’m about to take it to level 10 but then (insert sound of the heavens descending) a little coffee shop that was connected to a pousada (local hotel) was open. Stroll in to look around, “Hello how are you” (insert another awesome sound)…”You speak English?!?!”…”Yes, we have a full breakfast buffet featuring fresh squeezed juice, coffee, fresh fruits, yogurt…oh would you like me to heat up your milk for your coffee?”…I thought I was going to collapse from happiness if that’s possible. This little coffee shop was run by a husband and wife who ended up speaking multiple languages and were travelers as well. We shared many stories and here is where our day starts to turn around. After exiting the coffee shop we walk down to a river and here lies what everyone has been talking about. A strip of beauty hidden alongside a peacefully winding river. Our day was spent relaxing by the water, going to a local grocery store, having a picnic (my favorite beer included), listening to a local musician, and strolling around this small slice of peacefulness. The day ended with our ride on the train filled with green lush scenery and screaming children. But hey, you can’t win them ALL.
Our stay with Lia was awesome, the sightseeing was great, and the town of Morretes was amazing. I would say this was a successful trip with minimal error! The last night was spent having dinner with Lia and rushing to the bus station, once again! The typical overnight bus to Foz do Iguacu was fortunately eventless, knock on wood. We arrived early in the morning and took a taxi to our new place. Safe travels from U and B!