Thursday, May 19, 2011

More hidden Gems Goiania

After spending time at the Museu Pedro Ludovico Teixeira I am sure there is more to see in this city. I am positive we will be able to find something of interest. Did you know that Goiania is a planned city which was supposed to have 50,000 residences? Today the city has over 1.3 million inhabitants well out growing it initial capacity. It continues to grow as it is one of the fast growing metropolitan areas in Brazil. I am amazed at all the building going on, but already I am a little off point and will redirect myself.

We leave the museum and head towards the downtown area. I gave a brief history of Goiania in my post yesterday, so today I will try and focus on the present. I am truly amazed at all the green space in the city. Goiania has the largest green area per inhabitant of any city in Brazil and in the world rankings bows only to Edmonton, Canada. It is easy to see why they hold this ranking when you are walking or driving around the city. Most of the streets and avenues have mediums down the middle.

These mediums are filled with beautiful foliage and my favorite streets are those with the huge old palm trees down the middle. Even the side streets are planted with trees of different varieties. These "green" streets separate the many town squares that are located throughout the city.  Filled with gorgeous trees, blooming flowers and abundant green grass, the squares are a welcoming place to wait for friends or just sit and watch the world go by. The parking areas around many of the squares are filled with cars waiting to be washed.  The city allows people set up shop and wash cars for cash.  We actually end up getting our car washed by one of these self employed car washers later in the day.  We sit in the square to observe them and I am amazed at the number of cars they wash.   But getting back to the present ... All this mention of green and I have not even begun to talk about the many parks in Goiania. I will leave those observations for another day, so let’s head back to today's journey.

We arrive in the downtown district and it is very similar to other downtown areas I have been in over the years, with its bustling people going from point A to point B, some quickly and some slowly. The main street is a beautiful avenue complete with a green island down the middle of the concrete lanes, three going in each direction. At the end of the street is an art deco structure that looks similar to a band shelter in small town U.S.  The structure used to host concerts, demonstrations, and celebrations just to name a few events.  White with baby blue trim, it anchors the street and provides a great resting point for weary pedestrians these days. We continue our travels down the center of the street toward the clock tower. (OK we are on the mosaic side walk which frames the grassy island and not down the actual street as I have shared earlier, Brazil is not pedestrian friendly so you never want to walk on the street) The old tower is art deco as well and surrounded by a fountain on each side. You don’t have to worry about someone asking you for the time in order to sneak something from your pockets in this downtown area. The island is lush with green grass, palm trees, bushes, and flowers.  A scattering of English street lamps provide a nice metropolitan accent. Every so often there is a bench for resting one’s feet and doing a little people watching. We make it half way down the street and lunch calls so we stop at a local restaurant for a quick bite. The buffet looks good, but just a little warning for my friends in the United States who travel here, it’s not all you can eat as you pay per kilogram. I choose my foods wisely and add a few unknown  items to try. It is all delicious and we finish lunch and are energized and ready to walk some more.

We take a minute and stop by a local community theater to see what is playing as we may need something to do this evening. The theater has a rich history in the community and I am always game for a new experience even if it would be in Portuguese. Next on the agenda is the Modern Museum of Art. We finally find someone in the vacant building only to find out the museum has moved to a location on the outskirts of town. We will have to visit this museum another day.

We continue to browse in some of the little shops that line the streets.  There windows are all crying out for us to come in and  We end up in a couple because I am curious of what they have to sell, but it's pretty much like stores in the U.S. (not like the one day a week markets that have a wide variety of home made and grown items) We walk through a part of town that I call “Little Brazil” (no one else calls it this) as it is tight quarters and jammed packed with things being sold. It reminds me of China Town in San Francisco or New York. It is loud and there is not much air movement, as merchandise is stacked from floor to ceiling. Many of the items are knock offs like those found in China Town as well.

The buildings in downtown Goiania are almost entirely art deco in style. I am not sure the owners of the buildings or the city know just what they have. It is actually the largest collection of art deco building in the world. (thanks wikipedia) I would think with a little polish and shine, the downtown district would be a wonderful backdrop for tourist’s photos. Unfortunately, a lot of the details are covered up by signage and what is showing has not been kept up well for the most part. From time to time there is a glimmer of how it could be, with a wonderfully up kept store front and I wonder if this gem will ever be realized. I know to Luiz, this is a huge disappointment as he loves the art deco style and wishes there would be changes made but like most progress it is slow.

We decide to head back to the Praca Civica which is at the other end of the street where we first started our journey today. The Praca Civica is a square at the center of Goiania with streets radiating outward likes spokes in a wheel. Goiania being a planned city, Praca Civica was the first square built and today I have to say it is a little disappointing. With all the bountiful green space throughout Goiania, the center square is a concrete parking lot - literally. In the middle of the square (parking lot) is the famous statue: Monument to the Three Races, but it is surround by cars and asphalt. Not what I would expect for a city that green space is such a huge part of its character. The statue is amazing and provides a great photo opportunity. Sure wish those cars were not in the back ground, but I will let it go.

Our destination on this leg of our journey is Professor Zoroaster Artiaga State Museum. The museum was built in 1946 and houses wings dedicated to the preservation of history of the indigenous people, industrial revolution, minerals and mining, folklore, and agricultural advancements in the state of Goias. We spend about an hour looking around all the antiques and artifacts they have displayed and by this time we are ready for a coffee break. We head out to find a the famous pao de queijo café: Biscoios Pereira. After a little misdirection, we come across the café and order the pao de queijo. It come warm and ready to eat. We are not sure why the restaurant is known but soon we notice a newspaper article on the wall. It is of a man on an evening talk show of some sort. I recognize the man behind the counter and after a few
words with Luiz he decides he is going to show off a bit. He performs the tricks he did for the talk show and is happy to share the experience. We thank him for the show, leave him a little tip, and off we head to rescue our car from the shade by the park. It has been another great day exploring Goiania. (Go to "Are you ready for some Futebol")

Please let me know if you would like a personal tour of Goiania -I would be happy to share this beautiful city with you! All inclusive packages available--
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Anonymous said...

I think Goiania sounds simply wonderful- it will definitely be on my short list for places to explore!

Dave said...

Hey Mark - I hope you make the trip to Brazil - it is truly wonderful and to see more about my experience continue reading at