Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cross Country Travel - Day 8

Wow... a great night of sleep and I am ready to wake up and have a wonderful day checking out Florianopolis and let's not forget having some great seafood.  I open the door of the patio for a quick peek of the city and am soon disappointed as the skies are gray and a little drizzle coming down.  We head to the hotels breakfast and we adjust our plans for the day.  (yes that means a little slower start to the morning and probably a little more time in the car)  Less rush is always good but I did wanted to enjoy this "beach town" with sun and blue skies.
 The valet pulls around our little Volkswagen Go and off we head traveling through the city streets.  It is a gray day, but our first destination takes us traveling up a steep hill through the narrow streets of the city.  Destination??? A look out point known for it's view of Florianopolis.  We realize it is not the best day to be checking out a viewpoint, but hey we are here and you just never know what experience you will have.  When we finally arrive,  it is raining quite hard but we are not witches from Oz and we won't melt, so out we trod.  Carefully stepping so as to not step in the puddles.  It is soon apparent that the view of the city  from this point would be spectacular on a clear day.  To be quite honest the view  today is nice as well and a little incite into me... I like a good rain shower and there is not much better in this world then getting one's hair rinsed by fresh raindrops.  One of my favorite sayings is "life is not about waiting for the storm to pass - it is about learning how to dance in the rain."   and today is a good day to dance!

We spend just enough time to get our hair wet but not get drenched and by this time we decide to head to the other part of Santa Cataria island away from the city and explore. Hopefully it is far enough to break away from these clouds and catch up with the sun.  The island is much larger then I expected and by the time we arrive at Tepera (our destination) it is getting to be time for lunch (SEAFOOD!).  We travel through the little town and our first stop is at a restaurant along the shore and unfortunately since it is the off season, it is only open for dinner. 
However, the owner is busy cleaning off the fifteen stairs that transcend the hillside at the entrance of the establishment.  He starts talking to us and I understand a little.  (yes Portuguese is getting better)  When he realizes I am an American he begins speaking  in English (a nice unexpected surprise) and we find out he spent quite a bit of time in the San Francisco area. He invites us in to take a look around so we head down the stairs.  We enter the restaurant with it's green walls and ocean views.  I begin to imagine coming back for dinner and grabbing a seat by the water and enjoying some good local wines and seafood.  The owner tells the story of his restaurant and how it opened just a a few months prior and his connection with San Francisco is apparent in his choice of  decor.  As he shares I continue to look around in the quaint bar and kitchen areas.  The decor is eclectic with a large variety of artistic pieces.  Tribal masks, antique jars, antique doors, and wooden sculptures adorn the wine rack adding interest and more for my eyes to investigate.  We spend some time in good
conversation and soon our stomachs are telling us it is time to move on.  We say good bye and I put his restaurant on my list of places to visit when I come back.  I just wish I could remember the name or that it would be on a local eatery list but at this point it is not.  I will have to trust my memory. 
As we leave the owner tells us of a seafood restaurant which should be open for lunch.  It is down the road a bit so we hop back in the car and continue our journey down the narrow streets and winding roads along the ocean. The rain has stopped but the skies are still gray and soon we arrive at  Ostras Ostras coisas (Oysters, Oysters, and Things - click here for their menu / website) .  It is a quaint little restaurant with fish traps hanging for decor and a back porch that over looks the ocean.  We don't trust the gray skies so we choose a table inside and wait for our food.  DELICIOUS --

Crab cakes for appetizers and the main event ...bobo de camarao (shrimp something).  I am definitely not disappointed with my food choice as the flavors are wonderful.  It is exactly what I would expect being so close to the ocean.  I know Luiz and Junior enjoy their meals as well and I would definitely come back for a meal.  If you find yourself traveling to Florianopolis,  this place should make your list of places to eat as the food was spectacular.   
As we leave the little restaurant I notice some wild poinsettias in bloom across the street.  The red is so dominant,  it is hard not to notice.  I have seen these holiday bloomers at other times during my travels in Brazil and I am not sure why I decide to mention them now. But growing wild they are so beautiful and much larger then what I think a poinsettias is.   I am not fond of them during the holiday season but maybe my mind is changing a bit? 
OK - enough with the little side track in my story and so back to our days journey and the countryside of the island.  We drive around a bit taking in the island and for the most part it is hills and valleys followed by a little drive along the shore line.  There are other little towns that we travel through with all the usual trappings of a tourist community.  It begins to rain again so we decide not to head to the beaches which this region is  famous for. (bummer!)   Back to Florianopololis our  travels take us past some favelas and back into the heart of the city.  Once again the streets are crowded with people scurrying around protected from the rain by their umbrellas.  Since it is raining we stay in the car for our self guided tour of the city and there is just not much more then a stop for mid afternoon coffee and gray skies to share.  Evening soon comes and as it is winter and cloudy,  it gets dark rather early. After dark we do find a beautiful park with graffiti filled statues, arbours and a wonderful over look.  In the distance you can see the Hercilio Luz Bridge which welcomed us as we arrived in the city the day prior.  The bridge was constructed beginning in 1922 and finished in 1926 by ABC (American Bridge Company) with all materials being imported from the USA. (interesting)  It was the first bridge to connect the Santa Catarina Island with the main land and is still the longest suspension bridge in Brazil today.  The bridge actually sneaks in the lists of 100 longest suspension bridges in the world as well.
In 1982 after concerns of its safety, the bridge was closed to traffic and only continued to be a link between island and mainland for pedestrians,  bicyclists, motorcyclists, and those with horse drawn carriages.  Then in 1991 it was closed to the public and has been so ever  since.  There have been studies done researching renovations which would enable the bridge to be reopened,  but at this time there are no plans to make this happen. It is a beautiful bridge and with its white lights dotting the dark sky, a wonderful exclamation point our visit in Floriaopolis.

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