Friday, October 21, 2011

Cross country travel - day 9

Curitiba - Curitiba - Curitiba - we wake up early as we are excited to move on and leave the soggy city of Florianopolis for Curitiba.  I sure hope the good old sun will shine some and give us some new found warmth. As for our visit to Florianopolis,  it is a beautiful city and I am sure it takes quite a different feel when winter weather fades to summer and the beaches fill.  I guess we will have to wait for another day to see just what the city all has for us to love.
We leave after our usual morning routine and off we drive continuing up the coast of  Brazil just past Joinville before we start traveling inland.  Joinville... since today is a short drive we take a detour and explore this city  of around 520,000 residence.  We as tourist are welcome to the city by the surely German influenced city gate and as we continue into town,  that influence is even more evident.

OK - let's explore a little history of the city since Joinville is definitely French, but the city is obviously influenced by Germans,  what does wikipedia have to say.  Well, the city was founded in 1851 by German, Swiss, and Norwegian settlers.  The land was in fact a wedding gift to the French Prince of Joinville who married Princess Francisca of Brazil.   According to the internet, shortly after the wedding a palace was built in the city for them but I could not locate any additional information or photos of the palace.  The Royal couple never actually saw this land and sold it when they fell into financial crisis.  It was during this short period that the city obtained its name in honor of the Prince.  Joinville has thrived with an industrial and commerce economic base.  Today, it is the center to some of Brazil's largest software companies and is famous for it's strong German influenced culture.  It retains many aspects of the German culture in its architecture, local dishes, parties and in the way of life of its inhabitants, often known as workaholics.
Our journey today, takes us into the downtown area of the city and the German influence mentioned in wikipedia is definitely obvious.  The weather has cleared a bit, at least there is no rain and we enjoy getting out of the vehicle and walking around a bit.  I don't find the palace (at least I don't think I do) and at the time I did not know it even exist so I was not really looking.  However, I am intrigued, so someday a return visit to Joinville may be in order.  There is also a Lutheran influence in this predominantly Catholic country and the street corners are marked with their churches.   We stumble onto a main boulevard with gorgeous emperor palms lining the green space down the center of the street.  We take a relaxing stroll down the sidewalk and enjoy our exploring but soon it is time to continue our journey inland.

After a couple more hours in the car we arrive in Curitiba and begin to look for a hotel.  The feet of finding a nice hotel is a little hard as there is a convention in the city which is occupying a lot of the rooms.  At first all the rooms don't meet our standards as they either don't have  internet, are extremely small, or are on noisy streets.  We finally get lucky as one room opens up just as we ask the front desk if they have any vacancies.  We will take it!   We unload our bags and set out to explore the city a little before dark. 

My first impression of the Curitiba is that it has a modern twist which I have not seen in other cities of Brazil.  Along the streets there are round glass tubes full of people waiting for buses to take them home.  Evidently these hamster home like structures are the city bus stops and clearly residence depend on public transportation.  I am sure they are a welcome shelter on days like these when the weather is unpredictable. The next impression of Curitiba is of all the English directional signs  around.  I have not seen this in other Brazilian cities either, so I can only assume it is a little more tourist friendly or at least gets more tourists  from Europe and the United States.  Just, maybe I will be of some help as we navigate through the streets to our destinations. 

Speaking of destination,  we are in search of our first one which is the Opera de Arame (Wire Opera House).  A famous outdoor theater located in a lush park, Parque das Pedreiras .  After a couple of missed turns,  we finally reach the parking area and soon we are walking across the wire bridge towards the beautiful structure.  I imagine coming here to listen to an opera or to see a play.  How wonderful it must be with the wonderful sounds amidst the trees around.  A great  experience, but today it must only be a dream since there is no concert and we have no ticket.  Soon it is time to journey on. 

Our next destination is another park and after a few days of rainy weather,  it sure is nice to take a walk and enjoy the fresh air of the park.  A typical park found anywhere else in the world with a Brazilian twist of color.  Yes the observation towers at the other end of the reflection pond is a robust yellow mustard color.    Brazilians seem to like this color a lot and often choose it to paint their buildings and other structures. We spend a little time in the park and soon it is getting dark so we head back to the hotel to freshen up before we head out for dinner.

For our evening adventure, we park near a square in the heart of the city.  As in other cities of Brazil,  I am intrigued by the mosaic tile walkways.   They are so artistic and each one is different then the next.  A lot of time and energy are spent creating these masterpieces and they can be found all over the country.  I have quite a collections of walkway photos and often wonder what observers must think when I am attempting to get the perfect shot.   But, back to my observations... in the middle of the park there is a wonderful fountain off set by the dim lights of the street.  In the misty weather that has moved back in,  it is a perfect accent to a relaxing walk.  We search the buildings surrounding the square for a place to eat.  After some disagreement and a short search, we all finally decide on an Italian Buffet.  To our delight the food is simply wonderful and we truly enjoy our meals.  My only regret is that I do not remember the name so I cannot promote it on my blog and it makes it a little more difficult visiting again someday.   It truly is a great  ending to our first day in Curitiba.






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