Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brasilia! Part I

As many of my post start out it was a sunny morning with just a few white puffy marsh mellow clouds in the sky.  On several of my trips to Brazil, I have either caught a connecting flight in Brasilia or due to less expensive airfare it has been where stop I flying and find other ways to travel the remaining distance to Goiania.  The times when it has been my stopping point, we have met up with Lucia (Luiz's friend) who is from Brasilia. She has graciously given us a ride to the local bus station for the next leg of our journey.  Every time she has given us a ride,  she has asked us when we are going to return for a behind the scenes tour of the city and we have decided that today is the day.  Our friend Markos is with us and will act as our GPS, at least until we meet up with Lucia as he has spent some time in
Brasilia and knows his basic way around.  We head out of Goiania as the sun begins to shine on the vacant construction buildings this Saturday morning.  (Vacant only because no one is working Saturday morning)  It is a nice drive through the "cerrado" (a vast tropical savanna ecoregion of Brazil, particularly in the states of Goiás and Minas Gerais) with not a sign of rain.  The trip goes quickly with only a couple of stops; a quick stop for coffee of course and the second at a little hammock store along the roadside.  I have decided hammocks make great gifts for family and friends and when I spot a little store selling them, I insist we stop.  How can I go wrong with a gift that encourages you to take a nap and enjoy the outdoors all at the same time.  I second guess my request as we step out of the car and the odor of fish consumes us, but soon I notice there is a bait shop in the back of the store which makes it ok and I continue  looking around.  The
price is right and I purchase a couple hammocks for my next journey stateside.  The rest of the journey through the countryside goes quickly and soon we are maneuvering the streets of Brasilia.  I notice right away that the city is not as green as my previous visit (in 2010).  Everything is brown and dusty as it is the dry season and there has been no rain for two to three months. We have chosen the international airport to meet up with Lucia as we know there is plenty of parking,  we know where it is, and the limited signs all direct us to that one location.  We locate it quite easily and soon the phone rings.  It is Lucia calling to let us know she is nearing the airport.  We jump into her car and off we head to see the city .
Brasilia, well as you may know it is Brazil's Capital and the fourth largest city in the country with over 2,500,000 people living there.  It is an example of modern urban planning and even though it is a new city (built 1956-1960),  the dreams of a centrally located capital date back to 1827 when Jose Bonifacio, an adviser to Emperior Pedro I conceived the idea of a new capital city with a more central location.  He proposed moving it away from the heavily populated eastern coast and Rio de Janiero in order to create more equally represented government.  The concept  was not actually realized until President Juscelino Kubitschek ordered the construction of Brasilia to fulfill an article of Brazil's first republican constitution of 1891.  President Kubitschek began the move by awarding the main urban planning contract to Lucio Costa by way of a contest with over 5550 people competing for the opportunity.  The building began in 1956 under Lucio's direction with a majority of the public building design being overseen by world renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer.  Amazingly,  the core of Brasilia was built in just 41 months and in 1960 the city was officially inaugurated as the new capital of Brazil.  Today the city is home to most of the countries governmental offices.   (thanks wikipedia)
Well -enough about Brasilia's history,  let's get back to our journey today and after a short drive around,  Lucia takes us to a famous local restaurant located in one of the cities many parks.  We fortunately find a parking spot close and soon are under the thatched roof of the little establishment enjoying the shade and cool breeze. It is not long before the waiter brings out rice, beans, yuca, beef, collard greens, and a tomato salad all served family style.  Let's not forget the Guarana - a Brazilian soda with a refreshing exotic flavor.  It is a great traditional meal and gives Lucia time to catch up with Markos and Luiz. I spend the time intensely listening for Portuguese words I  know and attempting to figure out what the are talking about.  Lucia's daughter has come along and knows a little English so I provide her with a little practice as well.
 (this will act as my Portuguese lesson for the day)

Soon lunch is over and we are back in the car heading to our first destination the "Eixo Monumental" (Monumental Axis).  A large rectangular green space in the center of the city with eight lanes of traffic moving vehicles in opposite direction on each side.  Along this parkway is where most of the government buildings, museums, monuments, and other important structures to the cities vitality are located.  This vast sea of grass is anchored on the northwest end by the countries Supreme Court building, Congressional building, and Presidential Palace (where the president and other key officials perform their daily work).  The area reminds me some of the "the mall" area in Washington DC.
 Our journey today will start at the opposite end of the "Eixo Monumental" where there is a historical area dedicated to the founder of Brasilia Juscelino Kubitschek (JK).  It is a wonderful sculpture and museum designed by his friend Oscar Niemeyer.   The museum has artifacts of Kubitschek's life and is where he and his wife's remains lay entombed. We decide to pass on visiting the museum on this visit and I add it to my must see later list.  We do take time to investigate some great sculptures laying on the lawn in front of the monument.  These great metal spheres created with human figure cut outs and painted a variety of colors are set poised on the grassy area ready to begin their roll but 
no rolling is allowed.  It is easy to see how Mr. Niemeyer could be seen as a great visionary for the country of Brazil.  After about twenty minutes it is time to see more so back in the car for a short drive in the afternoon heat.  It is quite warm outside and shortly after getting into the car we find a great parking spot in some shade close to a wonderful garden of flowers in full bloom.  A color oasis of sorts in the middle of a brown dry plain.  With cameras fully charged and ready to shoot we leave the car in the cool shade to await our return.

Huge trees surrounding a field of red, pink and white flowers flowing endlessly as water shoots from the fountains into the blue sky.  It is a perfect place to sit and let our food digest and relax a little while.  I take in the sounds and smells of the garden and of course take a few photos.  Soon it is time to head on our way again.

Our next destination is the television tower in the center of the Eixo Monumental.  The tower is known for its observation deck with wonderful views of the city.  In 2010 we toured some of the main tourist areas of Brasilia and  this was one of our stops.  At that time there were vendor shacks lining the sidewalk between the parking area and the tower.  Today there is a newly constructed open air flee market to house these
vendors and their trinkets in preparation for the 2014 World Cup.  It is a short distance from the tower but it surely gives the tourist attraction a different feel.    We walk along the empty sidewalks and turn the corner, only to find the area fenced off.  To our slight disappointment,  they are in the middle of renovating the observation platform and it is currently closed to visitors.  I am OK with this as I was able to enjoy the views during my 2010 visit but Markos has never had that experience. The closed attraction does allow me to notice something at the foot of the tower.  I get a faint sound of music

being piped in and upon further investigation I notice the huge pond of water at the base of the small incline.  The pond has a blast of water shooting from the center some twenty plus feet into the blue
sky. Around the edges of the pond, smaller sprays and gurgles of water begin to dance in unison to the music.  What a wonderful show to watch and I soon find out this water feature is called the fonte da torre de tv (fountain of the television tower).  We stay a little while enjoying the Brazilian music and dancing waters.  I understand they have nightly shows which include light displays so I have added the fonte da torre de tv to my must return and see list.   As we begin walking away back to the car, I begin to wonder how I could have missed this on my last visit.  Maybe it wasn't on?  Maybe I just overlooked it?  Anyway,  I am kind of glad the tower is closed today so I did not miss it this time and was able to enjoy this beautiful aquatic display.
Well, this seems like a good place to pause in our adventure.  Don't worry it will be continued shortly.  Hope you have enjoyed it this far ...
JK Museum 

more of the beautiful fountains 

view from the tv towers observation platform - financial district

another view - hotel district 

yet another view - notice the newly constructed flee market below

view of construction for the new soccer stadium. 

view down the eixo monumental - see the fountain below
it was not working on my 2010 visit! 


Meredith said...

oh, Brasilia...

Dave said...

It is wonderful ain't it!!

Meredith said...

It's OK. I mean, I like it here but it's a hard place to love. Do you live here?

Dave said...

I live in Goiania half time and the US half time. Kind of crazy but it works for me. I just love the new experience of living in a different country. It is all fresh and new for me.