Posted by: glenswatman | March 12, 2010

20100301-10 BRAZIL Pelotas,Porto Alegre,Florianapolis,Curitiba


2010 –
Beatriz’s Mum and Dad, Iara & Alberto have invited us round
for lunch.  Their maid has prepared the
typical beef Milanese style along with black beans, rice and salad followed by
a delicious crème caramel style dessert. 
Her Mum has been world champion at computer Solitaire whilst Beatriz was
second and she shows me her speed skills. 
Return to Beatriz’s late afternoon, she helps me improve my blog and
phones around a makes an arrangement for us to be interviewed by the main
football blogger in town.  In the evening
we wallow on mattresses in front of the TV watching movies.



football blogger arrives but speaks no English so Beatriz gets to practice her
translating skills even though he and Steve manage a good bit using the
international language of football which seems to involve throwing around
players names.  Beatriz wants to show us
the ocean beach so we head off to the coast stopping en route at “Restaurant do
Renato” for a delicious all you can eat fish lunch, R12 (£4) pp.  Cassino Beach is the longest in the world at
over 250km and the sand is hard and flat enough for you to drive all the way to
Uruguay.  We don’t have time for that but
make it to an interesting ship wreck and also see a large dead turtle.  The Embaixador bus to Porto Alegre, $43.70
(£15) leaves at 4pm.  It is a very
comfortable bus and Beatriz has told us the company is one of the best in
Brazil as they treat their employees really well lending them money to buy
houses and helping with their children’s education.  Arrive a little early at 7.20pm and we are
really happy to see our host Daniel waiting for us as Porto Alegre bus station
is enormous.  He drives us to his
apartment where we have the spare bedroom with sofa bed.  Daniel is very well travelled and has been to
many countries we would like to visit so we can pick his brains.  A short walk from his apartment is an Italian
restaurant.  First you visit the sushi
and salad bar then sit back and wait to be served pizzas.  There’s a triangular card that you put out to
indicate if you want savoury, savoury and sweet or just sweet pizzas.  The waiters come round, exuberantly describe
the pizza on their tray and invite you to take a slice.   There are also lasagne and other Italian
dishes so you are almost spoilt for choice. 
Worse still are the desserts ones, white and milk chocolate, strawberry
and meringue, condensed milk, strawberry and chocolate, pineapple and condensed
milk, banana and egg, coconut, and that’s just the ones I tried.  Back home Daniels friend Vera calls round and
they show us the DVD of their recent cruise to a glacier in Chile and it looks magnificent. 



Daniel drops us in the city when he goes to work.  We set out to see the sights and find a few
impressive things, the Italian style cathedral, a monument with a dragon climbing
the steps and many attractive buildings. 
It is still only lunchtime when we catch the bus back to his
apartment.  In the evening he suggests
the vegetarian restaurant “Especiarias” and the veggie curry goes down a treat
although it is very quiet there and last night’s restaurant was far more
entertaining.  Daniel shows us photos of
his travels and his pictures of Easter Island make it look much more
interesting than we thought and he also adds some islands off Venezuela to our
thoughts of places to visit, will our list never end?



After being dropped at the bus station we catch the 8.45am Canela bus
to Gramado, R$26 (£9).  It takes 2 hours
to travel up into the mountains to the alpine resort.  Couchsurfing hosts Brian has arranged for his
Dad to take us out and about.  Evair and
his girlfriend Francine arrive in the car and take us straight to the Black
Lake.  They speak little English but we
manage to learn a bit as we walk around the lakeside.  Brian joins us and we head to “Mini Mundo” owned by Evair’s friend we get in for free.  It is a model village with scale models of
many places in Germany and others in South America and interesting to see.  Next Brian takes us off to visit “Parque do
Caracol” R10 (£3.50)
where we see an impressive waterfall, there are also other falls and lots of
walking tracks but we don’t have time to do them.  We meet up with Evair and Francine for lunch
at “Belavista Café Colonial”,
one of the typical ones for this town.  After
sitting down our table is piled up with plates of food, homemade jams and
cream, hot food, cold sandwiches and loads of cakes.  The minute we finish something the plate is
replaced with more.  There is also red
and white wine and grape juice that also gets replaced the minute they are
nearly empty.  I work my way through the
savoury items then just take a small slice of each of the 10 cakes. This
backfires on me when I realise these are not the desserts and there is a large
fridge with 22 more for you to help yourself to.  Hot chocolate and coffee round of the feast
and we fairly waddle out of the restaurant. 
Brian has to return to work but his Dad continues the tour taking us to
the cathedral in Canela then to a lookout down the valley.  We’ve just arrived back in Gramado to look at
the cathedral when the heavens open up. 
Return to Evair’s home where he puts on a video about the folklore dance
shows that he produces and directs. 
Heading to the bus stop there is just time to look at the area where
they are setting up for the weekend chocolate festival, now why didn’t I do my
research and find out about it?  What a
wonderful day out, lovely people, plenty of nice things to see and delicious
food.  Daniel is out at masons meeting in
the evening so unfortunately we don’t get to see him.


Santo Anjo, bus
leaves at 9am for Florianopolis, R$70 (£24). 
We arrive around 4pm on the island. 
After taking a couple of local buses, R2.70 (£1)  and making a short walk we are at the home of
Couchsurfers Max from USA and his girlfriends Olga from Ukraine.  They offer us a spare room and bathroom in
the garden and it is perfect.  Olga is
dashing out and Max works on the computer so we have time to rest.  They have been living here for 3 weeks and it
has rained every day and sure enough it soon starts.  In the evening we take 3 buses to get us to a
Couchsurfing meeting.  Unfortunately it
is raining heavily and the last bus drops us quite a distance from the
billiards hall.  Luckily I have my poncho
and Steve and umbrella whilst Max is happy to just get wet as it is not at all
cold.  The Couchsurfing group are holding
a pool tournament. Olga arrives quite late; she has been sheltering from the
rain but eventually figures it is not going to stop at all.   Steve & Max team up as “The Gringo’s”
and go all the way through to win the 6 pack of beer in spite of the strange
rules they play by.  We take a taxi back
to their house, R$30 (£10).



It has been raining all night so we linger in bed, but not as long as
Max & Olga who get up in the afternoon. 
We chat over brunch then late afternoon during a break in the rain we
walk to a nearby café for a snack.  There
is a pool table in their rented house so the lads enjoy an evening of
pool.  Later on we watch a movie called
“Olga” in Portuguese with English subtitles, a true story of how she married a
Brazilian and spent some time here during the war before being deported to a
concentration camp.  More heavy rain in
the night but Olga says the forecast is for slightly better tomorrow; hope so
as it would be nice just to check out the beach.



late morning the weather is looking more promising, we walk to the supermarket
and by the stuff to cook a meal later and also visit the beach.  It is a beautiful stretch of white sand but
the sea is very rough and the surfers are having trouble getting a ride.  Max & Olga join us for the afternoon at
the beach but the dunes make it shady around 4pm.  I cook up a chilli pasta meal after which we
watch a movie.



MONDAY 8 MARCH – Although
it has rained heavily during the night we are lucky that it is dry when we
leave just before 9am.  We take the 2
local buses back to the main terminal then wait for the 11am bus to Balneario
Camboriu, R16.94 (£6.30).  Arrive around
1.00pm and find our host Maria waiting.  She
leads us to the car with her husband, Dirceu. 
He suggests and orientation drive and takes us out to the headland where
there is a cable car over the mountain to a beach.  The rest of the bay is the main beach behind
which are hundreds of really tall high rise apartment blocks.  Dirceu speaks no English at all whilst Maria
is pretty good.  Return to their
apartment a few blocks back from the beach and we are amazed to find they have
given us their own en-suite bedroom.  
Dirceu has cooked us “murqueca de peixe” a sort of fish and prawn stew
for lunch and it is really tasty.  Late
afternoon we take a long walk and see that most of the visitors are now elderly
people from Argentina, how can we tell – they have their flasks and mate with
them.  Many people are playing the
Brazilian version of boules with very large wooden balls and a fenced in
area.  The beach is quite narrow and at
high tide the water floods over to the road and late afternoon the back of the
beach is shaded by the high rise buildings. 
Maria wants to check out some new apartments so has us pretend we are
interested in buying, we cannot believe they are asking $500,000 and up.  By building a balcony that juts out they
manage to give you a view of the ocean whilst being surrounded on all other
sides by other high buildings.  I join
Maria for an evening walk and we meet up with her husband at the café.  I try the Brazilian water ice of “acai na
tigela” and topped with banana and granola it is delicious.  Maria used to live in London and seems to
surprise even herself the way her English comes back.



& I set out to walk south around the bay heading north.  It is quite a distance but a pleasant walk,
it seems really funny to us to see so many people sitting out on the pavement
rather than on the beach.  We catch the
tourist bus back, $2.50 (90p) and ride all the way around the bay then complete
the circuit on the back streets.  Hope
off at a place advertising buffet lunch for $9.95 (£3.50) and it is excellent
value.  There seem to be many cheap
places to eat here.  After lunch the
clouds are clearing and we manage a couple of hours on the beach.  In the evening Maria and I go for a long walk
along the beach then catch the bus to the shopping centre.  We spot a kids play area where children are
put into huge plastic balls then roll around floating on water.  I would love to have a go but am over the
weight limit. 



Once Dirceu returns from the dentist we set out on a beach
seeing tour.  There are so many nice
beaches near the town but most are almost empty but seem much nicer to us.  In the neighbouring town of Itapema we take
lunch at a beachside café.  Next we
return to the northern end of Balneario Camboriu to do the interesting
boardwalk around the headland below the tropical rainforest revealing more intimate
beaches.  They drop us of to connect with
our 2.40pm Catarinese bus to Curitiba, R33.81 (£12).  Prices are getting higher for us now as the
exchange rate has dropped from 3 = 1 to 2.7 = 1 and falling, a combination of
the pounds being weak and the real strong. 
It is a pleasant journey, first along the coast then climbing up into
the tropical forest with lots of attract streams.  The bus arrives late at 6.30pm but luckily
our host Johann has been held up in traffic and arrives at the same time.  We can see why he was late as there is heavy
trafiic during our drive to the family home. 
There we meet his Mum Elizabeth who speaks German and Dad Erasmus who
speaks a little English.  His mother is a
real housewife and loves cooking, baking and preserving food whilst his Dad is
now retired but an athlete and runs and cycles. 
Johann has lived in Canada and speaks excellent English so it is easy to



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