Saturday, June 6, 2009

Curitiba (Coo-reh-tee-bah) - A Model City (click on title to see video about Curitiba)

Curitiba, in the State of Parana, is definitely a must-see when traveling to Southern Brasil. It is the city we fly into when traveling from the US, as it's airport is easy to navigate, and it is only a little over an hour's drive away from our family in Santa Catarina, the next state south of Parana. On my very first trip to Brasil, in 2003, we stayed in Curitiba for a couple of days to sightsee. It was fabulous. The city is very clean, especially the Batel district (financial district). Huge skyscrapers are abundant, and the architecture in this city is not to be believed. I'll just touch on a couple of my most memorable experiences, as there is not enough room on this page to tell you everything I love about this city.

Serra Verde Express - This is a train ride that begins in Curitiba, goes up into the mountains, stops in the picturesque city of Morretes for lunch, and ends at the seaside town of Antonina. At this point, you can either return to Curitiba via train, or for added pleasure, you can get off the train in Antonina, and take a bus ride back through the protected mountain range to Curitiba on the Graciosa Road. We did the latter. Good choice. The views are absolutely breathtaking, the small towns are inviting, and the whole experience is not to be missed. If you'd like to check it out further, you can either google Serra Verde Express, or go to You Tube and type in Serra Verde Express (highlights) and watch the video. At today's exchange rate, the entire trip, which takes most of the day, costs around $120 US.

Oscar Niemeyer Art Museum - Spectacular building and grounds. The main building is built as a giant eye. Once in the main room, you can look out from the eye over the surrounding area. The exhibits are fantastic, especially the modern art and sculptures. There is a tunnel that leads from the outside into the belly of the main gallery that is fun to walk is all white with skylights along the edges. Niemeyer was famous for his use of concrete in creating his buildings. You don't want to miss this Museum.

The shopping is fabulous, the food--goes without saying, and although I've never gone to Curitiba in the warmer months, I understand the beaches are gorgeous, especially Ilha do Mel (Honey Island). Hotel accommodations range from ordinary to spectacular. We were fortunate enough on our first trip to stay in a 4 star hotel for less than $40 a night, due to the fact that the exchange rate was above 3 to 1. We felt like royalty. Although the exchange rate today is less than 2 to 1, I don't know where else you could stay in a large city in a 4 or 5 star hotel for less than $150, and in most cases, closer to $100 a night.

So that is Curitiba. Don't know what I'll write about next--possibly fashion. Women in Brasil--women of any age--dress very sexy, and are so much less self-conscious of themselves than in the US, at least from my perspective. Stay tuned.

Till then, Tchau!