Curitiba

Our dear friend Anisia has moved, with Otavio and Bebette, from Aracaju to Curitiba so when she invited us to visit her for a few days we were more than happy to accept. We visit Anisia every time we come to Brazil but this would be our first visit to Curitiba.

As we travelled north from Blumenau, Dona Ermida was on the bus heading south from Santos and Anisia was at Curitiba’s bus station to meet us. Although it had been our intention to only stay for a few days, Anisia was insistent that we stay a full week and so we happily agreed.

Although we’ve been to the State of Parana before the state capital of Curitiba was a complete unknown to us and so Anisia set about showing us around a bit of the city. Unfortunately the weather was not entirely cooperative but that didn’t matter a great deal and in amongst running various domestic errands Anisia gave us a flavour of her new home town.

Views around Curitiba

Curitiba now has a population of about 2 million and is considered one of the safest cities in Brazil. Founded in 1693, it was originally known as “Vila da Nossa Senhora da Luz dos Pinhais” or Village of Our Lady of the Light of the Pines. It later became Curitiba or Curiyba or even Coritiba and the theory is the name originated in the local Tupi language as kiri tyba or many pine seeds. The town became a staging post on the cattle route from Rio Grande do Sul to the São Paulo cattle markets.

From the middle of the 19th century Europen settlers arrived and the town grew and became a centre for the mills producing yerbe mate, the green pot pourri that Chimarrão is made from!

On Saturday Anisia and her friend Juliana took us to see the Botanical Gardens and the Ópera de Arame or Wire Opera House, both of which are pretty cool. The Gardens are laid out around the large ‘green house’ but were not in bloom unfortunately. Lovely place nonetheless.

Curitiba Botanical Gardens

The Ópera is in the Parque de Pedras which is an open air concert venue and has hosted some big name bands such as Elton John.

Opera de Arame

On Sunday it was suggested we take a train journey from Curitiba through the Serra Verde mountains down to the town of Morettes, close to the coast, but that is my next blog.

Serra Verde Express
Serra Verde Express

On Monday Anisia took us to see the Oscar Neimeyer museum and the Bosque João Paulo II a small formal Wood with a vaguely Polish theme, prepared for the visit of John Paul II in 2013. It is a little oasis of calm.

Oscar Neiemyer is the famous architect who built Brasilia, the Brazilian capital in the 1960s; there are museums and monuments bearing his name everywhere in Brazil. Many, like this one, are concrete constructions which give the appearance of being a 1960s representation of how the 21st century would look …. which I suppose, as they are still here, they are.

Oscar Niemeyer Museum and bosque João Paulo II

The building was quite impressive, but also houses a modern art museum. A couple of the ‘installations’ are so big they had to leave them outside. ‘Cones’ is a collection of random giant wooden cones described in 3 paragraphs of pretensious gibberish, summarised in 4 words – a waste of wood. There was also a strange opened open ended topless box with TVs stood on the floor. Turned out to be a section of battered old aeroplane fusilage ….. with TVs on the floor. You could walk amongst the TVs but were warned the structure was unstable. …….. WTF?

Tuesday, 28th January was our last full day in Curitiba and in the morning I gave Anisisa a hand taking her bikes to be serviced. Listening to her trying to explain what she wanted to the repairman left me scratching my head. I can now sometimes get most of what is being said but trying to understand this guy stumped me completely; it was only after we left that Anisia told me his Parananenses accent was so strong she couldn’t understand him! We left wondering if the bikes would come back with square wheels.

And so our visit with Anisia drew to a close. Curitiba seems a really nice place. Historic, clean and tidy, busy but without the somewhat risky vibe of other large cities. We had a really enjoyable visit and giving our thanks to Anisia, Otavio, Bebette and Juliana for their hospitality we said our goodbyes and caught the overnight bus from Curitiba on Tuesday, leaving at 11.30 pm; a 7 hour 400 km journey.

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