From Porto Alegre we caught our first bus north into the mountains heading for the town of Gramado, and the nearby town of Canela. Gramado is 100 km from Porto Alegre and the scheduled bus service took 3 hours.
Gramado is advertised as a mountain resort heavily influenced by Bavarian settlers and is a tourist destination famed for its Christmas markets and lights. We timed our trip perfectly, arriving the day after they turned them all off!
The town is also a base for exploring the nearby Caracol Park. Unfortunately, over the previous few days I had been suffering a cold and as we arrived in Gramado Valeria took it from me …… That, combined with very English weather meant that, apart from a few brief excursions, we stayed in the hotel. And there are worse place to be than the Hotel Gramado Interlaken.
Between the worst of the rain showers we had a wander around Gramado which is very much a modern, stylised version of what an Alpine town might look like. It is also one giant open air shopping mall, quite tasteful but a shopping mall none-the-less.
Away from the town centre Gramado is just like many other Brasilian towns and I managed to find a couple of nice places to visit while Valeria was bed bound.
Canela is a slightly smaller, less Bavarian, less shopping mall version of Gramado. Although the restaurants and cafes on the main routes charge tourist prices, local restaurants away from the centre are far more reasonable. Valeria found us one, a Lanchonette called Dom Luis Livi, which was quite basic but did simple wholesome local food with none of the tourist trimmings. Handsome!
Our biggest ‘fail’ was the Cafe Colonial, between Gramado and Canella. It was recommended by a friend of a friend and appeared quite popular. They basically serve a table full of a tapas style dishes, savoury and sweet, hot and cold, all at the same time, then brought around ‘top-ups’!. The quantity was monstrous and the quality correspondingly low. It was also very expensive and no one seemed to eat everything which suggests monstrous quantities of waste! To us, the Hotel Interlaken breakfast was miles better!
The towns are built above a the River Paranhana valley and, when you can see through the trees the views are pretty spectacular.
In better weather and better health, with a day in the Caracol National Park our impressions of Gramado and Canela would have been better. But unfortunately we left a little disappointed.
And so on Friday, 17th, we set off from Gramado for Florianopolis. It is about 450 km on the direct route and Google says it would take 5 or 6 hours by car, but we were on the bus again!