Ponta Grossa (July 30 - August 1, 2016)
Would you look at that, it has been a while since we didn’t have a weird border entry. Since Peru to be exact. Brazils border town is named similar to Argentina’s border town called Iguazu. We spent 12 hours in Foz do Iguacu, walking around, admiring the lower prices (not by too much), until we got escorted to Ponta Grossa by overnight bus.
We arrived on a Sunday morning. To our surprise the whole town seemed shut down except for a few shops. We’ve encountered early store closures before, but not closure for an entire day. We weren’t mentally prepared for that. Also the park we wanted to visit didn’t seem worth the trouble and the day was spent relaxing instead. Then moved on to the next city the following morning.
Curitiba (August 1 - 5, 2016)
Curitiba’s Monday is Ponta Grossa’s Sunday. Business are closed. How lucky are we to catch a family day two days in a row? Miss you my fam! (Businesses are closed with intent of residents spending time with loved ones instead of working, hence I call the day ‘family day’.)
Tuesday we put on our shoes, map in hand, armed with suggestions by the receptionist, and we were ready to explore the entire city on foot. The city does offer a hop-on-hop-off tourist bus that stops at all major attractions, but our pride denied us the luxury of spending 45 rand ($14) for 5 tickets, and even though the public busses are much cheaper, they’re potentially confusing for newbs.
First stop was the historic district. Slightly confused on why it’s historic, but besides a puking horse fountain, the location has the memorial building. I would go study here if I was a student. In addition, the open, calm space, contemplatable art was sprinkled around. My favorite was the small gallery on the top floor. Always a fan of positive surprises.
From the memorial we strolled down the shopping strip, ignoring the shops since we both dislike shopping. At the end of the strip was a glass mall that got great remarks for a photo spot. Though the surrounded mall had unique architecture, it was nothing I would go out of the way for. There are a lot of malls in Curitiba, 4 big malls that I can remember, so shopaholics will need to pencil in at least 1 extra day to spend here alongside their money.
Next to one of the malls was this tiny train museum. Labeled in Portuguese, we didn’t get much from the 2 hallways, but the mannequins would freak me out every single time. Real looking and strategically positioned, I always expected them to be a living person. Because we nonchalantly peered into the museum, I wasn’t sure if we were even allowed in and hence was worried to be yelled at by a staff member. Everything was golden though.
Our next stretch was much further away and in hindsight I would recommend taking a public bus to save yourself from too much accumulated walking throughout the day. The botanical garden was roughly 45-minute walk away from the train museum/shopping center. Being on foot allowed us to stop by the old Paiol theater on our way, but the path also had us go through a sketchy neighborhood. The garden itself is vast and has cool hedge structures. We sat down, let our feet rest, and enjoyed tranquil atmosphere. Until a horde of loud elementary school kids came along and encouraged us to keep moving.
Tired, we called the quits for the day and set aside the rest of the city for the next day. Charged with a full night of sleep, we waddled our way to the Oscar Niemeyer museum, mostly known for its architecture. This museum is recommended for artsy people only, but this Wednesday they offered free admissions and we entered anyways. Checking out their various galleries, my favorite were the usable swings in the Japanese section and the Brasilia, Brazils capital, architecture section. We wanted to check out the modern city ourselves, but the bus ticket prices dispirited us. Now, at the museum, we could see the unique architecture without spending valuable cash.
From the art museum, we marched another 45-minutes to the Ópera de Arame. Took a quick peek and moved on to the Tangua Park. It’s a very parky park. Rebelling feet kept exploration to a minimum, but we did see police training their dogs. If I didn’t care about being peculiar, I would have stood there and watched. I was interested about the drills. No, no. I wasn’t checking out the officers. Get that thought out of your head. I think it’s interesting watching a police truck pull up, guys running out, yelling at criminals (other pretending cops) to lay on the ground and observe how the dogs are utilized in that circumstance.
From one park to the other. Last stop of the day was the Bosque Alemão (German Park). The wooden tower contained here gives a lovely overview of the city. The small, dense park has a forest feeling as you stroll through and read the story of Hensel and Gretel. Cute to say the least.
As we explored the city, we constantly used our tourist map to figure out our directions. Oftentimes a local would immediately stop and try to help us. Unfortunately, at this point we only learned to say ‘thank you’ in Portuguese. Most Brazilians only know Portuguese. Spanish and Portuguese have similarities, but only knowing the basics in Spanish, the situation would end up in an awkward stare down between us and the helper. Brazilians are super friendly and helpful. Their kind personalities scared me to take out the map any more than necessary because I desperately wanted to avoid uncomfortable interactions.
The last few days here we spent cooped up in the hostel, avoiding awkward interactions. We needed the time to plan out future destinations. I also wasn’t feeling too well and needed a day binge watching Netflix to recover. Overall I really liked Curitiba and don’t understand why this city isn’t visited by more tourists. The city offers a little of everything and includes an infrastructure making sightseeing easy.
Cost breakdown of Ponta Grossa (2 days with total cost of $76.54. Average daily cost is $38.27.)
- Hostel: $13.76 (1 night)
- Transportation: $45.86 (Busses for initial transportation to the city)
- Food: $16.92
- Meals: $4.59 (1 meal)
- Groceries: $8.81
- Snacks: $3.52
Cost breakdown of Curitiba (4 days with total cost of $71.42. Average daily cost is $17.86.)
- Hostel: $53.82 (4 nights which incl. breakfast)
- Transportation: $12.40 ($11.39 for initial bus to the city)
- Food: $5.20
- Groceries: $2.45
- Snacks: $2.75