Paraná: Brasil Down South
Everyone kept telling me the big differences between the south, Paraná, and up where I am in Rio. For the most part I will have to agree. The accents, the pace and the fact that I would blend in much better with the European influence (aka my white ass skin Ha!)
They are both amazing. Each has its own city feel and its own country nature scene.
I’ll talk about traveling around by bus in another post but first the fun stuff….
The waterfalls. I went straight to Ponta Grossa where we got up Friday Morning and went to see some of the most beautiful, and very easily accessible waterfalls I have been to. Being a holiday we skipped the most popular one first due to traffic, and yet another line in brasil, and headed to a more secluded waterfalls, Cachoiera do Rio Sao Jorge. Do not forget to pronounce the E at the end, Jorgie. Brazilians really love their E’s, to Americans it sounds like a cutsie diminutive and it’s a big joke with foreigners. I’ll definitely be posting about that some day because its too funny not to.
A very easy hike, although a little muddy, it is well worth the trip if you are in Ponta Grossa. There are a few smaller waterfalls in the river with some wonderful views from the boulders above. And then a path leading down to a much larger waterfall in the caverns. Boulders which you can rappel off of btw, although I skipped out on this my friends have done it and absolutely loved it. You can even rappel right next to the waterfall! But you definitely don’t need any gear to get down this hike just some decent shoes you do not mind getting a little dirty.
We took a nice little swim in this calm part. Making sure to ignore the sign saying we should not swim.
We had brought food and were able to enjoy a small picnic (pickie-nic) back where we parked the car before we drove off to waterfall number two. I was feeling super sick, head cold, and slept most of the way but the destination was worth it! Our second stop was Cachoiera Da Mariquinha.
It had gotten much colder so we did not go for a swim. I suggest packing for all types of weather in Ponta Grossa. It can be cold in the morning, warm up in the day and drop again the second the sun goes down. It’s like California!
But regardless of the cold (both in temperature and my body ha!) the trail was easy and beautiful and well worth the destination.
I would definitely add these to your list if you are ever in Ponta Grossa. Every single person suggested these to me and now I know why! We had a car, and from my impression in Ponta Grossa it wouldn’t be the worst idea to rent a car to get around easily to each waterfall in one day and at your own will. There are small fees to park or enter to each but it was about R$30 for parking at Sao Jorge and $10 per person entrance at Mariquinha.
We headed back home and before a wonderfully cooked homemade dinner my friend Wander gave me some home made local remedy made from herbs and natural ingredients that kicked my chest pain and pressure pretty hard and relieved me enough to crash hard after a long day of sun and fun.
The next morning, early, we headed off to Curitbia and lets not lie I slept half that drive too. But when we got there I slowly woke up to the beauty of our first stop at the Jardim Botânico de Curitiba (Botanical Gardens). Which are vast open gardens free to the public. There were a lot of people, including a yoga class just starting but plenty of grounds go around. We stopped at the green house first which was very antique looking with some interesting native plants inside.
Our next place was a cute little seating area with an interesting walkway/fence artistically placed near some shaded benches. It was all cleverly constructed out of bamboo, even the benches. And was very peaceful to sit under and enjoy the people watching. Do not get me wrong, I like a good Instagram picture and I love to take numerous pictures of the cool places or beautiful sights I see, but the amount of people who stopped by this structure snapped a selfie of basically just their face with a bamboo background and left was laughable. Almost no one stopped to appreciate it, just snapped their insta pic and walked away. It was sad and hilarious at the same time. We sat there for a while just enjoying the moments of quiet when no one was there and the hilariously posed pics when people were. We snapped a few of our own selfies for good measure and walked onto the next few attractions.
We found a refillable water bottle station for good measure! #noplasticnovember
There was a small blocked off garden of all the native plants of Brasil and particularly down south with a few species labeled in planters for your reading delight. It was interesting to see and identify some plants popular in the states, or my spice cabinet alongside some I’ve never seen before.
The pond was filled with Carp (Carpa), Turtles (Tartaruginhas), and some ducks (patos). Along with a neat exhibit on cactus/succulents (cacto / suculentas) and orchids (orquídeas).
We found some colored popcorn, with my kinda sign (#savetheturtles), a cute little fair and some beautiful wall art as we were leaving towards our next destination.
As we drove to the Museum we ran into a road block and found a little local fair. We walked around to check it out and grab some lunch. There were some very cool handmade things scattered here and there. I started talking to a lady at a unique bag stand called @flowerpower. Which funnily was my friends friend from Ponta Grossa and we did not know would be there! Such a small world! She had some very cool stuff including tags from material made by flowers, get it flower power, and she was also created bags for her sales made from scraps of bags being
We then got lunch at a Quilo place, aka by the Kilogram, and I had the best lasagna ever. Vegetarian eggplant lasagna …. Drool… I may have made it this week when I got back because I was so obsessed.
We next went to check out the Museo Oscar Niemeyer. We decided not to go in as we were not feeling too artsy fartsy and there was plenty to see outside. But if you’re a big museum or art lover you should definitely go inside as Oscar is a very famous and loved artist of Brasil. He is also the creator of their capital building in Brasilia.
After we headed to grab a snack at a place right up my alley. A food truck-esk open air patio place where all the “trucks” are re-purposed shipping containers colorfully painted with many food and drink options. It was something straight out of Austin Texas I swear. It was amazing.
We were still full from lunch so just got some ice cream which was delicious. I didn’t take any samples from the shop as I can’t use single use plastic but made the best choices despite it! I got a water-based dark chocolate, which didn’t taste water based but my friends swear I heard right, and a pistachio milky deliciousness. They almost melted before we sat down but it just made it all the sweater as I licked it up and dug in using my re-usable bamboo spoon! NOM NOM NOM.
It wasn’t long after we sat down that a huge storm started to blow in. Huge gusts of winds kicked up and scared everyone under cover in a hurry and we rushed to the car to beat the rain and good thing we did as it poured down in buckets (pe d’agua) about 5 mins later.
And on the drive we even saw a while café made form re-purposed shipping containers!! Curitiba is so clever!
We checked into our chique (sheek) Airbnb right next to the center and tons of restaurants.
Apparently, there are huge European populations in the south of brasil and you can see it in the influence of buildings and definitely the food. German fair is apparently very popular so we stopped into a German beer house. My friend raved about this sauce made with apples and spiced that we had to have. We dined on some goose, half mashed potatoes and this fancy apple masterpiece. My friend was in love with the applesauce. I laughed as it was so innocent and adorable. He was almost bashful to eat it straight out of the dish, I told him this is common in the states and we eat it just like this all the time and on its own too. He was amazed and possibly jealous of this playground tradition. I find the different traditions and norms of each culture and country so fascinating! Applesauce and peanut butter are like delicacies in brazil, they are not common items found at a supermarket or in homes. (ps reeces don’t exist down here. Can someone please bring me some!!!!)
I crashed hard that night and slept like a rock ignoring every sound outside and almost not waking up to my friends coming home from the club. If it hadn’t been for a coughing fit, I don’t believe I would have woken up too. But once morning, and day lights savings came, we all got up leisurely and walked around the corner to one of the biggest markets in Curitiba that happens every Sunday. It was amazing.
We went straight for food and found a wonderful Bahiana stand selling the first traditional spicy thing I’ve eaten in brasil!! It was amazing, and I maybe should have ordered two!! But not knowing if I’d like it I ordered a traditional tapioca to go with it. Both amazing so no regrets.
As we walked the booths, we found a very cool button stand that Toni Freeman would have quite enjoyed. They had just about everything you could imagine. I got some decor for my pack back for about US$1 a button! And my friend Italo sneakily bought me a cute Curitiba Magnet with all the main attractions from the city drawn by a local artist on it. We then came across another button stand that had one that said Nao Contem Gluten and I also couldn’t resist for the low price of about US$1.20.
We then stumbled upon an adorable man who makes these beautiful coffee grinders! His Name is Grzegorz Pokora or Greggy and the brand is Vicafe. In these beautiful grinders you can grind to three different sizes of grounds depending on your preference of brew. We talked with him for a long time as I decided which buy. Because that is one thing I do not have now and it was too beautiful and personal to pass up. I mean look how precious! I decided on the smaller one more reasonable sized for traveling. AND he wrapped it in an old Coffee bag for me because I didn’t want plastic! How cool!
That was the basics of our trip. On the way to the airport we did stop to get some lunch and I loaded up on too much sushi and washed it down with some gelato too. Nom nom nom. I did not get the lady to not use a plastic spoon in my cup this time so I brought home an unusual souvenir from Curitiba as I promised to collect all plastic mistakes on this challenge.
I flew home and after some fun at the airport getting my 99 (brasilian lyft/uber) I got home and crashed incredibly hard from a fun and JAM packed few days! Thanks to my wonderful tour guides Wander and Italo for showing me around Parana in a flash and making it feel like I saw a weeks worth of attractions in a short holiday weekend. You guys are the best!