Saturday, August 9, 2014

Brazil 2014 - Day 3 (6/15/2014) - Curitiba

Sleeping later felt so good this morning.  We didn't get up until around 8:15, and went down for breakfast after getting ready.  It was raining when we left the hotel around 10:00.  The concierge at the front desk spoke decent English, unlike the ones we had previously seen, and suggested that we take the tourist bus (Linha Turismo) around town due to the weather.  We were already planning on doing this, but he did help out by informing us that there was a stop nearby at the Shopping Estação mall - we we're planning to walk all the way over to Praça Tiradentes to catch it at the first stop.  He also gave suggestions regarding which stops to check out - a R$29 allows you to get off and back on 4 times.

We caught the bus at the Museu Ferroviário at Shopping Estação, and took it to the Jardim Botânico.  The tourist bus gives information in Portuguese, Spanish, and English, which we found helpful.  The rain was clearing up by the time we had walked around the Botanical Garden.  We got back on the bus and took it to the Museu Oscar Niemeyer, where we spent quite a bit of time.  We left the museum around 1:30, and walked down to a nearby vegetarian buffet (Sorella) that had good ratings on Trip Advisor.  Although I didn't really know what was in half of what I ate (they had a large variety, and the labels were in Portuguese), the food was for the most part really good.

The next stop after getting back on the bus was a "free" one - the driver and cashier stopped for a few minutes to use the facilities at Bosque Alemão, and we quickly ran out to take some pictures from the top of the Philosopher's Tower.  Our next real stop was Parque Tanguá.  After checking out the top section (which provided a good view of the city to one side as well as a lush valley to another), Raj convinced me to walk down the huge hill (which turned out to be much bigger than he expected) to see the tunnel at the bottom.  The trek was probably worth it, but between the climb back up and running to catch the bus after, I was starting to sweat a bit.  The ride on the top section of the bus cooled us off pretty quickly (it remained in the 60s, Fahrenheit, during the day) and we even had to put our raincoats back on just to stay warm.  Our last sightseeing stop was the Torre Panorâmica, a telecommunications tower that provides a 360° view of the city and surroundings.

We took the bus back to Setor Histórico, and then walked over to Praça Tiradentes, where Raj thought that we could catch a bus to the FIFA fan fest (which was all the way out by one of the stops the tourist bus had gone by earlier).  We couldn't find the appropriate bus, so we walked over to another square where the fan fest bus was also supposed to stop.  Again, we couldn't find it, so we gave up (though I wasn't too sad about that).  We walked back to our hotel, which wasn't far, and asked the concierge where we might watch the game and get some food nearby.  He hesitantly suggested Estação, so we headed back there.  We found a store where I was able to purchase a prepaid local (Claro) SIM card for my phone, with the invaluable help from a woman who sensed that we were in desperate need of it.  In addition to needing a Brazilian social security (equivalent) number to do this, we were thoroughly unable to communicate with the store staff.  The woman used her SSN for us (apparently it's really only a formality, but one is still required) and communicated all our needs and questions to the store staff.  I was successfully able to activate the SIM card (R$5) and load R$30 on to it.  Calls were a bit expensive (ranging from R$0.25 to R$1.50 per minute), but data supposedly only required an access fee of R$0.60 per day (this, however, turned out to only allow a few MB of high speed data; you could refill your high speed allotment for the same price, but I didn't find this out until many days later).  This fee eventually was charged to my account later that night, and I was briefly able to get a very inconsistent Internet connection.
After getting my phone set up, we headed to a microbrewery restaurant in the mall and watched most of Argentina's victory over Bosnia.  Like the night before, we ordered drinks and split an appetizer and dessert.  When the game had concluded (around 9:00), we walked back to the hotel.

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