Saturday, August 9, 2014

Brazil 2014 - Day 2 (6/14/2014) - Serra Verde

We had an 8:15 reservation on the Serra Verde Express, so we were downstairs for breakfast around 7:15.  Hotel Aladdin provides an included buffet breakfast with a pretty good variety of (mostly cold) options.  After eating Raj and I took off by foot for the bus station that we assumed was also the train station.  Google Maps had the Serra Verde office in the same area, but a couple of blocks down and across the street.  After asking for help a couple of times at the bus station (we were pretty well lost at this point), we found out that the train departed from an adjoining building.  We had just enough time before the train left (I, for some reason, had thought that it departed at 8, but Raj knew better) to buy a return ticket from Morretes on the Viacao Graciosa bus for 2:30 that afternoon.  We then picked up our tickets at the Serra Verde office and then boarded the train.

The train ride itself was long, as the train moves quite slowly.  The trip time was lengthened further by a 30+ minute delay due to a failed positioning/logistical system on the train.  The scenic ride through the mountains and rainforest provided some good views (the left side, where we were, is where most of the action is), though many of them were brief since the train was moving.  It was also quite foggy in the mountains that day, which ruined many of the views.  Our guide in the executive class car was trilingual (English, Portuguese, and German), and was definitely helpful in letting us know when we approached photo spots.  They also provided plenty of snacks and drinks for our consumption.

We arrived in Morretes a little before 1:00, though I think our arrival was scheduled for 11:30.  We explored the town on foot for a bit before stopping for lunch at a restaurant (Madal Ozo) that was recommended on Trip Advisor.  It turned out to be quite the experience.  While I was in the bathroom, Raj ordered the only two things that matched our diets - the vegetarian cheese "pancakes" and what he thought was seafood barreado.  The barreado turned out to be the full barreado meal (i.e., with the beef stew), which just happened to include seafood (and lots of it) in some of the courses.  Like a good sport, Raj tried most of it, and far exceeded his usual monthly seafood protein quota in one sitting.  We ate and paid quickly, but still had to hustle in order to make it to bus station by 2:30 (to which we had to ask directions for a couple of times).

The bus ride back to Curitiba was much quicker than the train.  After returning to the main station, we decided to walk to the city center for some exploration.  We ran into a woman, Betty, who had been on our flight from Miami to Curitiba, and accepted her invitation to join her on the trek around the city center that the concierge at her hotel had mapped out for her.  I let her and Raj do the navigating, and basically just tagged along.  We ended by walking her back to her hotel and exchanging some contact info, then Raj and I headed to the Patio Batel shopping center to pick up our World Cup tickets.

Batel turned out to be a pretty nice area of town, and the mall was probably the swankiest I've ever been in.  We picked up the tickets in a section of the underground parking garage that had been tented off, then headed up to a bar (Devassa) recommended by our ticket attendant to watch the match between England and Italy.  We split an appetizer and a dessert while we watched the game, as we were not too hungry after the huge lunch.  I also had a pretty amazing glass of fresh, and surprisingly frothy, lemonade of some kind.  After Italy's victory, we walked the 30 minutes or so back to our hotel, while donning the raincoats that we had packed, as it had grown chilly, even though it wasn't raining.  We then watched Ivory Coast beat Japan in our hotel room before turning in around midnight.
A couple of notes regarding Curitiba...  It seems like every sidewalk is made with cobblestone.  And there are a lot of stray dogs.

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