Down and Out in Curitiba
Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil.
Itinerary: Day One
Explore the botanical gardens, paying close attention to the whimsical architecture of the greenhouse.
Check out the turtles and enormous ducks that inhabit the gardens.
Put Curitiba’s famous bus system to good use and travel from the gardens to the city’s Municipal Market. Here, sample sweet and creamy doce de leite by the spoonful (also available in convenient “to-go” packets, as shown above).
At the fruit stand, pick up some exotic fruit like the fleshy mangostina (or mangosteen), a fruit purportedly loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. Tastes like cotton candy!
Still hungry? Head across the street to Jô, buffet e restaurante, and load up on typical Brazilian fare like rice, beans, and boiled quail eggs (lunch for two around 38 reals or $22 USD).
For a postprandial pick-me-up, plop down on a cushy Chesterfield-style barstool at nearby Café do Mercado and savor a cup of espresso and a guava filled shortbread cookie while watching the local foot track stream by outside.
From here, hop on one of Curitiba’s double decker tour buses (Linha Turismo) which makes stops at the city’s many highlights. Hop off at the Museu Oscar Niemeyer, locally known as the Museu do Olho due to its optic shape. Designed by Brazil’s most beloved modern architect, the building itself is as visually stimulating as the many and varied collections it contains.
Explore the Coleção Brasiliana Itaú through the works of cartographers, ethnologists, and naturalists from the 15th century to post-slavery Brazil.
On your way home, take in the late afternoon light that plays on the city’s innovative architecture.
For dinner, seek out one of the city’s best churrascarias, KF Grill and prepare to be bombarded from all sides by waiters eager to carve some succulent beef right off the skewer for your dining pleasure. The best cut is picanha so be sure to put your thumb up when that cut comes around. If a heap of beef cuts and chicken hearts (mmm tasty!) isn’t really your thing, stick to the smorgasbord style salad bar where you’ll find mango carpaccio, rice and beans, and hearts of palm in addition to your typical salad fixings.
Jardim Botânico or the botanical gardens are just one of many parks and gardens that characterize this green city. On Sundays, look for orchid vendors to set up shop next to the Museu Botânico de Curitiba. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in summer, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in winter. Address: Rua Eng°. Ostoja Roguski, Curitiba. Telephone: +55 3264-6994.
Mercado Municipal, a large covered market where you can buy everything from shampoo to artisanal cheese to pet fish. Open daily at 7 am. Closing times vary so check out the website for a full schedule.
Jô restaurant and buffet, good per-kilo buffet style restaurant. Also offers an à la carte menu that favors steak and gourmet hamburgers. Address: Av. Sete de setembro, 1858. Curitiba. Telephone: +55 41 3525 1867.
Café do Mercado serves excellent coffee and cakes. Also sells an assortment of coffee beans, cups, and presses. Address: Rua Sete de setembro, 1865. Curitiba. Telephone: +55 41 33627912.
Museu Oscar Niemeyer is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. R$4 to enter, R$2 for students with i.d. The Coleção Brasiliana Itaú exhibit runs until January 29th, 2012. Address: Rua Marechal Hermes, 999. Centro Civico, Curitiba. Telephone: +55 41 3350 4400.
KF Grill Churrascaria with all-you-can-eat high quality meat, salad, and dessert for one price. Address: Rua Maj Heitor Guimarães 946. Curitiba. Telephone: +55 41 3016-4581.