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To the end of the world, back, and everywhere in between Some take holiday, some go on gap year and some never come back...this is for all of us, lost in travel

Curitiba and the famous train journey through Serra do Mar...

BRAZIL | Thursday, 1 March 2012 | Views [1576]

Curitiba to Paranagua

Curitiba to Paranagua

Journey to Curitiba turned out longer than expected. About 10 minutes from the bus station the bus broke down and we were left at the side of the motorway waiting for the replacement. Since I was not ready to leave Sao Paulo part of me did consider waving down a taxi and heading back to O de Casa. But, decided to be strong and stay the course.

All I knew about Curitiba was that its got very well organised transport system and is very green. I was also told it's really boring but serves as a gateway to Ilha do Mel and Paranagua. Of course it quickly turned out that the organised transport system ain't for me. I adore chaos... so I got completely lost. In fairness, it's just me, the city does look pretty easy to navigate with buses stopping at specific places with actual bus stops. There are even maps with the whole system laid out. I, however, am not good with maps so it took me an hour to get to my hostel (Curitiba Backpackers Hostel).

The hostel was OK. I know from talking to other travellers that I got the good one, but, it was manned by 5 guys who were really, seriously, not interested in their job. Really nice people, cool to hang out with, but totally useless source of information.

Two examples of some conversations I had there:

1) Trying to find out when the train goes to Paranagua (Morretes is 1.5h from Paranagua, on the way there)

Me: Do you know which day the train goes to Paranagua?

Val: Every day

Me: All the way to Paranagua? Not just to Morretes?

Val: To Morretes

Me: OK, but when does it go to Paranagua?

Val: Not sure, why do you want to go there?

Me: I'm going to Ilha do Mel

Val: Morretes is better than Paranagua, you should go there and then get the bus back to Curitiba.

Me: But I want to go to Ilha do Mel, why would I want to go back to Curitiba?

Val: You can take the bus from here to there

Me: So you saying I should take the train to Morretes, come back here by bus and then take another bus back to Paranagua

Val: Yes

Me: Why? Is it not faster to just go all the way with one train?

Val: Maybe.. Me: So when does the train go all the way to Paranagua

Val: I don't know

So I used Google...

2) Having bought the train ticket, trying to find out if the Summer time ends that day and which way I need to adjust the clock

Me: So we change the time tonight?

Margo: Do we?

Me: Yeah, Isn't it the end of summer time today?

Margo: Oh, yes. It is.

Me: So which way do we change the clocks? Back or forth?

Margo: I don't know.

Me: Really?

Margo: It will be the same time as in Argentina

Me: What's the time in Argentina?

Margo: I don't know

So I used Google again :)

I hear the owner is really nice and helps out a lot but he wasn't there during my visit.

Curitiba grew on me. The first day I just went for a wander and as they say in many guidebooks it really is very easy to walk around and enjoy the city. It has some nice old colonial parts and many green spaces. It also has some good street food around with my favourite chocolate and strawberry tapioca in the lead.

The next day I only just managed to visit the Polish skansen when it started to rain, so I hid in the Oscar Niemeyer museum which turned out to be pretty amazing. I was expecting it to be mostly design museum but it has really good collection of modern art as well as some Brazilian art which concentrates on explaining the country and local customs. I ended up spending 4 hours there.

Because of that I did miss going on the tourist bus and many people rave about it.

Unfortunately I also had a little accident that day and twisted my knee which meant an evening on the sofa with an ice pack. Luckily after the carnival not many people were up for a night out so hostel was pretty lively and we ended up watching dubbed version of the Transformers.

My final day in the city was all about buying the train tickets. As I could only walk very slowly I took my time, had lovely lunch at the Mercado Municipal and just wandered through the streets. I also chanced upon a rock festival which had a nice crowd and decent music.

The train to Paranagua leaves on Sunday at 7.30am. It's a little bit inhuman as the purpose of the journey is to watch the view but most spend the trip trying to stay awake.

It takes 4.5 hours at the average speed of 30km/h. It is slow and incredibly hot. The air con only works a bit and the windows do not open. As you descend through the rain forest it gets unbearably humid. Take a lot of water!

But it is beautiful. And it is fun to be on the train as there are only about 3 lines in whole of Brazil.

The train goes right through the rain forest and descends down to the sea. It is enough to just take it Morretes. The 1.5 hours from there to Paranagua are quite painful as the temperature goes up about 15 degrees and the train slows down to 20km/h. But if you are going to Ilha do Mel there are no buses to change to in Morretes so might as well stay on the train.

With the train journey done and 10 days without seeing the sea it was beach time again!

Tags: brazil, curitiba, ilha do mel, morretes, niemeyer, paranagua, rtw

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