Porto Alegre is a big city and it took us a couple of hours of searching before we found a hotel with parking, that didn’t cost a fortune. Had a look around the city then got in touch with the colleague of Arno's brother who had brought a parcel over from Germany for us. Marcelo and his wife Alexandra, took us out for lunch and then for a sail around the bay. Arno got his Nutella and I got new clutch plates for the XT, oh joy!
Sailing around the bay near Porto Alegre
Our next destination were the mountain towns of Gramado and Canela, where we were told we would enjoy the strong German influence. The road up into the mountains was quite nice and the town of Gramado resembled an Alpine ski resort, likewise it was outrageously expensive – by Brazilian standards, anyway. We rode on and stayed in Canela for a night. We were not that impressed and far from hearing German on the streets, we didn’t find one person who spoke the language – not even in the tourist information office. The road down towards the coast was much more interesting, not yet completely paved it twisted down through small villages before spitting us out onto the BR101.
Mountain roads in the south of Brazil
This is the main road along the coast and is jammed with trucks and cars, we wanted to overnight in Laguna but didn’t make it. At Tubarao took off the main highway and headed for the hot springs at Poussa. The only accommodation was an overpriced, empty hotel, so rode back to the turnoff for a waterfall. The road was steep and muddy, so Arno went first to check it out. There was space for us to camp, so up the road I went, no problem! It was dark by now of course, so couldn’t see that much, bit of a blessing really! At the top we could see the waterfall in the distance, there was also a deserted open air café, where we decided to sleep and cook, didn’t even have to put the tent up! No-one came to disturb us, a peaceful place to spend the night.
A lovely spot to sleep – tables could have been a little wider though!
Florianópolis is a city perched on the tip of Ilha de Santa Catarina. We ended up staying on the south of the island for a couple of days before going back to explore the city and meet up with Cicero and Lourdes, the couple we had met on Ruta 3 in Patagonia. They took us along to a bike meeting of “General Custom”, one of many bike clubs in the city. We were treated like star guests, given t-shirts, stickers and met lots of other riders including members of Cicero’s club, The Toupeiras. We made a few important contacts and were even interviewed for a local TV programme. Being a Saturday, a huge Feijoada was on the menu, our first taste of this popular Brazilian dish. It is a stew made from beans and pretty much all of a pig except its grunt.
Arno sandwiched between two colourful characters. Left: Benetton, the president of Legends Never Die Bike Club and right Guto, a Toupeira
After the food, it was time for a coffee, at a place on the other side of the island! so about 30 bikes rode around the island, great fun! On the way back to the city, we all stopped above Lagoa to take some photos.
The Toupeiras plus some guests.
The evening wasn’t over, next on the agenda was a party at the house of João Gonalves or Gau to his friends. Gau is well known in Brazil for his travels by motorcycle and the walls of his house were covered in photos and newspaper clippings, charting his trips. The earliest through the Amazon on a Harley, the most recent a round trip from Ushuaia to Alaska and back on an F650. A very interesting person to meet and chat to.
We left Florianópolis but only for a couple of days, we had been invited by Alemão, another rider, to go on a short trip up into the mountains. Had to backtrack down the BR101, then at Tubarao headed into the mountains and towards São Joaquim. The road slowly wound up and up, suddenly we were in the clouds and the road was doing a serpent impression, it hair-pinned up the mountain for another few km’s, the clouds cleared and we could see this amazing road snaking down below us.
This road is one of the most interesting in Brazil
A few brave lorry and coach drivers were slowly descending, the corners so tight, that at each turn they had to stop and reverse a few metres before being able to get around. When we reached the top, the cloud came in again and as we peered over the edge, we could see nothing but a white fluffy blanket.
Up on the plateau, the road was not as exciting, however my chain decided to liven things up and jump off, on a blind corner, after fixing that, we reached São Joaquim and had to decide whether to stay there, or ride another 80kms in the dark to Lages, where a fiesta (another one) was happening. The road was ok and there was little traffic, so decided to carry on. At Lages, met a friend of Alemãos who let us stay in his wooden cabin after we had visited the fiesta. It was an interesting event, celebrating the Pinhão harvest, a sort of chestnut like thing, and we sampled the various food and drink on offer. My favourite being the fudge, a solid dulce de leche – yum!
The next day we rode back towards Florianópolis, and back to more parties!
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