November 19, 2005 GMT
Curitiba to Florianopolis

Curitiba is not at all a beautiful city. At first sight it's really shocking - approaching the city you are welcomed by high-rise social housing (?) and office towers. The entire city is dominated by lots of multistorey buildings. However if you stay at least a day and spend some time in the center, especially in the pedestrian zone and the squares around, you slowly get an idea that life here has a certain quality and the city has a certain charme - just like Mannheim ;-) .

There is also some interesting modern 70s/80s architecture - especially the Modern Museum which has the shape of an eye. The city is lively with lots of beautiful green spaces, a neatly cobbled (with white stones) pedestrian area, a sophisticated public transport system (with eye-catching tube-shaped bus stops), a few examples of old colonial architecture and many places with live music and other cultural events.

What's more, Curitiba seems to be a quite attractive for rainclouds, since most of the time I spent there it was raining. Outside the city it never did. So after spending a day of city-walks, motorcycle inspection, chatting with the congenial BMW mechanics and salesman and with a likable and relaxed motorcylist couple from Duisburg/Germany (who were going the opposite way - i.e. to Foz do Iguašu - and just chose the same hotel since they had the same guidebook), I enjoyed once again the hotel O'Hara's good breakfast (the best up to now: fresh and aromatic pine, melons, banana, fresh orange juice, avocado juice, Yoghurt, scrambled eggs etc.) and started the trip to Florianopolis.

However, before starting I had to find a cash machine for Maestro/MasterCard which is not that easy in Brazil. The night before I already tried but the few international cash machines I found were all blocked "for my own safety" since it was after 22 hrs. So I was very safe but hungry and spent my last few bucks in something cheap to eat. The hotel of course did not accept Mastercard but only Visa (which happens quite frequently with filling stations, hotels etc. in South America - there's still a lot to do in South America for MasterCard's sales and marketing departments).

Finally I obtained some cash, paid and found my way out of the city. I took a detour via the "Estrada da Graciosa" through the beautiful coastal rainforest mountains and via Morretes - a supposedly idyllic town in the middle of this intensely green, hot and humid area (actually I did not find it so idyllic). Unfortunately the detour turned out to be rather long since the road that should take me directly to Joinville and that was indicated on my new Brazilian map, did not exist. I spent some time going the motorway up and down but finally had to almost return to Curitiba and take the motorway to Joinville.

In Joinville I was supposed to get some new tyres but God made me understand that the old ones were still allright and I should not replace them before arriving in Buenos Aires. How did he let me know? Well, first he made the mechanic calculate a horrendous price (almost the same it would cost in Germany), then he made him not accept Master Card (again only Visa), and finally he arranged that in the entire city center of Joinville (which is not that small) there was no international cash machine at all. So I could not pay and therefore I left Joinville (a town dominated by Swiss immigrants) quite fed up and sweating and with my old tyres.

Around two hours later I crossed the bridge to the 'Ilha Santa Catarina' and arrived in Florianopolis. Again a really ugly city - it seems Brazilians love ugly cities with loads of high-rise buildings. The boardwalk (Strandpromenade) mainly consits of a 6 or 8 lanes highway and a very narrow footway where the people of Floripa enjoy the sunset together with thousands of passing cars.

The Duisburg bikers couple had recommended a tranquil and beautiful beach place in the south of the island - but first I had to do some laundry, buy bathing trunks, check for portugese language courses and buy the sprockets and the chain. I did not succeed with the sprockets (BMW is closed on Saturdays), neither with the language courses (could not find the tourist info) - but succeeded with the bathing suite and the laundry. So I will return later to get the sprockets and content myself with the self-study language course I brought from Germany.

I somewhat got the idea that people in Florianopolis are just as in any other tourist place in Italy, France or Spain - not really friendly and mainly caring about earning money. However also here you find extraordinary people: I had parked my motorbike in a guarded place which cost me 2 EUR per night. However I found out on Saturday that on Sundays it is closed and there's no way to get my bike. However the young guy who explained this to me (of course again in portugese) just gave me the remote control for the gate, trusting in me - a complete stranger - to return this remote control to a hotel nearby before leaving on sunday - and he gave me his private telephone number in case I had any problems in getting out the bike on Sunday. It must be something in my eyes I guess ;-)

Posted by Winne Lichtblau at November 19, 2005 03:31 PM GMT

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