Very early Friday morning I arrived in Brazil, after taking an overnight flight from Heathrow. South America is a part of the world I have never visited but one that I’ve always longed to see. The culture, the people, the spirit is everything I’d imagined of Brazil, vibrant and energetic, full of life and happiness.
For the next 3 weeks I will be exploring Curitiba the capital in the Parana region of Brazil and of course Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Curitiba is the 7th largest city in Brazil and has a population of around 4 million people, the city had an influx of European immigration during the 1850′s and subsequently there is a strong German and Italian heritage here. Curitiba is regarded as a global leader in urban planning and development, with many places seeking inspiration from the sustainability the city has endured. Open spaces and parks are present in every locality, transport is based around the “Bus rapid system”, (known in England as the stretchy bus) with designated bus lanes on every street, the transport of Curitiba has been emulated in cities all over the world, predominantly in Los Angeles and Kuala Lumpur.
So far some of my highlights here in Curitiba have been visiting the French inspired Botanical Gardens and the Museu Oscar Niemeyer, the museum of a renowned Brazilian architect and one of the cities most regarded buildings, nicknamed “the eye”. The conservatory in the Botanical Gardens is a miniature scale of the landmark Crystal Palace that once stood in South London before a devastating fire. There are some parts of Curitiba that you would mistake for a forest deep in the German countryside from the tales of Hansel and Gretel, memorials stand tall celebrating the ancestry of both the Germans and Ukrainians that once moved here. The Memorial Ucraniano replicates the wooden Orthodox Churches built in the countryside surrounding Curitiba during the early 1900′s.