A Beautiful End to a Beautiful Country
16.11.2012 - 16.11.2012 30 °C
Porto Alegre -
Overnight Stays: Somewhere between Florianopolis and Porto Alegre; Somewhere between Porto Alegre and Santana do Livramento
Although short, our time in Florianopolis holds strong fond memories: we confirmed a ranch stay in Uruguay (something we were really really looking forward to before visiting South America); Cuba and Panama were confirmed, yay; free Caprinhas, whoop; the food was amazing, especially out of the back of a van; and Loz showed everyone on the beach how to surf while I showed them how to pop your shoulder out! Brazil, we sure are going to miss you, despite your unpredictable weather.
DW - Feeling that almost a week prior, we'd wasted a complete full-day on a bus between Angra Dos Reis and Sao Paulo, we made the call to, rather than hop straight off an overnight bus from Florianopolis onto another at Porto Alegre towards Santana do Livramento (on the Brazil/Uruguay border), but to instead spend the day checking out Porto Alegre, before boarding another overnighter later than evening. This decision, was one (1) of the best made on the Wombat Tour so far.
Although there isn't a huge amount to tell about Porto Alegre, it became a place we found ourselves very fond of, and it really had us leaving Brazil on a high.
These bus trips seem to be someone's way of telling us we're getting old. After almost every long-haul trip Loz mentions of sore hips, and I whinge like a needy toddler about my sore knee. We're both not sure where our joint injuries sprung from, but it's somewhere in South America; boy it's going to be tough when we actually do get old.
Anyway, slightly sore, we arrived from Florianopolis into a cracking day at Porto Alegre, wondering what the day was going to serve up. We bought our connecting tickets to the border (Livramento) that had us leaving somewhere around midnight, giving us a full day ahead. We chucked our backpacks into the cloakroom, and wandered towards town for the first and last Brazilian breakfast we'd actually have to buy (breakfast is included everywhere in South America). Along the way, on what appeared to be the main street, there were swarms of people, everywhere, and more shops than you could poke a stick at, selling primarily clothing and shoes. Porto Alegre isn't a touristy place by all means, but the huge crowds made us feel like we were in Bangkok, and it was awesome.
Through the chaos we spotted some dingey little cafes, packed with locals, perfect. There we picked the one (1) that looked most to our liking (although they were all near identical) and made our order for the best and cheapest breakfast in South America: Loz had a freshly made banana, strawberry and muesli smoothie, while I had a fresh juice and breakfast burger (beef, tomato, egg, bacon, delicious); all of which totalled $3.25AUD, plus coffees for 50 cents each, amazing.
The weather continued to show us what Brazil can offer and it felt slightly strange seeing no clouds in the sky whatsoever, if only there was a beach here. There actually was, but as we sat in the shade there on the river-bed we decided as 100% of the people around did, and didn't swim, not the prettiest of locations.
With our town map we walked what seemed the entire city and ended up in a beautiful big park, with a creek running through the centre, surrounded by shade at all angles; the perfect place for a lay-down. But before that we decided on lunch at a nearby place you could smell a mile away, again, stacked to the brim with locals.
We tried to ask how much it cost upon entry but didn't really listen, and my mind was made up as I drooled at the Rodiizio BBQ behind me, chockas of all kinds of meats on swords, this is the Brazilian food we've been looking for the whole time. The lovely unilingual owner sat us down and we didn't waste any time before hitting the salad bar and taking all the delightful accompaniments available before meeting him at the BBQ for some serious quantities of meat. The food was some of the best we've ever eaten in our lives and at that very moment we didn't care what it was going to cost, we felt like we were in another world, full of salty meaty goodness. The quantities were also more than generous, and with all you can eat, you don't want to leave a Brazilian BBQ man out of work. I reckon I nailed nearly a kilo of meat that lunch, and Loz wasn't far behind, messes.
Waddling towards the counter to pay the bill, so satisfied, the lady behind the counter showed me the total of the bill which equated to $15AUD, including beer. So that meant we paid $6AUD each for all you can eat, and $3AUD for a 600mL beer, holy cow, that's crabwonka! For us that was the icing on the cake, we loved Porto Alegre, if only for that amazing underpriced restaurant.
For the next five (5) hours we, not unlike the cattle we were about to see the following day, laid down in the shade in that beautiful park, by the water, and rested, embracing our last share of Brazilian air. And as darkness began to fall we made our way back to the bus station, freshened up, and sat in the VIP lounge for a few hours before an incredibly comfortable ride to Santana do Livramento, where we arrived on-time, for the first time in Brazil, at 6am, ready to take on Uruguay.