We climbed aboard our flight to Brasilia with a plane full of suited up business men ... and us in our flip flops and sunnies. Brasilia is the capital city and political centre of Brazil. The reason why we went to Brasilia is because our travel buddy Anthony recommended we come check out the architecture...so we did.
Over the course of 3 months we have become more and more lax with planning, from booking accommodation online after sussing out the best location and value for money etc to pitching up and walking around knocking on doors till someone had a room available...never taken more than 3 doors or so.
At the airport a friendly woman approached us explaining that brasilia is not a normal city, you cant walk around...its perfectly safe, but the city was designed with the premise that each person would have access to a vehicle, so there were very few sidewalks, and the bus system will take triple the time a car can take due to the odd shape of brasilia so she offered us a lift...where did we want to go? Hmm. Good question, so Tim whips out the lonely planet and gives her the address of the only hostel listed in town. Ok she and her hubby will take us there...no problem.
So we arrive in a pretty shady looking neighborhood and she climbs out the car with me to negotiate in Portuguese for us. I look at the rooms...I look at the hostel owner...mmmm...I look at Rebecca - she's looking at me in horror, "let's take you across to the hotel district."
The owner had a leathery and unshaven face and moved really slowly with a kind of swagger and it looked as if he had had a loooong history of heavy drinking. The room had had a slightly better life - no windows, no furniture...only 2 prison beds inside.
So now all 4 of us are in a state of panic...they had a Bob Dylan concert starting in 30 min, we had no other hostel address and the word 'hotel' only spelt out bankruptcy for us backpackers and then we realised we had an even bigger problem...no rooms available, full, cheio (pronounced shay-o)! Oh no, the state of silent panic only rose higher!
I forgot to mention the hubby had a similar temperament to Tim, so we had Tim pulling our bags out his car saying 'noooo noooo please go to your concert', while he was packing the bags into the car saying 'noooo please I take you to one more place'. This pass the parcel must have wasted about 10min of precious time! THANkFULLY one place close by had a room available, we agreed to take it and then waved them off to their concert...10min till curtain! After hearing the price maybe we should've sold Tim's kidney in Colombia, but we had no option but to take it...we had approached over 10 hotels and all were full.
I couldn't believe it! How can the city only have 2 hostels (one of which was way out of town) and how can every damn overpriced hotel be full! So what we discovered on our walkabout he next morning was (1) the Bob Dylan concert that night, (2) an international book fair, (3) international volleyball compo all happening that week!! Can you believe it!
*sigh* So....as I mentioned brasilia's architecture is something worth visiting. The young city was built less than 50 years ago and designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer. The city plan was based on the shape of a bird so it has a central strip with all the political buildings aligned down the centre and 2 wings of residential apartments and businesses spreading north and south. While the 2 wings look like any other city, the central strip looks like something out of the Jetsons with dome shaped buildings and curved ramps. The buildings were amazing and the design very modern and new-age with a lot of suspended buildings over coy ponds of water, huge planes of glass, large open spaces and simplistic sculptures mounted in a perfectly manicured garden. It was a billionaires city, very neat and high maintenance...I wondered about the millions living in favelas and shanty towns across Brazil...seemed like that was a million light years away when you looked across the vast neatness of Brasilia.