Curitiba, pronounced by the locals as Curichiba. When we got off the plane, the first thing we did was find the tourist info, get a map, and ask how we should get to our hotel. The girl at the desk told us there was a bus that stopped at a few places around town, including the ônibus terminal, from which our hotel was directly across the street. Too easy!
Upon arrival, as they were quite busy, there was no being shown to our room or explanation of breakfast or wifi, we were just handed a key and told our room was on level 1. We had 3 single beds squeezed into our room with about 3cm space in between. We had booked a double, but it was clean and reasonable so no point arguing.
We asked about somewhere for dinner, and since we hadn't had much for lunch were absolutely starving. The guy on the desk gave us an address for a Churrascaria, one of the restaurants where they bring meat out on skewers, but it was quite far away, so instead we went to a nearby shopping centre that had an enormous food court and a few restaurants as well. We settled on Japanese which was delicious, and enjoyed a few beers as well while watching Nigeria Vs Bosnia.
The next day we decided to do the city bus tour. Most of the sights weren't close by so this seemed the easiest option. We purchased a ticket, which allows you 5 stops, though the map indicates a lot more stops. We were a bit disappointed we couldn't get off to see more, but soon realised that with a 2.5 hour loop, 5 stops was plenty to fill in the day.
We boarded at the central market, across the road from our hotel. We decided to bypass all the nearby sights, as we could reach them by foot later, so our first stop would be the Ópera de Arame, the opera house. When the bus reached the stop after that, Parque Tanguá, we were a bit confused and asked the ticket person, who said the opera house stop was closed that day due to FIFA Fan Fest.
So, we got off at the Park, and had a look around that. It was an old quarry that had been turned into a lovely park. At the top was a building overlooking the lakes and park area below. We then walked down a path to one of the 2 lakes, which were connected via a tunnel that had been built into the rock. A waterfall has also been built falling from the top of the quarry into the lake below.
When back at the top, we decided we could walk back to the opera house to have a look before getting back on the bus. We walked past the road closure and Fan Fest to the city opera house that was built using steel tubing with glass walls and roofing, in a lovely green and rocky setting, reached by a bridge over some water. It was really nice to look at, but unfortunately you could only look from the outside, as you couldn't get in.
We re-joined the bus. One of the next stops was the Italian Portal, where Italian immigrants had settled in the city. It was a lively place with restaurants, shops and fancy hotels. We think one of the hotels might have been where the competitors were staying. We didn't get off there, instead we continued to Parque Barigüi.
This park was huge, and full of people riding bikes, running, roller blading and walking along the paths that went around a large lake. We took about a 3km path around the lake, and had fun people watching as a bunch of Gothic teenagers walked past on their way to some kind of event. We also spotted some Capivaras (like giant guinea pigs) hanging out on an island on the lake.
Next we visited Torre Panorâmica (Panoramic Tower), a telephone tower about 110m high with an observation deck. When we arrived there was a long line, and we considered not bothering but decided we were there so we might as well wait. It took about an hour to get up the tower, but we kept ourselves occupied chatting to an Aussie guy and his daughter. The view over the city was great, you could see out to the Serra do Mar mountain range nearby.
We were now quickly running out of time! We ran for the next passing bus, and managed to reach the last sight we wanted to see, the Jardim Botânico (Botanic Garden). The garden is a metal and glass structure containing some palm trees and other plants. When inside it has a pathway at ground level as well as a metal walkway higher up. While nice to look at, its not as big or interesting as we expected, but is apparently significant for national species and research.
We just made it onto the last bus of the day to our final stop back at the markets opposite our hotel. Again we had trouble finding anywhere nearby open for dinner so we were back at the shopping centre food court. The restaurants with TV's were all packed with people watching the USA Vs Portugal game so we grabbed something quick then stood outside one of them to watch the end of the game. And what a cracker of a game with Portugal scoring in the last 10 seconds to equalise 2-2!
Game day! Australia were already out of the cup, but it would have been really nice to leave with a win and really rub salt in the wound for Spain. We arrived at the stadium about 2 hours ahead, checked out the crowds and ate a bad cheeseburger before taking our seats. Amazingly, the same couple (Susan and Keith) that sat next to us at the game in Porto Alegre were sitting next to us again! We chatted about what we had all been up to since the last game before kick-off.
The game was a little disappointing. With Cahill out due to two yellow cards we didn't have our star striker and the Aussie team as a whole weren't playing how they had against Holland, but they still gave it a good crack. We had a great time regardless and cheered them on till the end, going down 3-0 to Spain.
After the game we waited outside the stadium with Susan and Keith for some friends of theirs who were also at the game. Esther and Nathan are also Aussie, but have been living in Rio. They were well dressed with Aussie flag capes and Nathan in a green and gold mullet wig. They attracted the attention of the nearby fox sports crew so we squeezed into the back of the shot while they were interviewed, getting ourselves on telly in Australia!
The 6 of us followed the crowds to find somewhere to watch the Brazil Vs Cameroon game that followed. Being a Brazil game, everywhere was packed out and we were at the back of the crowd. We headed for an Irish pub that Esther had a flier for, but on the way found a burger place that had available seating and big screen TV so we stopped there. The burgers were awesome, drinks were half price, and Brazil won the game easily which made for a pretty fun time!
When the burger place was closing, we ventured out to find another place to continue the party. Across the road was a Budweiser party, but they wanted 80 reais ($40) to get in! The next place wanted 40 reais to get in, but they would give us some drink credits. We went to find somewhere else, but then a local offered to help us and led us into a small pizza place with stacks of people out the front, where we bought a few beers and met some very interesting people!
The local that had led us in there stayed and chatted to us for a bit, inviting us to his restaurant the next night. He told us he never drinks but he was quite drunk. He went to the bathroom and never returned so maybe he got sick of us, or maybe he was just upset all the girls were taken! A few other local guys tried their luck on the girls as well. We noticed the local girls around the place were having far more luck with the Aussie guys. A few drinks later and we all decided to call it a night.
The next morning we were a little hung over. It has been a long time since we had more than a couple of drinks in one night! A mixture of beers and capirinhas probably didn't help! We crawled out of bed late, and managed to get ourselves to the markets for a very late breakfast/lunch of pasta.
Afterwards we went across to the train station. We had heard about a tourist train and wanted to see if it was a possibility to do before we left Curitiba. The Curitiba-Paranaguá train winds its way through the Serra do Mar mountain range to the port city of Paranaguá, and is supposed to be quite the engineering feat with numerous tunnels and quite high bridges. Unfortunately, we had left our chance too late, as the train only had a morning departure, and the next day wasn't possible as it would not get us back in time for our flight.
Feeling a bit better with food in our stomachs, we mustered up the energy to walk around town and see a few more things. We started at Passeio Público, a nice park in the middle of town that contains monkeys and birds or different varieties.
We then thought a coffee would be nice, and conveniently found a cafe that made a nice cup and we were able to watch Italy Vs Uruguay.
Next we walked through Rua das Flores, the country's first pedestrian street, full of shops and people selling popcorn from their carts. We also had a look at Rua 24 Horas, an indoor shopping structure. Despite the name "24 Hours", it is not open 24 hours. We had learned this on our way home the night before when we thought we might find a bathroom there. It is so named due to the 24 hour clock out the front.
We also had a look at the Historic Sector with some nice old buildings, bars, and a strange fountain where the water came out of a horses mouth, as if it was regurgitating it. Then we made our way back to the hotel and had another shopping centre dinner (there were so many options there!), returning to the airport in the morning for our flight to Rio de Janeiro!