Lonely Planet describes Belo Horizonte as a faceless concrete jungle. Although it does have 100's of great restaurants and several with Michelin stars. Not that we can afford them. One of the problems with booking in a foreign city is that there is no way of knowing if your hotel is in their version of Westminster or Tower Hamlets.
Our hotel was quite nice but it was only 10 minutes walk from the main bus station so the area didn't look great. During the day there were lots of people stood waiting at local bus stops. By night the shops were all shuttered up and covered in graffiti.
Anyway on the first evening we went to a street side bar on the next corner from the hotel. Noisy on the pavement but cheap beer !!
On the second day we were catching a night bus out at 23.30 so had all day to kill. We had tried to go to a museum thing out of town but couldn't sort a bus. Fortunately we went to the bus station to get some tourist info. I kept thinking their clocks were an hour out. We spoke to a security guard who said Belo was an hour different. Seems we went through a time zone going there !! Handy we found out or we would have been hours early for our night bus.
In the end we decided to explore the city on foot. We found a large park with a huge market and spent a few hours meandering around stopping for an occasional beer in the sunshine.
The city is a lot of concrete and glass but also has some very attractive colonial style buildings.
We ended up in the early evening back at the bus station and had a chat with a nice security guard who was concerned we looked lost......we weren't. I think he just wanted to use his English.
There are lots of security and Police everywhere. The security guards carry side handled batons and cuffs. The Municipal Police carry Tazer, batons and cuffs. Then there are the Policia Militaria they are fully armedand patrol in 3's. A lot of street corners have glass podiums where an officer sits.
Back at the hotel we re-packed our ruck sacks and stored them while we went for a cold beer at the local bar.
There were a few people in there including a group of youngsters sat about 20ft from us. All seemed normal.
Suddenly two Policia Militaria cars pulled up. 6 officers got out and went to the group of youngsters. An officer shouted something at them. I don't speak Portuguese but even I got the gist . It seemed to be aimed at a tall lad in the group. He just looked but didn't respond.
Next another order barked and 6 hand guns drawn and pointed at him.......Oh F***.
He seemed to get that and stood quickly and placed his hands behind his head. As did another in the group who clearly wasn't taking any chances !!
An officer stepped forward and commenced a search. T shirt up and into his bum bag. Bingo it's not only the Police who have a hand gun.....Oh f*** again.
The waitress kept serving beer like it was a usual Sunday night. More body search and then the officers had a chat.It seemed our felon got bored and promptly walked away then ran. Two officers very lazily walked after him and shouted. He didn't stop. The two cars screeched off and ten minutes later returned with our felon in the back. In view of all the customers he got a very sharp prod in the chest with a baton.
I think by deduction that this guy was known and the3 owner of the bar had seen the gun and called the Police. From the casual approach once they had the gun I'm guessing it was a replica. Anyway some details were taken and they sped off with chummy in the back.
Time for another beer.20 minutes later and chummy is back and boldly walks back in the bar. I have to say he now looked very unsteady on his feet so may have had a slap for his troubles before being released.
The owner and his mate quickly went in the bar to eject him. Time for bed said Zebedee so off we went back to the relative safety of the hotel. We decided to get a taxi to the bus station !!!
The first night bus we took stopped several times on route for breaks and other bus stops. I had got up twice to check if it was our stop but was re-assured we would know.
So this time we went to sleep safe in the knowledge we would know our stop. Wrong.
We both woke when the bus stopped for a third time and looked out the window into the dark. It didn't look like a big bus station and there was no obvious signing. We were also about 45 minutes too early so we laid back.
The bus pulled off despite there being two rucksacks in the Petropolis part of the luggage store.
w*** that was our stop. w*** again. So we sat back sighed a lot and hoped that the bus was heading into Rio about 1 hour away. Phew it was.
So it was off the bus across to the ticket office and the next bus back to Petropolis. Luckily they runevery half an hour so no biggie. At least it was now daylight when we arrived. We hopped into a taxi for another ride of death to our hotel.
It seems very nice with a very homely feel. We are both knackered so are sitting in the room doing some domestics before venturing out into the town. Fortunately it all looks pretty peaceful here......famous last words where Jill and Vic are concerned.