Q. Which country do the Faroe Islands belong to?
TUESDAY 2 MARCH – The football blogger arrives but speaks no English so Beatriz gets to practice her translating skills even though he and Steve manage a good bit using the international language of football which seems to involve throwing around players names. Beatriz wants to show us the ocean beach so we head off to the coast stopping en route at “Restaurant do Renato” for a delicious all you can eat fish lunch, R12 (£4) pp. Cassino Beach is the longest in the world at over 250km and the sand is hard and flat enough for you to drive all the way to Uruguay.
We don’t have time for that but make it to an interesting ship wreck and also see a large dead turtle. The Embaixador bus to Porto Alegre, $43.70 (£15) leaves at 4pm. It is a very comfortable bus and Beatriz has told us the company is one of the best in Brazil as they treat their employees really well lending them money to buy houses and helping with their children’s education. Arrive a little early at 7.20pm and we are really happy to see our host Daniel waiting for us as Porto Alegre bus station is enormous. He drives us to his apartment where we have the spare bedroom with sofa bed. Daniel is very well travelled and has been to many countries we would like to visit so we can pick his brains. A short walk from his apartment is an Italian restaurant, Nono Ludovico. First you visit the sushi and salad bar then sit back and wait to be served pizzas. There’s a triangular card that you put out to indicate if you want savoury, savoury and sweet or just sweet pizzas. The waiters come round, exuberantly describe the pizza on their tray and invite you to take a slice. There are also lasagne and other Italian dishes so you are almost spoilt for choice. Worse still are the desserts ones, white and milk chocolate, strawberry and meringue, condensed milk, strawberry and chocolate, pineapple and condensed milk, banana and egg, coconut, and that’s just the ones I tried. Back home Daniels friend Vera calls round and they show us the DVD of their recent cruise to a glacier in Chile and it looks magnificent.
PORTO ALEGRE, HOSPITALITY CLUB DANIEL
WEDNESDAY 3 MARCH – Daniel drops us in the city when he goes to work. We set out to see the sights and find a few impressive things, the Italian style cathedral, a monument with a dragon climbing the steps and many attractive buildings. It is still only lunchtime when we catch the bus back to his apartment. In the evening he suggests the vegetarian restaurant “Especiarias” and the veggie curry goes down a treat although it is very quiet there and last night’s restaurant was far more entertaining. Daniel shows us photos of his travels and his pictures of Easter Island make it look much more interesting than we thought and he also adds some islands off Venezuela to our thoughts of places to visit, will our list never end?
PORTO ALEGRE 2, HOSPITALITY CLUB DANIEL
THURSDAY 4 MARCH – After being dropped at the bus station we catch the 8.45am Canela bus to Gramado, R$26 (£9). It takes 2 hours to travel up into the mountains to the alpine resort. Couchsurfing hosts Brian has arranged for his Dad to take us out and about. Evair and his girlfriend Francine arrive in the car and take us straight to the Black Lake. They speak little English but we manage to learn a bit as we walk around the lakeside. Brian joins us and we head to “Mini Mundo” www.minimundo.com.br owned by Evair’s friend we get in for free. It is a model village with scale models of many places in Germany and others in South America and interesting to see.
Next Brian takes us off to visit “Parque do Caracol” www.canela.com.br R10 (£3.50) where we see an impressive waterfall, there are also other falls and lots of walking tracks but we don’t have time to do them. We meet up with Evair and Francine for lunch at “Belavista Café Colonial”, www.belavista.tur.br one of the typical ones for this town. After sitting down our table is piled up with plates of food, homemade jams and cream, hot food, cold sandwiches and loads of cakes. The minute we finish something the plate is replaced with more. There is also red and white wine and grape juice that also gets replaced the minute they are nearly empty. I work my way through the savoury items then just take a small slice of each of the 10 cakes. This backfires on me when I realise these are not the desserts and there is a large fridge with 22 more for you to help yourself to. Hot chocolate and coffee round of the feast and we fairly waddle out of the restaurant. Brian has to return to work but his Dad continues the tour taking us to the cathedral in Canela then to a lookout down the valley. We’ve just arrived back in Gramado to look at the cathedral when the heavens open up. Return to Evair’s home where he puts on a video about the folklore dance shows that he produces and directs. Heading to the bus stop there is just time to look at the area where they are setting up for the weekend chocolate festival, now why didn’t I do my research and find out about it? What a wonderful day out, lovely people, plenty of nice things to see and delicious food. Daniel is out at masons meeting in the evening so unfortunately we don’t get to see him.
PORTO ALEGRE 3, HOSPITALITY CLUB DANIEL