In the late afternoon, the weather was still decent so we went to the Ópera de Arame, (Wire Opera House) which we hadn’t had time to see before. We got to the opera house just before 5 – it was supposed to close at 5, but there were lots of people there still, out for a stroll in the nice weather.
This venue, surrounded by native flora, is set up in a semi-circle, sloping down to the stage. The roof is made of glass and metal. Sometimes, Eliane told me, they open the curtains that cover the sides, so that one feels completely surrounded by nature. The acoustics are good, she said, and the box seats are some of the best in the house.
A larger venue is located next door, at the pedreira (quarry) but we couldn’t go in to see it. A guard told us they were setting up for a big event in a couple of days. Two days later, it was in the newspaper – Guns n’ Roses were going to perform to large crowds! We had noticed tents set up outside and had wondered what they were doing there; it turns out they were set up by people who camped out to be the first in line to buy tickets to the concert.
Carlos and Eliane had quite a discussion in the car about which churrascaria (Brazilian steak house) was best. They had given us an option of different kinds of restaurants, but Dale was interested in trying out a typical Brazilian churrascaria in Curitiba.
They settled on the “third best” one in town – Batel Grill.
Arriving there with Dona Lais at 1:45, we were told we’d have a 30-40 minute wait. This was fine, even expected. There was a bar and lobby full of people.
Like at Madalosso, there were complimentary mini batidas to sample in small plastic cups, as well as appetizers: polenta sticks, mini meat pies (pastéis de carne) and French fries. I had a batidade côco and another of maracujá. I ate a few polenta sticks but didn’t want to eat too much now, knowing how much food we’d be offered.
After we were finally seated, we got plates and went to the buffet. I tried to put just a little of various different salads and things, but my plate was completely full when I returned to our table.
To drink, someone ordered water and Dale and I ordered caipirinhas – actually mine was a caipiroska! Waiters arrived with long spits of meat and carving knives. I refused the first few because I didn’t have any room on my plate, but eventually I shoved food aside to make room for small pieces of meat. Besides meat offerings, there were also pastas, pastéis and other kinds of food.
If you have ever been to a Brazilian steak house, you will know that the waiters show up with meat and long knives every few minutes, one after the other!
I ate very slowly and eventually couldn’t eat any more. I think just the amount of food was overwhelming. I let them take my plate away, still ¼ full, including a piece of palmito (hearts of palm), which I love!
We had a busy day today. Eliane was determined to do as much as possible in the morning because it wasn’t supposed to rain until afternoon.
We got a later start than she would have liked but finally were on our way to the Olho (Eye), the nickname for the Oscar Niemeyer Museum (MON). The structure of this museum is very interesting, with many of the exhibits actually partially underground.
Modern furniture exhibit:
KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera
The most interesting exhibits that we saw were:
The paintings that the politicians involved in the Lava-jato scandal bought, including a Miró, to “hide” the money they were embezzling in works of art which they planned to sell for even higher prices. These works were confiscated and housed in Curitiba, where more corrupt politicians have been arrested than any other city. Most of the works are by Brazilian artists.
Oscar Niemeyer exhibit – to get there you can take the elevator or climb several flights of stairs, which is what we did. There was a film about Niemeyer, his creations and influences, then a gallery of interactive exhibits. There were also miniatures of many of his architectural masterpieces, each explained on a wall surrounding the cases with the miniatures.
Digital TV Tower, Brasilia
Cathedral in Brasilia
“Solidarity justifies the short passage through life.”
Oscar Niemeyer’s work in miniature
Jefferson César – a small gallery with works by this artist, which were beautiful and diverse. On the wall outside the gallery was a large white board panel where visitors are invited to add their own art. I drew two Paraná pine trees and called it “Bosque” and Eliane drew a quick face. I didn’t know she liked to draw, nor did she know that about me!
Painter and sculptor Jefferson Cesar was born in Siqueira Campos, Paraná and moved to Curitiba when he was 15. After he studied painting, in the 1960s, he discovered the possibilities for collages and assemblages derived from the aesthetic principles of Dada and Surrealism, but influenced by pop art. The result was a unique style. Jefferson Cesar died in 1981.
Jefferson Cesar considered Dona Quixote one of his heroes. “We need more Don Quixotes,” he said in 1976.
J. Cesar, Arlequim, 1973; madeira, renda e sucata
J. Cesar, “Igreja da Sagrada Familia”, 1967, papel renda gauche e cola sobre tela
We wandered out into an enclosed courtyard with modern sculptures, which we had seen from above but wanted a closer look.
Servulo Esmeraldo, “Cubo” (undated), painted iron
Bruno Giorgio, 1951 “O Atleta”, bronze
Museum courtyard – statue of a woman carrying a heavy burden. Sculpture by Erbo Stenzel, 1944, “Agua pro morro.”
At the top of the “eye” it is very dark but there are exhibits there too.
We left the museum on the second level down from the top, via a curved ramp that took us all the way down to the ground outside.
It seemed sunny and relatively warm when we got out of the car at the Jardim Botânico (Botanic Garden).
On Eliane’s advice, though, I kept my windbreaker with me, tying it around my waist and sure enough, dark clouds soon hung ominously overhead.
We took the path toward the main structure, a 3-dome glass greenhouse. Along the path were various colors of petunias, nothing spectacular. Landscaped hedges formed concentric triangles on either side of the path. It was more crowded than I expected, but the weather was decent and it was the day before a national holiday.
We entered the greenhouse and climbed the stairs to the upper level. It was OK, but not very impressive really. Eliane told me she’d never been here before, and she seemed to have the same opinion as I did about the place.
Off to one side was a sort of pretty alcove with bright colored flowers so we headed there.
Even though it had started raining lightly, no one ran for shelter nor stopped their activities. On the sloped lawns, kids were running around and teenagers played ball.
We walked back toward the car and passed a group of young guys throwing and running with an American football! I expressed surprise at this, but Carlos said American football was developing a fan base here. Some people watched the games on satellite TV and now Curitiba has two football teams of its own! American teams are invited to come to play a game with these teams and help them improve their technique.
It seemed to be clearing up some, so we headed to the Rua das Flores (Flowers Street), a pedestrian street closed to traffic in the center of town. I was happy about this, because it had been one of my favorite places to walk when I last stayed in Curitiba, in 1979. Since Dale and I sometimes noticed different things, I’ve included some of his pictures as well as mine. Most of the photos speak for themselves. If you visit Curitiba, I strongly recommend taking a stroll down Rua das Flores as part of your itinerary.
Since there was still a bit of rain, we went to another mall – a smaller one, less fancy than Patio Batel. Although Dale and I both initially refused, we were easily persuaded to order sparkling wine, which they call espumante. I tried to get online, but all the nearby WiFis were locked! Carlos said it was maybe a new policy because the mall had just changed ownership and was now owned by an American company.
This evening, we attended an opera at the Teatro Guaira, a 3-day run of an unstaged production of an opera by Carl von Weber, a contemporary of Beethoven, called Der Freischütz, roughly translated to “The Sharpshooter.” It was the first time this opera has been performed in Brazil.
The tickets were only R$10 (about U.S. $3.00) each – it is a government subsidized cultural event, part of a 2-week long “opera festival,” to be followed by similarly subsidized 2-week music festivals of other types of music, which take place annually. The tickets, being so cheap, are sold out quickly and competition for them is fierce. There are no assigned seats, so we got there as early as possible to find good seats. Long before the opera started, the auditorium, including the balconies, filled up completely – a sold-out performance!
Some of the performers were invited specifically for this opera, but the orchestra was the Paraná Symphony Orchestra, in which two of Eliane’s cousins play, the Brandão sisters. Maria Alice is a cellist and the other, Maria Ester, is an accomplished violinist, as well as concertmaster.
I translated the synopsis of the first act from the program for Dale. It was a Faustian tale, but with a happy ending! All the supertitles were, of course, in Portuguese. One character, the Devil, spoke his lines directly in Portuguese; the rest sang in German.
I felt a bit sorry for Dale, who doesn’t understand either German or Portuguese, but he said he was content to just enjoy the performance for the music. What a good sport!
Another cool day. Eliane drove us to the Feira do Largo da Ordem downtown – Carlos didn’t go with us because he hates crowds.
And crowded it was! This feira is a crafts market which takes place every Sunday from 9 am to 2 pm, with well-made craft items, some beautiful, cute or clever. It is located in the center of the Historic District next to the Presbyterian Church and Tiradentes Square. According to its web site, an average of 15,000 people visit the fair every Sunday. Sometimes there are expositions of antique cars and the fair is very convenient to having lunch at one of the surrounding restaurants. Besides craft items including hand made jewelry, paintings, items for the home and novelties, there are also antiques and old books and magazines for sale. My husband and I both bought t-shirts, and I also bought a tote bag with an araucária (Paraná pine tree) imprinted on it.
Free samples of cube-shaped gummy candies were being offered at one booth – I liked them because they were soft but don’t stick to your teeth. We sampled many different flavors but in the end I bought only two small packages of cachaça-flavored gummies, which will make unique souvenirs. I also bought a small jar of mango-passion fruit jam, not too sweet.
Meanwhile, my husband Dale (who took most of these pictures) noticed the towers of a mosque behind the booths and went to investigate. He photographed the mosque which was just behind the fair – I don’t know why we hadn’t noticed it when we were in this same area the day before!
The mosque, too, was crowded!
As we were leaving, we passed a booth selling items made of metal and…
…a guy selling little insect-like wire things that you press down on to make them jump. I smiled, thinking they were clever, and wish I’d bought a couple for my cat!
We planned to go to the large Mercado Municipal, an enclosed market of mostly food stalls. My points of reference were those in Peru and Mexico.
On our way there, we stopped for a late lunch at a popular churrascaria which catered to a lunch crowd, Pepino Azedo, which was about to close. However, they were willing to serve us. The meat of the day was alcântara. This is not the type of churrascaria that serves 12 different kinds of meat! The waiter asked how we wanted it cooked – some wanted “mau passado” (rare) and I wanted “bem passado – ou meio passado” (medium well). In the end, there was mostly med-rare to rare, but I found a few pieces to my liking – better that way, not too much meat on my plate! I tried to fill up with onions and tomatoes and also French fries, although I didn’t help myself to a lot of the latter. And there was farofa on the table (Eliane had it exchanged for a fresher container) – manioc flour, as we explained to Dale. He put some on his meat and seemed to enjoy it.
This place was convenient because it was on the way to the Mercado Municipal. We parked across the street and went into the market, which was cleaner and more organized than I expected.
Carlos bought some fish to cook this weekend. We tried several free samples and I bought some chocolates. Eliane bought us two shot glasses at a store that sold a wide variety of cachaças. One says, “Eu (heart) cachaça” and the other said, “Eu (heart) Curitiba.”
There was a place that sold palmito (hearts of palm), including long thick sticks of it, the size of which I’d never seen before – I didn’t know they could be that big. But thinking about it, it’s actually the inside of the palm trunk and there are several sizes of palms.
Eliane also bought some different kinds of bananas – including a few plantains and little bananas called banana ouro and banana maçã.
Leaving the Clube Curitibano property, we walked through a plaza of white and black mosaic tiles, lined with colorful colonial style buildings (some original, some newer) and down similarly paved streets, with few cars going through.
There weren’t many people on the streets either, probably partly because of the weather but mainly because it’s a holiday weekend. Tuesday is 15 de novembro, a national holiday, and many people take Monday off to make a 4-day weekend so they can go out of town.
A grey building with a tall cupola topped with a cross was the Presbyterian Church, built in 1934. Eliane’s grandparents and I think her parents too were married in that church, although the family is not religious and doesn’t attend regular services.
One of the plazas in this area, Largo da Ordem, has a large round flower clock in the center that really move around it tell the time. On one side of the plaza are original old buildings and on the other side are only old-style buildings – replicas of colonial buildings.
We saw another church, light blue with Portuguese tiles bordering the doorway, simply decorated inside.
On the far side of Largo da Ordem, on Doutor Claudino Street is the modern Memorial da Cidade, built in 1996 to resemble the typical araucária pine tree of Paraná. Inside this structure, lit by the open skylight roof, are expositions and shopping stands.
In a way it reminded me of the shopping exposition in Patio Batel mall – a large, round room containing many independent vendors and a musical group – well, actually it was only a DJ while we were there, but there is a tiny raised stage for musicians, front by large white letters ELIXIR.
KODAK Digital Still Camera
A winding metal stairway leads to temporary art exhibits – in this case, wood-carved busts and statues of famous people, a photography exhibit and modern art by an Afro-Curitiban artist.
Busts of famous people
At the end of the hall with the photography and modern art were two altar pieces from the Capela dos Fundadores and a ceiling mural.
We looked down on the shopping vendors on the ground circular floor from the open second floor; through the window behind us we could see a mural behind the German restaurant next door.
Rising upward from the lower level and reaching as high as the upper level was a large metal statue of a dragon-like creature made of wire.
Leaving Memorial da Cidade, we walked down Largo da Ordem, taking pictures of the colorful Portuguese colonial style buildings and balconies. We came to another church, Igreja da Ordem, dating from 1737, very simple in style both outside and in.
Although it didn’t say photography was forbidden, I didn’t take any pictures inside and told Dale not to because people were in the church praying in quiet solitude, and I doubted they would appreciate hearing the clicking of camera shutters.
Across from this church stands the city’s oldest building. We didn’t go inside, although it had some historical information on display – Eliane didn’t want to linger because she thought it might rain.
We eventually got to Praça Tiradentes, but didn’t stop to look at the statues of Brazilian heroes, and the Catedral Metropolitana.
The cathedral’s peach-colored façade is highlighted by an arched doorway striped in red and blue with a round stained glass window above it. We didn’t take pictures inside it, either, because a mass was going on. Although its altar was more elaborate than the other churches around there, it was also not as gold and grandiose as you find in churches in Bahia, remarked Eliane.
We walked by Rua das Flores but didn’t walk down it.
We entered another old building, the Paço da Liberdade, and went to a coffee shop-school (a training school for baristas), called Café do Paço, which was the subject of a previous post.
The building used to be the seat of the municipal government, but now it is preserved as a national, state, and local monument and currently houses a cultural center. In the coffee shop, we had elegantly prepared coffees and pastries. We took turns with the guys going up to the third floor to go to the bathrooms – and each floor had many steps, but we walked rather than take the elevator!
Clube Curitibano is a social club in Curitiba to which my friends and their family belong. It was founded in 1881 and was originally a club for people of German descent but expanded with time. This building is the older – and smaller – of the club’s properties. However, I’m sure it is the most beautiful. The newer, more modern facilities are located elsewhere. In fact, Clube Curitibano is one of the largest in Latin America and offers a variety of activities, including a large fitness and sports training center.
The door of this lovely old building has beautiful ironwork detail. Inside the entrance, a lit chandelier can be seen.
The front facade of the building; at the top is written in German Deutscher Sängerbund.
There were lots of workers about, setting up for a wedding, and there were many accoutrements for such an event scattered about.
candelabras lined up in the hallway presumably for the wedding
We couldn’t go into many of the rooms which were locked or closed off. There was a “secret room” on the top floor (we had no access to that either) that most people didn’t know about. German Nazis or Nazi sympathizers, as recent arrivals in Brazil, used to meet in that room, and they also built a secret tunnel under the building which led to a nearby church. Wow.
A plaque on a wall testifies to the continued ties between Brazil and Germany.
Santa Felicidade is an Italian neighborhood in Curitiba famous for its Italian restaurants. Eliane’s mother wanted to treat us to lunch there.
The restaurant we went to was called Madalosso and it was huge – in its various dining rooms, it could seat 5,000 people! As we entered, an empty dining room called Salão Roma was on the left and we were to dine in the already crowded Salão Verona.
But first, in the vestibule, we tried “free” samples of batidas* – Dale and I each had a miniature batida de maracujá* and I also had a batidinha de côco*. Besides these mini cachaça* drinks, there were platters of appetizers: French fried polenta and coxinhas – small, breaded chicken thighs.
But we were not finished with cachaça cocktails – we all had caipirinhas* with our meal! The meal was served by various waiters who appeared regularly with dishes of diverse Italian food – lasagna, ravioli, gnocchi (my favorite was spinach gnocchi with sun-dried tomatoes!), risotto, potato salad that Brazilians call maionese, fried polenta sticks, and others. We were soon stuffed!
By the time we left the restaurant, I felt bloated with the liquor and rich Italian food causing havoc in my stomach!
*Glossary of Brazilian drink terms:
batida – blended drink with fresh fruit juice and cachaça batida de maracujá – passion fruit batida
batida (or its diminutive batidinha) de côco – coconut batida
cachaça – Brazilian sugar cane liquor (very strong) caipirinha – literally “little hillbilly” – this is a very strong drink made with cachaça, lime, sugar & plenty of ice cubes! This term has been expanded to include any drink made with cachaça, basically interchangeable with the word batida.
Another type of blended fruit & alcohol drink is a version of the caipirinha, called caipiroska or caipivodka, which substitutes vodka for cachaça, much more to my liking.