A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about tourist sites

Canyons of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Cambará do Sul

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I have never gone to the Grand Canyon in the United States, as I always felt there are so many, almost, undiscovered places in the world who are not yet over run by tourists. One day I will go to the Grand Canyon, but not right now.
One of these places I visited last weekend: Cambará do Sul, in the state Rio Grande do Sul, on the border of the state Santa Catarina in Brazil.

Why go here you might ask? Because they have impressive canyons too, with just a few tourists to visit them.
Itaimbezinho Canyon maybe the most impressive of the canyons close to this small city, but I liked Fortaleza Canyon much more.

Cascata or Cachoeiras dos Venancios

We started our stay to the city of Cambará do Sul with a visit to the Cachoeiras dos Venancios or Cascatas dos Venancios. Anyway both mean waterfalls.

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They are no Foz do Iguaçu, but still worth a visit. And of course here again, like for the canyons, you have to take a dirt road from the city.
This is a dirt road of the medium type not really good but not too bad too.
In total there are four waterfalls of which you can get the more close to numer 1. But just for the view walk the other way to, to get a nice view to waterfalls number 2, 3 and 4

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The waterfalls have an entrance fee of 5 reais per person.

Fortaleza Canyon

The road to Fortaleza canyon is almost impossible to drive with a normal car. Of course we did and how our cars suffered, more than once we heard the clunk of really big rocks hitting the bottom of our cars. I would recommend a four wheel drive, because it is all dirt road and not of the welcoming kind.
But then again you do not have to pay an entrance fee to go visit this canyon.

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The other plus point of this Canyon, that is a plus for me that is, is that it has no men made structures whatsoever, just a dirt road. So there is no protection to stop you from falling in the Canyon.
So if you think to go there with small children, think twice, because it is absolutely unsafe for this kind of tourism.

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Itaimbezinho Canyon

Itaimbezinho on the other hand is suitable for a visit with small children, because it has a lot of protective measures, stopping you from falling in.

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The road to this canyon is also a dirt road but of the friendly kind. You can drive to this canyon in your normal car.
On the other hand in this canyon you have to pay a entrance fee. 7 Reais per person and 5 reais per car.

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Posted by erodrigo 18:40 Archived in Brazil Tagged landscapes waterfalls mountains canyons tourist_sites Comments (0)

Gramado and Canela

Enjoying the Fall in the south of Brazil

rain 10 °C
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This weekend we visited the towns of Gramado and Canela.
It is hard to believe when being in Brazil, but when you are driving to, and arrive in Gramado, it is almost as if you arrive in a small city in the Black Forest or Bavaria in the south of Germany.
Leaving the plains near the coast of Rio Grande do Sul you start climbing the medium high mountains, like you would in the Black Forest. The temperature starts dropping and the clouds get bigger in number and size. Once arrived in Gramado you start wondering if you took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up being in the Twilight Zone.
Everywhere you look you see the typical building style of the German houses in the Black Forest and there are even a lot of old style Beetles driving around.

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It is only when you talk to people you realize that you are in a Portuguese speaking country and when you pay for your Apfelstrudel in Reais you realize you are in Brazil.
Gramado is a small town in size but it is big in Tourism. This is also reflected in the number of different restaurants you have here. We visited two of them. C´est Mieux de la Fondue and Toca da Bruxa. The last is a Pizzeria but is especially funny because of the entourage. You have a place to park your broom and a garden with toxic plants and of course inside you will find all the books and potions a good witch needs.

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Lots of people from Brazil and in fact from all over the world come to Gramado to see this German town in Brazil. The origins for this town of course lay in the immigration of lots of German people in the 19th and 20th century. They arrived from Europe and brought along with them the art of making chocolate, beer and of course Apfelstrudel.

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A woman from Rio de Janeiro was excited about the place. She said isn´t this wonderful? I can not believe that I feel cold rain in cold weather I love it here. Well for her it may be wonderful, but for me, coming from the Netherlands it is not so unusual to feel cold rain on a cold day. So I guess it is all about perspective, what you enjoy and when you think something is amazing.
When visiting Gramado you have to visit the neighboring town Canela. Here you have the wonderful park; Parque do Caracol which contains the Cascata do Caracol. Okay it is not the biggest fall in the world but still very impressive.

Next week I will tell you more about really impressive falls, when we go to visit Foz do Iguaçu. But for now these falls did perfectly in expectation of the impressions when we go visit the really impressive falls on the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. On the way in to Canela we encountered a really funny sight: Mundo a Vapor, this is a museum about the world of steam, we did not visit this museum but we stopped to watch the entrance of the museum. When you look at the picture you understand why we stopped to see this entrance.

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Posted by erodrigo 12:43 Archived in Brazil Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Colonia Del Sacramento

UNESCO world heritage site

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After a boat ride of one hour on the fast ferry from Buenos Aires you arrive in Colonia Del Sacramento, Uruguay. It was originally founded in 1680 by the Portuguese but kept changing hands between the Portuguese and the Spanish until 1822 after the Brazilian declaration of independence. For 6 years it stayed in Brazilian hands until in 1828 the independent state of Uruguay came to be.
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When you cross over by boat during the summer there is one important thing to remember: Uruguay has daylight saving time and Argentina has not. Why is this so important? Because the boat schedules of the ferries are all in local time, but they do not mention any of this on the ferry or when you buy your ticket, so keep an eye on your watch, because we missed our ferry because we didn´t know. In hindsight this turned out to be a good thing because now we had to wait for the last ferry of 23.30 hours, and we got to enjoy the evening, a very good meal and sunset in Colonia. Which is, believe me, not a punishment at all. Because in the evening on the central square you have three café\restaurants and they serve excellent food, good beverages and every restaurant has a live artist(s) performing. And if that is not enough you get to enjoy a beautiful sunset in historic surroundings. What more can a person ask for?
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After we came of the ferry in Colonia Del Sacramento we took a taxi to show us the neighborhood. You do not need to take a taxi, if you are just interested in the historic part. Just turn left when you leave the terminal and after five blocks you arrive in the old UNESCO world heritage site.
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But the cab drive was no punishment either, we got to see how the new Colonia had developed and saw the people enjoying there Saturday off by lunching on the beach and in the parks and got to see the, now abandoned, Bull ring. It is slowly decaying, after the government of Uruguay adopted a law making Bull fights illegal.
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But it has to be said the old historic part is the most beautiful and well worth a visit. It is only a very small part of the whole of Colonia Del Sacramento, but amazingly beautiful. Everything is kept in the way it was founded and the houses are still inhabited or used for business, such as hotels, café or ice-cream parlors. By the way you have to taste the Uruguayan ice-cream it is just delicious.
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So if you are ever in Buenos Aires or Montevideo go take a boat or bus trip and visit Colonia Del Sacramento, you will not regret it. But remember the daylight saving time if you are visiting from Buenos Aires ;-)

Posted by erodrigo 15:59 Archived in Uruguay Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Buenos Aires

Poor but beautiful

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When arriving at Buenos Aires Airport, use earplugs when you go to pick up your luggage. The baggage belt was squealing like a pig at the slaughter and the high squeaks where a terror to the ears. I do not understand why they did not fix it, because it is a poor welcoming committee to your country.

When going into town from the airport think about how much money you want to spend. Because taxi´s get you to your hotel quik, but are all but cheap. A 15 minute trip from the airport downtown cost you 110 Argentina pesos. On the other hand taxi´s inside Buenos Aires are very cheap, so do not hesitate to take one if the next place you want to visit in Buenos Aires is Just a little bit to far to walk.
Taken on the whole, at the moment it is all in all a very agreeable city. Because all the prices in the city are very good. It looks like the global economy has struck Argentina hard and therefore prices in the city are very good for the visiting tourist. Even if you go to the most famous café in Buenos Aires, café Tortoni, you will find that you walk out with a feeling of wow that was cheap.
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Cafe Tortoni, established in 1858 at Avenida de Mayo, is well worth your visit. The atmosphere and the decorations are good. It is a mix of the old and the new and the coffee is great.

When walking down Avenida de Mayo you arrive at Plaza de Mayo and you will see that it is still a place of protest in Argentina. These days it is the veterans of the Falkland war, or Islas Malivinas, as they are called in Argentina.
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They fight for recognition for their efforts in their war. It seems to me that maybe the Falkland war veterans suffer the same faith as the Vietnam veterans did when they returned home. Honoring the soldiers of a war that is lost seems to be an embarrassment for the people of a country and a problem for its government.
Plaza de Mayo has some very beautiful buildings however and, apart from Casa Rosada the presidential palace, Cathedral Metropolitana is well worth you visit. It contains some very nice murals and a national monument, permanently guarded by two soldiers in uniforms looking like they where dressed for a ball in the 1800´s
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But next to this it looked to me the city of Buenos Aires has some problems itself too, mostly financial by the look of it. Every where you walk in the city you will find that the footpaths have either been patched up with some concrete or are missing complete pieces of the footpaths and you have to be careful not to step in a hole. Which I think is a real shame, because Buenos Aires is a very beautiful city with a lot of marvelous architecture.

A must go in the city is Puerto Madero and the adjoining Reserva Ecológica. Next to the architecture and the old docks in Puerto Madero, lies the Reserva Ecológica. If you are a nature buff and want to enjoy a lot of different birds in a big city visit this park. It is beautiful.
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And when visiting Buenos Aires do not forget to take the boast one day and cross the Mar del Plata for a visit to neighboring country Uruguay. Just a one hour boat trip will bring you to a marvelous piece of history: Colonia del Sacramento. But more about this city in my next blog
But inform yourself before you buy a boat ticket, because there are several companies that provide this transfer and their prices differ enormously. Busquebus is the most modern and luxurious one and also the most expensive, but if you look around you can also go with for example Seacat Colonia. Their boats are maybe a little bit smaller and older, but just as fast as Busquebus and cheaper.

All in all I recommend you go visit Buenos Aires, because it is a city with a lot to offer and maybe at the moment with some financial problems, but just overlook that fact and go.

Posted by erodrigo 14:39 Archived in Argentina Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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