Curitiba

 
One of my Portuguese Professors at UC Berkeley was from Curitiba, so I had heard a little about it. Of course you always suspect that a person's sense of pride about their hometown could give rise to some exaggeration. Curitiba, however, lives up to the praise. Founded in 1693, CuritIba during the 1990s was rated as one of the three cleanest big cities on earth. It is a model throughout Brasil both for its environmental efforts and its transit system. With its multitude of parks and bosques (forests), Curitiba boasts some 53 square meters of green space for each of its 1.6 million residents. Even the hardened bikers at Gárgulas suggested that the best way for us to see the town was to leave our bikes at the hotel and take the Linha Turismo. We are a bit skeptical about tour buses, but this is actually a great deal. The Linha buses leave from Praça Tiradentes every 30 minutes. For 10 Reals (about 3 bucks) you get a 4 part ticket. The bus stops at 25 of Curitiba's main sights. You may leave the bus 3 times and simply wait for another in a half-hour or an hour. You can actually begin or end the tour at any of the 25 points.
Along the route is one of Curitba's most famous sights--the Botanical Gardens. The gardens are also home to a botanical museum (below), and a world class research facility.
Equally famous is the Ópera Arame that sits on an island in an abandoned stone quarry.
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Its name, which means The Wire Opera, derives from its tubular framework's resemblance to a large wire birdcage.
Many of the towns numerous parks and forests are dedicated to various immigrant groups that settled in Curitiba in the early part of the 20th century. Among them are the Arab, Japanese, and Polish memorials, as well as the German Wood, and the Ukrainian Memorial park (below).
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