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Wojciech's Travel log

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You can lose everything, but nobody will take away what you saw and what you experienced...

Log entries 1 - 10 of 2124 Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Dec 15, 2018 12:00 AM "Smoking Mary" and gold of San Antonio

I live at the edge if the city - tropical forest is vert near: you have to shut the window before switching on the light in the evening. Otherwise you will have a big collection of tropical flies not only on the walls b7t alsoin your bed. Now I know that....
Tiradentes is lovely, colonial township with many pousadas - pensions, art galleries, restaurants... I am lucky to be here on weekend: the old narrow gauge train is coming at 10.30 from Sao Joao. Nine old cars and Maria Cumaca or Smoking Mary - the authentic steam locomotion. You have to be there! Round trip ticket costs 60 reales - too much for 17-kms journey (in my opinion)
Cobbled streets, horse carts, old stoney bridge... Tiradentes has also a number of interesting churches. Rosario - black slaves church is worth to see, but the real highlight of the town is Matriz or San Antonio church. The inside decoration is really very rich with plenty of gold on the altars... They charge here 5 reals entry fee and photography is (officially) forbidden. Great panoramic view of the surrounding mountains can be seen from the terrace in front of the church.
Down from the church you will find San Jose fountain. After few hours in the heat I was thirsty. To drink or not to drink? I went to the post of Policia Militar nearby. -We drink this water from the fountain, but we can offer you also filtered water! And they did! Nice guys!

Dec 14, 2018 12:00 AM Bye, City of the Propeths!

Bye, City of the Propeths! They often call Congonhas "The city of the propeths" because the statues made by Aleadinho... The copy of propeth Jonas stands here in front of Prefeitura...
OK, in the morning I was marching in the heat to rodoviaria to jump on the bus to Sao Joao (32 BRL) - it was like 2,5 hours drive, the bus did not have a/c - the only vientilation came through the open windows. Not very comfortable! In Sao Joao I changed the bus - the second one was going to Tiradentes - another famous town on Estrada Real... This cost me 4 reales.
What a surprise! A lot of advertising on the entry to the town, then you are coming to the conclusion that Tiradentes is almost flat... At least in the center... They left me at miniature bus terminal and now I have to go to my cheap pension located somewhere on the outskirts... It was a long walk -like 3 kms, also because the final part was climbing the hill. Only 600, 400, 200m more and I will take the shower!
Oh my God! - the doors of the little house are locked, nobody there, nobody takes the telephone... Eh, Brazil!
But there are also nice people in this country - the neighbours called City Council where this pension is registered. Officers found the owner (local taxi driver) and he sent somebody with a keys. All right, I finally took my shower and made a laundry...
It is evening already and I am looking to the nice sunset... Tomorrow I will explore Tiradentes...

Dec 13, 2018 12:00 AM Next step on Estrada Real

Next step on Estrada Real Actually two steps, because they do not offer direct bus service from Ouro Preto to Congonhas -my next destination. I was going from Ouro Preto (Black Gold) to Ouro Branco (White Gold) paying 14 BRL - 1,3 h drive through the green mountains. Then I changed a bus to other junk (5,80 reais) and landed atred half an hour in Congonhas.
Congonhas - another city on historic Estrada Real is the destination for Brazilian pilgrims. They are heading to the Santuario de Bom Jesus de... This church, overlooking the town is small, but beautifully decorated inside. In front of the church there are statues of the 12 propeths by Alejadinho - famous Brazilian artist of 18/19th century. It is heavy climb to get there, especially on the hot and humid day, but it is worth to be there and the entry is free.
Something to be mentioned here is a huge, palace-like free public toilet below the church. Try it! It impressed me because in Brazil public toilets are so-so. :)
We experienced tropical storm in the afternoon. I was lucky to be already back in my Max Mazza hotel with a half kilo of bread (for 4 reais). Single room with bath and breakfast cost here 100 reais, but smiling gringo can always apply for discount - I got it for 80! :)

Dec 12, 2018 12:00 AM Steep streets of Ouro Preto

Steep streets of Ouro Preto Once it was the capital city of Minas Gerais state. Before, in colonial times they were mining gold here. Now is is one of the most picturesque towns in whole Brazil. It has 13 colonial churches, but to reach them you must go up and down of the steep, cobbled streets. Two churches has opinion to have the most ornare, baroque interiors: San Francisco Asis and Pilar. They charge entry fee 5-10 reals in those churches... It is worth!
Ouro Preto is unforgettable. Yes, every corner opens here new, fantastic view. On the main Tiradentes square you will find tourist info office, but to get there you have to climb a lot. Nice weather, no tourists at all. Can you believe that since my start on Estrada Real I did not see any other Gringo? And I like it!
I sleep very safe in Ouro Preto in the house of the local police officer - Mr Raimundo is also the travel enthusiast and invited me. Thanks a lot , Mr Raimundo!

Dec 11, 2018 12:00 AM Beautiful Mariana

Beautiful Mariana In the morning I was wandering around the beautiful city of Mariana located on the Estrada Real. The old part of the city looks very attractive. There are two nice viewpoints: one in fron of the hospital and the other near Rosario church built on the little hill.
The heart of the old Mariana is fantastic Pelurinho Square with the stone column, where the slaves were punished. There are 2 majestic churches on this square - San Francisco (closed) and Carmo. Opposite San Francisco you will see ornate house of the City Council.
Mariana has little lovely railway station, but the train on the single track to Ouro Preto goes only on weekends and the tickets are expensive!
In the afternoon I took a bus to Ouro Preto. Sorry, the internet here is to weak to upload pictures. I will make it later... Done!

Dec 10, 2018 12:00 AM Caraca and Catas Altas in one day!

Caraca and Catas Altas in one day! Isolated in the mountains Sanctuary Caraca lies 27 kms from Santa Barbara, but there is no public transport. I was forced to take the taxi... They charge 100 BRL for round trip ride with 1-2 hours waiting, no bargaining... :)
It was cloudy in the morning, but no rain. We drove 7 kms on the main road to Cocais, then turn left. After 6 kms you will be at the park gate where they register the vehicle and they gave you little, but useful map of the area. Then paved road climbs up and up. No traffic at all. Your driver will stop on the marked view point, 1300 m above sea level. This is the place where you will see sanctuary in the distance. 4 kms onward you will be at the gate to pay 12 reales entry fee.
It is unusual place. The church, monastery, garden, library, museum... Enjoy included lunch... The nicest view is from Calvary hill nearby...
Back in Santa Barbara I took a bus to Catas Altas (4,40 - 40 min).
This village has spectacular location at the bottom of huge mountain range. Many colonial houses around Conceicao Church - great place with cobbled streets and sleepy atmosphere....
The passing - by bus to Mariana was 45 min late (Brazil!) but I enjoyed great mountain views on this ride. Take the seat at the right window and you will be delighted!
Mariana on the Estrada Real is now a huge town. It was not easy to find my pension. But I did it... Good night!

Dec 09, 2018 12:00 AM Hitchhiking in Brazil

Hitchhiking in Brazil Internet is great tool, but...
From Caete where I spent the night to Caraca Sanctuary on the internet map is around 60 kms. But internet doesn't know that even local taxi drivers do not go this gravel road because robbery and attacks with weapon are common there - they say. The way around the risky zone is already 120 kms long... What should I do?
First I decided to go by public bus back to the main road. Then I started to hitchhike. Sorry, dear Brasilians - it seems that you do not know what is it! I was staying in the safe place (bay) Lonely old man. Traffic was intensive. And nobody stopped the car during 1,5 hours.... Uuuu!
Finally, desperated I stopped the regular bus. Nobody here knows what time the bus will be passing - I was lucky!
The bus took me to the old town of Santa Barbara with abandoned railway station and few nice churches. Matriz Church is worth to see due to the rich interior. It is on the picture. I stay in the little hotel (80 reals for single with bath and breakfast). I will try to reach Caraca tomorrow.

Dec 08, 2018 12:00 AM Estrada Real - to Caete

Estrada Real - to Caete To escape from Belo Horizonte you have to find a bus. Not an easy task on the BH rodviaria! Imagine, that on the main bus station of 1,5 mln city they do not have info desk! English is unknown, few people sent me to different directions and different companies... Finally a guy in the white shirt took my hand and we went to the lower level of the terminal where are few stands of the green suburban buses. This isthe stop for Caete bus! :) I paid 12,50 and was ready for1,5 h ride. We drove through the green mountains...
Caete is my next town on the Kings Road. From the roof terrace of my Caete Real Hotel I see picturesque church NS Matriz -the highlight of the town. The interior of the church is very rich. Officially it is forbidden to take the pictures inside, but it seems that I am the only tourist in Caete today... See the picture!
. I took also the walk to the old cemetery on the next hill - the place offers great view of the mountains. People are quiet and nice, greeting me and starting the talk. Then I smile and say "No fala Portuguese" So bad, I really want to be closer to them...

Dec 07, 2018 12:00 AM Brothel and gold museum...

Brothel and gold museum... Today the wake up was early - at 5 am. My host and charming Isabel took me to the bus terminal and at 6 am I was already on the bus heading to Belo Horizonte. It was a long way - 7 hours drive (93 BRL) In the landscape of green mountains. Normally they do it in 5,5 h, but there were traffic jam on the way - be prepared!
I decided to stay in Belo close to the bus station to make a side trip to old city of Sabara and back before continuing onward on Estrada Real.
I booked a inexpensive motel close to rodoviaria via the renowned When I arrived, it became clear that it is not a motel but a brothel. I the reception they advertise proudly: to our guest we offer one condom for free! Red lights in the narrow corridors. Mirrors over the bed...
But I had no time to look for the other cheapie... I left my luggage and jumped on the city bus going to Sabara (5 BRL each way, 20 kms).
Sabara has a nice old town with churches, cobbled streets and little squares. I found the re Gold Museum located in the old mansion. It is not about the gold but about the methods and tools they used to mine it in tbe surroundings. Entry is free and the ladies in charge (no English spoken) were very happy to have the first foreigner on this day.
I returned in the late afternoon. Happy to have the shower, the tea boiled in the room and expecting that nobody will bother me in this brothel tonight... That's' budget traveller's life....

Dec 06, 2018 12:00 AM Diamantina - the diamonds are here

Diamantina - the diamonds are here What a name of the city! In the colonial times they were mining diamonds here. They still mine them here (legally or illegaly) The city gets rich. Many elegant churches and public buildings were built. Now they are nicely restored and as a UNESCO place they bacame a great tourist attraction. But very few tourists come here - it is 5 hours bus drive from Belo Horizonte and much more from Rio or Sao Paulo.
I was walking today steep, cobbled streets enjoying the old architecture. The Diamond Museum close to cathedral is worth a visit and is free.
The heat is acceptable because it is 1100 m above sea level. Nice and safe place! Kilo of bananas costs 3 reals and a dozen of eggs - 4 reals. :)

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