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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 2127 Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Dec 18, 2018 12:00 AM Sao Paulo after years

Sao Paulo after years It is one of the biggest cities in e world. When I was here 32 years ago I was in Butantan Institute to see tropical snakes.
Today my friends left me in the center and I had 4 hours to explore again elegant Avenida Paulista, the downtown, Se Cathedral.... So many poor people sleep here on the streets! I think, even more then 32 years ago... Sao Paulo is a monster with polutted streets, noise and elegant gentelmen wearing ties and white shirts... City of contrasts!
I terminated my walk at Luz station. The station is old, but they recently opened a new express train service to GRU airport. It takes 30 min and costs only 8 reales. Great! Airport bus costs like 50 reales and often stays in the traffic jam...
But you still have to use free shuttle bus to get from the station to GRU airport terminals...
TAP plane is already waiting and I can use 60 min of free internet... To come home I will fly 3 planes: 10 hours to Lisbon, 4 hours to Warsaw and 1 hour to Gdansk...

Dec 17, 2018 12:00 AM 10 hours on the Brazilian bus

10 hours on the Brazilian bus Today I have to go to Sao Paulo. There is only one day service from Sao Joao - the ticket costs 113 reais. In a schodule it is 8 hours ride, but this is Brazil and you never know...
Departure was delayed half an hour. The road was narrow and bumpy at the beginning and we were picking passengers from little towns off the road. After 4 hours bus stopped at the roadside restaurant and drived informed that we have30 min for lunch and then we will continue by the other bus because ours is broken. Oho! New bus arrived and we were driving the highway. At the first payment gate the barrier did not open automatically so the driver broke it. It is made of plascti - nothing happened except the alarm. Thd same at the next two gates... We arrived to Sao Paulo Tiete bus station with 2 hours delay. No wifi onboard!
I took a subway (4 reals) with the local lady going the same direction.
Then I walked in the dark to my new friends from Couchsurfing - Mariana and Andre. Great evening! They are also passionate travellers - we were talking till 11 pm!

Dec 16, 2018 12:00 AM Sao Joao del Rei - end of my Estrada...

Sao Joao del Rei - end of my Estrada... Sao Joao (St John) seems to be the largest of the historic towns I visited on Estrada Real. 200 m from the bus station I found here great pension - Villa Bella Hospedaria. Marcelino and his two ladies are very hospitable and helpful. And the big room with shared bath and breakfast costs here only 50 reais.
Centro Historico - the old city is 2,5 kms away - follow upstream the canalised river. Marcelino told me that Pillar Church (entry fee 6 BRL) is more rich than San Antonio in Tiradentes and now I agree - it is "number one" - see the picture! San Francisco has also a lot of carvings, but no gold. Sorry, no tourist office here so I was not able to catch the map. But orientation is easy here once you stay near Pillar Church. On the same Direita Street you have Carmo Chuch on one end and Rosario on the other end. Going up from Pillar you wil reach nice square with pelurinho and - on the top nice hospital and church of Merces. Then going downhill from Rosario you will cross the old stoney bridge and going 200 m directly you will reach San Francisco (entry costs 4 BRL).
The end of historic Estrada Real was in the port of Paraty near Rio. I did the most interesting part of Estrada. From my studies I know, that the townd further south are more urbanized and not as interesting as the north. Fully satisfied and enchanted by the landscape, the architecture and the people I met I am going tomorrow to Sao Paulo and then - home. Thank you dear friends for keeping your fingers crossed - it works! :)

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.

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