Porto Alegre, Brasil

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Friends reunited ..

Porto Alegre was a much anticipated stop for us as we were going to be visiting friends Carolina and Tiago. I had worked with Carolina in London for 4 years and had not seen her for 2 years since her move to Brasil. This is where she met her Brasilian husband Tiago ironically at an Argentinean v Brasilian game. Brasil won on this occasion 🙂

We could not have received a warmer welcome when we arrived. Tiago threw a bbq for us Brasilian style and this was to be the beginning of multiple bbqs during the week.

Brasilian Food …

Brasilian cuisine varies greatly by region and I soon discovered that there are so many dishes to sample. Tiago’s parents invited us for a very memorable meal at their house. They cooked a typical dish from the Espiritu Santa region in Brasil called moqueca cabixaba consisting of slow-cooked fish, tomato, onion, garlic and corriandor while Tiago prepared caipirinhas. Martin made his signature dessert dish, a cheesecake to die for. It was the nicest fish dish we had on the whole trip.

The slow cooking of the meat is the main difference between the Brasilian and the Argentinean bbq. We watched Tiago as he expertly prepared the meat for the grill by seasoning the red meat with sea salt, pressing salt on both sides of the meat; chicken was marinated in orange juice and seasoned; small nuggets of perfectly cooked sausage were presented to us with the perfect accompaniment, a mixture of manioc flour, seasoning and bacon, I thought the meat in Argentina was unbeatable but Brasil has to better them at something and I think they beat them at the stakes!!

We were receiving a lot of interest in Brasil from the media probably due in part to the fact that Brasil does not feature on the conventional route from ‘Alaska to Ushuaia’ so people are not used to seeing loaded down bikes. We had another TV interview lined up with a Brasilian TV channel on our arrival in Porto Alegre. We found the new found stardom to be a litlle strange. The crew came and interviewed us and then filmed us cycling around the park on our bikes .. it has yet to be aired so the link to follow. 

Stardom at last ..the crew

Martin thinking about the latest football results .. 

The breaking story ..

 
Porto Alegre is a major port and city in southern Brasil located along the Guaíba River near the Atlantic Ocean coast. It has a very rich history with a large immigrant population mainly consisting of Germans and Swiss who settled here in the 20th century. We did not have any expectations of the city but to our surprise it proved to be a city rich in culture, art, architecture, football and we loved it here!

We set off to explore the city by foot on a warm day and here are some of the highlights of our walking tour:

The Mercado Municipal is a neoclassical building set in the heart of Porto Alegre which opened in 1869 and still retains its original structure. It is bursting at the seams with market shops and has the best fish market I have ever seen. It has become a shopping icon of the capital.

All of the museums were free so we checked out the main ones. Santandar cultural centre which once served as headquarters of the banks of the Province and has since been restored and converted into a modern centre for art and culture.

The Art ..

We were lucky to catch a captivating video portraits exhibition here by Robert Wilson revealing portraits of mostly celebrities. Each portrait engrosses you in its intensity and features a complicated character. The portraits then suddenly come to life and slowly start to move and you are waiting to see what’s going to happen, trying to interpret the movement.

We then rambled into the‘Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana" a historical building in the centre which used to be the Hotel Majestic. It had photography, art and cinematic exhibitions, an urban garden as well as stunning rooftop urban views.

Centro Cultural Usina do Gasometro which once served as an old thermoelectric powerhouse in the city and active up until 1974. Today it houses a cinema, a gallery and conceptual installations.

The Architecture ..

The architectural influences in Porto Alegre are numerous from eclectic art deco and neoclassical in the city dwellings, renaissance style of the cathedral and tiling influence of the Portugese imigrants.

 

Another outdoor exhibition of sorts was the famous ‘Cow Parade‘  which I think is fair to say became a bit of an obsession of mine. 81 individually decorated cows in all shapes and sizes and colours of the rainbow were scattered around the city and I was on a mission to find as many as I could. Below is a selection of some of the best:

Martin finally got to go to his first South American football game with Tiago .. the former world champions and current Libertadores champions Inter v lowly Avai, who scored from Inters kick-off after only 8 seconds and went on to win 3-2.

Frodo and Montana .. Carolina and Tiago’s cats

Montana on the left is a lady. Frodo on the right is bonkers! Picture tells the story.

City Scenes ..

City bookshop

Strolling through the local market with our purchases

Urban Roof Garden ..

Street Art..

And so after a wonderful week in Porto Alegre, we fly to Rio on Tuesday for a few days to see our friend Niamh and we will also be awaiting the arrival of our friends Derek and Hannah at the weekend. From then we will continue our cycling down the coast of Brasil and Uruguay and cross to Buenos Aires to continue our journey down south.

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