Mountains, jungles, and beachside resorts !
Last night had to be one of the noisiest nights ever in a roadside gas station ! I got a couple of hours sleep to start with but was woken up around midnight, and when I pulled back the curtains I looked out at about 100 big tourist coaches all parked up nearby, and disgorging 1000’s of tourists ! They must have all been heading somewhere for the Easter weekend, and have stopped for a midnight break, because by 2 am they were all gone again and it was back to peace and quiet ! But I haven’t seen so many big coaches all in one place ever before, I don’t think. I got back to sleep again once they were all gone, and woke up later to have my breakfast, and a great shower in the services centre, before hitting the road. Some of these freeway fuel stops in Brasil are superb, with shops, restaurants, wifi, and really great and clean shoers and facilities. Some other countries could take lessons from these.
To start with it was just the same rolling hills I was driving through, but quite suddenly we started climbing – The freeway fortunately went to 3 lanes because there were a LOT of trucks on the road, and we climbed up through jungle and extensive banana plantations to over 700 metres before 9 am. The road was really very good, and there were quite a lot of groups of big bikes who were out for rides and enjoying the road – Unfortunately many of them are absolute nutters, and they were weaving between cars and trucks at high speed, passing between cars in the fast lane and the guard rail close to the car’s LH side, and generally asking to be knocked off. But it was a lovely day for a bike ride through some incredible mountains.
Every so often, when there was a sharpish corner, they have 60 kmh speed cameras which everyone slows down for – Trouble is that some people slow down to about 40 kmh, which causes all sorts of excitement and tyre smoke from the many trucks who are trying to keep their speed up for the hills. And although the camera locations are well signed, they sometimes hide the signs and cameras just around a corner, so everyone comes round the corner and has to slam their brakes on !!
At 10 am, in the cool of the mountains (21 deg C compared to the 30+ of the past few days at sea level) I stopped for some elevenses (Hey, it had been an early start today !), and I parked near a bike who was also having a sandwich. We got chatting, and Pedro was from Sao Paulo and headed to Curitiba for the weekend to stay with some friends. As so often happens, a couple of trucks also pulled up to see who we were, and we ended up all chatting in various languages about our travels. A great break for half an hour.
Then it was on through the mountains, where in places we went over 1000 metres – It all seems to be part of the Serra du Mar range that runs down the coast here with peaks of up to 1500 metres in places. I went inland around the busy city of Curitiba, and then back to the coast where I had found several camp sites marked that I was going to investigate, looking for somewhere peaceful where I could spend a couple of days and keep away from the Easter crowds – It is a big holiday over here with people heading mostly to the beaches, it seems. Just south of Joinville I went off on some minor roads onto the Ilha do Sao Francisco, towards some known camping spots, and apart from some traffic jams of other people also getting off the main road, it looked promising. As with so many other parts of SE Brasil that I have seen, it is so similar to parts of Queensland in many ways – This was a bit like parts of the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane, with water ways and lots of small accommodation facilities beside the road. I found the two possible camping places but they really weren’t very nice so since it was only about 2 pm, I decided to keep going down the coast to explore some other options.
Only trouble was that the road suddenly changed to a fairly bad dirt road with lots of dust and corrugations ! Grrrrr. Hd to put up with this for about an hour or so before I could get out and back to the main road. From there on it was much more metropolitan with almost continuous housing, industry, and shopping malls that seemed to increase in size rapidly as we continued south. Even saw the Statue of Liberty outside one shopping Mall ! But luckily the roads weren’t too busy as everywhere was closed for the Easter holiday. By 3 pm I was passing through the massive high rise resort areas of Biguagu and Barreiras, which looked just like the Gold Coast, but quite a lot bigger ! But the high rises are all a bit “bleak” looking, and none seem to have balconies – Just sheer sides with windows. And they all looked very similar and a bit boring architecturally ? Hmmmm
Then I turned east to go out onto the Ilha de Santa Catarina – a big island just off the coast which has a large bridge connecting it to the mainland, and on which the city of Florianopolis is located. Over the past 12 months we have met several people on the road with Florianopolis number plates, so it will be good to see where they all come from ! Big bridge out to the island, and great
views over the beaches and water as we wind across the island to get to the east side where the camp sites are located. Driving through Florianapolis itself is just like driving along Copacabana or Ipanema in Rio, or the Corniche in Nice – Beaches on one side, lots of poseurs walking along the paths with their dogs, sun tans and muscles, and non stop high rise accommodation on the other side of the road ! Even passed an Aussie pub – “Didge Steakhouse Pub” !! And we were back to Grand Prix style traffic lights just to add to the entertainment !!
kites dipped low and almost landed on top of people and cars on the road !! Once through this section I was on the east coast of the island, and found several camping areas – The one I picked was called “Campo Escoteiro” – And when I pulled in the sign looked familiar, and there were lots of kids with neck scarves playing soccer – Yes, it was a Scout camping area !! (Escoteiro !!) Anyway there were very few people here and they welcomed me in, so I am parked in a lovely quite area, under pine trees, and intend to stay here for a couple of days until all the crowds go home on Monday !! There are a lot worse places to be !
Pics here :- https://picasaweb.google.com/117739775480775657932/0241RegistroToFlorianopolis?authkey=Gv1sRgCPnAnY6amaWclgE#