Not really being a backpacker destination, we were in a budget hotel again, and after some of our recent experiences were a little nervous. However there was no need, as the place was fine, as long as you didn't make the mistake of getting laundry done; it was extortionate. All beautifully pressed and folded or hung on hangers, but well beyond our normal budget.
Although the hotel website said that they speak English as well as Portuguese, it was quickly evident that no one did, so our efforts in very basic Portuguese mixed with some Spanish were tested to and beyond their limits. However we got by, and in particular the guys on at night got quite used to us and seemed pleased with our efforts and happy to try to help with a few mimes.
Curitiba itself is quite a simple but pleasant city, with a pedestrianised shopping area and a number of old churches and decorative buildings.
They seem to be pretty proud of their buses here, as they feature them on their tourist postcards. Personally I wasn't especially taken with them, but then I am a fan of the old London Routemasters. I was however quite impressed with their bus shelters; modern, cylindrical, metal and glass constructions with rising platforms for access for wheelchairs and buggies etc.
Rather less modern was the old cobbled section of town, conveniently near to our hotel, which now houses a number of decent places to eat. Our favourite was a place that was beautifully decorated and declared itself to the the worlds best burgers. We figured this was a big claim, and that we should try it out. After some initial fumbling, we managed to order what we wanted, including my usual instructions about leaving out half the planned contents because I don't like them.
Then we got a visit from the manager. For a minute we wondered what was wrong, but it soon became clear that he was probably the only person who spoke English, and being told there were English speakers in, he had come over to make sure everything was OK. He popped over frequently during the meal, and we must have got some of the best service that evening. We figured the other guests must have thought we were somehow important from all the attention given to us. And what of the burgers. Well, we were impressed. Best in the world - not sure, there are a lot more to taste yet elsewhere, but certainly they were very good and far surpassed any that we have had anywhere else in South America.
We also tried out another buffet place, which was also incredibly cheap. Nic has decided that he quite likes Brazil I think. One other place that we ate was a German style restaurant, where we had some great pork with red cabbage, spaetzle and apple purée. However we were disappointed to have our first experience of being told we couldn't stay much longer, especially given that the reason we were hanging around was that it was tipping down with rain. They didn't get a tip!
Aside from the bus stops and the food though, there were two other things that I rather liked in Curitiba. The first were the trees. There were lots of diferent types that looked good, but my favourites were some that had very tall trunks and then bowl shaped branches at the top. They looked very structural and quite arty. Others obviously agree as they have been nicely depicted in some wall art in the city.