The World Cup put Curitiba on the rest of the world’s radar. Many of us just think of Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paolo – for better or worse. I went into Curitiba with few expectations – I didn’t really have enough information to form any. And the blogosphere let me down. It seems even travel bloggers hadn’t probed Curitiba. So consider me your probe … as awkward as that sounds. And let me share some things to know about Curitiba.
First of all, you’re probably pronouncing it wrong.
The letter “t” in Curitaba (and in many other places, like the word quality) is pronounced like a “ch.” So, say “Coo Dee Cheeba.” A Brazilian friend mentioned a guy named “Peach.” It took me a second to realize she meant our mutual acquaintance “Pete.” Yeah, someone got a new nickname out of that.
You will have no shortage of wood-fired pizza and gelato.
One of the things to know about Curitiba is that you won’t be stuck eating anything exotic if you don’t want to. I’m in a hotel on a street called Dom Pedro II, and there are at least four wood-fired pizza joints on the street. There’s also gelato in walking distance.
Speaking of tasty things, craft beer is alive and well in Brazil.
I found more than a few places where you can find high-end beers. Club Do Malte has a smoked porter and an IPA (called Chicago Blues and Underground, respectively) as their house draft beers. They also have an excellent brownie, in addition to some top-flight bottled beers from Scotland, Norway and the US. Most importantly, the staff knows their beers. They can recommend some Brazilian stuff that will hit your tastebuds nicely. My favorite might’ve been the Way Beer Cream Porter, which is brewed in Curitiba. Eu guste moito!
Even if you drink all the beer, you’ll be parched most of the time.
Everyone says the tap water is safe to drink, but nobody drinks it. You don’t get a glass of water at restaurants. This confounds desert people like me, and drives us into a state of permanent near-dehydration. I’ve taken advantage of a water cooler in the fitness center, filling my Vapor collapsible bottle as often as possible.
Sustainability fans will like all the recycling.
Curitiba is all about recycling. The presence of bins for an array of disposables continues to surprise me. Some people asked me about the city’s rapid transit. Honestly, I haven’t experience it, so that’s a wash. But it at least tries. It’s also virtually litter-free – and not just near the stadium.
Here’s something cool about many of the restaurants and bars.
Rather than leaving groups of friends to puzzle over the bill, some restaurants and bars give each visitor a numbered or named card. The server uses it to keep track of what you had. You take it to the cashier at the end and pay up for what you have. Why American businesses freak out about separate checks when they could just do this is beyond me. Good thinking, Brazil!
Speaking of cool, it gets downright cold here.
Today, I spent most of the day wearing my super-handy First Ascent PrimaLoft jacket. I carried my Marmot Mica jacket the entire day just in case the rain started to pour. This ain’t the perma-warm climate of Rio – one of the things to know about Curitiba is that you shouldn’t roll in here expecting a climate that allows you to spend your holiday wearing a Borat thong. Pack accordingly.