Sunday, March 4, 2018

Class of Brazil - 8th Lesson: Day Trip to Morretes - Planning On Not Planning

One of the goals when I started my blog about a year ago was to teach you guys how to plan a trip to perfection. I even wrote an entire post about it.

Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
I plan and organize and book - not waiting for the surprise waiting for me at the end of the tunnel.

And while often planning and organizing ahead pays - metaphorically and literally - you should be careful not to plan your trip instead of to perfection all the way to death.



Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
At the final destination: Although the old graveyard at Morretes is very beautiful, this is not where your trip should end - neither metaphorically, nor literally.  


As my day trip from Curitiba to magnificent Morretes proves, sometimes a little spontaneity pays - here, too: metaphorically and literally.

Yes, I'm infamous for planning everything way ahead, for organizing and booking and thusly for hardly ever missing out on an attractions since I've checked all the schedules and in addition getting really good deals on fares, hotels, entrance fees.

This works more than fine in Europe and in the US, but in Asia and most of all in South America you are walking a thin line: yes, your booking is guaranteed, but yes, you pay way more than if you just walk in. Don't ask me why, it doesn't make sense at all, but that's how it is.
I realized this for the first time in Peru when I paid much more for everything - tours, hotel rooms, busses....because I  had a reservation.
Then again in Colombia it was different - I got really good rates booking ahead, so it's really difficult to give you an advice.
In general it works for flights, you hardly get good rates at last minute.
But already hotels are a lottery and attractions are mostly cheaper on the spot.


Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Technically I had no right to be on the train: According to their webpage I'd bought my ticket at least six days too late.

Anyway, my problem is that I love to organize and to prepare and to book. Yes, I love the process of booking online; I probably should buy a better TV set with more cable channels...but until then I enjoy researching and booking my trips.
But since I've learned that sometimes doing research on all these internet pages doesn't get you too far -  since on the spot everything is different - often even much easier, I'm slowly withdrawing from this strategy; at least from time to time.

For instance a couple of days ago when I needed to go from Campo Grande airport to Bonito, I printed out a map on google maps how to get from the airport to the bus station and all that jazz; and then it turns out the hostel can book a direct shuttle to their door step.
To be honest, I didn't even bother to check the price difference because it was so fast and convenient, and that's of major value when travelling, too.


Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
This is what it was supposed to be like - and it was!

Next destination was Curitiba - I wrote about it in the 7th Lesson of my Class of Brazil series.

In the evening of my first day, I was checking my guide book and found out that there is a scenic trip to a place called Morretes not to be missed.
Hey, next day was Sunday - I love traditional Sunday outings! And this one must be absolutely outstanding - a train going for three hours through the rain forest along steep slopes - just great, let's book a ticket right away!


Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Rainforest covering canyons.

Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
We also had to go around some rougher edges.

I went on their website, there were various options, the simple ticket for 95 Reais - about 25 bucks - being the most reasonable option; I don't need to be served water while sitting in an upholstered seat. I booked a seat. I got all excited.

Then I got a message my seat would be only guaranteed by their re-mail which might reach me within 48 hours. Well, since I wanted to go in twelve hours, this option was certainly nice, but wouldn't work for me. As I kept reading, the page informed me I had to book about seven days ahead. Well, this certainly didn't work, either.

I went down to the lobby to ask the receptionist for assistance. He got all agitated, took out a flyer and began to explain a wonderful all inclusive tour to me - for just triple of the price of a simple single ticket. We had sort of a heated discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of the version he  thought would be better for me and the version I actually preferred. At least he was friendly enough to call some 'friend' and to ask whether there was a chance to buy a ticket on the spot - according to their website I was about 6 days too late. But yes, there seemed to be hope.

The day before, I had to get up at 4 o'clock in the morning to catch an early flight to Curitiba so the prospect of getting up at 6 to be at the station early enough to have a chance of maybe getting a ticket was not too attractive; but I'm a travel trouper. I got up, had an early breakfast - when you are the first person at a buffet, everything looks really nice and appetizing, by the way - and took an early bus to the station. It's a great thing that in Curitiba the train station and the bus station are at the same spot; because in the lucky event that the train would take me to Morretes, I needed a bus bringing me back to Curitiba.

Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
This is how the other half travels: One of the more expensive wagons. Since every wagon looked different from the outside and also inside, I really cannot say which classes were the better resp. best ones; I only know for sure,.....

Anyway, arriving at the station, I ask my way through to the Serra Verde Express counter. A nice, helpful guy booked me a window seat - the receptionist had told me that if I don't book with his agency, I wouldn't see anything since the agencies are buying all the good seats. Well, the nice, helpful guy informed me that particularly the cheap wagons are quite empty so I might sit wherever I liked. Since most people do book the package which includes the more elegant wagons with the  supposedly more comfortable seats, the cheap places don't sell so well. Isn't that great: cheap and lots of space!

Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
.....that mine was the cheapest. However, we had lots of space and the spectacular views make you all jumpy, anyway.
We even had a very friendly guide who told us about the attractions along the trail, but didn't bother us with technical details. To get bugged by technical details, you have to book a more expensive ticket - somehow it all doesn't make much sense.

So I had a ticket - according to the internet seven days after closing - lucky me! Now I needed a ticket to get back. I crossed the station from the Serra Verde Express booth to the Graciosa booth (about 50 meters / about 160 feet) and bought a bus ticket for 5 bucks. I was all set. Strictly speaking seven days overdue.

Then large groups of receptionist-victims arrived, everybody with a sticker on their chest. And the train arrived, obviously every wagon a different class.

We entered the Titanic - I was part of the group on the steerage, prone to drown. Only that this wasn't the Titanic, but a train where everybody got to see the same - absolutely breathtaking! - landscape. We even had a very friendly guide who did not explain all the train's details (seriously, who cares, anyway?), but pointed out the most scenic views so that we had our cameras ready. And while we were not served water for free (how much is a bottle of water, anyway, - like 50 cents per bottle?!), we had the chance to buy refreshments.

Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Travelling through lush valleys....


Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
....and along glistening waters.

Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Along the way we got greeted by people big....

Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
....and small. This is one lonesome greeter. Actually, as soon as we got closer to the town, there were kids standing and waving in front of all the houses along the way. It was very moving (no pun intended...) to see that they are still waiting for the train to come.

While the train ride was just spectacular, I didn't even expect Morretes to amaze me (my book says the amazing part is the ride, therefore I didn't expect much), but it did. It's such a lovely little town - yes, completely tourist oriented, but who cares, beauty is beauty.


Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
The main square Praça Rocha Pombo where all the upper class day trippers were loaded into buses and driven away,....

Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
....while cheap passengers like me had the joy of strolling down the idyllic streets of oh so sweet Morretes.

Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
The guesthouse Nhundiaquara (deriving from the Tupi-guarani-language nhundia = fish and quara = hole) is been opened in these historic structures in 1945. The main structures, however, are from the 17th century. 

Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Walking from the Nhundiaquara towards the church Paróquia Nossa Senhora do Porto,...

Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
....you pass one of Morrete's finest Cachaꞔarias where they let you sample their award-winning spirits. I sampled one - I've had only a quick breakfast and it was around noon....

Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Crossing the Nhundiaquara river, you can even observe where your lunch is coming from: fishermen standing in the knee high water catching fish.

Since I wasn't with a group, but sort of 'outlawed', I wasn't damned to have lunch at one of the most touristy places, but I literally stuffed face - and stomach - in a side alley at a house that looked inviting from the outside - and kept its promise at the inside.


Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Once the home to a rich Italian immigrant - and a slave store - the Restaurant "Dois Chefs" is a bit off the beaten paths in Morretes so that you enjoy your lunch far from large, noisy tourist crowds in a very authentic atmosphere.

After an abundant lunch - there was barreado, a beef stew typical for this region, with rice and fried banana. I ordered the version with seafood, so that I had deep fried fish and about to pounds of fried shrimps. It was so good! As soon as I finished my 324th shrimp, the very attentive and friendly waiter brought a plate of salad - that I politely denied. I tend to turn the expression 'eating myself sick' from metaphor to reality.


Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Everybody there is super-nice, the food is delicious and plenty,....

Anyway, before showing me around the building, they offered my a home brewed Cachaça - that I gratefully accepted.


Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
....and once you ate too much, these good people save you with a shot of their home distilled cachaꞔas (Yes, it was my second one this day; stop counting!)

What can I say - if it's Lufthansa, go, book ahead, you'll get a great deal. If it's a day trip in Latin America, go, get up early, go to the station - and have the day trip of your life!


Serra Verde Express - Morretes: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
If you want to be on your own, you find spots along Nhundiaquara river with no crowds whatsoever.

Wanna know what happened before? Here are the previous lessons:


Class of Brazil - 1st Lesson: We Have it Good

Class of Brazil - 2nd Lesson: Danger Seems Closer from Afar

Class of Brazil - 3rd Lesson: It is a Hellish Path to a Heavenly Place

Class of Brazil - 4th Lesson: I Am What I Am

Class of Brazil - 5th Lesson: I Call Them Like I See Them

Class of Brazil - 6th Lesson: Bonito - Nomen Est Omen

Class of Brazil - 7th Lesson: Curitiba - and the Meaning of Means



Note to the curious reader: Like I did during my former trips like e. g. Cambodia, while travelling, I'll be posting little stories and reflections on my stay. At the end of the entire tour there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy some special moments with me.



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3 comments:

  1. Thanks for taking us along on your adventures! 😀

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  2. Great blog! Love the photos, it seems like I am travelling with you too. Thanks for sharing ♥️ ♥️ By any chance you are interested on doing collaborations, you can connect with amazing brands and fellow bloggers through the influencer directory of Phlanx.com!

    Xoxo,
    Tiffany

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    Replies
    1. Thanx Tiffany, glad you like it. Will check out phlanx.

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