I recently got back to US this week from a whirlwind of a trip throughout Brazil for the World Cup. I flew into Sao Paulo and spent a few days in the city before the World Cup home opener game between Brazil and Croatia. Afterwards, I flew from Sao Paulo to Curitiba and spent one night. It was my first time in Curitiba and I didn’t know what to expect since I’m so used to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Here are 10 things I learned from my recent trip to Curitiba during the World Cup in Brazil.
1. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Curitiba is amazing – The coolest part is that when waiting for the bus to arrive, you’re housed in a metal tube that’s freestanding. I took the public bus from Curitiba International Airport (CWB) to the city center for R$2.70 reais ~ $1.21 USD and best of all, it’s only R$1.50 ~ $0.67 on Sundays. It’s the best and most economical way to get from CWB airport to the city center.
2. There’s a street called Rua 24 Horas where everything is open 24 hours – There are about 30 shops and restaurants that never close and it’s located on Rua 24 Horas Street in downtown Curitiba. It’s quite fascinating to find a street anywhere in the world where you can shop and dine 24 hours of the day.
3. Old town is amazing – Old Town Curitiba feels a lot like Europe with cobblestone streets and quaint boutiques. It doesn’t feel like you’re in Brazil at all.
4. You need a special bracelet to get into Fan Fest – You can’t just show up at the FIFA Fan Fest in Curitiba and be admitted without a special bracelet. You have to obtain the special wristband inside the Curitiba Memorial building which is also called the Largo da Ordem. It’s located in Old Town Curitiba and nearby Tiradentes Square. Be aware that they do scan the bar-code at the Fan Fest turnstiles and they won’t provide a wristband at the door if you “forget”.
5. Fan Fests aren’t crowded when Brazil doesn’t play – The FIFA Fan Fest in Curitiba is open every day and it’s located in Pedreira Paulo Leminski Park which is north of downtown Curitiba. I went to watch one of the matches during the evening and it was pretty dead. When Brazil plays, you should obtain the wristband earlier in the day and head out to the Fan Fest two hours before the match before it reaches capacity.
6. You can get a Pastel with meat for R$1.00 ~ $0.45 USD – I was shocked when I saw a street cart vendor selling Pastels de carne for R$1.00 reais. They’re deep fried and usually filled with toppings. My favorite is the queijo one, but you can’t go wrong with either of them.
7. Rua XV de Novembro is a great pedestrian only street – I love pedestrian only streets because you don’t have to watch out for moving vehicles. There are plenty of shops and restaurants on Rua XV de Novembro along with local street vendors. It really comes alive during the day with throngs of people walking and going about their daily life.
8. The Brazilians prefer beer over caipirinhas – Although the caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil, locals mostly consume large amounts of beer. The best local Brazilian beer is Brahma.
9. Brazilian fast food isn’t too bad – I visited a Brazilian fast food chain called Giraffes and it serves some amazing local specialties. I had the Churrasco dish which was rice, beans, farofa, yucca fries, chicken, beef, and a side salad. It was a heavy meal and definitely filled me up.
10. Curitiba is very artsy – I found works of art to be present in museums, streets, and on murals.