Sunday, April 5, 2015

Petrópolis-- The Imperial City of Brazil

We took advantage of our four day weekend in celebration of Easter to visit the nearby city of Petrópolis. Petrópolis, also called the Imperial City, is named for the second monarch of Brazil, Pedro II. And let me tell you, they LOVE that man. Statues of him can be found around every corner and the Imperial Museum is dedicated to sharing his life story.

The day began by journeying to the central bus station in Rio called Rodoviária in order to catch a bus up to Petrópolis. Again I was reminded of how much the countryside of Brazil looks like the mountains of Honduras. I could have been driving to Petrópolis or I could have been driving to Comayagua. 

Upon arriving in Petrópolis, we visited the Museu de Cera, also known as the Wax Museum. Wax museums creep me out. It would be so easy for one of those wax people to be a real human being and that terrifies me. These are terrible realizations to have when you halfway into the museum and have paid about $7 to be there. We studied with Einstein, we jammed with Michael Jackson, we felt way more calm when we stepped back outside at the end.

Hangriness sets in for the gringos and we dine at a kilo restaurant overlooking the central park in Petrópolis. Uneventful, but delicious nonetheless. Three hangry gringos walked in, three happy gringos walked out.

Petrópolis is a GORGEOUS city. The architecture there is still as grand as it was in the 1800's and many of the streets are still cobblestone. While walking down the street, we passed houses belonging to barons and counts as well as the summer home for many of the Brazilian presidents. At the end of said street sits the St. Peter of Alcantara Cathedral which is where Pedro the II, his wife, his daughter, and her husband are all buried. Creepy, but true.

After visiting the cathedral, Maggie, Matt, and I decided that no trip to Petrópolis would be complete without a horse-drawn carriage ride. Our driver was very knowledgeable, but also very conscious of the fact that we speak very little Portuguese. He gave us just enough information for us to know what was going on without it being overwhelming. He drove us past the cathedral, the houses of the royals, the Bohemia beer brewery, and the Crystal Palace before taking us back to the Imperial Palace. Five stars for the horse drawn carriage ride.

We'd been seeing signs for the chocolate festival at the Crystal Palace and weren't about to pass that up. Reality rarely compares to expectations, but we were able to buy some chocolate covered strawberries, truffles, and alfajores which is dulce de leite or brigadeiro sandwiched between two cookies (think soft Oreos) and sometimes covered in chocolate. What the chocolate festival lacked in...whatever it was that we were expecting, it more than made up for in delectable chocolate treats.

Oh, did I mention that the lawns were filled with recycled two liter bottles fashioned into Easter baskets and bunnies? Because that was a thing.

We wrapped up our day in the Imperial City with a tour of the Imperial Museum where we got to wear the most attractive little slippers that I have ever seen in my life. Allegedly the slippers are required because the museum wants to protect the integrity of the original floors and streets shoes can compromise that. Fair, but I have NEVER seen so many adults ice skating around in my life.

We watched a presentation where ladies pretended to be Princess Isabel and her friends and we got a glimpse of a typical royal ladies day. The crowd really seemed to enjoy it, I assume I would have enjoyed it more if I spoke more Portuguese. Finally we watched a sounds and lights presentation on Pedro the II's life. I told you, they love that man.

And all of that wrapped up our day in Petrópolis. Our 9 mile, 20,000 step day in Petrópolis. 

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