Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Canela and the Surrounding Parks

After visiting the national parks of the Serra Gaúcha, we arrived in Canela, Rio Grande do Sul on Sunday, October 18. We had absolutely awesome weather for the day and a half that we were there and got to visit a lot of parks in the surrounding area.

Gramado, the city neighboring Canela, is the better known of the two. They both have a Swiss mountain village feel to them though - with Gramado possessing more upscale shops and hotel while Canela is home to more budget accommodations.

Once we got into town, we drove around and ended up with a cute little room at Vila Vecchia.

The main square in Canela is centered around an enormous beautiful church, Cathedral da Pedra.

Sunday evening we went over to Cervejaria Farol (Lighthouse Brewery) and watched the sunset set over the landscape from the top of the lighthouse while enjoying a chope. You could certainly feel a German influence in that place!

We got up early Monday morning to make the park circuit before we had to drive back to Porto Alegre to catch our plane that afternoon.

Parque do Caracol was the first stop of the day.

This park is home to the most famous waterfall in the region (130 meter free-fall). We had read that there were stairs, approximately 750 of them, that took you down to the base of waterfall. We had already decided that, since we had a lot to see and do that day, we wouldn't tackle those.

But the second we saw Cascata do Caracol (the waterfall), Eric and I looked at one another, smiled, and said at the same time, "Let's do the stairs!"

So down, down, down we went. According to the signs, it was the equivalent of a 44-story building. (And goodness knows, unless the thing was on fire, I would never volunteer to take the stairs in a skyscraper!!!)

Despite that my legs were starting to buckle underneath me by the time we reached the bottom, we were handsomely rewarded with gorgeous scenery that we couldn't even come close to capturing on camera. (And the mosquitoes gave me quite the warm welcome as well down there.)

Double rainbow - so awesome!

We were getting hit with a pretty strong mist, so we didn't stay at the bottom for too long though.

And then we headed back up the 750 steps to ascend the "44-story building". Surprisingly enough, going up hurt the ol' legs a lot less. My lungs on the other hand . . . ;)

After reaching the end of all those steps, we continued around several other trails in the park to get up close and personal with the stream at the top of the waterfall.

Obviously, they were serious about trying to not disturb the native vegetation. Remove the fallen tree? No way. Just build a little handrail and a couple steps over it! HA!

Since Gabriela can sit unsupported now, I thought I'd plop her down on the rocks here in front of some flowers for a couple pictures. She immediately plucked a bloom (which is against the rules as according to all the signs posted in the park) and tried to eat the evidence.

Next she struck a pose or two for the camera.

Then something on the ground caught her attention.

And next thing I know, she flings herself towards it. (Luckily, the ever-quick Mommy arms swooped in to make the catch.)

Next stop was Parque da Ferradura which features trails to various lookouts over a horseshoe shaped canyon.

And more stairs.

Along with some inclined trails. (Oh my poor legs!)

There were several awesome lookout points and the views were really nice!

Then we drove over to Parque Floresta Encantada de Canela where we rode the teleférico 20 minutes over 800 meters up and down the mountain across from Cascata do Caracol. The chairs are made for two people, but since he had Gabriela in the BabyBjörn they made Eric ride seperate from me for "safety reasons". Eric argued that the two large men who climbed on the chair in front of us weighed a heck of a lot more than the three (2 and 1/10?) of us, but rules are rules and so I had to ride sozinho. :(

The chairlift floats over a sea of hydrangeas (which were just beginning to bloom) and gives awesome views of the waterfall and canyons.

We made one final quick stop at Castelinho which is the oldest house in Canela (built in 1913-1915 and the walls of the first story were all built without nails.)

After that it was back to the airport in Porto Alegre for us.

It was a really awesome trip and provided us with a completely different experience from anything else we had come across in Brasil. The landscape and climate were quite a change from the usual steamy beaches we tend to flock towards. The people were decidedly lighter-skinned (although we still didn't see many blondes, where we were anyway) and they spoke with an accent that was unlike any other we'd heard in Brasil. Our recent experience in Rio Grande do Sul is probably the last thing I would have thought of if you asked me to describe Brasil two years ago, but it is an absolutely beautiful place and I am so glad we got to see this "other side" of Brasil!


Stephanie said...

The pictures are just beautiful!! This will definietly be a spot to mark down and visit!

Tanya said...

Wow! Those have to be some of the most gorgeous pictures I have ever seen. What amazing scenery, I would love to do that trip with you sometime. Tanya

brasil021943 said...

The state of Santa Catarina has more german influence than Rio Grande do Sul.

Nice pictures!

Rogério Penna said...

Brasil021943: thats up to debate.

Canela and Gramado are not really german... they are a mix of german and italian. There are dozens (more than a hundred) other cities and towns that are have more german descendants than Canela and Gramado.

Not far away from Canela and Gramado, you can find Nova Petrópolis for example, where its much easier to find people speaking german hunsruckish.

Stephanie, if you plan to someday visit the area, be sure to take the SCENIC route from Porto Alegre to Gramado... that is through the BR-116 road (most tourists take the fast, less curvy, wider but less beautiful route through RS239 road).

The scenic route, called Rota Romântica (Romantic Route) is filled with Planato trees (which get yellow and red leaves at autumn which is not very common in Brazil). You will also pass through some wonderful vistas and the cities of Dois Irmãos, Morro Reuter, Nova Petrópolis and then Gramado.

Also, free some more time and BE SURE to check out the ITALIAN settled cities near Caxias do Sul, with their vineyards, 19th century wood houses (Antonio Prado), etc.

Also, check Galópolis (between Caxias do Sul and Nova Petropolis) for the waterfall that falls from the middle of the town.

Rogério Penna said...

please guys, check out this forum thread with photos I took of Gramado

and also this one with photos from GersonIbias

Mrs. C said...

Hi Emily,
I've been reading your blog for a long time and I'm sad to hear you will be leaving Brazil soon. I love reading about your adventures! Gabriela is so cute and the rainbow picture is gorgeous!

Rodrigo said...

Hi Eric and Emily!
I check out your blog from time to time and I really love! you 2 are just so positive! I'm glad you enjoyed your adventures in Brazil and I wish all of you happiness and a lot of cool adventures!! :-)