.Our long-awaited "Trém ao Mar" (Train to the Sea) finally came. On Wednesday, April 29, we took the busses to City Centro, then a taxi to the Golden Tulip Hotel, where we met Larry and Kay Brown (sr. missionary couple serving in Curitiba South Mission) and five other LDS couples for one day of their tour. That night, we ENJOYED dinner at Outback--the salad and steaks were amazing! The next morning,, we rode to the rodoferroviária (terminal for busses and trains), and boarded one of several Serra Express tourist "cars." Our tour guide spoke Engish, then Portuguese for the mixed group. The train passed through Curitiba and into fields and forest patches of Paraná pines, past the area of Pinhais (barro of Curitiba), then up into the mountains.
The Serra Express wound up and around in the South Atlantic coastal mountain range. The growth in the rain forest was very dense and offered a great variety of foliage, colors and visual textures. We passed a reservoir that had submerged an old electric plant, leaving only the tall smoke stack visible. A large pine tree was growing out of the smokestack, apparently the result of birds building nests and dropping seeds. The tracks passed through 7 tunnels, and over 13 bridges that were built in the early 1900's, and overlooked river rapids and huge waterfalls. The following pictures are only a few of those we took...a thoroughly enjoyable time.
We passed several abandoned buildings and old resort camps where serious hikers stay before climbing Mount Massif. Because the day was overcast and misty, we couldn't get very good looks at the mountain tops. Near the crest of the mountain, the train came out of a tunnel, then went around a corner where it felt like we were flying--actually, the tracks were built on the side of a cliff. Later, I'll try to find and insert a picture, so you can see it and get the effect.
We slowly rolled into the quaint little town of Morretes (Mo-HAY-tees), where we found stands to sell arts, crafts, bananas and fruits, breads, flowers, etc. The city has a lazy river running through it, which is flanked by beautiful hotels and restaurants. In the center of town was a large, very old catholic church. We spent about 3 hours there, and found some treasures to bring home!
We had lunch at Morretes, then drove in a large van to another old coastal town called Antonina, which was named after the Portuguese King's son, who died at about 8 years old. We drove through and walked around the old, old Catholic church and other ancient buildings, some of which were abandoned and had great historic value. We stopped at a candy factory and had ice cream cones. Our camera was too full for more pictures, but I'll finish our story. We returned to Curitiba in the big van, which drove up and over the mountains on a windy, cobblestone road that was made originally by slaves, about 1300 years ago--very well maintained. As planned, we said good-bye's and took a taxi to the Cabral bus terminal, then rode the bus back to Bocaiúva. Good day.