Ouro Preto, Brazil
August 13, 2014 – August 16, 2014
After leaving the beaches of Ilha do Mel we headed northeast back up into the mountains to the colonial town of Ouro Preto. The journey to Ouro Preto was our most complex yet, involving a ferry from Ilha do Mel to Pontal do Sul on the mainland, and then four buses, switching in Paranagua, Sao Paulo, and Belo Horizonte before finally arriving in Ouro Preto at 9am, 24 hours after our ferry departed from Ilha do Mel.
Ouro Preto is not only one of the oldest towns in Brazil, but one of the largest well preserved colonial towns as well. Set in the hills north of Rio de Janeiro, this once important mining town is a collection of beautiful colonial buildings and winding streets wandering this way and that over the rolling hills.
The city is very popular with tourists, and we saw many throughout the city even though it was the off season (Brazil’s winter months). The city is well set up for tourism, offering many hostels and hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, coffee shops and museums. Although initially the touristy area of the town seemed quite small, each day we would discover new, interesting areas to explore.
There was even a marketplace that specialized in handicrafts made from various types of stone.
They have a natural science museum which was very impressive and worth a visit. While their fossil collection left a lot to be desired – often a collection of replicas, or even just photos of fossils – the rock collection was very impressive. A collection of minerals, crystals and gemstones that rivals and possibly surpasses the one we saw previously at New York’s Natural History Museum.
While in Ouro Preto we tried some local food, including the popular Feijao Tropeiro a hearty local dish of the Minas Gerais state where Ouro Preto is located, consisting of beans mixed with yucca flour, collared greens, fried egg, rice, roast pork loin, pork sausage and fried pork fat.
While in Brazil we also came to love the very popular acai, blended into fruit smoothies, except very thick like ice cream. Acai is high in anti-oxidants and the acai smoothies are mixed with other fruits and granola making a very filling, and healthy snack.
Our last evening in Ouro Preto we returned to our hostel to collect our belongings and were off to the bus station for our final bus journey in South America. In the morning we would find ourselves in sunny Rio de Janeiro.