Central plaza at sunset.

Colonial Brazil in Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto, Brazil

August 13, 2014 – August 16, 2014

Full Ouro Preto Photo Gallery Here.

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 central plaza of Ouro Preto.
The central plaza of Ouro Preto.

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The city is spread out in all directions over rolling hills.
The city is spread out in all directions over rolling hills.
One of many old churches throughout the city.
One of many old churches throughout the city.

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Large steps on steep streets.
Large steps on steep streets.

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The city has many public parks scattered throughout.
The city has many public parks scattered throughout.
View of the central plaza from the Science Museum.
View of the central plaza from the Science Museum.

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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.

The stone souvenir marketplace.
The stone souvenir marketplace.
Notice the man in the bell tower.
Close up of church in previous picture, notice the man in the bell tower.
Handicrafts made largely of solid stone.
Handicrafts made largely of solid 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.

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Central plaza at sunset.
Central plaza at sunset.

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.

The local favorite _____
The local favorite Feijao Tropeiro.

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.

bowls of acai can be a meal in themselves.
bowls of acai can be a meal in themselves.
There were many shops selling acai, each with their own take on this tasty treat.
There were many shops selling acai, each with their own take on this tasty treat.
They also had many coffee shops, finally!
They also had many coffee shops, finally!

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.

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