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Published: February 24th 2014
January (Odyssey Day 68)
We packed up our bush camp and departed at 0800. We only made three very brief stops on the way today, including lunch. We arrived in Brasilia around 1730 and met up with Donna and Glen at the hostel. Their bus from Rio had passed us on the way this afternoon.
We set up our tents and everyone piled into the showers hoping for some warm water. They were all to be disappointed here, but at least we could get clean. Truthfully, I don’t mind the cold showers in Brazil – it’s far too hot most of the time to have a hot one!
We tried to get dinner ready quickly because tonight we did the quiz that Toby had prepared for Christmas. Since he couldn’t talk at Christmas, it was postponed until we had time, which was finally tonight. We pulled names out of a hat to make teams and Team 2 (myself, Ellie, Wayne, Donna, Andrew & Eamon) came second of four. Not too bad since our knowledge of all things South American
isn’t all that great. It was a fun way to spend a couple of hours and highlights our lack of knowledge… perhaps we should all do a little more reading on the countries we visit.
January (Odyssey Day 69)
The hostel provided breakfast at 0800 this morning. It was pretty much just bread and watermelon, but they also had some really fresh fruit juices which were lovely. After breakfast we congregated on the truck and met Billy – or Mr Brasilia, as his shirt proclaimed. He was to be our guide around the city.
Simon drove the truck on a tour around Brasilia, with Billy telling us all about it and explaining how the city was built. It is a city custom built to become the capital, much as Canberra was. It has been made a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It is very organised but a little confusing without knowing the layout. It has a five lane highway that goes into the
Church of Our Lady of Fatima
city in the morning, and out of the city in the evening – all five lanes heading the same direction. There are thousands of buses at peak hour.
Built around 1960, the city itself is shaped roughly like a plane. With the body being the federal and civic buildings and the wings being the commercial and residential areas. The whole city is symmetrical in design. The zoning is very strict and done on a block by block basis. It’s incredibly organised and the streets seem to be numbered by block rather than having street names. I wouldn’t want to drive around here and try to find an address without a local guide! There are a large number of flats and each residential block is flanked by a block with small stores, and there are a very specific number of schools, banks and other services.
One of the primary architects was Oscar Niemeyer who died last year at 105 years of age. His buildings are quite impressive to look at and some are very different in design. His building designs changed with the times and are quite
Dom Bosco Sanctuary - the outside
impressive to see.
We made our first stop at the JK Memorial. This is a large memorial to former president Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira who was responsible for the construction of Brasilia. This is the place he is buried and while you can enter the building, we simply had a look from the outside.
We then took a drive through the ‘wings’ of the city to see the residential areas. We made a quick stop at a small open air church – the Igrejinha Nossa Senhora de Fatima (the Church of Our Lady of Fatima) which is a work of Niemeyer and covered in tiles on the outside.
Next we stopped at the Dom Bosco Sanctuary, a large church dedicated to the patron saint of Brasilia. From the outside, the church is a huge square building with a rather plain concrete design. The inside however, is a spectacular sight of high narrow windows with thousands upon thousands of pieces of stained glass in 12 different shades of blue. It is hard to explain how surreal it feels to be
Dom Bosco Sanctuary - the inside
in such a large building with everything glowing in various shades of blue. The photos can only reflect this to a limit but it was like stepping thorough the door into another world. Outside it was a standard noisy, busy day in a capital city, inside was silent and still… and did I mention blue?
The Cathedral of Brasilia is a Roman Catholic Church near the city centre. It is another of Niemeyer’s designs and is mostly underground. Though it doesn’t look it, Billy informed us that the internal area of this cathedral was actually bigger than the Dom Bosco Sanctuary that we just visited. Incredibly hard to believe when you see them.
We next stopped near the ‘Square of Three Powers’, where the national congress buildings are twin towers that stand alone in height. The Palacio do Planalto is also nearby and is the working place of the President of Brazil.
Here you can also find the Supreme Court, as well as some monuments and, rather surprisingly, a huge pigeon coop that is shaped somewhat like a large
Cathedral of Brasilia - the above ground bit
Having spent some time wandering around this area and taking lots of photos, we headed out to the Lake to see the Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge. This bridge spans Lake Paranoa, was named after the former president and has three arches that cross diagonally. It is a very unusual design for a bridge but is aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.
Since it was well after midday, we finished up our tour and stopped for lunch. Again it was a buffet restaurant where you pay by weight. This place had complimentary coffee and the milk was cinnamon milk which is an odd but really nice way to drink coffee.
After lunch we all split up to go our own ways. Some of the group headed back into town to see some more sights or to do some shopping. Joanna and I needed to restock the bar as it was completely bare after last night. We, along with a few others, joined Emma and Simon on a trip to Walmart just out of town. It was the first one
An interesting pigeon coop
I have ever been in and after hearing how big these stores are, I was a bit disappointed. Definitely not as big as I thought it would be, though that is probably because it is in Brasilia.
They did however have a bulk discount store, so even though we didn’t have a card, they let us buy stuff anyway. It’s amazing how much we can buy here as it is much cheaper than at home. Hopefully what we have now will last us through the rest of Brazil.
Having done the all-important bar shop, we also managed some personal shopping. Ellie decided to get a laptop here since she didn’t bring one and managed to find a good one. Unfortunately the software is in Portuguese…
Having shopped ourselves out, and knowing Ithaca wouldn’t be heading back to camp any time soon, Joanna and I caught a taxi back to camp with Ellie and Hannah. Fortunately I had remembered to write down the address of the hostel we are camping at because our taxi driver didn't speak any English and
Lunch break - Wayne, Danielle, Hannah & Joanna
it would have been really interesting trying to tell him where we were staying...
After dinner, I managed to charge my computer for a couple of travel days. It’s nice to be able to watch a movie on a really long travel day. Of course, then I was privileged to listen to an entertaining conversation with a drunk Kelly, Donna, Mike and Johnny. It’s amazing (and amusing) how many times a person can repeat the same sentence over and over again, and how utterly ridiculous the conversations can get.
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