Minas Gerais in 6 days...

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March 1st 2006
Published: March 16th 2006
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Diamantina CathedralDiamantina CathedralDiamantina Cathedral

Diamantina Cathedral
The trip from Rio has been a whirlwind to say the least. I left Rio late Weds night after a few farewell drinks in the hostel bar. And found out the numerous bites were not Mossies, so I don't have to moan at Adrian for the attracting Insect Repellant. They were flea bites from the TV room sofa, lovely.... I left Bluey and Marcus on the hunt for the rumoured best brothel in the world...

No direct bus to my desired destination, so a 7 hour journey to Belo Horizonte on a very comfortable bus! Much better than a plane. It arrived 30mins late so I had to sleep in the station until the 9am bus to Diamantina. This bus not as fancy and it picked up locals in any street they waved from. Not sure how many of them got to those places as there were no buildings in sight for miles! 6 hours later I arrive in Diamantina to find a one platform bus station an no-one knowing where the tourist offoce with maps is! After walking down a huge hill I find a pousada and give up there. One night is R$25, I'm sold. She gives me
Ouro Preto 1Ouro Preto 1Ouro Preto 1

View from the hostel
a blanket and I think ¨crazy woman¨but was later surprised...
Diamantina is amazing, a totally different Brazil. Cobbled streets all organised around a central cathedral. After hours of sight seeing I am shattered (not like I´ve been sat down for hours or anything...) so have a nap but the cathedral goes mental at 6pm. Chanting and prayer n a tanoy system! So time to get up again. I had a great steak and chips dinner in the local bar, I couldn't have gone anywhere else as a storm came in so I would have been soaked. I chatted to an American who had been living there for 2 years and started dealing in Quartz. Later 2 Swiss came in but no other foreigners as we are miles from anywhere!

I hate this internet cafe, they just logged me out and I lost 3 days of text, genius system...

Awoke early after a great, cool sleep with blanket! Carried my backpack up the huge hill to the bus station and nearly died. Waited for an hour and my bus hadn't arrived which I thought was odd as they are pretty punctual here, doh! Realised there was another hidden platform,
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Igreja de Sao Francisco de Assis
I was at the alighting platform not the getting on one! Used my Spanish to get the ticket changed to the next time an hour later. Luckily at Belo Horizonte, the next bus I wanted was only 45 mins away so I hadn't lost any time. But it did mean a quick sprint between the toilets, shops and restaurant!
Arrived in Ouro Preto about 9pm and luckily a random man, claiming to be from the tourist office, was around to help and call the numbers I had for Pousadas. They were all useless numbers so instead I got a cab to the hostel 5 seconds away (I would have got lost in the dark). Empty again, only 5 guests. 2 Americans travelling before studying in Sao Paolo, a German girl, Swedish bloke and a Brazilian girl escaping the Carnival mahem. We went into the town centre for some drinks, down the biggest hill ever. Worse than Diamantina! The main problem was the walk back, I was shattered so asleep in minutes.
Decided to do all the sights in one day so got up at 8, very early for the backpacking lifestyle. The view from the hostel was amazing, I could
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View down one of the hills...
see 3 churches from there. So travelled down the hill to see the central churches. This is where the lonely planet map was quite deceiving, everything looked quite close together so I thought not a problem. After 2 churches, I was close to collapsing due to the hills between them. Had to fight on, so just kept stopping for breathers half way up hills. Managed to see every church on the map and even stumbled on the one recommended by the hostellers, a bizarre round one. They artwork and gold was amazing in each one and many sculptures by Allejandro (I can't spell). The Brazilians are definitely into their religion, and have mixed their own original one with catholism. Ouro Preto was definitely the best town in the Minas Gerais trip.

I am still getting by with my Portunol just about (Portugese + Espanol).
Here are some useful words:
Uma Cerveja = one beer
Sim Quejo = Without cheese (a must for me!)
Obrigada - Thank you (ends in o if you are a boy)
Rodoviaria = Bus station
Onde Fica = where is?
Bom dia = Good day

It explains a lot when that is all I
Sao Joao del ReiSao Joao del ReiSao Joao del Rei

Train to Tiradentes

Got the 6pm bus out of Ouro Preto, after getting a taxi the 5mins walk up the hill. After the strenuous day I couldn't manage the back pack up the hill. Got to Sao Joao del Rei at 10pm and once again luckily directed to a Pousada next to the bus station. Only R$15 per night and a very friendly owner so perfect. Was shattered so crashed out immediately. Bus journeys are much harder when they are not between 2 terminals, as you have to pay attention to where you are to get off. There is no announcement so it is mainly done by street signs and timing the journey. The French group from my bus also decided on my pousada but tried to argue to price down for an hour, which is great for sleeping... It back fired the next day as the man was extra helpful with me and getting my breakfast but almost ignored them completely. Walked into town and saw the historical sights while waiting for the train station to open. At 9 I went to the train musuem and got the 10am steam train to Tiradentes. Slow, scenic ride through the countryside arriving

Igreja Matriz de Santo Antonio
in a picturesc village. Walked around the cobbled streets trying to avoid the bus loads of tourists, luckily there were on a schedule so they were rushed away quite quickly. 2 huge churches with artwork and gold rule the village. After a huge lunch I tried to find a guide for a hike in the hills, but my Portunol failed me. They thought I wanted a ride in the horse and trap, but it can't go in the jungle so I was trying to say only the horse, but then they thought I had my own horse. I decided to give up and got the bus back to Sao Jaoa del Rei. Bad news, the only bus to Caxambu was 3pm and I"d just missed it, so another day to go.

Had an afternoon nap after my busy sight seeing and thought I'd go see a film at the cinema. After asking 5 people I managed to get one to understand me, seeing as I didn't change the question each time I think the others were just trying to avoid me. I finally got to the cinema and it only had one screen and was showing a film in

Portugese only, ahhhh! So went for dinner instead. Had a huge pizza with everything (chicken, beef, sausage, bacon, tuna, every veg!) Also tried to order dry white wine (branco suave), but my portugese failed me and I ended up with a vat of alcoholic grape juice by the taste of it! Yuk!

Got the 3pm bus to Caxambu, but didn't understand a word the ticket lady told me. I thought she either said change buses or get off before the end of the line. She tried to write it down to help me, but it was no use. Luckily the old, grumpy woman next to me was also getting off at Caxambu (I had spotted her ID...) so I just stayed on while she did. Turns out I didn't have to change bus, just buy 2 more tickets while on it, very odd. Arrived at 9pm and found a taxi driver to take me to a pousada. I landed on my feet this time, it hadn't even opened yet. So it was brand new and I had my own double en suite room with TV and Balcony! Not much to do in the town so just had dinner. Ordered
Chair liftChair liftChair lift

Most scary chair lift in the world!!!
a half portion and tired the other type of wine (seco), this was red even though I said white so I don't get it. It all tastes horrible anyway, will wait till I get to Argentina. He brought out 3 dishes, one of rice, one chips and one meat and filled my plate. I had to go back and check this was the half portion as there were 3 plate fulls, and it turns out it was! No idea who eats a full portion!!! The next day the pousada staff (mostly still workmen) brought me breakfast on a tray, I was expecting none as it hadn't opened properly yet.
The I walked to the water park. 13 fountains, each with different natural spring water. Each has different minerals for different ailments. For some reason I had to pay R$3 to enter, but everyone else just walked in with a trolley of empty bottles for filling. I had no bottle so picked one and thought I'd give it a try, it was disgusting I had to spit it out! Fizzy water that had been left in a tin can if you ask me! Decided on treatment in the big house instead, a massage and thermal bath. The massage was great, but stomach massage! My internal organs didn't know what was going on. Then the thermal bath was also different to what I'm used to. No huge bath full of saggy, old naked ladies. It was a bubble bath just run for me which I thought was odd. But when the lady left it suddenly became a jacuzzi, excellent! She came back to heat it up and told me to call her when I was done. I obviously stayed too long as eventually she came back and emptied it so I had to get out. Felt great but a huge bus journey ahead of me so the back pains returned 😞

Left my camera upstairs so photos to come later.


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