This past weekend myself, fellow Badgers, Alex and Jordan, and exchange student, Leande, went to the capital of the state of Espírito Santo, Vitória. Overall, it was a wonderful weekend because we stayed with a family who was very hospitable and made us feel at home. We were very grateful for their hospitality because I think it’s is one of the best ways to experience culture since you’re learning about an unknown region from a veteran’s perspective, so obrigada demais!!
Our adventure began with a train ride from Belo Horizonte. Because the train can go at most 60 kilómetros per hour, the ride lasts 13 hours as opposed to an eight hour bus ride. Why take a bus when you can take a scenic train ride? I thought it was well worth it because the scenery was spectacular. Below are some pics to give you an idea of just how majestic it was!
Our train left at 7:30am and we almost missed it because of morning traffic, but, thankfully, we made it! The train had a food cart where I had a triple decker misto quente (grilled ham and cheese). It was sooooo good. There was also a food cart that often frequented the aisle. Luckily, our cart number eight was not filled with families, so sleep was achievable, although I’m not one to sleep on car rides/plane/bus nenhum.
There isn’t really much difference between Brazilian and American trains. I would know because when I was in eighth grade, my fam and I took a round trip thirty hour train ride from Milwaukee to Glacier National Park. One thing I noticed was that trens brasileiros move a lot slower, but I believe that had to do with the length of the train and the many mountains you have to go through. Also, the workers were fairly lenient on rules, so you could peep your head a little out the window without a fight, so that was refreshing-it certainly passed the time!
Anyway, thirteen hours later, we arrived to the train station in Vitória (which is the last stop of the route) where we met Norma, who is related to the family whom I stayed with during the Jornada Mundial da Juventude. She brought us to her house and we were welcomed by her husband, Edson, and daughters Ellen and Emile. Because the train was very cansativo (tiring) we ate, showered, and then went straight to bed.
The next day, Edson took us on a tour in downtown Vitória where we visited a public art museum that had a display of graduate students’ photography. After that we visited the Catedral da Nossa Senhora da Vitória, another old church dated back to the eighteenth century, and ended with the Palácio de Anchieta.
The Palácio de Anchieta actually dates back to the seventeenth century and housed Jesuits who converted many índios. The palácio was recently restored and still rests on top of Santo Padre Anchieta’s grave (his body is not longer there, just the tomb btdubs). Inside the palácio there was an exhibition on Castro Maya’s works. I got to geek out over his illustrations of Don Quixote, which, might I add, is way more fun to say in Portuguese (don keeshotche…my attempt to help you non-portuguese speakers).
Unfortunately, after the Palácio de Anchieta, it started to rain, so we hurried back to the car and ate lunch! yum. We originally wanted to go to the famous convent before lunch, but Edson emphasized the importance of maintaining energy, which we, of course, could not argue. After all, we are in Brasil, so you can’t do too many things at once.
After lunch and a nap, we headed to the Convento da Nossa Senhora da Penha. It is really well known in Vitória for its overlook of the city. Here are some pictures of the convent!
Once we had enough time to get pictures and such, we headed over to a chocolate factory with the hopes of buying some delicious Garoto Chocolate, but infelizmente, it closes at 2pm on Saturdays…So, instead we headed over to the Vale Train Museum, which is the company that runs the train we took to Vitória from Belo. Of course, they were closing just as we were trying to enter the museum. However, it was all good because it was a pretty site, and still took some rockin’ photos.
To top off our day of tourist attractions, we went out with Ellen and Emile and her boyfriend, who were around our age. We had a lot of fun and got to enjoy some good tapas.
Our last day was spent at the beach that was very close to their house. I have to say I had the best coconut I have ever had in minha vida inteira (my whole life). The água de coco was sweeter than usual and the fruit was perfect for eating. Ain’t nothin’ like a scrumptious coconut, lemme tell ya.
Before we headed to the bus station to return we ate at this restaurant that had some good burgers (I had misto quente especial which, might i add, was the best misto i ever had because it included egg and banana). And, most importantly, we enjoyed some Torta Holandesa, so Leande was more than happy to say the least. Did I mention that Torta Holandesa is not made in Holanda? It is actually a Brazilian treat that is like a cream pie with a chocolate frosting, and cookie crust.
After a heartfelt goodbye, we returned to Belo by 5:30 am via bus, which was my least favorite part because so many people were snoring and i had to move my seat twice because peeps were either taking my seat or other people were taking other people’s seats, and i had to use my lack of Portuguese vocab to explain myself, and Nossa, gente, it was chaos.
I enjoyed Vitória and perhaps will return again to visit Norma and the family. We all had a blast, and I was really grateful to get away from Belo for a weekend to relax and have some adventure.
Até mais, Vitória!