Monday morning we set off on our roadtrip to see as much of Brazil as possible with Magnus and Elisabeth before they fly home on nov 28.
An uneventful trip except for Olivias mishap at one of the pitstops. We had stopped to use the restrooms. On her way to wash her hands she submerged her sneakered foot in a sewer hole full of dirty water, toilet paper and god knows what else. She was very upset about it. I managed to wash the sneaker and sock with soap and put it to dry in the back of the car.
Switzerland in Brazil
Campos do Jordão lies in the Mantequeira mountains and is referred to as the Switzerland of Brazil because of the alp inspired architecture. Apparently rich Brazilians go to Campos do Jordão to strutt their fur hats and ski bunny outfits.
Six hours after leaving Araraquara we rolled into Campos do Jordão. The vegetation and general terrain was very different from home. And much colder! We had to put on jackets and I wished I’d brought long pants for the kids. Unfortunately it was also very foggy so we didn’t see any of the amazing mountain views.
A “change of plans”
The town felt very catered to tourists with hotels and pousadas and chocolate shops everywhere. We drove around looking for the hotel I booked, the “Miniferico”. Eventually we found and it was a disaster. The hotel was actually a family run motel. The entrance was through a stairway in the back of a souvenir shop. We checked in and very suspiciously walked the narrow, dark corridor to find our rooms. The door to our room was open and the kids shrieked with joy at the bunkbeds while Peter laughed incredulously or with horror, I couldn’t tell. The room was dark and dank but the sheets were clean with a nice tiger fleece bedspread. I figured “it’s only for one night” but before I could organize my new digs the others called a crises meeting. Peter and Magnus talked about working shifts on the balcony watching the car down on the parking lot so it doesn’t get stolen or broken into. Within 5 min Peter had booked new rooms and we walked, a tad shamefully, back to the reception to check out. We tried to lock our door on the way out but I didn’t even close…. The receptionist looked a bit insulted but not nearly as insulted as Peter, Magnus and Elisabeth had done so I gave a lame excuse that we had changed our plans. 5 minutes later we checked in to the Hotel Nacional Inn. Now that he had his suite Peter could afford to have good laugh at my supposed poor choice in lodging.
Logistics vs. Security
Being the logistician in the family naturally I am always tasked with booking the lodging. What I look for is space, location, cleanliness, breakfast, parking and price. For this particular stop I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. It was only for one night and I figured the money was better spent in Rio or on the coast. When Peter looks for a hotel he looks for location, access security, door locks, safe deposit boxes etc. It just shows how important it is to have all the inputs in the planning process. That’s how we do it in the army; logistics and security are always part of the basic planning team.
When we arrived at the new hotel Peter said stone floors and fresh flowers suited me much better than linoleum and cigarette smoke. I have to agree so from now on I am booking 5-star spa hotels with Peters credit card and everyone will be happy. Thanks mom for the tip.
After the hotel debacle it was dinner time so we took a walk in town and stopped at “Cantinho da Serra”. The restaurant resembled an old barn with its high wooden beamed ceiling and brick floor. It even had a wine cellar with a big selection of domestic and imported wines.
We settled down at a table and ordered the “Fondue Extravaganza” which was a grill tablet on our table on which we grilled our selection of meat and then dipped in cheese fondue. And for dessert; chocolate fondue of course. It was a given when in Brazil’s Switzerland. I had a glass of red wine that was amazing. I even bought 2 bottles from the wine cellar to take home.
I had a fitful night dreaming of desperately trying to manage checking out of several hotel bookings whilst the others were partying in an October fest setting. Unfortunately the weather insists on overcast and rain so we haven’t been able to see the beautiful views here. We decided to visit the Amantikir Park and stretch our legs before driving the last 6 hours to Rio de Janeiro. The park was beautiful with lots of gardens representing 27 different countries and cultures. We followed the trails which were well marked and enjoyed the very well kept gardens. The maze was a lot of fun. The kids shouting Marco – Polo all the time trying to keep us all together and Alexander shouting,….well just shouting chasing after Olivia and James trying to imitate them.