Curitiba Brazil

Curitiba is a city of 1.5 million, many with European ancestry. The city goes back to 1669, when the first European settlement was established. Rubber plantations brought wealth to the area until the decline in the 1920s. Today, the city is known for its imports of Brazil nuts, electronic and manufacturing equipment and petroleum refining.

The emphasis in Curitiba is protecting the environment with innovative urban planning and many parks and gardens. One of the best is the Jardim Botanico garden, which includes a two-floor greenhouse shaped like a castle. The Botanical Museum within the park features an array of exotic Brazilian plants.

For a real treat, you'll want to take the narrow-gauge train that leaves Curitiba for Paranagua. Completed in 1880, it provides a breathtaking journey of three hours, traveling under 13 tunnels and over 67 bridges. The tracks cross the verdant Serra do Mar mountain ranges and traverse numerous canyons. Along the way you'll see streams, waterfalls, and vibrant vegetation.

One of the two daily trains is specifically for tourists. With comfortable cars, it stops at scenic spots. A regular train, at a much lower price, is also available. You can travel one way by train and return by bus to Curitiba or travel on to the large port of Paranagua.

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