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
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.