22 Things You’ll Never Hear Somebody From Curitiba Say

Araucaria, a symbol of Curitiba

Araucaria pine tree, a symbol of Curitiba by Willian Menq CC BY-NC 2.0

1. What this city needs is another shopping mall.

2. This holiday weekend, what I’d really love to do is sit in a traffic jam for hours on end and then stay near the beach while it rains the whole weekend.

3. I’m so proud of how my city is preparing for the World Cup.

4. It’s ok, we won’t need a lift home after the party, we’ll just flag a taxi down on the street.

5. Didn’t we get the best games for the World Cup?  I mean Iran v Nigeria and Honduras v Ecuador!  I’m so excited.

6. Is it just me or is the traffic getting less and less every day?

7. Let’s go to Rua 24hs for a few beers and something to eat.

8.  With my central heating, double glazing and tight-fitting doors and windows I hardly ever notice how cold it can get.

9. I’m sure the new metro system will be ready next year.

10. We have the most successful football teams in the world.

11.  Curitiba International Airport is just so international.

The Oil Man, Curitiba

The Oil Man, another symbol of Curitiba

12. I just can’t find an Italian restaurant in this city.

13. One thing you can be sure of, everything on sale at the market in Largo do Ordem on Sunday mornings is pure top quality.

14. I always stand to one side on the escalator in case other people want to get past.

15. It’s my birthday, so come on down to that German bar in Largo do Ordem for a big night out.

16. Carnival in Rio and Sao Paulo has got nothing on Curitiba.

17. The parks in this city are totally overrated.

18. When I grow up I want to be just like the oil man.

19. It’s impossible to get a decent drink around here so I’ll just have Nova Schincariol

20. Only R$15 for the toll road down to the beach?

21. Bridges?  No thanks.  Sitting in my car for 20 minutes watching a train cross the road really chills me out.

22. I hate pine trees.

 

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Carnival in Curitiba: Zombie Walk

Ready for the Zombie Walk, Curitiba

Ready for the Zombie Walk

We don’t do carnival in Curitiba.

We have a couple of pre-carnival days a couple of weeks before the big holiday, but from the Friday before carnival the vast majority of people in this city escape to the beach, another city in Brazil that celebrates carnival or anywhere else at all.

The city is left to people who have to work, have no way of getting out or who just don’t like the idea of carnival.

There are a surprising number of Brazilians who actively dislike carnival.  A lot of them live in Curitiba.

The city is empty.  There is no traffic.  The restaurants that are open don’t have queues.  It is relaxing walking around the parks without the normal hordes.  It is almost like a ghost town.

Except the ghosts are zombies.

Because, while we don’t have samba and blocos, we do have a very alternative crowd left in the city.  The sort of people into psychobilly music, the living dead and motorbikes.  So they get together and have their own parade through the city. A parade of zombies.

A lot of people put a lot of effort into their costumes.  There are references to various films, songs and video games.  The creativity is astounding.

There are also people who just slap a bit of red make-up on at the last-minute.

They all get together in one part of the city and walk to another part where there is live music of the pstchobilly/heavy metal variety.  There are Hells Angels and families, lots of young people and the odd pensioner.

Funnily enough, there is hardly any police presence and, to my eyes at least, not a bit of bother.

So next year if you are in Brazil but don’t fancy the same old carnival routine, come down to Curitiba for a bit of peace and quiet and a lot of zombies.

We don’t do carnival in Curitiba.  We do the walking dead.

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6 Things Curitiba Gets Completely Wrong

Official seal of Curitiba

Curitiba’s coat of arms (Wikipedia)

Last week I sang the praises of my adopted city by looking at 7 things it gets completely right.  In the pursuit of balance, here are 6 things that Curitiba gets completely wrong.

1. Pavements

The pavements are a disgrace here.  You rarely see anyone walking, and this is at least partly because it is so bloody dangerous.  I have heard lots of stories about people falling over on loose paving stones or having to walk in the middle of the road because the pavements are taken up by parked cars.  You almost never see anyone in a wheelchair, or elderly people so I have no idea how isolated they must feel if they don’t have anyone to drive them around.

And when you do find a nice bit of pavement, somebody has probably parked their car on it.

2. Public Works 

All public works take forever.  If they tell you it is going to take a year, it will take at least two, maybe three.  And it is quite possible that it will never be finished.

Modern wheel barrow

All you need to build a coach station (Wikipedia)

The coach station is undergoing a huge refurbishment which was supposed to have been finished  in December 2012 (Source in Portuguese) but is now predicted to end in May 2014, if we are lucky.

I often go to the coach station with my son to look at all the coaches and it is amazing how few people I see working there.  That might be explicable if they were using lots of machinery, but, apart from a few tractors, everything is being done by hand and wheelbarrow.

Unfortunately, everything that was planned for the World Cup is either tragically late, will only be finished after the games are over, or have been cancelled all together.

3. Playgrounds

There are lots of parks around the city, but none of them have decent playgrounds for kids to play in.  If they have anything at all it will be a steel slide with jagged edges or a climbing frame in a sand-pit which also acts as the local toilet for all the wildlife in the area.  Dirty and dangerous.

Táxi

The Lesser-Spotted Curitibano taxi (AnaElisa)

4. Taxis

There just aren’t enough of them.  We have the same number of taxis today as we did in 1974, and in that time the city has tripled in size. (Source in Portuguese)

5. The Metro

There seems to be this idea that the only way Curitiba can be taken seriously as a major city is if they have a metro system.  This will cost billions, not produce any solutions to the traffic problems because it will only consist of one line and take far longer than necessary (see point 3 above).  If they took the same money and invested it in their already very good bus system they would really have something to crow about.

6. Electricity pylons

The local government or the electricity providers (each one blames the other as far as I can tell) refuses to put the city’s electricity cables under the ground.  Instead, we have all the electricity running on pylons above the streets.

This makes the city look ugly, but worse than this is that every time we have a storm the cables fall down and we get power cuts.  Towards the end of 2013 we had 4 afternoon storms which lasted between 10 and 40 minutes.  Each one resulted in a power cut that lasted a minimum of 4 hours.  It particularly irked me because I had deadlines looming and no computer or internet.

There’s probably plenty of other stuff as well, after all every city is crap at something.  These are the ones that attract my ire, but if you know Curitiba and can think of any others, just leave a comment below.

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7 Things Curitiba Gets Completely Right

English: Flag of municipality of Curitiba, cap...

Curitiba’s flag kind of reminds me of another one I know well. (Wikipedia)

I have been living in Curitiba for a while now and, while it might not be the best city in the world it certainly has a lot going for it.  Here are 7 things that I think Curitiba gets completely (or at least mostly) right.

And in the interested of balance, here is a post called ‘6 Things Curitiba Gets Completely Wrong‘.

1. Recycling

The numbers vary, but it seems that around 80% of the waste produced in Curitiba is recycled.  This is an extremely high number and one that should make most other cities in the world blush in disgrace.

Edit: Since posting this it has been pointed out to me that the figure is 80% of collected waste is recycled, not 80% of produced waste.  This is still an impressive figure, but it does make a difference.

2. Public Transport

Ok, so it isn’t completely right.  There are problems with the public transport system in Curitiba, but in relation to everywhere else I have been to in South America it is pretty bloody good.

3. The Weather

English: Winter skyline in Curitiba.

Winter skyline in Curitiba. (Wikipedia)

We have seasons.  We get summer and winter. Sometimes in the same day, but at least it isn’t always baking hot or always pissing down with rain.  I lived in the UK where it always seemed to rain, and in Rio where it was always hot.  Curitiba seems to strike a nice balance between the two.

4. Cold People

They come in for a lot of stick from the rest of Brazil because they are cold or snobbish.  They don’t talk to you on the bus and if you are in the lift with them they all get their phones out and stare at them as if they have something really important that they simply must look at right now.  They don’t, it is just a good excuse not to have to look at the other person in the lift and start a conversation.  Anything beyond how are you is a deep and meaningful conversation.  For me, this is great.

5. Beer

There are now lots of places to buy decent beer.  It might be expensive but we have the option.  There are also a number of small artisan or micro breweries popping up all the time.  Thank god we don’t have to always drink Skol or Antartica anymore; it would be enough to drive a man to sobriety, or pinga.

6. Food

The Italian food here is amazing, due to lots of Italian immigrants.  But we also have some excellent Arabian food, German food and quite a few other types.  We even have quite a good Indian restaurant now.  The variety is here, as is the quality and it is usually affordable.  (One proviso, please stay away from Santa Felicidade.  All the tourists go there to eat because it was an Italian neighbourhood, but in my experience the food is over-priced plastic rubbish).

Greenhouses at night in the Botanical Garden o...

Greenhouse at night in the Botanical Garden (Wikipedia)

7. Parks

There are lots of big parks all around Curitiba.  Curitiba is a strange big Brazilian city because it doesn’t have a beach, so these parks are our beaches.  They are also, more often than not, used as flood plains so that when it rains all the water has somewhere to go.

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Ilha do Mel: Curitiba’s Best Beach

Alfredo Andersen - Ilha do Mel

Alfredo Andersen – Ilha do Mel (Wikipedia)

Ok, so it isn’t really Curitiba’s best beach, but that is because Curitiba doesn’t have any beaches seeing as how it is up on a plateau about 1, 000m above sea level.  However, in about an hour’s drive you can be at the beach (assuming you aren’t trying to drive there on a holiday, when it can take 3 times as long) and they all have one thing in common: they are crap.

They are all long and flat without any real charm to them.  The sand is usually packed down so that walking on the beach is like walking on soft concrete.  The water is often dirty, and usually cold and the currents can be very strong.

There is, however, one exception to all of this.

Ilha do Mel (Honey Island) is an island about a 30 minute ferry-boat ride away or an hour and a half from Paranagua.  Most of the island is a nature reserve and the numbers of visitors are restricted to about 4,000.  As soon as you get off the ferry, if not before, all your stress disappears because the way of life here is a lot more relaxed.  The reason for this is, I think, the fact that there are no cars here so everything goes a lot slower.

On the east cost of the island, which faces the Atlantic, the wind is strong and the waves are usually very big.  I’ve been told that this is the best surfing in Paraná although, as a non-surfer, I couldn’t tell if this is true or not.

On the west, more sheltered, side there is practically no current and the waves are very gentle, making it perfect for families.  The view is somewhat spoiled by the huge ships coming into port, but you can ignore them after a few caipirinhas from the beach front bar.

You can walk up a few hills or just lounge around in a bar or on the beach.  There is music in a few places, but never too loud to piss anyone off.  There are boat trips around the island, or to go and find some dolphins.

It almost has everything.

The only thing that is missing is a doctor, so that when your 2-year-old son dislocates his elbow all you can do is beat a hasty retreat back to the mainland.

And that’s when the stress really hits you.

My Little Part of Curitiba

I live in the city of Curitiba in the state of Paraná in the south of Brazil.  It is a relatively prosperous city and also quite organised.  In the last 30 years the city has expanded at a phenomenal rate which initially saw the city expanding geographically.  In recent years it has reached the limits of this expansion and so more and more new high-rise buildings are going up in the centre of the city, often at the expense of old, traditional buildings.

These photos have been put together as part of the Mulitcultural Kids Blog project called ‘Your Neighbourhood Around the World.’

A View from the Balcony

Paraná Football Club stadium and Mercado Municipal in Curitiba.

Paraná Football Club stadium and Mercado Municipal in Curitiba.

I live on the 19th floor of a building at the edge of the city centre.  This photo looks out to the front and left of my building where you can see in the background the football ground for Paraná FC.  This is the third biggest team in the city and for the last few years they have been languishing in the second division.  At the moment they are in 4th place and hoping to win promotion back to the top league.

Just in front of the football stadium you can see the coach station which is currently undergoing a refurbishment which will hopefully be ready in time for the world cup.

In the foreground you can Mercado Municipal, or the City Market.  This is the best place to go for fresh fruit and vegetables.  Also, if you want some special ingredients or a really good bottle of wine you’ll find it here.  It started out as a small market in the white building on the left but has since expanded to take up much of the block.  Earlier in the year they opened to latest extension which you can see as the glass fronted building to the left.

Building Site in Curitiba, Brazil.

Building Site in Curitiba, Brazil.

In recent years Curitiba has resembled a building site as the country has experienced a boom.  This photo looks straight out of the front of our flat and you can see what will be the tallest building in Curitiba when it is finished some time in 2015.  It is difficult to see, but just behind this building is the football stadium for Atlético Paranaense where they will be holding games for the World Cup, assuming it is finished in time.

Looking Down on Curitiba

Looking Down on Curitiba

And this is the view straight down from our balcony.  You can see a play area with a football pitch and basket ball court as well as the other buildings.

Mountains

Serra do Mar, Curitiba

Serra do Mar, Curitiba

This is the view from our building.  You can see another building going up as well as the mountains in the background.  They are partially hidden by the clouds but when the sun is out they are pretty amazing.  Unfortunately I don’t think I’ve seen them for the last 10 days due to the cloud cover.  On the other side of these mountains is the beach, so most Curitibanos know them very well.

A Very Long Road

Rua Viscond de Guarapuava, Curitiba

Rua Visconde de Guarapuava, Curitiba

Apart from a few neighbourhoods, Curitiba is based on a grid system.  This is one of the main roads in the city and is usually jammed with traffic.

School

This is my son’s pre-school.  It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but they inside it is pretty cool.  This is a common feature of buildings in Curitiba in that they often look quite bland from the street, but once inside they come alive.

A pre-school in Curitiba

A pre-school in Curitiba

Play Areas

A play area in Curitba

A play area in Curitiba

We have lots of parks in Curitiba, but very little in the way of swings and slides and other stuff you usually get in parks for kids.  This is a little space near my flat that has a public football pitch/basketball court.

Trees

Parana Pine

Parana Pine

Curitiba is famous for its pine trees, known as the Araucaria or Paraná Pine.  These trees are at the back of my flat and to be honest they aren’t very good specimens.  When you get a proper old tree they are very impressive.

A Traditional Building

An older building in Curitiba

An older building in Curitiba

In this photo you can see an older, more traditional style of house.  Most of them have now disappeared to be replaced with high-rise buildings.  The graffiti on the walls next to the house is in front of vacant land.  I have the feeling that pretty soon the vacant land and this old house will be built on.

Public Transport

A dedicated road just for big orange busses in Curitiba

A dedicated road just for big orange busses in Curitiba

A big orange Curitibano bus

A big orange Curitibano bus

Meet any Curitibano and it won’t take long for them to tell you about their transport system.  Apparently they invented the bi-articulated bus, and although I can’t find any evidence for that they certainly have a very extensive system of dedicated roads just for busses and emergency transport.

The Market

This is the market that was in the photo from my balcony, but this time from street level.  You can see the old part and the new part more clearly here.

Mercado Municipal, Curitiba, from street level

Mercado Municipal, Curitiba, from street level

Curitiba and its Bipolar Weather

A picture of a Snow Crystal taken by Wilson Be...

Could have been taken in Brazil (Wikipedia)

It was cold here in Curitiba a couple of weeks ago.  And I mean really cold.  On one night it got down to -3!  And it snowed!  That’s how cold it was.  It hasn’t snowed here since 1975.  Ok, if you blinked it would have missed it because it lasted about 5 minutes and didn’t settle at all.  And it was probably more sleet than snow.  But still…it snowed!

Usually I can tease my friends a family back home because even in the winter we often have better weather than the UK.  This time though Britain was experiencing a heatwave while we had our most extreme cold snap in a generation.

This city, despite being the coldest state capital in Brazil, this city is not prepared for the cold.  There are a lot of homeless people who were in danger during the cold snap and this lead to the local council opening up their shelters for the homeless and their dogs.  Usually, dogs are not allowed in which means that lots of people decide to stay out on the streets, but it was so cold the rules had to be relaxed.  It was sold in the press by more than one person as a way to save dogs rather than people, which kind of tells you a lot.

Sakura

A little bit of Japan in Curitiba (RadamesM)

Individual Curitibanos rallied around to donate warm clothes to the homeless.  This was mainly done through the council and charitable organisations, but I also saw one tree in Praça do Japão with some hooks nailed into it and clothes left on the hooks.  Under the hooks was a sign inviting homeless people to take whatever clothes they wanted to help them keep warm.

At times it was even colder inside houses than outside.  There are very few homes with insulation, and even fewer with double glazing.  The windows that we do have are usually fitted badly so that there is always a draft, and this is amplified by doors with a one inch gap under them.  With no central heating we have to turn to either space heaters or lots and lots of blankets.

This can be a problem for parents with young children.  After a story and a bath you tuck your two-year-old up in bed with an extra duvet to keep him warm.  When you look in on him 20 minutes later you see that he has thrown all of the blankets and sheets off and his almost shivering in the cold.  This is even worse if he refuses to wear the warm pyjamas you bought him.  Fortunately, my wife found a great solution the last time we were back in the UK: blankets with zips so that they can’t be thrown off.

As so often with the best ideas, this one was blindingly obvious as soon as somebody else told me about it.  It really seems to have worked as Mr. T was much warmer this year than last and doesn’t seem to have suffered from the same amount of coughs and colds.

Of course this week we have the opposite problem.  7 days after half freezing to death the city was enjoying a mini-heatwave with temperatures approaching 30 degrees in the day.  It has been a case of needing sunglasses and sun cream rather than hats and scarves.

Festa Junina in Curitiba

What else are you going to do when it is chucking down?

What else are you going to do when it is chucking down?

June is not the most pleasant of months here in Curitiba in the south of Brazil.  It has been very wet and chilly, especially in the last two weeks as it doesn’t seem to have stopped raining for more than 10 minutes.  In Europe they cheer themselves up during the long cold winters with Christmas, New Year and various other holidays.  Here we don’t have such harsh winters, but we do have Festa Junina, or June Party.

Clothes

All the clothes are based on a caricature of caipira (sort of country bumpkin) costumes.  Lots of checked shirts, red neckerchiefs and patched up jeans for the boys and very colourful patchwork style dresses for the girls.  The parents were encouraged to dress up as well with varying degrees of success.  One couple really went for it and won the prize, but most of the time if anybody made an effort it was the wife.  Most of the men (me included) put on a checked shirt and lots of them had a straw hat as well, but that was about it.

Take your partners by the hand

Take your partners by the hand

Music

Absolutely awful is the only way to describe it.  Think of the very worst country and western music you have ever heard.  Make it worse so that it is suitable for little kids and then have them dance in bad approximations of line dancing and you are only half the way to imagining how bad it can possible be.  I could have just about handled it when my son was dancing, only he decided he hated it more than me and cried his heart out and refused to dance.

A large part of me was very proud of him.

This is an example of some dreadfully bad music that might have been played at the party I went to, but it all sounded the same to me.

Food and Drink

Very sweet cakes.  Hot dogs with everything on them, including sweetcorn.  Sweet rice (a bit like rice pudding, only a lot sweeter).  Pé de moleque (Literally ‘street children’s feet’: made of peanuts and melted sugar).  Popcorn (probably with added sugar, but I must confess I didn’t try it).  Basically, whatever you can find but put a load of sugar in it.

The main drink is quentão, or ‘the big hot one’.  In the rest of Brazil this is made from cachaça, but in the south it is made from red wine.  It has to be served hot with ginger, cloves nutmeg and various other spices that can be found.  If done well, this can be drinkable, but you are pretty much guaranteed a hangover if you drink too much.  I already had a hangover and was the designated driver, so I cut back on the sugar and stuck to Coke.

Games

Bingo!  Lots of bingo.  I lost count of how many games were played.  They had a funny way of playing as well in that, instead of crossing off the numbers they put stones on them instead.  A great idea until a kid bombing from one side of the room to the other bangs into your table.  At least when they were playing bingo, though, it meant they turned the music off.

There were also a couple of games for the kids to play.  They had a fishing game where you had to hook a plastic fish, a chicken game that involved throwing a rubber chicken into a tin and one where you had to knock over tins by throwing balls at them.  There was also a tent with a witch inside it, but our son wasn’t going anywhere near that one.

Lots of prizes to be won in the bingo.

Lots of prizes to be won in the bingo.

Thoughts

I went to my son’s school’s Festa Junina because there was no way of getting out of it.  If you are Brazilian and you grew up with this kind of thing then I suppose it makes sense.  You probably get all nostalgic at the thought of wearing clothes that a country yokel would deem beneath him.  The food is either so sweet it will take the enamel off your teeth or so bland as to taste of cardboard.  The bingo goes on forever, and just when you thought it was all over, along comes another game.

I have to say, though, that all the kids seemed to have a great time and I suppose that is what it is all about.  It was also very well organised by the school and it was obvious that a lot of effort went into getting everything to work well.

Unfortunately, there is no pleasing some cynical Englishmen.

No Pyjamas

None of them will do

None of them will do

The weather has changed again in Curitiba.  We have glorious autumnal days without a cloud in the  clear blue sky.  If you are in the sun the temperatures can reach up 24 or 25 degrees Celsius (that’s about 77 degrees farneheit for everybody using the old antiquated system).  Walking around the city is a distinct pleasure and I often have the feeling of being very lucky to live here.

As soon as night falls, the temperature falls.  On Wednesdays I have an early class and so I leave home at 6.30am, just as the son is coming up.  There is a street thermometer just around the corner from the flat and it said it was 4 degrees.  Very chilly.  I am never sure if I believe this street thermometers or not.  It felt quite cold, but not as low as 4.

The colder nights have coincided with a brand new phobia for Thomas: pyjamas.  I have no idea why, but all of a sudden he doesn’t want to wear his all-in-one pyjamas.  He screams and shouts  as soon as he sees them.  He has at least five sets of various colours, designs and material so the first time this happened I got all of them out and asked him which one he wanted.  The answer was obvious when he picked them all up and threw them back in the drawer. (I thought this was cool.  If it had been me I would have thrown them out of the room, but with him being a mini-OCD he threw them all back where they belonged.)

I managed to find a compromise by putting two layers of normal pyjamas on and then a long-sleeved t-shirt with a car on it over them.  This seemed to pacify him enough to get him to bed.  I tentatively tried again the following night, but as soon as he saw the big pyjamas he was off again so I quickly resorted to the previous night’s ploy.

The problem is though that the compromise leaves him open to his other great problems: he is incapable of keeping socks on for more than 10 minutes and he always throws his blankets off during the night.  With the last few nights being so cold he has woken up with ice-cold feet, and this has meant a runny nose and sneezes in the morning.  I think I might have to tape his socks to his feet tonight.

There is always a bright side, though and on this occasion it is the fact that  the tantrum seemed to wear him out and he was asleep within minutes.

Getting Around Curitiba: Taxis

Orange Colour Taxis.

Orange Colour Taxis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So you have decided not to risk life and limb by walking to your destination.  Your next idea is to get a taxi.  Good luck with that.

Getting a taxi

In 1974 Curitiba had a population of 610, 000 served by 2,252 taxis.  Since that time Curitiba has experienced a rapid growth and is now over three times the size with a population of around 1.8 million.  This much bigger city is still served by the same fleet of  2, 252 taxis.  (Source Curitiba em Dados.  Incidentally, this source also claims that there is a grand total of 4 taxis for people with special needs.  So disabled people can’t use the pavements and can’t get a taxi.)  You can see that there might be  a problem here.

If it is raining in Curitiba (something that can happen quite a bit), or if it is rush hour you will wait at least an hour for a taxi. That is assuming that you can get through to somebody on the telephone to order a taxi in the first place.  And don’t even think about trying to hail a cab on the street as they are always full.  If the taxi driver sees you and deigns to acknowledge your existence he will inform you that he is carrying a passenger by way of the Brazilian body language sign for when something is full up:

On a wet Friday evening the taxi service in almost any city would be stretched.  There have been many such times in both London and Birmingham that I have had to wait ages for a taxi.  The problem is that this can be the case on any given day and at any given time.

The problem has recently been exacerbated by a long overdue crackdown on drink driving.  In previous times, when I have had a row with people who constantly drink and drive one of the reasons they would give was the fact that it was impossible to get a taxi.  Now that they are scared of actually getting caught by the police you might as well walk home as try get a cab.

I have been told that the people who own the taxi licenses rarely actually drive a taxi.  Instead they rent out their cars three times a day, making about R$1, 000 ($500) a day.  I’ve also been told that this is illegal, but then again what does that matter?

Because of these reasons it is virtually impossible to flag down a taxi.  You are much better off ringing one or finding a taxi rank.  There aren’t many taxi ranks around the city, mind.  You might be lucky near a shopping centre or the coach station usually has a queue of taxis, but apart from that you’re on your own.

Cost

While not cheap, taxis in Curitiba are not prohibitively expensive.  In Brazil, Curitiba is the 14th most expensive state capital for taxis when there is no traffic, and the 8th most expensive in traffic (source Veja).  In a survey from 2011 Rio was found to be about half way down the list of most expensive cities in the world to get a taxi (source: Price of Travel) and Curitiba is slightly more expensive than Rio.

Inside the taxi

Once you have found a taxi you are normally quite safe.  The drivers usually know where they are going, and if they don’t pretty much all of them now have GPS to guide them.  They are relatively safe drivers, especially compared to some of the maniacs I encountered in Rio.  The cars are also of a pretty good standard and are quite new and comfortable.  If you can speak a bit of Portuguese you will usually be quite entertained by most of them.  There seems to be a growing trend for female drivers, but this might just my own impression.

A true story

My brother and some of his friends came out to Curitiba in 2005 for my wedding.  We all went off to some restaurant and then ordered taxis to take us back to the hotel.  All the taxis got back at about the same time, except for my brother’s.  After about 15 minutes some people were starting to worry whether they had been kidnapped or something.  I wasn’t too bothered because if anybody can get lost in a foreign city and then miraculously find his way home again, it is my brother.

Lo and behold, after another 5 minutes my brother and 3 of his friends turned up in the taxi with huge grins on their faces and beers in their hands.  It turned out that the taxi driver had a TV in the front with a supply of porn films to pass the idle few moments when he wasn’t working.  He had taken the boys on a trip around Curitiba while they had a beer and watched his porn.  When he eventually arrived he only charged them the normal fare.  You don’t get service like that in Birmingham.

The airport

Curitiba airport isn’t actually in Curitiba.  This means that when you arrive you can only get a taxi with the Sao José dos Pinhais colours to drop you in Curitiba.  They charge an extra fee to get back to the airport because they can’t pick up a fare in Curitiba.  The same works the other way because you have to get a Curitibano taxi but they can’t get a fare at the airport.  Basically, a taxi from the airport to Curitiba city centre is going to cost you about R$60 assuming there is no serious traffic.  At the moment they are doing a lot of work on the road into the city, so there is a lot of traffic.

Related reading

World taxi prices – priceoftravel.com

Ranking of taxi tariffs in Brazil (in Portuguese) – veja.abril.com.br

Curitiba in figures (in Portuguese) – ippucweb.ippuc.org.br