Ride the best public transport system in the World
I've listed this as an 'off the beaten path' as most tourists don't ride busses. But in Curitiba, the bus is actually a tourist attraction. The bus system in curitiba has the highest percentage uptake of any city in the world, due to people brave enough to blow out the the car lanes and add bus lanes, and also due to other innovations. Just step into one of the tubes, buy your ticket, and wait for the space-port to open into the world of public transport. Busses run every 3 minutes on major lines!
Florianópolis (nicknamed Floripa) is the capital city of Santa Catarina State in southern Brazil. It is composed of one main island, the Island of Santa Catarina (Ilha de Santa Catarina), a continental part and the surrounding small islands. It has a population of 406,564, according to a 2006 Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics estimate. The metropolitan area has an estimated population of 821,552.
The economy of Florianópolis is heavily based on tourism and services. The city has 42 beaches and is a center of surfing activity. Newsweek put Florianópolis in the "Ten most dynamic cities of the world" list. Veja magazine, a Brazilian publication, named the city as "the best place to live in Brazil." As a result of this publicity, Florianopolis is growing as a second home destination for many Paulistas, Argentines, U.S. citizens and Europeans.
Most of the population lives on the island's northern half. The southern half is less inhabitated. Many small commercial fishermen populate the island. The fishing boats, the lacemakers, the folklore, the cuisine and the colonial architecture distinguish the tourism and attract resources that compensate for the lack of large industry. Villages immersed in tradition and history, such as Santo Antônio de Lisboa and Ribeirão da Ilha resist the advances of modernity.
Curitiba - Europe in Brazil
I was on a short business trip to Curitiba, the capital of the southern Brazilian state Parana. Curitiba is not on the major Brazilian tourist trails and is far away from the cliche of tropical Brazil full of beaches and samba. Most people that visit the state of Parana head to the Iguazu falls, and don't bother with Curitiba, which is too bad, because the city has a lot to offer.
Curitiba is a modern and fast-growing, business oriented city, with a public transport system and organization that is second to none in Brazil. It is very green with 18 parks and a prime example of succesful urban planning. Coming from Sao Paulo, you will certainly appreciate the difference.
Curitiba (as the South of Brazil in general) also has a certain European feel to it which you can see in its beautiful and clean cobble-stoned centre with plenty of outside cafes and churches. Many of Curitiba's inhabitants are of European descent, mainly Italian, but also Ukranian, Polish and German. There is actually a really great German restaurant called bar do Alemao, if you are in the mood for some excellent Bratwurst, Sauerkraut and Weissbier. (see restaurant tips)