I found this map of Petropolis online which should be useful for you to plan your trip. Note that the Bus Station (Rodovlarla) is in the bottom right of the map. This is where I picked up my tourist map from but I suppose you should be able to do the same at of the tourist information places in the city. Click on the link below for a large version of the map:
Favorite thing: Since Petrópolis has so much to offer tourists from everywhere (Dom Pedro's palace, cathedrals, historical markers, a vibrant shopping district, and numerous great restaurants), I often wonder why, like Richmond, it is often overlooked. When I was there in December, 2001, I was the only American to be found and, by the way folks there acted around me, I was the first one they noticed there in quite awhile. The reason for this is that Petrópolis is way up in the hills about 40 miles (66 km.) from Copacabana or Ipanema, a world away both in terms of style and sometimes climate. The fact that it's off the beaten path for the beachgoing visitor is bad in a cultural sense, but good that it allows the city to keep the natural beauty which would be lost to some extent if it were overrun with tourists.
They did sure enough put on the dog in Petrópolis to decorate the town for Christmas, 2001. There were many more lights here than I would later find in Buenos Aires with some 20 times the population. To tell the truth, there were more Christmas lights strung in public on the streets of South Hill, Virginia the following 2 January than there were on the streets of Buenos Aires (although it was well-decorated inside the malls). They even strung lights on the bridges and alongside the canal downtown. The lights were so bright, I was concerned an airplane might mistake the canal for a runway.
I had to risk life and limb to get this photo taken because the folks down there take traffic lights as a suggestion. Sorry for the poor quality in the included photo, but you can't expect miracles at dusk with Alexandre taking the photo with my Kodak Advantix camera.
Because it was the Christmas season, we were a house full. Alexandre's niece Marcela (leftmost and barely visible in the photo), and his nephews Bernardo (middle), and Gustavo (rightmost) were there before, during, and after my visit. These three young'uns are the offspring of Alexandre's sister Fernanda and his brother-in-law Ivan. I met those two on my second visit when I got back from Buenos Aires. Marcela, Bernardo, and Gustavo were nice kids. Gustavo and Marcela would always tease and play rough with each other. Bernardo was more discliplined and reasoned. In fact, I made some headway in teaching him Southern English.
When I got back from lunch at Churrascaria Galope my second day, all of Alexandre's nephews and nieces greeted me with, "WHATCHA KNOW GOOD?" I taught them how to say come up a bad cloud and frog strangler because that was what we had that afternoon. Fernanda, not to mention their English teachers, were sure enough BUMFUZZLED (taken aback) when those kids try out their Southern expressions in school. Before long, those kids will be speaking English like Jesse Helms!
Visitor Information--Petrotur has a number of offices around town. The main office is at Av. Koeler 245 Centro, Petrópolis. (tel. 024/2243-3561; www.petrotur.gov.rj.br). Kiosks are located at Rua do Imperador (by the Obelisk) and Casa do Barão de Mauá, both open Monday through Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Ask for the English version of the excellent "Petrópolis Imperial Sightseeing" brochure. It comes with a map, visitor information, and opening hours of each of the attractions.
If you have a question while you are out and about in Petrópolis, call the tourism information line--call from any phone booth, without a phone card at no charge--(tel. 0800/241-516); the line is open Monday through Tuesday from 9am to 6:30pm, Wednesday through Saturday from 9am to 8pm, Sunday and holidays from 9am to 4pm.
The Banco do Brasil branch is located on the Rua do Imperador 940 (corner of Rua Alencar Lima).
Fondest memory: Petrópolis is a city that manages to let you know even in the streets their imperial past and their culture, and yet be modern. That's why I am very fond of this ville.
The representations of eagles and dragons (symbols of Peter the II's two royal houses, Portugal's Bragança dinasty and Austria's Habsburg dynasty), are present in most palaces and ancient furniture. Moreover, in some of the stoned streets you can find the P, the initial letter of the name of its mentor Emperor.
Beyond history, the city is also remarkable urbanistically speaking: the mountain surroundings, the stoned streets and the channels made me doubt sometimes if I was in Germany, Switzerland or Portugal instead of Brazil. It had an explanation... after its foundation in 1843, the first habitants of Petrópolis were German, Italian and Portuguese immigrants. Immigration was important in Petrópolis life, especially for shaping its traditions.
What we were realy enjoyed was the change in climate. The air up here was really crisp and without the humidity of Rio. Plus it made a nice change to the beach life of Cobacabana!
The best idea is to obtain a walking map and wander around using that. It points out the main sights (11 in total) within the town and you can pay to enter if they grab your fancy.
The journey begins by driving through the outskirts of Rio. After this the road twists and winds its way up through the lush, verdant forest known as the Serra de Orgoas. The scenery is dramatic with one side of the highway dropping away steeply. Try to sit on the left hand side of the bus on the way up as this will afford the best view.
I am sure at one stage this tropical rainforest covered most of the hills all around including Rio itself.
There are many museums and residences of the Royal family that you can visit in the town including the Cathedral and the Imperial museum. It gives a glimpse into life during the the 19th century, well life of the rich of course.
If you would like to get to an Internet Cafe in Petroplis there is a shop named "CompuLand" which offers Internet acess in high quality.
The location must be at Praca. Dr. Sa. Earp Filho:
As well you can look for Cyber Cafes in shopping Centers, usually they
have some computerswith internet acess there too.
Fondest memory: The trip back to Petrópolis some 40 miles (66 km.) from the city seemed like it wouldn't end. I wasn't sure we would ever get there. The roads are narrow and winding. I know Alexandre drives well, but other drivers around Rio are worse than any driver I have ever seen, even in France or Northern Virginia. Between the traffic and the idiot drivers, it took forever to get there.
Fondest memory: Midnight came and the T.V. broke to coverage of festivities in the Brazilian cities of Florianópolis, São Paulo, Salvador, Brasilia, and Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro. I know one thing, I was happier in the comfort of that den with everyone gathered around the T.V. than I would have been in all that hoo-hah at Copacabana. Marcela's little poodle puppy named Toby is afraid of fireworks, so we brought him in the din with us. Not two seconds later, that dog started gnawing at other people. I took off my shoes and socks, figuring if he wanted to gnaw on something, I'd give him something BIG. Then Alexandre says in English with a Brazilian accent, "The dog will faint." I cracked up laughing. I don't know if it was from picturing the dog fainting or the fact that I hadn't heard the word "faint" used as a verb in a long time. If the dog fainted from the odour of my feet, maybe it would teach him not to use people's body parts as a chew toy. Fireworks went off spot on at midnight in the neighbourhood and in the hills above Petrópolis for a good hour and a half.
The menu included:
- a long sandwich
- rice with lentils and onions
- ham with some sort of stuffing and potatoes
- "churkey" on a plate adorned with cherries, grapes, peaches, plums, prunes, pineapple, and mango
- chocolate cake for dessert
I didn't have the sandwich because I didn't know what was on it. I had one helping of everything else, but two of the churkey. It was at dessert where I learned something new about my friend for 17 years. Alexandre does not like sweets. He is not allergic to them, nor is he diabetic, he just flat doesn't like sweets. The only thing I have known that was close to that was my second room mate, Jeff "Pickle Nose" Weiners, didn't like chocolate. So, I had two slices of cake to compensate for that. We sat on the big sofa in the den watching various things on T.V. before midnight. One was another movie in English with Portuguese subtitles and a couple of Brazilian soap operas the women insisted on watching.
Fondest memory: Round about noon on 20 December 2001, I got the urge to get into the pool. Although it was hotter than a $2 pistol, it felt funny for a moment to go swimming in December. How often do I get a chance to say I went to an outdoor pool in December? So, I put on the number 45 sunblock, getting in a bathing suit (yeah, it was orange). The water was fine, but I knew that if I stayed in that sun for too long, I would be able to stop traffic at night, with or without sun block.
Not far from the Cathedral on Rua Alfredo Pachà, is the Palacio de Cristal, built in 1879. It is an imitation of the Crystal Palace in London. It was given to the Emperor's daughter Isabel.
It is used for art exhibitions.
Fondest memory: I enjoyed ma visit a lot. But unfortunately it was raining that day. It rains often there, as I gathered cause they suffered quite a few landslide that caused many casualties every now and then.
Fondest memory: My fondest memoury of Petrópolis was spending the Christmas season with Alexandre, his family, and his (then) fiancée Flávia.