Brad & Lisa's South American Odyssey travel blog


We set a new bus trip record on our way from Recife to Brasilia, 36hrs. Luckily the bus was nice and not too crowded. We were basically just making our way across Brazil to get to Bolivia, but decided we should stop in their capital to check it out. Our guide book warned that it wasn´t really setup for backpackers, there are no hostels or cheaper hotels, and is impossible to walk around due to it´s size.

We found a family house that rents out rooms in the centre of the city that was pretty good. The lady running it was very nice and helpful. We got cleaned up and she insisted on taking us around the city. We were surprised when she drove us about five blocks and kicked us out near the giant TV tower. So much for our tour. Oh well, it´s not as is we expected anything. It turned out the TV tower had an elevator where you could go up and see a panoramic view of the city, and an information desk. We went to the top and saw one of the strangest cities in the world. Brasilia was built in the 60s to replace Rio de Janeiro as the capital. The central area is laid out in a giant airplane design, with the government buildings and monuments laid out down the ´fuselage' and residential and shopping areas in the 'wings'. Very strange. The roads running through are very wide and have large areas of grass between the buildings. It is all very stark and clean looking, but pedestrians are almost non existent.

We decided to take the city bus tour from the TV tower, as it would be almost impossible to see the city otherwise. The bus, with two other tourists on board, started by taking us down the fuselage past the government buildings. Again, everything is from the 60s and because of that it all has an unusual style. I think the designers had a very futuristic vision in mind and everything looks like it from a 60s Bond movie. The buildings are widely spaced and the spaces are punctuated by strange monuments and art pieces. We crossed a bridge and made our way to the presidential palace. It felt like we were entering Dr. Evils lair as we drove down the long entranceway that led to the gates and moat that surrounded the house in the distance. We had to look from the gates to view the giant one story white building. There was a ceremonial guard dressed like an 18th century soldier. All very surreal. That was it for the tour, we were dropped off at the TV tower, wondering what to do next. We started walking around the wing that our house was located. The streets are all wide and tree lined. It was nice, but again, no pedestrians. We decided to hang out in our room and plan the next few days.

Luckily, I had found a cheap flight while in Olinda to get from Brasilia to Campo Grande, close to Bolivia for the next day. One day in Brasilia is plenty. The next day we left in the morning to catch a bus to the airport. We got to a nearby bustop and asked the lady waiting if we could get to the airport from there. She said yes so we sat down and waited. Now, buses are how South Americans get around, and it is rare to wait more than five minutes for one. But Brasilia is it´s own planet, I think. After 20 minutes, we started to worry and considered getting a cab, but of course those are almost non existent also. Finally, after 45 minutes our bus arrived and we were on our way. We got checked in and were able to relax, so happy we were taking a 3hr flight instead of another giant bus ride. On to Campo Grande and the Pantanal.

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