Escaping the City: Petropolis

On Saturday we decided to take a day trip to Petropolis with some friends and get out of the city for a bit. We took a round about way to get there in order to car pool and were not alone in our desire to escape so with the traffic it took us over an hour to go the 40 miles to get there.

Petropolis is high up in the Serra Fluminense and the last part of the trip is spent climbing steep inclines, looking down on the beautiful valley below.

We arrived late morning and stopped at Casa do Alemão on our way in to get something to tide us over until lunch. Perhaps my perception of German cuisine has been skewed by the fact that I have only visited my close friends in one city on two different occasions, one of whom is not even German, but I assumed that my cappuccino wouldn’t be loaded with sugar. Not true. This is still Brazil.

While Casa do Alemão has decent reviews, I was less than impressed. Partly, I am sure, because I am a vegetarian. I ordered a croquete de bacalhau (saltad cod) and a brioche de queijo for L and me.   L ate the croquete dripping with catchup but totally passed on the brioche. S ordered the chicken sausage sandwich. The place was absolutely packed and had our food arrived warm it might have been good, but overall it was pretty disappointing.

From there we made our way to Quitandinha Palace where we walked around, took the swan boats for a spin, and visited the palace, part of which has now been converted to a hotel and trade center.

Given that S and I both hate shopping, we drove by Rua Teresa while L squeezed in a nap before lunch. Petropolis has a number of factories and is literally a shopping attraction. Bus loads of people strolled along the street, their arms packed with purchases.

We drove back to downtown to have lunch and admired the quaint, if rundown, charm of the tree-lined streets and the European architecture. After lunch we walked through the garden leading to the Imperial Palace. The entrance line snaked around the building so we decided to pass on going through the museum (this time). We spent a lovely afternoon playing with L and avoiding what we probably should have been doing at home all weekend before packing up and heading back.

The final verdict is that it is definitely a place we will go back to. In the spring (October and November) they have a Jazz/Blues Festival and a food festival as well. I think if it had been earlier in the day, L would have actually liked the Imperial Palace and Museum. The city is also filled with a number of other historic buildings and churches that warrant a visit. Good thing it isn’t that far away.

We left later than we wanted, but it was well worth it as we wound our way down the mountain to catch the sunset. We stopped at a lookout and watched the sun disappear behind the mountain and then made our way back to Rio.

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