Happy 50th Birthday Brasilia!

Brasilia Travel Blog

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Museu National

It seems that lady luck is playing games with me on this trip, first floods in Rio the worst they've seen in 30 years but I met some great people, crappy weather to start in Salvador but I ended up having a great time and meeting more great people and then there was my start to Brasilia...
So I'm standing there in the airport and I hear an English voice 'excuse me were you in this restaurant in Salvador last night?'....and that is how I met my friend Erica, who as it turns out went to school with one of my very top friends Zoe....the world is shrinking....
So then after a brief chat we agree to share a cab and then also split a hotel room (which Erica had already booked) as the youth hostel is full for ALL of April, lucky for me as I was going to just take a cab there as I figured as it was low season it shouldn't be a problem.

View towards the Cathedral
..Wrong!
Even though I was barely three weeks into my trip the idea of a hotel just sounded like heaven, if a bit extravagent, a decent nights sleep, some thing different and vaguely similar to what I'd usually eat for breakfast all sounded rather appealing.
Where to start with Brasilia? Well apart from it being Brazil's capital it is a pre-designed city that took the Brazilian government 150 years to deicide if it was going to build then only three years to actually build it when they finally made their minds up, it looks like an airplane when viewed from the air and it was designed by the last of the great Modernist Architect's, who at 103 is still going strong and working...as much as I love architecture I don't want to be alive at that age let alone working! Other than it's clean and well seems to work rather well, there are no favelas and it appears to be a model for cities for the future, if slightly pedestrian unfriendly.
The Cathedral, the design was meant to resemble Jesus' crown of thorns

On day one we covered a fair bit of ground and went to see the buildings in the area locals refer to as 'the cockpit' which includes the cathedral, national library, museum of modern art, presidents palace, ministry of justice and the senate. Now you'd think that a city that would be celebrating it's 50th birthday would have finished it's rennovation work by the time the big birthday bash rolls round? Nope, the cathedral and presidents palace were still being rennovated and they decided to close the library and museum while the celebrations were on...genius! Whatever plonker planned that I hope to god is kept well away from having anything to do with the Rio Olympic bid otherwise the stadiums will be finished after the event.
That small iritation aside, the outsides of the buildings were pretty spectacular so it wasn't all bad.
The only glimpse I could inside the cathedral
Dinner that night also turned out to be a fun affair; Erica did some research on her laptop and we picked out a pizza place that seemed like it had good reviews, it was brimming over with locals yet the owner fussed over us like we were movie stars. The atmosphere was great and the system was that you basically picked whatever slice of pizza you liked the look of from the waiters as they came round offering it to you on pizza dishes or actually at times it felt slightly like they were trying to feed you to death. They were also running a 50th anniversary promo so it was dirt cheap too, if anyone is ever in Brasilia check out Pizza Bessa, it rocks!
Day two saw the start of the celebrations (annoyingly we hadn't known it had all kicked off at midnight with Swatch projecting a Neimeyer inspired clock face onto the dome of the Modern Art Museum) with parades in the mornng as well as free concerts later in the day.
Palacio do Itamaraty
We decided to skip the Disney parade in the morning but did go and watch some of the World Beach Volley Ball Championships, again this was all free, and got chatting with a Brazilian group of friends one of whom could speak English. The kids seemed fascinated with us and the little boy told us he wanted to learn English in school and when I asked him who his favourite footballer was he said Ronalhdo, I thought he meant Christiano but no he meant the Brazilian one, that kid needs to get with the times, Kaka is the man now!

We then headed up to check out the momument to the president who made Brasilia happen, Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira, or JK for short (not to be confused with JFK of course), as with most things in Brasilia it was a bit of  a trek but as per the previous day it was a worthwhile one.

The monument pays tribute to a man who seems to command a lot of respect from his fellow countymen (testament to this is the fact his body lies at the site of the monument not unlike similar edifices to Mao or Stalin), here you can see clothes worn by him and his wife, gifts from other countries, and vaious other memorabilia. I also managed to learn something while I was there, I hadn't realised that Brasil had been on the side of the Allies in WWII as the German's had attacked their ships and Brasilian troops were sent to Northern Italy...everyday's a school day it seems.

We managed to time it so that after leaving JK's memorial we made sunset atop the TV tower which gives spectacular panaorama's across the city, my Flickr uploads show the sun going down in varying degress and the various monuments being lit up against the night sky, the cathedral always seeming to be the most prominent.

Palacio da Justica

We hit the hotel for a bit of r'n'r before going out to enjoy the free concerts, street food (mmmmmm chicken kebab's) and cheap booze. The whole thing had kicked off early on, around 6pm, and it seemed all of Brasilia was half cut by the time we ventured out, although can't say as I blame them, your city is only 50 once and when you throw in a city holiday hell I'd party...oh I did, how can I forget? Even though the concerts were all in Portuguese we still enjoyed them, the hip-hop and big beats with the massive drums were particularly impressive but then some Celine Dion-esque wench came on and killed the party and we hit our wall after walking for hours on end, so after all of our talk our a big night think we made it until about 1am - lightweights! I think drinking a tube of canchaca may not have helped my cause either.

.oops! It was something though I felt privledged to have been part of, how many people can say they accidentally manage to time it so that the rock up in time for a cities 50th birthday?

Brasilia was just such a great experience, made even better by the fact that I had someone else of a like-minded nature to share the experience with (thanks again Erica) and if you fancy a little trip away from the Gringo trail in Brazil and want to experience a city that is out of this world give it a try, you never know you might just like it.

..."BRASILIA!!!!!!" Love it!


 

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Museu National
Museu National
View towards the Cathedral
View towards the Cathedral
The Cathedral, the design was mean…
The Cathedral, the design was mea…
The only glimpse I could inside th…
The only glimpse I could inside t…
Palacio do Itamaraty
Palacio do Itamaraty
Palacio da Justica
Palacio da Justica
Congresso National
Congresso National
Palacio do Planalto
Palacio do Planalto
World Beach Volleyball Championshi…
World Beach Volleyball Championsh…
Brazil vs. USA
Brazil vs. USA
JK memorial
JK memorial
Reflection of the JK memorial
Reflection of the JK memorial
Sunset over Brasilia
Sunset over Brasilia
Brasilia by night
Brasilia by night
Niemeyers cathedral in Brasilia b…
Niemeyer's cathedral in Brasilia …
Brasilia Hotels & Accommodations review
The hotel is in a great location and is pretty reasonably priced. The breakfast was pretty good and the minibar didn't seem to be too overpriced. The … read entire review
Brasilia
photo by: vulindlela