The forecast was showing wet conditions all day, so we opted for a place in my guidebook under the section of ‘inland resorts and coffee towns.’ Going into the hills whilst being ill-equipped for inclement weather seems a sensible thing to do in the rain.
You wonder whether some travel guide recommendations are just to fill space and are completely subjective. For the bus journey from Rio to Petrópolis we were advised to choose the left hand side to appreciate the views. This was a very good suggestion. The expansive valleys stretched out below, with petrifying precipitous drops, which were entirely blocked out by cloud as we climbed. We were never more than a few inches from a sheer drop on one side and a roaring lorry or coach occupying the adjacent lane of the dual carriageway.
The city of Petrópolis itself I would describe as busy and dank, with an incongruous style of Germanic architecture on some of the buildings. Hugely important for the history of Brazil’s emperors and aristocrats, it now possesses a large number of significant monuments. Of these, the Imperial Palace is the principal attraction and is an extremely well-preserved and interpreted display of what furniture and jewellery the upper classes were using as they inter-married with each other and subjugated the indigenous population. I do highly recommended it if any blippers are ever in Petrópolis, which I appreciate may be seldom.
Visitors are supplied with slippers to glide around the Palace’s polished floors. Once we’d shed these we headed for the typical lunch we’ve become accustomed to: salgados (defined as ‘salty’ and referring to savoury snacks such as chicken empanadas) and fries. Given the diet here, it’s truly a mystery as to why so many Brazilians look so good.
In order to get back to the coach station and not forfeit our ticket to Rio in the early evening, we were faced with an utterly miserable trudge around Petrópolis in the pouring rain, breaking into a sprint at times when it appeared a bus we needed was lurking at an unexpected stop. After making the coach at the eleventh hour, we finally arrived back at our hotel to dry our clothes and bodies before trench foot set in.