Information gathered by Karen Haigh, Thanks, Karen! *********************************************************** Porto Alegre is the southernmost major city in Brazil. It is located by a large river that connects to the Atlantic (the Guaiba), and has a fairly active harbor. It is about the size of Pittsburgh. It gets very hot and humid this time of the year. Many people have second homes by the Atlantic (about 1-2 hrs. away) and migrate en masse to the beach. A lot of places in Porto Alegre itself close or open only half-time until after Carnival (including, I believe, the university). If you have the opportunity, visit one of the beaches. The one I like best is Torres, and in particular the Guarita. It sounds like you'll be there around Carnival, is that true? Porto Alegre has carnival much like in Rio. You can choose to go see the "street carnival", a spectator event where you basically watch people pass dancing the samba or on floats (expect a lot of nudity), or go to a "club carnival", normally indoors, where most everybody dances (a participatory event) and many people drink. Prices were very high (NY-high) last time I was in Brazil. To keep the inflation low, interest rates (and consequently the exchange ratio) have been kept very high. Some places to go: - Mario Quintana cultural center - art movies, has a cafe upstairs from which you can watch the sunset on the Guaiba - Dado Bier, Av. Nilo Pecanha - a microbrewery - Teatro Sao Pedro - theater, classical music - downtown Some homepages: -- general info -- some pictures -- pictures -- info -- general info -- supercomputing center -- CS dept of the University of Rio Grande do Sul -- the local newspaper Natural Attractions near the city: The park I like best is Caracol, which has a tall (80 m) waterfall, a canyon, and hiking trails through the woods. It's in Canela/Gramado, about 2 hrs. from Porto Alegre. The Guarita beach in Torres (2 hrs from Porto Alegre) has a mini-park and steep, tall promontories. There are other parks that are possibly more interesting, but are not well prepared for tourists. A really amazing one is the Itaimbezinho canyon. It's about 3 hrs. from Porto Alegre. I have friends who hiked down the canyon all the way to Santa Catarina (the next state) camping in primitive conditions along the way. There are several buses a day between Porto Alegre-Gramado and Porto Alegre-Torres, and both Gramado and Torres have many hotels. There probably are buses between Gramado-Caracol and Torres-Guarita, but I can't tell you for sure (they're close enough that there might only be taxis). Almost certainly you can find tourist-oriented day trips by bus (not the buses locals take) from Porto Alegre, Gramado, or Torres, to take you to Caracol and Guarita. I'd guess that's your safest bet, as people on the street often don't speak English well enough to give you good directions.