By Harold Emert
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – For those residents and tourists seeking a break from the big bustling cities of Brazil, the tranquility of bucolic Teresópolis might be the right tonic.
Located 47 miles, or 90 minutes by bus, from Rio de Janeiro, in Rio’s Serra (or mountain) range region, the city’s current population is 180,000.
A Brazilian Indian tribe’s region in the 16th century, Teresópolis became a favorite visiting place for the Royal family of Brazil’s Portuguese Emperors in the 19th century.
It was subsequently named after Teresa Cristina, the wife of Brazil’s second Emperor Pedro II. George March, a Portuguese citizen of English roots, purchased lands in the city’s region now known as Alto (high area). These lands became the town’s origin.
Teresópolis is an ideal mountain retreat, for a weekend, during summer or winter. But despite tropical Rio de Janeiro being nearby, Teresópolis can get cold, especially at night, so bundle up!
To Europeans, the town located near the “Dedo de Deus,” a mountain range resembling what Brazilians call “Finger of God”, may resemble parts of Austria.
To a New Yorker, Teresópolis resembles the Catskill mountains once known as the “borscht belt”.
In winter, burn a log in a fireplace, eat fondue and drink a glass of French, Chilean or Brazilian wine, and you are in another world.
With an abundance of trees, birds, wild species, and a splendid National Park, Teresópolis – if the weather permits – is a paradise for a hike or a contemplative walk.
Enjoy its usually unpolluted streams, the natural aroma of its pine trees and observe the varied and colorful bird species. Fresh fruit, vegetables, poultry, meat, and even filtered tap water have a “taste” often absent from similar products in the big city.
The peace and quietness, in contrast to the noisy and air polluted big city, can be just the right medicine for not only the artistically inclined but also for those seeking a break from the tense work routine.
Enjoy some of the pleasures of the pre-cybernetic age by turning off your mobile phone, reading, from paper, at the downtown SESC library or hop over to the nearby imperial shop during the weekend’s artisan fair.
Visit an orchid-raising entity, attend a lecture, enjoy movies and videos at the Vila Nova hotel; or a concert at Centro Cultural Feso Pro Arte.
Dine out at a fine restaurant like the first-class steakhouse Novilho de Ouro, or the Italian restaurant Viva Italia in the Alto region, or the traditional Austrian-influenced Alpino in the center of Teresópolis.
A visit to the lovely Granja Comary, a condominium with an artificial lake swarming with local “communities” of geese and ducks near the grounds where Brazil’s Football Selection team trains is also a must visit.
Always check the local newspaper O Diario for news of conferences and cultural events.
Who says small towns are boring?
During winter, bring warm sweaters, jackets, woolen caps, and gloves. And as an observer, you might get the impression that the populace in this “hick” town smile and laugh more than those hustling about in the big city ninety minutes away.