Monday, 2 March 2015

Brasilia

After Lencois we travelled back to Salvador in order to catch a flight to Brasilia. Even though we were doubling back on ourselves twice it was still quicker than getting the bus over 1000km from Lencois to Brasilia. Luckily Max has friends here in the capital so we are staying in complete luxury, the complete opposite end of the scale to our shack in Lencois. Brasilia was built in the 1960s in order to replace Rio de Janeiro as the centre of government. At the time, the city was seen as futuristic and even 50 years on it is still an impressive monument to national initiative. The whole city is designed to look, from above, like an aeroplane so all the suburban areas are identical blocks broken up by commercial streets which appear to be the centre of the local areas. Thankfully we have our friends playing the part of tour guides, otherwise we would have been furiously studying the map every 10 seconds. 
In the 'fuselage' of the aeroplane are where the government buildings are, a long strip called Eixo Monumental. Spread across a 5km stretch is the Congresso Nacional, Palacio de Justica and the Museu Nacional, to name a few. Between these iconic buildings, a retro-futuristic vibe is given off thanks to the architecture of each building, designed by the famous Oscar Niemeyer, who the city's utopian layout is hailed to.

However impressive the buildings are, the word of warning from others Brazilians we have met previously seems to ring true. Apart from the governmental buildings and shopping centres, the city appears lifeless and dull. The Metro is abandoned, the streets are empty and it feels like a lost city. Brasilia didn't even celebrate carnival this year due to austerity measures (of which other city's took no notice). 


But that's not to write it off completely. In the cosmopolitan Asa Sul area, the new rich elite show off their wealth at the expensive chic restaurants that line be Lago do Paranoa, the artificial lake formed in the south of the city, lined with the University of Brasilia, the Olympic centre and the Palacio de Alvorada, the home of the Brasilian president to name a few. 
I wasn't sure what to expect from Brasilia. My purse is definitely stinging from our time here; it is not a cheap place to visit and for budget it definitely presents numerous financial challenges, like most capital cities do. I am glad to have been, however I wouldn't come back in a hurry.