A tale of Brazilian cities
I haven´t said anything about Porto Alegre yet. But let me. It´s an odd place, not quite Brazilian and yet quintessentially so. Sometimes I imagine I´m in Buenos Aires (or what I imagine Buenos Aires would be like if I had actually been there before) given the preponderance of white German and Italian faces I see.
But at the same time it´s a city which can be as grungy as the rest, especially around the Praça XV. OK, it´s not quite as run down and forgotten as parts of Fortaleza, but the whole open-street market scene is similar to that in Rio´s city centre: lots of noise and bustle, usually pierced by some bloke on a microphone telling passers-by that if you buy five pieces of soap from his shop you´ll get the sixth free. Or something like that.
Some effort has been made to maintain the older, neo-classical buildings around town. But there still remains a plethora of greying, soulless, concrete office blocks which blight most Brazilian cities.
And like Fortaleza, I have yet to work out the bus system.