Before setting foot in the Happy Harbour I hadn’t fully pictured how the city should appear. Given the German/Italian immigration patterns I imagined a little Latin colonial, maybe a historic quarter with brightly painted houses, cute cafes, wine bars, cobblestoned streets and historic churches. Perhaps packed with sleepy bars by the river that come alive at weekends, and food vendors concocting aromatic fare on every corner. There are remnants of that Latin colonial place I had visualised in my head, but it’s altogether a different place.
Porto Alegre is an industrial city for work rather than play, capital rather than culture. A city full of beautiful women but no supermodel itself. Along with the 60’s and 70’s structures and pedestrian unfriendly wide roads, the city applauds modernisation. So generic gated high rises are replacing its once historic buildings, which are vanishing.
Architecture may not be Porto Alegre’s forte, however it does have one redeeming feature; a tree for every season. Porto Alegre is unquestionably a Dendrophiliacs paradise. It’s is hardcore tree porn for nature-lovers around the globe. Palm trees, fruit trees, colourful floral trees, pine trees, overhanging trees blanket an otherwise urban concrete jungle. They make the city feel green. The scent of Guavas is tantalising in summer, a riot of orange star like flowers decorate the city in autumn, and plump mandarins can be picked off the trees in winter.
|Beautiful flowers that adorn the trees in POA|
However the jewel in the cities crown blossoms in spring. The Jacaranda (a vibrant purple bell flower tree with twisted branches) give the city a carnival like feel during the months of October and November. Internationally recognised Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho is probably the most famous street to spot these in bloom. Without a doubt, the Jacarandas are the cities number one treasure and should be cherished.
|Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho|
Given its stunning climate, it’s surprising that more doesn't happen outdoors. Revitalisation of the waterfront, plus more outdoor cafes and establishments would enhance the quality of life. And a festival with lots of street vendors and events on Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho, for instance would surely be nice way to pay homage to the cities undeniable natural beauty. If that ever happens is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, charming mountain towns and the wine region are only a drive away.