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Green grid: Avoiding the anything-goes development that characterizes other parts of Brazil (and that has destroyed much of the country's rain forest), Curitiba has sought budget-friendly green solutions to vexing urban problems. For instance, the city, which is situated on a flood-prone plateau, built two parks with artificial lakes to act as buffers in lieu of more expensive levees. That was in 1972; since then, repurposing of vacant lots and land acquisition has created 33 parks. And you won't see gas-chugging lawn mowers, either—in many parks, sheep cut the grass.
Living city: Curitiba's most popular parks are also home to many of its architectural marvels: The central Ibirapuera Park hosts a number of Oscar Niemeyer originals, and the tubular steel–skeleton Wire Opera House is located in Parque das Pedreiras. In the central Batel neighborhood, you'll find plentiful nightlife and an array of German, Ukrainian, and Italian restaurants that reflect the city's ethnic heritage. Brazilian purists, however, opt for the decidedly un-PC churrascaria steak houses.
Sustainable stay: Although Curitiba is surprisingly lacking in green standards for its hotels, you can sleep well at San Juan Johnscher, a boutique hotel in a restored 1917 building that combines modern earthy design, like stacked-timber walls and a solarium, with a traditional colonial style.
San Juan Johnscher
354 Barão Do Rio Branco
Tel: 55 41 3302 9600