Thursday, February 3, 2022

[BELO HORIZONTE] Chilling in Beh-Agá


Touted as Brazil’s sixth largest city, Belo Horizonte automatically became an R&R pitstop for me. You know what that means. Big city + nice Airbnb studio = I’m not going out, guys. Well, actually I still had to go out to get groceries and buy food but there was a grocery a block away as well as a small but upscale mall called Praça Savassi that was just a ten-minute walk. I guess what I’m saying is that I didn’t have to go far. And then I felt guilty. At least feature something for BH, right? And so, I went to Pope’s Plaza for a panoramic view of the city.


Just to make it clear to all of you, I LOVE BEH-AGÁ, okay. It is just so homey, and the location of my Airbnb so near to the mall makes me believe that I can actually relocate here and never get bored. I guess the problem is that its domestic air connections pale in comparison to those of either Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, but if all I ever wanted was to find a good nest where I can allow life to happen, this can be it. It’s not as hectic as the other two mentioned, but not as touristy either. As far as tourism is concerned, Minas Gerais has a wealth of options just for you outside of the city. Oh wait, we were talking about the pope’s plaza.


I just searched randomly on Google Maps for attractions and photos. Praça do Papa felt like the safest bet because of the view, not to mention it was just a short Uber ride from my location in Savassi. And so, off I went. From what I’ve read, but don’t quote me on this, the plaza was named after Pope John Paul II. It was inaugurated in the neighborhood of Mangabeiras in 1980, when the pope visited Belo Horizonte. The only indicator of anything religious in nature at the attraction, though, is a big cross at the middle.


But let’s not kid ourselves here. The real attraction here is the sweeping panoramic views of downtown Beh-Agá and the hills and mountains that surround it. It’s an awesome view, to say the least. It’s as if you can see the city divided by layers, a group of skyscrapers falling in line with another group saying hello from the background. It’s like a class photo, but of buildings and scenery in one shot instead of people. I know that’s a weird analogy. Forgive my hyperactive imagination.


There is a resident vendor of coconut water there, which I am not a big fan of but if ever you get thirsty, that’s probably your only option. The road going up the hill reminded me of exclusive subdivisions in Metro Manila. Big houses. Tall gates. Well-manicured gardens. It’s like the neighborhood you’d want to be part of if you were filthy rich. And then you reach the plaza which serves as the centerpiece of the roundabout. Look north and you still have some green hills to climb if you are hitching for a hike.


BH has its own group of popular churches, but I ended up visiting the one at Carmo, which does not really look like a legit tourist attraction. It seems like the church of a catholic school. What caught my attention was the style of roof its bell tower had, which looks out of place because it appears to be like the roof of pagodas you see in China as far as color and style are concerned. Cross the street from there and you end up at Patio Savassi after a walking for a bit. Malling time!


In my case I just watched two movies for two consecutive afternoons: Moonfall and Nightmare Alley. The mall also has a big bookstore which further fueled my newfound obsession with Brazilian literature. I also found a shop there selling suitcases. After a decade of service, my white Victorinox luggage already called it quits, so I had to buy a new one. I guess all I’m trying to say is that BH felt legit homey to me, what with all the creature comforts I enjoyed there. For tourism, I decided to just go to Ouro Preto the next day.

[BELO HORIZONTE] Chilling in Beh-Agá

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