by Antonella Kann
Did I ever mention that the state of Goiás is one of my favorites but overall also one of the least mentioned. Places like Goiás Velho, a historic town which is an unusual tourist-brochure destination, deserves much more than just the simple tag as a preserved colonial town.
It´s not too far away from capital Goiania, so you can drive safely and easily from the airport right into town in well preserved roads. Then, just park your vehicle and start walking. There´s the usual main praça (place), typical to any old configuration of city planning. Around, there´s some commerce but locals tend to stroll around this strategic location at sunset and on Sundays too, after mass.
Goiás Velho is a laid-back sort of place and the main attraction is the traditional hospitality: as a gesture of welcome, and quoting words from famous local poet Cora Coralina “ Every door remains open, as a habit,” she used to say. And it´s true. Nowadays, this kind of gesture is not only rare but something to be proud of. And heartwarming….
While strolling along cobbled streets, colored façades and old sobrados , charming right to its pavements, I realize that this town is an ideal year-round destination. And you won´t bump into tourist-trap restaurants nor be stalked by wish-to-be-guides or even fooled to pay more for a piece of artcraft in one of the souvenir shops.
But do not miss the opportunity to hire a horse-driven carriage to explore every corner of Goiás Velho, which hide a dashing assemblage of 18th century colonial houses, churches and architecture gems. It´s great for capturing pictures of the inhabitants who usually sit in front of their homes, watching the world go by – with their door wide open, naturally.
Eventually you´ll feel hungry and should try the regional specialty called empadão goiano, which is a pie filled with all sorts of meat, from pork to chicken, as well as sausages and other invigorating seasonal produces. Look for menus featuring this dish – quite easy to bump into.
Local artcrafts featuring religious characters are sold widely around town. These dolls are known as the fogaréus
Also, don´t miss a visit to the Casa de Cora Coralina, across a beautiful bridge. It used to be the poet´s home and is now a museum. To spend the night, although there´s no stylish or boutique hotel around town, try the Pousada do Ipê (http://www.pousadadoipego.com.br/) , well located in the center of town. Rustic and simple, it even has a swimming pool and it´s mentioned in the Guide du Routard, so you can trust it´s worthy.