Ouro Preto was a mining town in one of the world's richest ores of all kinds of gems and precious metals. After making many of its early inhabitants filthy rich they decided to blow their wealth outdoing each other building lavish churches and mansions. These are now draped across the hilly town making for a very scenic setting and one of the country's top tourist destinations. Since it was also the birthplace of Brazil's independence movement it is particularly popular with its own tourists. In fact, nearly every tourist we saw was evidently from somewhere else in Brazil. The numerous souvenir shops had staff who spoke no English and all signs are in portuguese. My fluency in Spanish, much to my surprise, was of very little use in making ourselves understood though, thankfully the written word was much easier.
As I said earlier Ouro Preto is situated on a very hilly area. Seeing the various landmarks and museums means either driving at fortyfive degree angles and insanely tight curves wherever you go or subjecting your legs to Olympic-grade training. I valiantly chose the latter and made two separate "summit ascents" which left me panting and with painful calves for days afterwards. Still, it was worth it by far to the stress of driving I think. We skipped the museum of gems despite looking for it for several minutes but took in the rest of the sights on a perfect cloudless, high sixties day topping off the experience with an outstanding chocolate dessert. That dessert ended up being all we had for dinner but neither of us complained. We came down the hill and went back to the hotel to get ready for bed.