Greetings blog followers,
I've taken a few days rest from my posts to do exactly that...rest! A much needed weekend trip to Paraty (pronounced...PA-RA-CHEE) was the perfect way to spend the past few days outside of bustling Sao Paulo (including getting out of the cold).
About a 5 hour bus-ride along the windy and winding oceanfront, a beautiful colonial town of 45,000 people awaited us. We stopped along the way for a nice Brazilian breakfast and at a beach for lunch where we played a little soccer and bought some beach wear.
We arrived at our Pousada (kind of like a bed and breakfast) with our own verandas and mountain view just in time for a quick historical tour of the historic colonial town on Friday night. The buildings/houses were awesome! All very well kept and colorful. I'm linking the pictures below so you all can see what I mean. This was an old school horse carriage town with cobblestone streets. All the shops were very unique and trendy. Lots of 6-room hostel style pousadas and some of the best food in all of Brazil. We had Thai the first night and followed it up with a nice cigar and wine on the cobblestone streets listening to popular Brazilian music and live samba bands. There was also a church festival going on so the whole town was out...including the dessert vendors. I had tons of chocolate and coconut desserts while roaming the streets.
On Saturday, we woke up early to head to the pier for our 5+ hour catamaran boat ride to some of the 300 islands in the Rio bay and stopped along the way for some snorkeling and beach time...beautiful! In the evening, we had a meeting with the owner of the largest tourism company in Paraty. This was actually a really interesting visit. Lots of insight on the tourism industry in Brazil, how they attract people to the area, what skills they need to host people, and lots of discussion on how to control tourism, especially in a small town like Paraty that has a key draw for people. I should have seen some of the more direct impacts of the global economy on tourism in a small town like this, but hearing them firsthand was really unique. We followed that up with a nice German dinner at a local brewery. They really hyped up the Hofbrauhaus and even sold some of their beer so it was a nice reminder of being back in Cincinnati at one of the 4 Hofbrauhaus restaurants in the world!
Another early wake-up call by rugged Jeeps awaited us for a terrain tour on Sunday. We stopped at a few waterfalls in the surrounding area for some daring jumps, rope swings, natural slides, and swimming. It was awesome! We even stopped for a little tutorial on cachaca (Brazilian liquor) making and had some taste tests. We finalized the weekend with an Italian lunch and boarded the bus back to Sao Paulo.
It's a short week back here for me. Just two more days and them I'm off to Niteroi, the city across the bay from Rio de Janeiro. Taking a bus on Thursday afternoon for a weekend in South America's most visited city and to finally hit Ipanema and Copacabana beach! I'm staying with a friend I met at my high school...a Brazilian who was an exchange student to learn English and now lives back in Rio de Janeiro with his family. I'll be honest, after high school I thought I'd never see my Brazilian friends again but lone and behold, here I am, studying in Brazil for the year and we're reconnecting! To all my readers, build those foreign relationships. It makes the world a smaller place to live and it's always fun to reconnect when you're on your world travels! I'll be sure to take lots of pictures so that you can all witness Rio's breathtaking views and tempt you all to book your reservations for the 2016 Olympic Games!
In the meantime, here are the photos from my weekend in Paraty. Enjoy!