In comparison to our adventurous Peru, overall our visit to Brazil was chilled - we were beach bums. Brazil is so huge and there is so much to see but we only had 3.5 weeks, so we concentrated on beaches between Sao Paolo and Rio, going slightly north of Rio but that was it. The best things about Brazil are their constant drinking of beer from early in the morning (and it is dirt cheap, like 60c AUD at the supermarket) plus I loved their relaxed attitude and I really admired their body image which is much healthier than Australia´s! The girlie magazines, mannequins and girls in real life are much curvier and aren´t afraid to flaunt their stuff, I love it! They are all as sexy as hell.
After Peru, arriving in Sao Paolo was a bit of a shock. Peru was so primitive and here is a developed country again! I almost wanted to fly back to Lima. Except I hated Lima, but you know what I mean. But Sao Paolo is a cool city and we enjoyed the two days we had there and although we took in the sights of the CBD, I am sure there was much more we could have seen. Michael keeps saying Sao Paolo is similar to Melbourne, being the cultural city of Brazil - and Rio is Sydney for sure as everyone is more concerned with their tan! Here is a rundown of where we went:
Trindade is short bus ride out of the popular beach town Paraty. We´d read that Trindade is a small beach town and it didn´t disappoint, it was beautiful. Four beaches surrounded by rainforest with waterfalls, it was the perfect place to relax. Our hostel was in the rainforest which was fabulous except that it was very damp and lots of bugs! But the hammocks on the wooden deck plus the fantastic hostel hospitality (and about 5 Australian guests) helped us get into the beach spirit.
the next stop was Ilha Grande, which we got to via bus and (very slow) ferry. What a beautiful island, however when we got there it was raining but you could still see how great it was. The rain didn´t matter as our hostel was fabulous (overnative green) and the owner Christina makes delicious Brazilian dinners so it was great to sit around and talk to fellow travellers - most of them either Australian or another nationality living in Australia! It is weird, we came across no Australians in Peru but in Brazil most travellers we come across are. The weather got better and we did lots of very hard (steep, slippery, hot!) walks around the island to reach the beaches - the best one being the surf beach Lopes Mendes. It would have been smarter to take a water taxi there but 6 hours of walking did us good after non stop buffet breakfasts!
When we arrived at Buzios, we panicked: the place looked like a dive! According to Lonely Planet, Ms Bardot had discovered it in the 60´s and declared it South America´s St Tropez. We hated it and told the pousada owner so on the first night we stayed there. We thought we wouldn´t be popular with him but this made him spend the next 4 days convincing us otherwise and helping us with the rest of our trip. He suggested we hire a buggy for 24 hours and see the place properly. What we discovered is that although the main street is ugly the beaches and centro are very cool. Pacha has a club on the beach and it looked fantastic although we didn´t make it there! We managed to ignore the hostel owner´s direction to fill up the petrol with $30 and decided on $20 instead which meant that we ran out of petrol 300 metres from the petrol station!
Michael did some kite surfing there and managed to break the kite (hmm i wonder why the next day the instructor said there was no wind to kite surf even though it appeared to be blowing a gale!!!). Unfortunately the wind wasn´t on his side, so we decided to move on to...
Arrial do Cabo
Once again we headed to a place known for its kite surfing (well it is just one of the things it is known for) and its fantastic beaches and sand dunes. And once again the main streets weren´t pretty - it is a plain working class town but the beaches were the most amazing colours we´ve seen. We stayed in a fantastic pousada (Nautillus) recommended by the kitesurfing owner that had a gym, pool and is a weekend destination so for most of the 4 nights we were there we had all the facilities to ourselves! Was also the best food as well. The BBQ steak was terrific and we went to one restaurant twice because of its beautiful golden fish with prawns cooked by an Italian mama!
Michael´s two days of kitesurfing cost more than our over enthusiastic waiter earned in a month, how sad for him! But unfortunately Michael was in for more disappointment with the kite surfing. Although the psycho French kitesurfing school owner had promised Michael that the lagoon where they hold the lessons is always windy (which we didn´t quite believe of course), Michael only got 3 hours of lessons in. Frenchie was a slippery frog and managed to change his story about the price of the pousada (lucky we had it in writing, so he had to stick to his original word) and ended up getting so annoyed with us being annoyed with his lies that he gave Michael a refund for the part of ´ze package´ he didn´t use and we went our separate ways! It was then we decided it was time to go to Rio.
Rio de Janeiro
We arrived in Rio on a sunny and clear day and I guess that helped us instantly love the city. The hostel we´d chosen looked very nice on the internet and it was BUT our room seemed to be the last resort room that they sell if they´re fully booked - it was up two flights of stairs (one of them very rickety ones and with a huge backpack it was very cary particularly the way down!) and the end of the hallway. The room itself was tiny and the bed seemed to be made of concrete, The only bonus was a cool balcony with the standard hammock. We had a sleepless night and woke up at 6am to seek out a new hostel and stumbled across some serviced apartments i´d actually contacted weeks before in Copacabana that are two bedroom, kitchen, private bathroom (rare in rio) and cable tv. All of this was ours for the same price as our prison cell in the hostel, And it was a lot cheaper than most of the private rooms in the city, we were very lucky! Finally after 6 weeks of travelling we had our own space. We spent the first full day on the beach at Copacabana and Ipanema which are both beautiful. The second day we thought we´d be lazy and do a tour of all the big sights. The minute we handed over the cash it started raining! We went to Christ the Redeemer which had basically disappeared in fog and then decided to call off the tour and do it ourselves on another day, though we did see Cathedral, Sombodrome and Maracana stadium.
The next day we did the sights of the city of Rio (as per the Lonely Planet´s walking guide!) and then took the streetcar to Santa Teresa which was the best thing about Rio so far, in the open air going over the city!
On our second last day we decided it was time to try Sugar Loaf again. And although it wasn´t totally clear, the view was amazing and the 4 cable cars you take to get to and from it make it worth the money! We also decided to farewell Rio (and Brazil) with a boat cruise. It was great to see all the sights from the water (especially Christ the Redeemer - he really is watching you from everywhere!!!).
A funny thing about the women of Rio: every single one of them (black or white) has a halter neck bikini tan line which looks quite strange when they are off the beach and in their work clothes! Also as it is so humid and there are so many high rises, we constantly were covered in áir conditioner rain drops´!
Rio is a beautiful city with its combination of mountains, forest and beaches all amongst a beautiful city. I think it is one of the highlights of our trip.