The best decision Andrew made on this trip to date was the decision to fly here. Sometimes you can be lucky and get flights for nearly the same price as buses and in this case we did, so always check before getting your bus ticket. It almost seemed alien to arrive in a place 3 hours after leaving another but it was also a treat. You'll get very used to the long journeys very quickly. Florianopolis can be a bit of a mouth full so lets do as the locals and call it Floripa. We loved the place, it's a perfect holiday destination, amazing beaches, crystal clear lagoons, great nightlife and loads to do, you won't be bored here.
We pre-booked our hostel as usual (€10 per person a night). For those of you who know me, the thought of just arriving somewhere and "winging it" does not bode well with me, in fact it can almost be torturous. Sometimes I can be more commonly known as "Monica Gellar", "OCD Freak" or my personal favourite "The List Writer". So we stayed in a hostel called Moa backpackers in Campeche which in Andrews words was "decent" but in mine "nothing special". It had a pool which was a huge plus and all the people we met were really nice and most importantly, it was good value. The downside (there is always a downside) was that it was too far away from the beach and the rooms were a little too cramped, I could barely fit my rucksack beside my bed and they will lie to you and tell you the beach is only a 10 minute walk but don't be fooled its at least 25 but for the equivalent of €9 a night, it was just fine.
Our first day is in Floripa was definitely a beach day. Floripa like most of Brazil is HOT!! It was so hot the whole time we were there that it seemed being near water was the most appropriate thing to do. After being very pissed off about the marathon walk to the beach, our moods changed very quickly... The beach was incredible. Literally I have never seen whiter sand and certainly not that much of it. The water was almost green it was that clear and the best part was that the beach was so big that it felt like there was hardly any people on it. After deciding on a place to perch, I thought a little run would be a nice idea. Off I went along the shore before giving up after 15 minutes because I started to notice "pointers". "Pointers" as I like to call them, are quite literally people who point and for most of the time in Brazil, I seemed to get quite a few of them. It was most likely because of my reflective white skin and the tomato red face (intensified by the running and the scorching heat).
A word of warning!! Floripa gets really strong ripe tides (basically really strong under currents) which are perfect for surfing but deadly for swimming. Myself and poor Andrew unfortunately learned this the hard way. Lets just say there was a lot of panic and a lot of lifeguards involved. But what you should know (which I wish we did at the time) was that if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, where the ripe tides are pulling you away from the direction you want to go (to the shore) then don't swim towards the shore, swim to the side. Ripe tides only happen in small areas along the water so by swimming to the side you'll be able to escape. Seriously though you might thank me one day for this advice and for when that day comes, you're very welcome!
Back to less dramatic things to partake in and know. A definite must - catch a water taxi over to the small island of Ilha do Campeche. This will cost you about 40 reais (approx €17). Here you can snorkel and go spear fishing which is an amazing experience and very beautiful. Another must - sand boarding! You can do this in Praia da Joaquina which is full of huge sand dunes, it's great fun an inexpensive (approx 15-20 reais/less than €10 per hour). Floripa is also a perfect place to try surfing, lessons are cheap and there are plenty of good places to do it (€15 per hours incl. all equipment). Also If you're more adventurous, you can try diving or kitesurfing.
There is a lovely lagoon called Barra da Lagoa which is lovely to walk around and a lot of the main sites and attractions are centred around here including the nightlife. Unfortunately we had to get a bus there so I definitely recommend staying around there. Two of the better hostels would be Backpackers Share House or Backpackers Sunset (both approx €11 per night). We only heard amazing things about these two places. Most hostels will cook dinner in the hostel which is usually really good and varies each night and you just pay a certain amount to eat it or just add on to your tab. I'd definitely recommend doing this as it is cheaper than eating out, less stressful than cooking and always a good way of meeting people. It only ends up costing another €7-€9. Seafood is good in Floripa so try it while it here!
Floripa is a good place to go clubbing or to one of the many beach bars but if you're a girl reading this then be warned, the men are creeps (especially the locals). Don't walk around at night by yourself and if you can avoid bringing a handbag out, do. Did I mention, Floripa is hot? We looked up at the thermometer in town one of the days and it read 39 degrees. Ok so there's hot and than there is too hot. This is too hot, especially for Irish folk like us, in Andrews words "I'm sweating like f***". My only advice for this is stay somewhere during the day with either good air conditioning or beside a pool, or water of some sort, oh and of course in the famous words of Baz Lurhman "wear sunscreen".
So after a few days in Floripa, my opinion of Brazilians started to change. In fact, you could say I almost warmed to them. The hostel staff were lovely and very helpful, the people on the streets, in the hostel and the locals were all very friendly. Some people said that that's the different between the north and the south of Brazil. So I thought "yeah I suppose it's similar to north and south Dublin". The biggest factor in this change of heart was a girl we met where I can't not mention her, her name was Daniella and I'm positive that she was the nicest person either me or Andrew has ever met and are ever likely to meet and wait for it the biggest shocker of all... she was Brazilian!! After formal introductions and the standard "what are you doing here" question (which after 2-3 weeks of travelling, you get very fed up with answering), we then asked Daniella how her English was so good, obviously presuming she learnt it in school. But no, no, no this couldn't have been further from the truth. At first she wouldn't tell us because she thought we'd laugh eventually after me harassing her, she gave in. This was her answer "well when I was younger, I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer and after watching the first few series, I couldn't wait to watch the next one but like everything, it came out in America first and I would of had to wait at least a year before it camed to Brazil and was translated into Portuguese so instead I taught myself English so I could watch all the new series as soon as they came out". This is exactly word for word what she said, if I could describe the 3 minutes silence the followed her response, I would! Rarely am I speechless but this one had me! What the f*** like!!! To be honest, the more we started talking to this girl, the more she amazed me. Next question from me "Daniella, have you ever been to America", her reply "No but I love to go so I can go and see the musical Cats in Broadway because I absolutely love cats". Her favourite film was The Lion King (we shared this in common), she is studying veterinary through English, she has 2 cats but would love more.... Can you see the reoccurring theme here??? Anyway we loved this girl! I wanted to take her in my rucksack and bring her travelling with me. And if she ever comes to Ireland which I seriously hope she will, I'll let you meet her because you'll be just as amazed by her as we were. Oh and yes she still loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all things Sarah Michelle Gellar and Angel (who didn't love Angel though).
That is it from our adventure in Floripa, next stop Montevideo, Uruguay and unfortunately back to the "common people mode of transport"... buses!
I'll keep you posted!