Journeys » Brazil (Journeys) » Brazil - 2008

BRAZIL - A MELTING POT 

Brazil was the first outing of a long list to follow. No camera, and no interest what so ever in photography. Pity, so much to remember! 

Brazil was very easy to travel around because we were totally irresponsible. Hardly knew where Brazil was. All we saw when we landed were the famous fashion flip-flop ob show at the airport. We were hooked. 

Any country that makes such flip-flops must be good! 

Colour, art, music, samba,  carnivals, surfing, wildlife, canyons, meadows, wetland, jungles, desert and much more. I could write a book! Went back 3 times! 

Natal, in the North East, was our base. Praya da Pipa my Marbella. Caperina my passion, a G&T Cariocas version! We were so ignorant that when we saw outside Natal cabins on stilt we thought we were already in the Amazon!!!

We/I have come a long way since.

Manaus was the gateway to the Amazon. I always wanted to see that Opera House built in the middle of the Amazon. From Manaus, we took a boat to one of the many lodges on stilt. That’s when I fell in love with Jungles. Silence, just a boat, sound of wildlife, lovely people. Another world, a world I like. Have to say we did come across drunken locals. In the very depth of the Amazon palm trees, branches used on roofs contain a mosquitos deterrent lasting 15 years. Nature there is ever so perfect

Brasilia was planned and developed by Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer in 1956. Buildings are surrounded by water to create moister during dangerously hot summers. Not my favorite city. The plan was to have designated housing areas for each category of worker. All I saw were junkies in the tourist areas. The Dom Bosco Chapel was one of the most beautiful places ever.

Foz de Iguazu is where the spectacular waterfalls are. Check distances of B&B from the actual falls. You could end up more than just the declared 10 minutes away. Border crossing can be time-consuming. Better to go through an Agency and there are plenty inside the airport in the arrival hall. Very close to the falls, Brazilian side, there is an endangered animal sanctuary. Well worth a visit. Helicopter rides over the falls are also available. Not expensive either.

In Rio we stayed in Lapa…the heart of it all. Colonial buildings, mixed neighborhood, but I loved it and felt safe.First Saturday of the month the Feira do Lavradio in Lapa takes place, is not to be missed. Stalls, music, dancing, eating, drinking. The locals come out to shop and eat.  Almost as good as Carnival. Have a drink at one of the two Santo Espirito pubs. A touch of Cuba….

On Santa Teresa, there is a little village with lots of restaurants and shops. Concerts take place once a week at the top of the hill, a ride on the local tram a Must.

After having been told not to travel on public transport we bussed all the way to Salvador de Bahia from Natal!. We stopped north of Recife, in Olinda a divine place full of artists and their art. Its Carnival is super-famous. Recife we did NOT like. It was there that we witnessed an armed gang of youths robbing a family of their car. Not pleasant.

If you have money left take a few days in Bueno Aires. Budget Airlines are handy. We did. I have never seen so much luggage being checked in, we all thought it wouldn't lift in the air. If you do double check which Airport you are flying back from, as one is in the city. 

 

FLIGHTS

  • LISBON-FORTALEZA-RIO-LISBON
  • THERE ARE SLEEPING FACILITIES IN RIO-AIRPORT.

MY TIPS

  • Santa Caterina region is meant to be a different Brazil, green and very safe.
  • Fernando de Noronha reserve island allows limited access. Book well in advance as you might have to wait weeks.
  • The Pantanal is where you go for wildlife and the Brazilian elusive puma. 
  • If you have a hammock handy and love a rough ride by Jeep, go to Jericoacoara. A desert full of water.
  • In Jericoacoara, it is possible to see the sun go down on the Atlantic. 
  • Rio-Buenos Aires a short cheap flight. And it does lift into the air!.
  • Supplies are brought into the Amazon by boat every 14 days.
  • Manioca is their staple food. Quite pleasant. The food is good but the roosters are the real thing...tough!
  • DO NOT walk up to Corcovado. Highly dangerous. 
  • Don’t be out of sight of  Police around the entrance/exit to Corcovado.
  • Be aware of aggressive cats, monkeys,  around the little train stations from Corcovado to City Center.
  • We found exhibitions were Empty!
  • Visit the Botanic Gardens in Rio.
  • For Fernando de Noronha book well in advance.
  • Take long-distance buses with air-conditioning. They cost more but some have a toilet.
  • Don’t go around at night.
  • Maceio on the Coast is dangerous in parts, but the Sea-front is all about surfing.
  • Ipanema a very nice beach, much quieter than  Copacabana.
  • Salvador de Bahia very unique. Lots to see. 
  • Olinda is on 7 hills like Rome, and home to a beautiful  Monastery. 
  • Check Yellow Fever requirements, as it is rampant among mountain tribes.
  • A couple of bats in our cabin in the Amazon drove us bats! and two in-house baby monkeys
  • slapped my face, stole my sunglasses, and threw my shoes overboard. Monkey stuff.
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