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BRAZIL: PHOTOS AND TRIP REPORT
Here below some of the most
fascinating photos from Brazil. Together with the photogallery, you will find a funny
and interesting trip report full of info and anecdotes describing the whole travel itinerary.
If you haven't read them yet, check out all travel info and precise itinerary here: www.wildtrips.net/brazil.htm.
BRAZIL TRIP REPORT
South America had been a dream destination for us for a long time: we had often postponed the trip because of
high costs or difficulties of organization. In the summer
2012, when two friends and I found a flight to Rio de
Janeiro at a fairly inexpensive price, we had to book... destiny was calling us.
proved to be a viable airline and on the 15th of August at dawn
we landed on time in Rio. Immediately we took a cheap bus
to the city center, which turned out to be quite chaotic in the suburbs. The intense traffic passed among
ugly buildings, shacks and slums. The city center was
just as busy, but in much better conditions. Between two
close neighborhoods there could be the same difference as between
New York and Timbuktu.
It was still early morning when we
arrived at our hostel, the Ipanema Beach Hostel, which I recommend.
Rio si huge, Ipanema was a nice neighborhood where to
stay, well connected by public transports,
safe enough and convenient to the beaches. The most important thing, however,
was the spectacular nature of the place. It seemed to be in Brazil.
Well, indeed we were in Brazil, and just what we dreamed of: the
beautiful promenade with Brazilians engaged in all
beach sports, the fascinating and peculiar green mountains
known as "Pan" scattered around the city, the buildings and
favelas that clambered over the hills. A typical itinerary in Rio includes a walk along
the sea and from Ipanema we got up to Copacabana
with its spectacular arch of beach almost 5 km long. The
sea was not so inviting - it's still the ocean - and
only surfers were in the water.
The beach, however, was so
lively that our various doubts about the dangers of Rio de Janeiro
dispelled immediately. Yes, as we had read there could be
the occasional mugging, who knows maybe even violent, but on those
walks on the sea there were continuously thousands of people. Statistic was on our side.
On the beach we
could see the palm trees, the street vendors, the bars,
the sandcastles, the beach volleyball players of both sexes. There were 28 degrees -
they really face a hard winter, in Rio - so we drank
coconut water. It was horrible. Seriously.
It was almost lunchtime when we arrived at the end of Copacabana Beach. Here
we stopped a taxi that took us to the Pao de Acucar (you can add the proper
accents and cedillas if you want), the famous Sugar Loaf reachable by cable car (another must in any travel itinerary).
Meanwhile, the sky clouded over and it rained a little bit. This maybe ruined in part the
panorama. To us, it still looked spectacular. We laughed and
joked with some girls who worked in the bar on the
top of Pao de Acucar: Brazil was shiny and bright even when overcast.
Here I must dispel a
myth about Brazilian women: there are beautiful and ugly ones,
as everywhere. It's true, there are the buxom beauties, but many are simply overweight. Lots of women
wear a retainer for the teeth:
should we blame for that the increasing importance given to the apperance,
or should we credit (or blame?) the new wealth that is
spreading, with many inequalities, in Brazil?
Sugar Loaf there is the beautiful Playa Vermelha, where
we took some photos. From there we saw some mountaineers climb
the Pao de Azucar: awesome! We returned to Ipanema. The hostel was nice, with the
chance to meet people, ask questions and recommendations and
organize trips. So we booked, for the next day, a minibus
and boat to the tropical island of Ilha
For our first carioca evening we were
invited for dinner at a Brazilian girl who was our acquaintance.
So we learned several interesting facts about the life of Rio, from
the crazy rental price of the her apartment (of 70 square meters), which was 1000 euros per month.
For the well-off with a good
working lifestyle, Rio is not 'so' different from Los Angeles or London: high salaries, long
working hours and expensive luxuries that become almost needs (our friend could hardly live in a
cheap favela). The said apartment was not far
from Botafogo and we reached it by subway. We never
felt threatened by crime. Tour guides
often exaggerate: for example, by night, even if we were three
bearded men, we didn't bring with us anything of value,
following the advice of Lonely Planet, but on the buses
we noticed sweet unaccompanied damsels playing
with their iPhones. The next day the sun returned, and it didn't leave us
until the end of the holiday (nights
excluded, of course). In the morning we walked along the Lagoa
(A lagoon behind Ipanema and Leblon). Even here - in a
particularly rich area of the city - the Brazilians
practiced every kind of sport. At 11 AM we left for Ilha
Grande. After crossing the dirty concrete
outskirts of Rio, we reached the Costa Verde along
which runs the scenic road from Rio to San
Paulo. We had lunch in a service area with a kilo buffet: there
you could fill the plate of everything you wanted, and then you paid according to the weight of the content.
800 grams (I was hungry) of meats, salads,
snacks and savory and mysterious pies costed 4 euros. I was very satisfied. I liked the farofa, although
it was like eating sand. We arrived in Mangaritiba, a seaside village with a beautiful beach.
At Mangaritiba we took a boat to Ilha Grande. It was a
shaky ferry, but I'm not complaining because the boat
did not sink and that in itself was a surprising result.
We arrived on the island, in Vila Abrao, and we looked for accommodation.
Maybe we should have booked in advance because many hostels
were full, but still we found a quiet retirement on
a beach at a good price. The nice thing was that Vila Abrao,
the only small town of Ilha Grande, was devoid of cars: the
promenade, where you could find most hotels and restaurants,
was simply the beach. For long stretches there wasn't
even the sidewalk: you left the hotel and you immediately put your feet
on the sand. Also in the rest of the island there were paths, and not roads:
you could terk around the island in a
The small bars on the
beach were so beautiful that you might desire to drink a caipirinha in each of them, with bad consequences for your
health. The nightlife was quiet, more suitable to
couples. We had dinner with fish, always with sand
under our feet. The next morning we
took a speedboat trip that took us in different
beaches of Ilha Grande. Being an almost uninhabited tropical island, with
white sand, palm trees and mountains
covered with rain forest, there is no need to write
here that they were fabulous places... but I write it anyway. The photos,
however, give a better idea than words. While snorkeling, we noticed a myriad of colorful fish, starfish
and other wonders.
lunch we stopped in a small village, where we, refusing the "touristy" restaurant,
we wandered looking for another bar. We took the opportunity to explore the huts positioned between the sea and
forest. At the end we could only buy some chips bought in a shack. In the evening, we attended a barbecue
organized on the terrace overlooking the sea in a lively hostel. On August the 18th we ventured to walk along the paths of Ilha Grande. Among beautiful views and creeks, you could spend weeks wandering
to the island. Along the trail we saw monkeys and a
black and yellow snake. We weren't so happy of
the latter meeting, and even the snake didn't seem enthusiastic.
It stood there for a while, as he watched, then
suddenly snapped in the forest with a disturbing rapidity.
several wonderful bays, we reached the beach of Lopes Mendes,
which has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful in Brazil.
Indeed, it's really
spectacular. With us there was a Swedish girl, passionate
about nature, who told us about trees, jaguars and other Brazilian flora and
fauna. She was in her paradise, no doubt, but only a fool could dislike Ilha Grande. On the beach there were also
three beautiful Argentine women who walked around naked, I don't know why, but
they definitely had a good reason... which I don't care about,
because sometimes you have to enjoy the natural wonders without
getting lost in too many metaphysical questions.
We surfed a bit before returning by boat to Vila Abrao. After dinner
with a kilo buffet (how I miss them), we went to sleep, very tired.
The next morning, quite
soon, for a ridiculously low price we took the
public boat to Angra Dos Reis, a city on the continent not
far from Mangaritiba. From there, we mounted on a bus to Sao Paulo with the firm intention to get off at
Paraty, the cultural destination of our travel itinerary. The coastline
between Rio and Sao Paulo deserves lots of breaks between the hundreds of
bays, beaches and islands. The peculiarity of Paraty is that it's
a colonial town with a beautiful old center
made of stone streets and white houses with colored doors.
At first, when we arrived
at the small but busy bus station, we didn't notice the beauty of the place, but only a lively and
fascinating squalor. After having left our luggage at
Che Lagarto hostel (booked when we were in Ilha Grande)
we finally discovered the attractive town, following the downtown streets up to the ocean, which, in Paraty,
forms a lagoon, enclosed by some islands.
We had fish for dinner and we slept in the nice hostel. We shared the
dormitory with two Englishmen who always put the fan to
max speed. By raising a bedsheet we could
sail in the room. The day after we attended a guided tour
by jeep, organized in the hostel, to visit the hinterland of Paraty, between
crops, patches of jungle and waterfalls. Apart from the distillery
of cachaca (the alcoholic used for caipirinha) and a
good kilo lunch, the funniest part of the trip was to play in the
waterfalls in the forest.
We dove, we swam, we glided down natural rock slides, we jumped into the
streams using vines, Tarzan-style.
In the evening there Paraty was home to the
Festival of cachaca (pronounced "cachassa"), with
live music (actually, that band produced just some strong noise). Still, it was fun.
After a brief walk in Paraty, unfortunately we had to spent the entire following day
to reach Sao Paulo and from there, by plane,
Foz de Iguacu. In the morning, a guy who had to go to " Sao Paulo " to do some
shopping offered us a lift. That long drive was interesting, including lunch in the most squalid bar of the holiday.
Despite the outward appearance, the buffet was still pleasant (I can give you one main advice about Brazil,
always enjoy your food, even if the appearance might be discouraging). By night, we landed in
Foz de Iguacu, where a van with a driver took us to our accomodation. This Rouver hotel was quite cheap and in
a good location for transport and restaurants. The day after
we took the bus to get to Puerto Iguazu (in
Argentina) and from here to the famous waterfalls.
The Argentine side of
this natural wonder offers many paths to admire
the river and the power of the water from different viewpoints.
Among an incredible view and a spectacular lookout,
we spent a wonderful day. Also the fauna in the park
had its charm: we noticed turtles, catfish, coati,
parrots and colorful butterflies. These fluttered in
swarms along the path, and they were so many that by opening the mouth
it was likely to eat some of them (but not enough to save money on the expensive sandwiches sold by the bars in the park).
In the late afternoon
we returned to the hotel by bus. We had dinner in a restaurant near the
hotel with a churrasco. It supposedly was for three people, but actually it
could feed twenty families and their pets.
Everything was delicious, the meat, the sauces and
the feijolada. We slept heavy. When we woke up we put some effort into having a hearty breakfast and then
we headed, by bus, to the Brazilian side of
Iguaçu waterfalls. Here we left our luggage in some locked cabinets, so we were able to walk free in the
The visit to the Brazilian side
is much shorter since only one path covers
the rim of the canyon where the waterfalls... fall. However, it should definitely be a part of a travel itinerary in Brazil
and it is worth all the 20 euros of entrance, not only because the
views are different than on the Argentine side, but
mainly because the belvedere that concludes the path
is something special. Surrounded by an
incredible span of waterfalls that created fascinating rainbows, we were
completely soaked by the spray. Crazy birds
flew in the midst of that impressive body of water, while
we took so many photographs that we could reconstruct the Iguazu in 3D once back in Italy.
Our visit finished early, so we still had time to throw away money in
some activity stupid. There was the boat trip to
the feet of the waterfalls, but it didn't look so interesting, so in the end we opted to fly over the Iguacu by
helicopter, for the ok price of 90 euros each. After half an hour of wait
we took off. We admired the jungle and the
bends of the Iguacu river, and we saw the most beautiful waterfalls in the world flowing into the horseshoe-shaped canyon.
It was an experience worthy of a long list of enthusiastic adjectives, which I don't write because you would get bored.
Even if that helicopter flight was awesome, I don't know if I would do it again: I have
the feeling that the second time it would
be much less impressive than the first... like it happens with Indian food and sex for money. (That was a stupid comment).
After the helicopter flight
we got the bus to the airport, which is very close to the Iguacu waterfalls. We landed at Rio de Janeiro at
sunset. We were now experts of the city (well, at least so we
felt) so we got a metered taxi, avoiding those who
offered fixed (and inflated) prices, and we returned to the Ipanema
Beach Hostel. The day after we
visited the Corcovado, the 710-meter high mountain in
the middle of Rio de Janeiro on top of which stands the famous statue of Christ the
Redeemer. The queue for the funicular that climbed Corcovado was rather
long, but it was worth it because the view was awesome... a must-visit for any travel itinerary. We came back and a
taxi took us to the hotel. At the wheel there was the best
driver of the world: while speeding in chaotic
traffic he entertained us with some magic tricks. We were speachless, and happy and amazed especially
when we arrived at the hostel sound and safe. In the afternoon we wandered
along Ipanema beach trying to make acquaintance with some Brazilians who could invite us to play beach volleyball or beach
tennis (which is a sort of played on a beach
volley court). After
a timid approach two guys told us to talk to their
teacher who, incredibly, was Italian. He told us
that he came from Ravenna (where the beach tennis was invented)
and that he had lived in Rio de Janeiro for almost 10 years. It was he who
imported beach tennis in Brazil and beach-tennis coach was his job... the climate allowed to play all
year long. We played some games, both doubles and singles. We had great fun,
there was also an old man shouting: & quot;canalha!
Malandrinho!" when we scored a point. What a beautiful life...
The beach tennis importer in Brazil sounded like a great job,
much better than being an engineer, as I am: ten years ago or so, I did it all wrong!
In the evening, we took a
bus towards the city center and, in particular, towards the neighborhood of
Lapa, which is famous for its bars and schools of Samba. In the
streets there were a lot of people, bars,
live music, street artists. I remember a skinny old man who did
some incredible numbers with a soccer ball. He was so small and wrinkled
that looked close to sure death, but instead he was a real acrobat.
After drinks and
dinner we went into a big nightclub, with commercial live music on one floor
and samba on the other. It was a very
beautiful place, rich with decorations and furniture and strange objects that
seemed more suited to a castle than a fashionable "club".
We returned at late night by bus. The next morning we had
just enough time for one last walk in Ipanema and a
photo of the fascinating Botafogo beach, before returning to the
Airport (skirting the favelas on a battered van that
picked us up along the street) and then in Italy. So, our travel itinerary ended drinking white wine
on an Air France flight. We were
extremely pleased, excited by the places seen and the
experiences lived. In hindsight, we shoudl have done just a couple of things differently: 1) we should have avoided spending a day
to travel between Paraty and Sau Paulo; and 2) we should have stayed in Brazil
another year or two.
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