Chocolatey and bruised bums (Day 19 to 26)
Trip Start Feb 16, 2014
19Trip End Jun 28, 2014
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After the chaos of Carnaval, we were ready to hit the beaches again (I know, you are all feeling really sorry for us, it´s a tough life). We arrived, via bus transfer, to Ilha Grande, an island noted for its tropical beaches and lush vegetation. As we were now on our own (Carolina - we are missing your tour guide services!), Nayan managed to find directions to our hostel, where we reached 10 minutes later all hot and sweaty after having to carry our backpacks for the first time! The hostel was lovely - we had booked a private room which was turned out to be a small cabin. As we only had two full days here, we decided to spend the rest of the evening exploring the small town and figuring out how best to spend our time.
After a trip to the tourist office, dive centre and supermarket, we headed back to our hostel to cook dinner for the first time since we left the UK - the festivities in Rio and Salvador proved to be costly and eating into our travel funds. Although we were only making a cheap and cheerful pasta, it made us realise how much we missed cooking! The pasta turned out to be one of our most satisfying meals since we arrived in Brazil with Nayan turning it into a penne arrabiata due to a generous helping of chilli sauce!
The following day, we hiked for 2.5 hours to the beautiful Lopes Mendes beach. I managed to fall over and ended up with a very bruised back and bum (no pictures or you've been framed clips available unfortunately). After a couple of hours, we caught a boat back to the main pier, partly due to clouds and rain.
Our second day in Ilha Grande was spent enjoying another one of our passions - scuba diving! Both dives were fantastic, really comfortable and an abundance of aquatic life on show including turtles, sea horses, trumpetfish, giant starfish and parrotfish. The weather wasn't great again, but we didn't mind so much as we were underwater most of the time. Another evening of R&R with an omelette for dinner and a few games of rummy (I kicked Nayan's ass)!
After checking out of the hostel, we made our way down to the pier to catch the boat back to the mainland for our transfer to Paraty. While killing time waiting for the boat, we decided to try some Acai - sorbet made from Acai berries from the Amazon and topped with granola; a very commonly eaten snack in Brazil. Ten minutes before our transfer time, Nayan casually put his hand in his pocket and took out...The key for our hostel room!!! We had forgotton to return it!! Our hostel was a 10 minute walk away so poor Nayan had to run back in the 30 degree heat (up a couple of steep hills) and eventually came back dripping with sweat! A bit of a manic end to our stay in Ilha Grande...
We eventually reached Paraty late afternoon - a small coastal town full of narrow cobblestoned streets. Our hostel was very lively - we spent the first night drinking several beers and met Eliot, a fellow Brit who was travelling a similar route to us (introducing since we´ve spent a lot of time with him since!).
As we had poor weather in Ilha Grande, we made the most of our only full day by spending time at the Paraty-Mirim beach, 45 mins away on the bus. A beautiful, secluded beach with shallow calm water...I waded out about 200m and was still able to stand up. We enjoyed a perfect day followed by a falafel dinner at Istanbul, a Turkish cafe near the hostel.
The next day we were leaving for a night bus to Sao Paulo - we still had the whole day so went on a Jeep tour to some nearby waterfalls and cachaca distilleries. I stupidly forgot to take my swimsuit with me (even though Nayan had reminded me) so wasn't able to enjoy the day fully, but Nayan made up for this on my behalf with Tarzan swinging into the river, rock water sliding and just generally splashing about a lot (see below - vid a bit blurry). The cachaca tasting was interesting; we tried a number of different flavours, such as caramel, cinnamon and cloves.
After another homemade pasta dinner, we were ready to leave for Sao Paulo (I bought Nayan a birthday shot - cachaca, of course!)
We caught our first night bus at midnight and celebrated Nayan´s 29th birthday! Some of the guys we were travelling with bought Nayan some chocolate as a birthday present (Hershey's with Frosties!), which melted as Nayan spent the entire journey sat on it! Ooops, not sure I want to have it now...
Our driver was mental and managed to do a 6 hour journey in 4 hours. We stayed in the Sao Paulo bus terminal until 6am so that we could buy our bus tickets for Florianapolis, and then headed to our accomodation for the night...a HOTEL!
We had decided to treat ourselves as it was Nayan´s bday. Pretty embarrassing however turning up at to a 5 star hotel in our backpacks, me with bedhead and Nayan looking like he spent the night sleeping rough. They took pity, checked us in early and ushered us to the spa to get cleaned. We entered our room and almost cried with delight...a super king bed with 5 fluffy pillows, a clean bathroom with hot water and toiletries provided, and proper air conditioning. Definitely sleeping like a starfish tonight!
The spa had two individual jacuzzi tubs ready for us to soak in - pure bliss. We both felt the cleanest we had been in a long time! All relaxed, we took a nap to catch up on sleep before heading out to explore Sao Paulo. The city felt like any major European city... Lots of buildings, museums and old monuments. In fact, one of the other hotel guests actually asked us what we were doing there since it is the main business capital of Brazil. We took the metro to the Mercado Municipal, a massive food market where we were conned into buying fruit after being literally force-fed fruit by one of the vendors (my mum would have been proud of his persistence).
We then explored a small museum, where Sao Paulo was founded, followed by the Catedral de Se. That was enough sightseeing for us! Back at the comfort of our hotel a cake was delivered to our room as a surprise for Nayan - it was delicious! Layers of pastry, fresh creme and custard; enough to convince us to have dessert before dinner :S
Sao Paulo is known as the city for foodies with great restaurants. We were both tired of Brazilian food and pasta so found a nice Thai restaurant to go to for Nayan's birthday dinner - food was fantastic and it made a nice change having a bottle of wine instead of a caipirinha or beer. We met up with Eliot at his hostel for a few more drinks and called it a night.
We took advantage of a late check out and enjoyed a delicious breakfast buffet and another soak in the private jacuzzis. The rest of the day was spent lounging around the hotel; we were feeling too lazy to do any more sightseeing. Before catching our nightbus to Florianopolis, we met up with Eliot for dinner at Speranza, a pizzeria recommended by the Lonely Planet. Sao Paulo claims to have better pizzas than Italy - didn't quite agree this time!
On board a surprisingly comfy bus, we began a 12 hour journey to Florianopolis, our final beach stop in Brazil. More to follow later!
Have a look back at our last Carnaval entry - we´ve uploaded some more pics.
Beers consumed: Bohemia, Devassa
Anj and Nayan