SLEEPING BEAUTY CITY

Trip Start Jul 12, 2009
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135
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Trip End Aug 18, 2010


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Where I stayed

Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Tuesday, January 19, 2010


As you have read, leaving Rio was hard, we all wanted to remain and play on the beach. On the morning of our departure Ian and I joined the early morning joggers and walkers and jogged our way down to Copacabana. Around us were people of all ages working out either on the beach, on the pavement or on the cycle path.  There were fit people training on the beach volleyball or Foot volley, surfers and overweight tourists trying to run off their capirahnas. 

We then woke the kid's put on our costumes and went straight in the sea until 10am.  Bliss

We were on a transit to Paraty with a family from Rio and two ladies who were off to their summerhouses in Paraty.  Our route took us through the town that recently had a landslide.  We had to slow down around here as it was bucketing with rain and we could see more recent landslides putting fear into all those who had illegally built their houses on the side of the mountains.

The rain was still bucketing when we hit Paraty and as no cars are allowed into the historic city and our Posada was in there, a poor individual had to rush down the cobble stone street with a cart and some umbrellas for us.  His face fell when he saw our luggage!

Paraty is a gorgeous colonial city, which was at its height during the gold rush in the 16th Century, neglected then buzzing again in the coffee period.  Then it slept until some artists and architects moved into the area and kissed it back to life again.  The cobbled streets are exactly the same as when the slaves built them. 

The original city was formed and influenced by the Freemasons and where four streets meet three of the houses have the corners covered in stone to produce a triangle.  On some of the wealthier houses the Freemasons symbols are formed like decorations up the side of the houses.  There are four churches in the old city – one for the Black people, one for everyone (but segregated inside), one for women and one for mixed race.  Throughout the city are seven double doors, which open up to an alter.  These are only used on Good Friday and even though they are on the side of people’s houses they are still owned by the church.

Now Paraty is full of artists, restaurants, cute artisan shops and the normal tacky postcard shop.  There is also a fantastic self-service ice-cream shop which you pay for by weight.  This was great fun with the kids as they scooped up their various flavours and coated their tubs with smarties, nuts and dulce de leche.  The challenge was who could get the biggest. 

Our first day there was a guide and historic introduction to the city.  Then the next day we took a speedboat around the many, many islands.  Visiting Paraty is not just about the city and I feel sorry for anyone who does not have the time to explore the landscape that surrounds.  In fact this would make an ideal sailing holiday destination.  The islands and beaches accessible only by boat are beautiful.  We would moor in a bay and jump into the sea and swim near turtles.  We dropped in bread so schools of fish would come and swim beside us.  We ended up having squid and fish on the beach. 

We took a speedboat around the island but quite honestly the fisherman’s boats looked sweet, especially those with a rooftop-sunning place.  The speedboat does not go anywhere different than the fisherman’s boats just faster.  The schooners also look great fun too – the difference is price and boy is that different - $750 for the speedboat, $375 for the fisherman’s boat and $25 per person on the schooner!  A tip for anyone going check your options first and leave your booking until you get there (unless its Carnival time).

Our best day was going out on a jeep tour to the waterfalls.  We were with our guide plus a guide from the tour agency – a young guy who was brilliant with the kids. The first waterfall we went to was with a young boy who lived there and was used to diving into this deep pool.  Fynn and Edie propelled themselves into the water followed by Ian. They then walked up to another level and swam in another pool.  We were soon off to another pool, which had a swing which took you out to the middle of the waterfall pool.  The last one was a massive slide which feed you into a small deep pool at the bottom, this was voted the kid’s favourite.  Our fit guide skated down the waterfall on his feet vertically and then jumped at the end and just about skimmed into the pool before the rocks.  Apparently they have a competition every year for this sport – "Surfing Pecka".

We also had a detour to a Cachacas distillery.  This used to be the auction house for the gold in the 16th Century.  It is on the gold trail and the gold was bought down from the mines and sold here.  The buyers came from Paraty and then took it back to the port. It is now a distillery and restaurant but full of antiques from the period.  It was here that we learnt how to make coffee and saw the beans growing.  We had lunch at a jungle based restaurant owned by an Italian and his Brazilian wife.  The food was excellent and made even better by the setting. 

In fact we visited two distilleries both offering samples of cachacas, which is made out of the sugar cane and is lethal!.  They use it for the Brazilian Capirihanas.  We also tried one which is made with cloves and Cinnamon which would be ideal for Christmas instead of mulled wine.

We really recommend a visit to Paraty but not just to the old City.  We would love to have sailed around the islands further or even to Rio.  Now sure whether that would be achievable but certainly worth investigating. 

We left our lovely Posada and drove six hours to Sao Paulo with an enthusiastic giant of a driver who spent most of the journey trying to teach us Portuguese, laughing heartily at our pronunciation.  
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