Rio de Janiero and Charming Paraty, Colonial Town 4 hours south of Rio
08.09.2013 - 27.09.2013
Beginning three weeks in Brazil. Left Atlanta at 10PM on September 7, 2014 and arrived at 9:30AM on September 8, 2013. This is my first trip to South America. Passport control was quick and I was soon on the bus to my hotel facing Ipanema Beach. The flight had been full with primarily Brazilians returning home and I had not gotten much sleep, so I was tired on the hour bus ride into the city and my hotel. The hotel has a pool and chairs and tables on the roof with great views of the beach. Winter just came to an end and it is now spring time with temperatures in the mid 80's.
I visited PUC-RJ University to discuss the MBA class and found a wonderful tropical landscape.
I visited the IBM office that had great views of Sugar Loaf.
This is a view of Copacabana Beach.
Sunday is the day that Cariocas (citizens of Rio) enjoy their beach. The road along the beach is closed in one direction for pedestrians. Below are views of life on the beach.
There is a hippie market on Sunday's in Ipanema.
Then back to the roof of our hotel to enjoy the view....
We spent a couple of days in downtown Rio. We visited a museum that had an exhibit of art from the Vatican Museum, visited the Cathedral that was where the King of Portugal worshiped and saw a strike by teachers. The teachers are concerned about working conditions and pay.
The next day we went to the Botanical Garden to enjoy some shade and quiet.
Avenue of the Palms
We had dinner at a popular restaurant near the Gardens, Braseiro in Gavea. We had broccoli rice (popular dish in Brazil), picanha (beef), farofa de ovo with bananas (a toasted manioc flour mixture), and french fries.
Trip to Christ the Redeemer and views looking at the Lagoon on the backside of the Ipanema strip.
Restaurant just behind the hotel where Girl from Ipanema was written.
Nice view of Sugar Loaf in the background taken from Fogo de Chao patio overlooking the bay
Flowers in the market
Lapa is the cradle of bohemian Rio and is also home to the Arcos da Lapa, an impressive aqueduct constructed in the mid-18th century by colonial authorities. There are many clubs and dance hall for Samba and impromptu street parties near the Arcos. We went to Carioca da Gema on a Saturday night. Nothing begins until 9:30PM and the small dance floor is crowded and most patrons are standing as tables are in limited supply. There are many tables on the streets of Lapa as well as people walking on the streets. We found it much livelier at night than during the day.
Coming back we saw a lighted hut on Ipanema Beach selling drinks and snacks.
Sunrise on Ipanema Beach
Then off to Paraty, a colonial town 4 hours south of Rio (325 miles). The bus station was very large and confusing, but a young woman befriended us and helped us find the Costa Verde ticket counter and purchase the tickets. The buses are great. When you purchase the ticket it is like buying a seat on an airplane. You buy for a specific time of day and select a seat on the bus. The road is winding and hugs the coast line with great views of the mountains and the ocean. There were a couple of nuclear power plants. Electricity is expensive in Brazil. We arrived at 6:45pm in the dark and walked to our pousada. It was great to get to get to bed a little earlier than usual. Our first night's pousada
The next day we looked at a couple of places and decided on the Palmeira Imperial Pousada. Very nice grounds with hammocks, pool, jacuzzi, and steam room.
One of the Rooms Relaxing Wonderful breakfast
View from our window...
Background on Paraty. A town of about 33,000 on Brazil’s Costa Verde (“green coast”), Parati (or Paraty) pronounced Par-a-CHEE sits halfway between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. It is a preserved Portuguese colonial (1500–1822) and Brazilian Imperial (1822–1889) town. The town is located on the Bay of Ilha Grande, which is dotted with many tropical islands. Rising up as high as 1,300 meters behind the town are tropical forests, mountains, and waterfalls.
After the discovery of the world's richest gold mines in 1696 in the mountains of Minas Gerais, Paraty became an export port for gold to Rio de Janeiro and from there on to Portugal. The ensuing gold rush led to the construction of the "Caminho do Ouro" or "Gold Trail", a 1200 kilometer road, paved in steep areas with large stones, which connected Paraty to Diamantina via Ouro Preto and Tiradentes. Not only was it used to transport gold to Paraty, but it was also used to convey supplies, miners and African slaves by mule train over the mountains to and from the gold mining areas. The Gold Trail fell into disuse because of attacks on the gold laden ships bound for Rio de Janeiro by pirates who frequented the islands and coves of the Bay of Angra dos Reis. Eventually a safer overland route from Minas Gerais to Rio de Janeiro was created because of these pirate raids. Finally, the gold itself began to run out in the late 18th century, and Paraty declined.
The city's economic activity revived as a port for a new boom, the coffee trade of the Paraiba do Sul River Valley in the early 19th century, until a railway along the valley created cheaper transport to the port of Rio de Janeiro. Another smaller revival came late in the 19th century with the production of cachaça, which is a sugarcane-derived spirit best known today as the basis for Brazil's most famous drink, the caipirinha. The name "Paraty" in that period became synonymous with cachaça. Since then, Paraty has been out of the mainstream, which is why it did not change for centuries, until a paved road was built from Rio de Janeiro to Santos, near São Paulo, in the 1970s. The city then began a new cycle of activity, which transformed a small, almost abandoned town living on very limited economic activity, mainly fishing and agriculture (bananas, manioc, sugarcane) into a tourism destination.
The colors of Paraty are lovely..Interiors
Plants in Paraty...
We took the bus about 30 minutes out of town to Penha, Brazil and to Tobogo waterfall and also the start of the Gold Road into the jungle.
You are required to have a guide to hike the Gold Road.
There is a hanging bridge that leads to Tarzan Cafe. Very nice.
There is also a sliding rock that some locals actually have managed to go down with their feet without cracking their heads. Everyone today was a visitor and sat down for the ride. We did not attempt the slide.... :-)
There is a distillery in the area that produces the national liquor from sugarcane, cachaca The major difference between cachaça and rum is that rum is usually made from molasses, a by-product from refineries that boil the cane juice to extract as much sugar crystal as possible, while cachaça is made from fresh sugarcane juice that is fermented and distilled. It is typically between 38% and 48% alcohol by volume. Caipirinha is the tropical drink made with limes and cachaca.
There are schooners that go out on the water and visit several islands for a 5 hour boat excursion. A singer playing the guitar entertains the entire trip. We were the only English foreigners. In fact everyone else was Brazilian. The weather was beautiful and it was a relaxing afternoon, enjoying the view and the music.
A storm came up and produced a lovely sky as we were returning.
The city is laid out in grids and is below sea level so that on high tides and full moon the streets are flooded.
A nice way to get the streets cleaned. Returning from our cruise we were delighted to see the water in the street. It gives the streets a different view.
Very nice wooden decorations
There are many kilo restaurants in Brazil. You serve yourself and then your plate is weighted. We found this restaurant in Paraty. We ate the traditional bean and rice dish and also had some wonderful fish. Throughout our stay we also had great watermelon and always fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast.
We left at 12:30 for our bus to Rio. It was a beautiful day and the road goes along the coast with great views of the mountains and the sea.
Going home..We had a wonderful time in Brazil and enjoyed the life of Rio and the life in Paraty. The people were friendly and helpful. We could not get enough of the wonderful juices, fruit, fish, meat and bread. A wonderful introduction to the many charms of Brazil.