Paraty, RJ State

Sao Paulo Travel Blog

 › entry 7 of 45 › view all entries
First glimpses of Paraty
Ok firstly I've had to add two different places under the same location under two seperate entries as my travel site can't seem to locate Paraty in RJ state here in Brazil but it will find Sao Paulo...rubbish.

Secondly I was reading a blog by an English guy written a few years ago that said that when writing a travel blog it shouldn't be too smug and I guess he has a point, no one wants to hear hwo brilliant things are all the time do they? So I've been racking my brains to think of any anecdotes of examples of my misfortune that would give you all a chuckle; well the worst weather Rio has seen in 30 years must count for something? You expect to regail everyone with tails of beautiful beaches, sunsets and scorching temperatures not being soaked to the bone and seeing water up to your knees.
At night after the tourism festival
Well other than that there hasn't been too much, I've managed to lose my sleeping bag, get ripped off by taxi drivers (fairly standard the world over) and get ill for 24hours and I'm hoping no one would wish me to get really sick! So no real gaffs to date so far but I'm sure I can inject some wit somewhere along the line.

Anyway back to the matter in hand...

Most travellers plump for either Paraty or Ilha Grande as they head south from Rio for their first beach stop, occassionally some do both, after a bit of reading earlier on in the trip I deciced to go for Paraty as it had a bit of culture as well as good beaches and was alos less hassle to get to.
After a short and uneventful bus trip (buying bus tickets was definetley less of a challenge than I'd thought it'd be) I arrived in Paraty.
Emporio da Cachaca - now we're talking!
I sickeningly after Rio and Salvador have now found the knack of finding the knack of travelling on the days when the weather isn't so great and it being decent while I'm actually stopping in a place.
After checking into my hostel late afternoon I decided to explore Paraty's charms, as from what I'd already seen so far I'd fallen in love with. The hostel was right opposite the beach (though I don't think anywhere is too far from the beach in Paraty) - bonus!
As I wandered around the historical old part of town (which I think is petitioning for UNESCO heritage status) it seemed to be unusually busy for the off-season and the reason for the throngs of people I soon discovered was that there was a tourism convention in town that weekend.
A little overview on Paraty itself; it's an old colonnial town with pretty pastel coloured buildings, quaint squares and churches, boutique shops and some pretty pricey restaurants, hotels and pousadas, particularly if you're staying right in the centre.
To be honest I wasn't too sure what I was going to do in Paraty before I arrived other than wander the old town and lap up a bit of sun on the beach but I soon found there was more to do than I'd first thought.
After wandering around soaking up the atmosphere I bumped into two American guys I'd briefly spoken to on the bus and we ended up sitting down for a drink in the main square chatting and watching the hustle and bustle. A few more picteresque side streets around the square warranted investigation and we stumbled across a caipiranha vendor and hung out next to one of the bars listening to some live music. The guitarist was pretty damn good and we managed to work out he was actually playing tunes from Western bands and translating them into Portuguese; he treated to us to Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam & Nirvana amongst other things, we'd gotten so absorbed by it all that we hadn't noticed it was so late.
The weird and the wonderful
I managed to thankfully remember my way back to my hostel and crawl into bed, in true backpacker style I'd forgotten to take a shower that day but was too tired to care, for someone who takes usually two showers a day at home this is unheard off, but needs must.
Sunday I took a Schooner tour to some of the nearby islands and beaches on the recommendation of my hostel staff, it certaintly didn't disappoint. After a 15 minute walk to the docks I was greeted by an old skool type galleon, I climbed aboard and settled into a sun lounger with my book for company. I'd hoped there'd be other backpackers on the boat that I'd meet as my hostel was supposedly full of Brazilians but no such luck. I decided though it wasn't a big deal and I'd make the most of the weather and top up on my tan and catch up on my book.
After about an hour or so we stopped at our first beach for the day (which one of the boat crew told me the name translated as the red beach, though I couldn't tell why as it certaintly didn't have anything to do with the colour of the sand), doned my face mask and snorkel to try and find some wonders in the ocean. After 15-20 mins of fruitless searching I swam ashore to go for a walk along the beach but as several other boats were also moored there so after a while it ended up feeling a little crowded, amazing how people can spoil the tranquility but you need them to get there in the first place.
The horn sounded to call us back to the boat and not long after getting comfortable a Brazilian guy approached me and asked if he and his friends could talk to me and practise their English, I of course was willing to oblidge! The rest of the trip turned into an amazing affair, there were 20-30 students who all wanted to talk to me and ask about my trip, why I had chosen to come to Brazil, what I liked about it and what I thougt about the people.
My transport for the day
It was a really great experience, if a little surreal when I was having my photograph taken will them all and we were swapping emails, I felt a bit like some kind of star! The beaches and bays were incredible and reminded me of the Whitsundays in Australia and could definetley give them a run for their money in terms of beauty, although Whitehaven beach is going to take some beating for me. The whole experience continued to affirm my belief that the Brazilians are amongst the most friendly people I've met on my travels to date. I'm not sure if it has something to do with the fact that I'm a solo female traveller and they feel a need to be protective (they have a wonderful family and community spirit here) but whatever the reason is I surely don't mind at all.
I got back to my hostel to find there were English speakers/ travellers there and actually found there were two doctors from London in my room, Riaz and Rosie.
After catching up about our various days they invited me out to dinner and we decided to check out a place called Casa do Fogo - 'House of Fire' where they flambe everything. Rosie and I went for a house special, a local fish with banana, rice and veg flambed in cachaça and wrapped in a banana leaf - de-licious! We then ambled around the old town sampling various delights such as desert from the cake lady (she has a cake wagon!!!) and caiparinhas from the most amazing and cheap little stand in the main square before crashing out at the hostel.
The girls were taking the boat tour the next day and I decided to try the Jeep tour as it included Cachoeira Toboga (a natural waterslide), cachaça distilleries and some trips to various waterfalls in the national park near Penha.
The group was pretty small, me, a German guy and a Brazilian family as well as our non-English speaking guide (marvellous) however between the extent of mine and the guides Spanish and the fact one of the Brazilians could speak English we muddled along just fine. The waterfalls were set along picturesque trails and were really refreshing in the heat, we then visited a 300 year old farm that the Brazilian lady in our group told us that her parents had grown up on a farm not to dissimialr to the one we were visiting in Minas Gerais. Next were the alambiques (distilleries) to sample some cachaça....good times...after tasting a variety of flavours and strengths I was feeling it a bit, good job I chugged a load of water to shake it off before hurtling down the waterslide.
First beach and swim stop on our trip
I did something similar in Thailand but that paled in comparision size wise to this; a series of steep smooth rocks turned the whole thing into an outdoor water park. I was the only one to brave it but made sure I had a few goes, I'll never pass up the chance to act like a big kid!
The only part of the trip that really sucked were the 'gardens' we visited after our somewhat late lunch, it was the most disappointing thing we'd done all day as it turned out to be somewhat of a garden centre and a crappy one at that. Although it was good to do a fair bit in a day most of the things can be reached by public bus and in hindsight I wish I'd have made the effort to do it myself as I ran into a few other backpackers doing it off their own backs and although it wasn't really over priced it wasn't as good value for money as the previous days boat trip.

Dinner back at the hostel ended up being somewhat of a bonus as the girls had met some Canadians staying at the hostel who were cooking that night and invited us all along as they had way too much food, as our contribution to the proceedings we tapped up cake lady again to provide desert. The rest of the evening was a chilled affair supping cut-price caiparinhas on offer from the hostel and chatting with fellow backpackers.
Riaz and Rosie were heading off to Sao Paulo early the next day and I was tempted to join them as I thought it would be nice to have some travelling companions and they were following the same route I was taking, I resisted though as I hadn't really done a proper walk around the old town and take some snaps before leaving so hopped on a bus to Sao Paulo around lunchtime.

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
First glimpses of Paraty
First glimpses of Paraty
At night after the tourism festival
At night after the tourism festival
Emporio da Cachaca - now were tal…
Emporio da Cachaca - now we're ta…
The weird and the wonderful
The weird and the wonderful
My transport for the day
My transport for the day
First beach and swim stop on our t…
First beach and swim stop on our …
New friends
New friends
The beer tree
The beer tree
Whod have thought Id have found …
Who'd have thought I'd have found…
Down the natural water slide - wee…
Down the natural water slide - we…
One of the stills at the distillery
One of the stills at the distillery
just your average garden ornament
just your average garden ornament
The quiet streets of Paraty
The quiet streets of Paraty
One of the many beautiful street s…
One of the many beautiful street …
Sao Paulo
photo by: Eric