Paraty – Brazil

Hello,

From Sao Paolo, we headed to Paraty; a UNESCO world heritage town with cobbled streets and a river running through it with nearby pristine beaches of Trindade. It sits on the coast between Sao Paolo and Rio. There’s only one company that does the bus trip, Reunidas Paulista, for £20pp. The bus was meant to take 6 hours though annoyingly it was closer to 8! It’s been a while since we’ve done that long during the day rather than over night so we really struggled. Because the bus was late, it also meant we arrived in Paraty in the dark and we were wandering around trying to find our home stay. We had to ask a man sat on the street and he very kindly walked us there.

Despite the fact that the accommodation, Chales Pouso e Panela, was a little bit out of town, we loved it. We were the only guests and the woman who runs it cooked us the most extravagant breakfast for 2 each day. Also, because it was a bit out the way, we saw some amazing wildlife nearby. We walked back one day to find about 6 tiny marmoset monkeys scampering along the telephone wires and jumping in to the trees. We also saw a group of peacocks which seemed to be wild or at least with free range. Everywhere in Paraty there were huge black vultures too.

Paraty old town, reminded us a bit of Colonia, Uruguay though it was quite a bit bigger. We enjoyed meandering through the cobbled streets though it was hard to take in the surroundings because you had to constantly look where you were walking so as to avoid face-planting. The paving was as though someone had sought to deliberately make the most uneven footing.

Though we seemed to be chasing bad weather in Brazil, we still decided to walk to the beach, Praia de Jabaqurara to have a look around. It wasn’t far at all from the town but it was such a huge contrast in such a short distance. We left the cobbled pavings and ended up straight away with a view of the jungle before arriving at a sandy beach. We then had an amazing seafood lunch at Bar Balacobacco sat on wooden benches in the sand with a beautiful view and even a lovely soppy dog with huge ears for company.

We stayed an extra day than we’d intended in Paraty because it seemed we’d finally had a bit of luck with the weather; a whole day of sunshine! As the best beaches are not actually in Paraty, we decided we’d have a little day trip and catch the local bus one hour to Trindade. It was fairly straight forward getting the bus from the main bus station as Trindade was the last stop and they even have the ticket price on the front of the bus ($BR4.25pp). Trinidade is a little town complete with swimwear shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. There are numerous beaches in the area and so we spent the day moving between them. The first beach, with the most people, was Praia dos Ranchos. This beach had a couple of restaurants on it but we decided to go in to the town for lunch to get a break from the sun. In the afternoon, our next beach was Praia do Meio, this is a fairly flat walk about 15 minutes from the town. The final beach we went to was Praia do Cachadaco, to get there you had to clamber through the forest. It was quite steep and slippy at times but in the end, it takes you to the most deserted and peaceful beach though the waves were huge!

Thanks for reading, join us next time as we head to the tropical island, Ilha Grande!

Sophie & Dave

Montevideo – Uruguay

Hello!

From Colonia, we caught a 3 hour bus along the coast to Montevideo. Though it seemed like a legitimate touristy coach, all the locals kept hopping on and off as we drove along. Fortunately we had reserved seats but the aisle was full of people throughout the whole trip.

The capital, Montevideo, is sort of split in to the old city and the new city. One of the main things to do is walk the beach promenade; La Rambla. It was a lovely walk in the sunshine in what is classed as the ‘new’ area of Montevideo. It must have been considered too cold for Uruguyan’s as no one was swimming (apart from a crazy dog charging around the waves whom everyone was watching). The temperature was in the low-mid twenties with glorious sunshine yet most people were bundled up in winter coats and scarves! Probably the only time in South America so far where we’ve both stuck out as clear tourists wearing our shorts! We walked on further to the lighthouse which is on the southern most point of the city. Though nothing spectacular, it was a nice stroll and we saw a stray cat colony near the lighthouse. A lady who stopped with us said that she and others who live nearby come to drop off cat food here for them.

The rest of our time in Montevideo took us to the old city. We did a walking tour with a company called Curioso which was one of our favourite tours yet. We started in la Plaza Independencia where there’s a big statue and a mausoleum with the ashes of Jose Artigas; Uruguay’s national hero who helped to liberate them from various invaders including the Brits (who didn’t we bloody invade). There are 33 palm trees around the square representing the 33 patriots who fought for independence. Around the square, there was also the same building we saw in Buenos Aires whose architecture is inspired by the Divine Comedy with floors representing hell, ascension and heaven with a lighthouse at the top. Lastly around the square we saw the offices of parliament. The guide mentioned former president Jose Mujica who was very popular with the people and who apparently was often seen without guards and eating at restaurants and cafes round the square with ordinary people.

We carried on to La Plaza de la Constitucion, where Uruguay’s most renowned fountain sits. Apparently it was created by an Italian architect and thus some fundamental words about the constitution are spelt incorrectly with Italian rather than Spanish spellings! We also learned that Uruguay is one of the most agnostic and atheist countries, thus has very few churches. We did however go to one, cathedral metropolitana. The church had the body of one of the first presidents of Uruguay – Fructuoso Rivera (1854). Our tour guide said he was the reason why most Uruguyans have light, European skin compared to the rest of South America. Rivera apparently invited all the indigenous people to a gathering and slaughtered them all. Our guide’s comment on this was that the running joke is that Peruvians are descended from the Incas, Mexicans are descended from the Aztecs and Uruguayan’s are descended from sheep. In keeping with the liberal nature of the country, our guide explained how marijuana is legal for Uruguayan citizens; their ID cards have a chip like a credit card which enables them to go to pharmacies, insert their ID and it states how much weed they are allowed to buy. He said it is usually 40g per month and said it was so amusing for him to watch his parents all of a sudden change their perspective on drugs after they realised it was state owned and now he often goes home to see his parents having a joint together!

Though Uruguay was a country we didn’t really know much about, nor knew anyone who had ever been, we really enjoyed our time there and hope to return one day and explore a few more cities and towns, perhaps not just the ones along the coast but further inland!

Thanks for reading and join us next time as we head to Brazil!

Sophie & Dave