Traveling in Brazil

Just got back from a 2 week jaunt to Brazil. Wow! One of the best family vacations we have taken. We had such a different experience in each location which was really great.

We began in Bahia. Bahia is on the northern coastline of Brazil. This area is influenced by African/Creole roots. Our first stop was at Praia de Forte which is about one hour north of Salvador (the first capital of Brazil). We stayed at the Ecoresort of Praia de Forte. The resorts property is beautiful. The rooms were fine, nothing fancy. We spent 5 days in this area. We went snorkeling in an area that the coral is literally off the beach shore in natural water pools. You walk straight out into the snorkeling area during low tide. Other activities including parasailing, banana boating and sailing. My daughter and I did a class in capoeira which is a Brazilian dance. Woah! It was fantastic, my daughter and I literally couldn’t walk for days afterwards. The food in the Bahian area is really good. The town of Praia de Forte is a quaint fishing village with restaurants and shopping. At the end of the town is Tamar which is a sea turtle project, which basically ensures that the turtles do not become extinct. They monitor the eggs where they are deposited in the evening (after sundown) on the beaches and are collected and brought back to the project. The turtles are huge! In town we had lunch where you can have an entire meal for 5 for less than $25. The big dish is moqueca which is a stew consisting of cococnut milk and fish. Excellent! The big drink throughout Brazil is caipirinha which consists of vodka, rum or cachacha (alcohol made from sugar cane) mixed with limes, sugar and crushed ice. One day, we went into Salvador which is a really old town. The streets are original in Pelourinho where the first slave markets were. The church there that we saw had more gold inside than I have ever seen before. There are over 350 churches in the town. The old market place had probably been around forever with people hocking their wares. Not a town I’d spend more than a portion of a day there but worth seeing.

Next stop, Rio. Loved Rio! We stayed at the Cococabana Palace in Rio. The rooms were huge and the people couldn’t have been nicer. Unfortunately we only spent 2 plus days in Rio. Longer would have been fine. The first full day we took a jeep tour up to Tijuca and Corcovado. Tijuca is the largest urban reserve in the world. It is a tiny rainforest with a waterfall that is breathtaking. The views from Corcovado of the city are incredible. You get a panoramic view of the waters, the hotels, the favellos (slums), etc. It is truly amazing the diverse population living in Rio as well as the beauty of the topography in a city. That afternoon, we walked all around Impanena which is a section of Rio. Good restaurants, shopping etc. We actually came back to that section for dinner both times. We also did the tour of H. Stern which is one of the largest jewelers in the world. We tried to pack in as much as possible for the time we spent there. We always felt safe and comfortable there even though we did not speak the language. We walked, hailed taxis, went into stores, checked out different places. As long as you don’t venture into unknown territory, like any other city, you are fine.

Last stop was Florianopolis which is on the island Santa Catarina. We stayed at the Costao do Santinho Resort. The resort was great for a family but unfortunately it was difficult to get involved with all the different kids activities because we do not speak portuguese. There was literally activities from 9am until 2am every day. Loads of pools – indoor and out. Surfing, spinning, yoga, tai chi, dune surfing etc. We decided to rent a car and really tour the island. We went into Lagoa which is another beach town on the island for lunch. We went for dinner one night in Santa Lisboa which is an old oyster fishing village. They literally pulled oysters out of the waters and shucked them for our meal. We stopped into a “summer shopping” mall which is open from 6 – midnight and packed with tiny stalls of shlock. Quite the experience. We drove 2 hours to Betta Carrera world which is supposedly the 5th biggest theme park in the world. Not! What a rundown place but definitely worth the experience. The views driving to each of these areas, one was more spectacular than the next. Our resort was right outside a beach town called Ingelese. We loved Inglese. It was similar to a big boardwalk.

As a whole, fantastic! The only barrier was truly the language but you got used to it. We decided next year we will have to go somewhere English speaking to break it up. But, we each read literally 5/6 books, we all got fantastic tans, the kids became excellent heart and rummy players, scrabble and boggle games were also a daily occurence, we all got to see a total different universe than what we experience daily and we are all relaxed. As they say in Brazil with their thumb up, balezza!