A Travellerspoint blog

January 2013

São Paulo to Curitiba - Day 9

Bedrooms and bathrooms and bogs - oh my!

28 °C

I realised we haven't shown any pictures of our hostel so here are a couple. Here's our tiny bedroom (Andrew's back is pretty much against the wall!), toilet with John and Yoko watching over us and a nicely tiled little bathroom...I would quite like an ensuite tiled like this in my house, but I don't think it would sell well afterwards!!
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Today was another day of travelling with a 7hr coach journey. We left the hostel at 10am and got to new one at 8pm. The journey was easy, looking out at green hills and tree covered mountains with the sun shining, in between watching Juno (still love that film) and Dexter. We also did a bit of planning en route, as we hadn't been able to decide between an over night bus to Foz do Iguacu (where we will see the Iguacu Falls) as planned or a lunchtime to evening bus with a night in a hostel. We decided to go to Iguassu a day earlier, rather than the overnight bus and spend two nights in Puerto Iguacu rather than one - we're getting the hang of spontaneity! We booked the tickets for the next coach as soon as we arrived in Curitiba, again displaying Portuguese ticket buying prowess!

Hostel, Curitiba Casa Hostel, was just a few mins from station, but quite remote compared to the other places we've stayed. It's a nice, clean place, with a large room and it's own large bathroom, plus it has laundry facilities - a dream! The only downside is that there is what seems to be a high school trip here and I have hay fever so my patience levels are low!! After a slow dinner, which should have been quick - the oven obviously wasn't the temperature it said it was - we had an early night to get ready for train trip on the Serra Verde Express :)

Posted by staceywaugh 12:32 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

São Paulo - Day 8

Graffiti art and Parks

30 °C

We only had one full day in Sao Paulo, as we were using it as a stopping point between Paraty and Curitba really, but we wanted to make the most of it so we got up early, had toast for the first time in a week, and started the day. The blackboard at the hostel said 'Graffiti du MUBE' under things to do tomorrow, and after checking it out online, we discovered it was a Graffiti exhibition at the Museu Brasileiro da Escultura and decided to go there.

It was either a 50 minute journey on public transport or a 50 minute walk to the Museum so we decided to walk via Ibirapuera Parque, a massive urban park in São Paulo. The park was lovely, quiet and green, and I can imagine if you lived there (and were into exercise, unlike me in England - something I need to improve on when I return!) it would be a great place to jog, run or cycle.
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There was a pond in the centre, and as we looked over the tiny bridge there were enormous fish on the surface - honestly big enough to batter and serve with chips! There was lots of birds around too, which I like taking pictures of...sorry for the murky fish pic! Just needed evidence!
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On the way of the park, in between the busy roads of São Paulo - the worlds 8th largest city according to Wikipedia...would you believe Istanbul would be the 2nd???) - was the Bandeiras Monument, a huge stone tribute to the explorers who helped create São Paulo's culture.
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Continuing our walk to the museum we went down a long main road with massive houses, clinics, shops for home interiors, on either side, obviously a wealthy area. Further along car dealerships popped up, Bentley, Lamborghini, Maserati, Aston Martin...and even a Harley Davidson dealership Uncle Phil (I have been told you're reading this)! You'd be ok out here :)

Eventually we arrived at the graffiti exhibition after much longer than 50 minutes.
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There was artwork inside and out, some of which I didn't like but most I definitely did...here are some of them and a couple of dubious pieces that Andrew stood next to!
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Next stop was a shopping mall not far from the museum to see if they had any SD card to iPad cables as the hostel didn't have an SD slot and we figure many more won't and it would be easier to upload straight to the iPad. Andrew had to look at the maps (he loves them) to work out how we got there. He really had to get inside it:
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On the way, the houses were enormous with CCTV outside and security on the gate, and the Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Louboutin shops inside the mall gave the area away again. We, of course, weren't dressed appropriately to go in and being currently jobless and homeless couldn't afford it anyway!

A note for travellers in Brazil - if you enjoy spicy food like we do, then forget it! After a week of relatively plain food we stopped at a place serving prawns with everything and chose the two things on the menu that had one and two chillies on the menu to show the spiciness. If they hadn't have marked it with a chilli I'd have never known the difference. Needless to say we're looking forward to a curry or chilli infused dish soon.

We walked towards the river after food, then wished we hadn't bothered when we were greeted by roads the size of the M6 either side!. We did, however, discover a plastic surgery clinic with the name Alan Landecker on the front, to whom we've given a swish movie style American accent and haven't been able to stop saying since.

After a short walk around another park, Parque Trianon, a tropical park with monuments and trees, Andrew declared he didn't need to see the other half as it was "more of the same", we got our first ice cream of the trip and headed back, exhausted.
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We had a quiet evening in, planning more of the trip - booking a hostel in Lima and a flight from Lima to Cusco after we couldn't face a 21hr bus journey - and uploading photos via our new, £3 USB stick with SD slot from the market (nowhere sold iPad cables)!

Posted by staceywaugh 06:24 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Paraty to São Paulo - Day 7

Dois bilhetes de ida para São Paulo, por favor...

28 °C

We're now a week into our travels and the only downsides so far are:
Not enough wifi signal to Skype for last 4 days
Itchy mosquito bites
Wet clothes that won't dry

I'm also tying to keep tabs on our money as private rooms at the hostels are expensive! It's hard to keep a track and we've definitely gone over budget so far but I think we can pull it back by eating in more and taking less bus journeys.

After a lazy morning we checked out and headed to the bus station for our first coach journey in Brazil. It all seemed very well organised, our backpacks were stickered, you had a copy and so did the bus driver - so no one could claim your bag at the other side - and we got on the bus and found our seats, which were numbered on the ticket, with no trouble at all. The seats were spacious, with reclining backs and a foot rest than joined the floor to the chair.
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However, as we were waiting for the other passengers to board, three australian girls were trying to tell a brazilian family that they were sat in their seats. Trouble was, they both bad tickets for the same bus, same time, same day but also with the same seat numbers! the bus company had made a mistake, the coach was full and the girls had a flight to India from Sao Paulo that night, not leaving them much time as it was. So top tip would be - always get to the bus station as early as possible, as its much easier to sit in someone else's seat than try and get someone out of yours! The company, although slow to rectify the problem, organised a taxi to take the girls on the 7 hour journey.

The journey was pretty uneventful, I slept for a while and then we watched Stepbrothers! The view from the window was slightly drier than when we came to Paraty:
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At São Paulo bus station we needed to book the next bus tickets for Curitiba in two days time and after discovering the ticket officer spoke no English I managed to book the tickets in Portuguese! Admittedly, I'm starting from a very low base (zero) but I'm definitely improving!!

We're also getting better at finding places ourselves, we got from the bus terminal, to the metro, down the line to the right stop and walked the rest of the way. The hostel, Uvaia Hostel, was nice with a good kitchen, and although the bathroom wasn't private we ended up having it to ourselves anyway through lack of other guests downstairs. There was also a cool outside area, undercover, to relax in with bean bags and tables. It was late when we arrived so after a quick dinner we went to Bedfordshire.

Posted by staceywaugh 14:22 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

Paraty - Day 6

Beaches, a Natural Pool and steak

28 °C

As it is our last day by the coast for a while we wanted to go to the beach, even though it was overcast. The hostel owner, Alan, told us we could catch the bus for £1 each to Trindade, where there are four beaches to choose from and also a natural pool to visit.

The journey was mainly fine but as we got closer to our destination the roads were so steep, the bus had to go very slowly. It took 40 minutes to get there in total (a long time for a 9 mile trip). We got off at the stop for Praia do Meio beach, which was nice but it was the landscape around the beach that was better - big rocks in the sea, mountains and lush green forests.
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Alan had told us there was a short nature walk to get to the natural swimming pool so we headed straight across Praia do Meio to get started.
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It turned out it was 1200 metres 'walk' up, down and across the side of the hill in between the trees and over rocks, with a beach in between it! There were natural and man made steps, which were quite large for someone like me(!), and the rain we'd had the day before meant the pathways were slippy and muddy. A lady in the Brazilian couple walking ahead of us, who was at least twice my age, kept trying to help me, holding my arm down the steps!
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The first stretch was the hardest, which led us on to Praia do Caixadaco, a long white beach with big waves and a nice place to stop for something to eat.
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After cheese, tomato and herb pastels - we need to stop with all the fried snacks!! - and a cold drink, we walked the length of the beach to the start of the next trail, which started with slippy rocks on the beach with the sea lapping around it.
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Twice the length but much easier on the thighs, the path took us into the natural pool. I'd never seen anything like it - with large, smooth, perfectly placed rocks around the mountain, it almost looked man made. The water was cool and clear, with large stripy fish swimming all around, so Andrew swam and I sat on top of one of the big rocks and watched.
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We noticed you could get a boat to and from the pool once we'd got up there, but the exercise was good for us and saved us money, so we went back the 1200 metres, had a swim in the sea and ran for the 4pm bus back to the hostel!
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Andrew's flip flops had made quite a mess of his feet, mainly because they've been wet constantly from the rain, so after asking Alan (a very tall man) where he got his Havaianas from, we went back to the supermarket and found size 12-13 flip flops for only £5! We also picked up rump steak (only £3 for two big steaks - take a look below!) jacket potatoes and corn on the cob for dinner and some fruit and crisps for tomorrow's bus journey to São Paulo.
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There are more English people at the hostel tonight. We started chatting to a guy and two girls - Simon, Olivia and Amy, and it turned out that Amy's boyfriend lives in Crouch End! Such a small world. We spent the rest of the night talking about their trip (especially an optional hike that Amy had taken), ours and other random things including Hooch, the Samiad and comas?!

Posted by staceywaugh 04:17 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

Paraty - Day 5

Old town exploration and samba

25 °C

Despite the lack of many things at Adventure Hostel, the breakfast was brilliant. Many varieties of bread, cheese, ham, tomatoes, chocolate spread, toffee spread, melon, papaya, mango, fruit smoothies, cake that I think contained condensed milk, and lots more that I can't remember. We filled up and headed out in our mac in a sac's and with our umbrellas to explore the town.
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During the morning it was foggy, which made it difficult to see landscape but the old buildings and cobbled streets were amazing. The boats were as brightly coloured as the doors and windows of the houses, and there were lots of horse and carts going up and down the cobbled streets...one Brazilian man leant out of the cart for his picture to be taken and said 'tag me on Facebook'
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It continued to rain as we checked into our new hostel, Bossa Nova Hostel. Getting from Adventure Hostel to here was our first real walk with our backpacks and we soon realised we didn't have the straps fitted properly. 10 minutes in we were moaning about our back, neck and shoulders hurting! This was first priority to sort out when we got to the next place.

This hostel is much nicer than Adventure, the set up was almost like chalet style in that your room door was also the outside door, and felt very safe set behind a big gate and had chairs and tables for us to sit outside. The kitchen seemed well equipped and clean, which meant we were able to cook for the first time. The owner Alan was really helpful and told us there was a month of festivities happening and tonight there would be a traditional Brazilian band playing followed by a band practising for Carnival.
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The rain stopped and we could see the mountains that had been covered in fog since we arrived so we went to the bus station to buy tickets for our journey to São Paulo, before going for another walk around the town. A nice Brazilian man helped us when the ticket office didn't understand us, but Andrew wasn't happy when we were told the 9.40am was full and we'd have to get the 1.40pm instead, as he said he could see on the screen that the earlier bus wasn't full. But what could we do, we can barely speak a few words, never mind argue in Portuguese?!

We grabbed salgados for lunch again and headed for another walk around the town. The tide had come in so we were able to pass through some of the streets and had to walk over a makeshift 'bridge'. The water on the cobbled streets allowed us to get some really nice pictures though.
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With all the rain, we thought it best to get some spare flip flops, especially as Havaianas are so cheap out here. I got some pearly pink colour flip flops for £7 but unfortunately they only went up to USA 12 (UK 11) so Andrew couldn't get any!

There's a large supermarket a minute away from the hostel so we bought items for a pasta on our way back from town. We wanted chicken so I used my best, phrase book-learnt, Portuguese to order two chicken breasts - he understood! The only problem was the chicken was frozen so we settled on sausage, even though we didn't have a clue what was in it. Turns out it was a hell of a lot of fat and I'm pretty sure, through a rough translation later on, that the main meat in there was tongue!

After dinner we went to the town to see the festival. There was a lot of music and singing as we approached the square, but it didn't sound like what I expected at all. As we passed the church we saw people piling out and realised mass must have just ended so went in to have a quick look.
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The square was busy and had stalls selling drinks, crepes, popcorn and churros, so we had a chocolate filled churro each and began to watch the band on stage. There were quite a few of them, the lead singer played an accordion, the female singer had a triangle, there was a guy with a drum, another with a guitar and couple more in the background. The music was a folk style, with a couple of main rhythms, and the definitely got the crowd going.
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Soon the square was filling up with people, albeit it so much less than in Lapa(!), and it had a completely different feel to it - it was a family occasion with everyone from one to seventy years old, and there was real dancing. A young woman and an older woman were doing the tango (it seemed to me?!), and they were incredible! Other couples, young and older, we're dancing in a similar style and it was amazing to see - I could have watched all night.
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I hadn't had a caipirinha yet so we went to a stall to get one and paid £3 for two cups. Andrew took a sip and his face was a picture - his description of it was that it taste like "lighter fluid". I thought it was fine, reminding me of the Barcelona trip touch PR made a few years ago, and drank both :) Luckily this was my only alcoholic drink of the evening!
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Back to the stage, and after a small power outage, more folk band music and Brazilian people dancing (cue Andrew saying "I wanna' dance my own steps...it's the Pan Pacific Grand Prix", thanks to Strictly Ballroom), there was a brief few minutes of silence before an almighty sound came almost from nowhere. Then in front of the stage walked a 50 piece samba band and the sound was like nothing I'd heard before.
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It was so loud but beautiful and precise, and the crowd went crazy for it! It gave a small, old, sleepy little town a fun, party atmosphere but one that was steeped in tradition - you could feel the pride of the town. Its hard so to describe how it felt to be in the crowd watching them. The conductor or director of the band was unbelievable, keeping all the sections in time with a hand or arm movement. Most of the music was traditional but then on stage came two guitarists, one accoustic, and together with the band they played Linkin Park's Numb?!
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This was my favourite night of the trip so far! And I think it will take a lot to beat it :)

Posted by staceywaugh 12:02 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

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