It is impossible to spend a couple weeks in Brazil and feel like
you have really seen the country. A person could vacation there a
dozen times and still not cover much due to it's enormous size.
We enjoyed all the places we visited, which were the Florianopolis region, Foz de Iguazu and Rio de Janeiro
and got a good feel for the diversity and richness of this grand
were some of the friendliest people we met in South America, not
to mention the most beautiful. They seem so...satisfied. They
also obviously enjoy themselves at every possible opportunity
which, I suppose, is a stereotype which we found to be true. One
thing that really amazed me was the diversity of 'looks' there.
You could be walking down the street and be passed by a tall,
blonde woman who looked Scandinavian, then be met by a mustachioed
Mexican looking fellow, then run into a dark black African looking
child....and they would all be locals speaking Brazilian
Things to Know
has always been a place where everyone wants to go but few people
ever do. It has a very exotic and yet dangerous appeal to it. Some
of the bad things you hear are true, but don't let that stop you
from going as your good experiences will definitely overshadow any
bad ones. Just use common sense and take precautions for your
security. If your hotel room has a safe use it. Stay
well-informed, and don't wander around unfamiliar neighborhoods
after dark. Find out the best way to get somewhere, how much it
should cost and how long it should take before leaving. Keep an
eye on your handbag
don't carry too much cash with you. Brazil is an amazing
experience. Don't spoil it by taking unnecessary risks. Relax and
have fun, responsibly!
like any other South American country has big cities with lots of
crime, but similarly has many small cities and villages where
crime is rare and the people welcome you with open arms.
What they won't
welcome you with is a fluent English tongue. Tourists that we
have met have had the most challenges with language barriers on
their trip to Brazil. In most cities you will find that some of
the hotel staff do speak English and perhaps some Spanish. In
small towns it is quite difficult to find people who are able to
speak any language other than Portuguese. But again, don't let
that stop you from going, the Brazilians' friendly demeanor will
tolerate even the most butchered attempts at their language.
Where to Stay
As we said
before, we saw a small portion of Brazil and stayed in only two
hotels in the country. The first was in Florianopolis which is
approximately 13 hours drive south of Rio.
Florianopolis is a very unique city as one half of it is on the
mainland and the other half is on an island called Santa Catalina.
Santa Catalina boasts 47 beaches all with their own distinct
flavour and crowd. Ten years ago, this sleepy little island was
awakened by the relocation of many wealthy Brazilians who wanted
to escape the pollution, congestion and crime of the big cities.
As a result Santa Catalina has become a tasteful haven for the
rich and fortunately has been able to maintain it's small town
charm in the midst of highrises.
We stayed on this
island in a small fishing town called San Antonio de Lisboa. The
village itself was not populated with tourists, as there were only
two small hotels in town. Most of the people at restaurants and
bars were locals, so we tried to blend right in. The island is
fairly small, (3 hours around if you drive slow) so getting to the
north beaches and into town was ideal from centrally located San
Antonio. We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast called Pousada
Mar de Dentro. The staff was wonderful and was able to help with
everything from renting a car to finding fish bait. They went out
of their way many times for us during our visit and made us feel
like we were part of a large family. The owners, Roberto and Leda
are also extremely friendly and made sure that our every wish was
attended to!!! Breakfast was fantastic with fresh coffee, bread
and seasonal fruit including delicious ripe papaya. The grounds
of the hotel are small but quaint and include a lovely small
pool. Rooms are clean and comfortable, but small and basic. Each
offer a private bathroom and fresh towels, linens and a TV. Some
of the rooms have views of the bay, but the beach is not the
nicest on the island.
We found that although the location was not
on one of the main beach areas, it was a great spot to retreat to
after a day of sun, fun and music at a busier beach. Pousada Mar
de Dentro is probably one of the best value hotels we have ever
stayed in, and we will definitely return!! All this for about
US$30 per day.
The second hotel
we stayed in was the Inter-continental in Rio De Janeiro. This
hotel had all the regular amenities of all major hotel chains and
the price to match. Not our favourite kind of place, but secure
and comfortable which is what we were looking for on our last
night in Brazil.
Where to Eat
I can't remember
having a disappointing meal. There was a lovely bayside seafood
restaurant down the street from our hotel in San Antonio de Lisboa
where we gorged ourselves on fresh seafood almost every night. A
dozen oysters cost about two dollars while a pail of fresh steamed
mussels was even less than that.
We also found
some great places to eat meat. If you can believe it, the food
court in the large shopping mall in Florianopolis had a 'churrascaria'
which is like a barbeque place with all sorts of meat. They
sold lunches by the
so you would have the servers load up your plate with meat off the
skewers then plop on some salad (if there was any room left over)
and the chap at the cash register would put it on the weigh scale
and charge you accordingly. Almost made going to the mall
Things to See and Do
All we can really
comment on here is the island of Santa Catalina as we spent only a
short time in Rio and really didn't see much. In Santa Catalina
the best thing to do is to rent a car and explore the entire
island. The car rentals were cheap, only about US$12/day which
included all kilometers and insurance. Each morning we would get
the map out and pick a new beach to try out. We were never
disappointed! The roads are all good and relatively well marked
so it's tough to get lost. A couple of the more interesting
activities available are paragliding and sandboarding.
we can recommend is taking Portuguese lessons. It is the ideal
learning environment - table on the beach, drinking gin and
tonics, and enjoying the sunset while practicing Portuguese verbs
We did spend a
day in Foz de Iguazu which is located in the south west area of
the country on the border with Argentina and Paraguay. The
waterfalls were spectacular and definitely made the trip
worthwhile. We stayed in the town on the Brazillian side which
was nothing more than a dirty, seedy place you had to pass through
to get to the falls. We stayed in a resort hotel that was about a
mile from the waterfall park entrance. It was a nice place,
though a bit run down. We had originally planned to spend a few
days but we found that one day was more than enough time to see
the falls and have a look around. Besides, we were anxious to get
to the beach areas of Brazil!