Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

After the Carnival Fever I started to actually live Brazil instead of partying it through.

I spent in Salvador 3 days (21-23 February) but I only saw the city in Carnival decoration and in its post carnival ruins.

Pelourinho (the old town centre ) was very nice though with all the colourful little houses attached one to another. If you’d like to get the feeling of  Pelourinho, check out Michael Jackson ‘s They don’t really care about us clip. (Rio vs Pelourinho ).

Salvador Bahia is the largest city on the northeast coast of Brazil and was the major place for slave trade. This is a typical Bahian outfit:

I stayed on the seaside –the area is called Barra- in Hostel Porto Salvador. I wasn’t very happy with the staff. In my Rio hostel  (Books hostel) the staff was so much nicer. They helped a lot. For example in Brazil you cannot book a flight or bus online unless you are Brazilian citizen as they require  the CFP number (personal society number) at the booking which is linked to your credit or debit card. Felipe in Books hostel paid for my ticket without hesitation (and without even telling me that this was his intention to do..)he just bought it and i gave him the cash. In this Salvador hostel I asked the staff if there is a chance for me to book through them and they just  said that they didn’t have their cards on them..oh well..This is just an example to show you how nice certain people are in Brazil like those in Books Hostel. Another thing that I didn’t quite like was that since I was planning on taking the 11pm night bus to Lençois, and i wanted to make the most out of my the last day, but when i checked out they just told me that they were really sorry but their storage room was full and they won’t take responsibility for my bags if i leave them at the reception. Great…so I stayed in the hostel all day. Admin need a few of them.

I was advised to go out quite early to the bus station (Rodoviaria) because it’s not safe to travel on buses after dark I arrived at 8pm to the station and although I asked prior to that about 5 people if I needed to buy a bus ticket in advance and all said it’s not necessary because they never run out of tickets they did on this occasion:)

Luckily I met a nice guy from Israel –Nir- he was in the same shoes as me so we decided to stay at the station and wait for the 7am bus there. I didn’t sleep at all, he did a bit…after 5am those 2 hours were killer. At least i had no problems sleeping on the bus for 6 hours.

Arrived to Lençois at 2.30pm, occupied my hostel (Daime Sono) right in the centre of this little town). Patricia was very nice she looked after me, and this compensated the basic features of this hostel.  So in the afternoon me and Nir took a walk and went to the first waterfall. Lençois is an old mining town. Miners began searching for diamonds in alluvial deposits. They settled in makeshift tents, which, from the hills above, looked like bed sheets drying in the wind – hence the town’s name: Lençóis (sheets).
The only way to make the most out of the place was to book tours as it’s in a massive National Park (Chapada Diamantina) and people cannot just go and explore. Plus we are living in a commercial world aren’t we?

In the evening again, I had no sleeping problems at all.

We booked a tour for next day which was an all day one with 6 different attractions:

  1. Poço de Diablo waterfall –we spent an hour here swimming
  2. Morro do Pai Inácio- amazing landscapes
  3. Alto do Pai Inacio- hiking up high then jumping and having fun on top
  4. Gruta da Pratinha- blue lagoon, snorkelling in a cave
  5. Gruta Azul- even bluer lagoon
  6. Gruta da Lapa Doce- cseppkobarlang

Fab day, great group, we made friends very quickly and went out in the evening to a Reggae party. It was fun. The party was in a house owned by the Bob Marley looking Zion…on 20 square meter about 50 people danced, drank, chatted, got stoned..

Next day most of the people who took this tour and attended the party just chilled, so we met up and went with our tour guide (Hernandez) to rebeirão- which is a kinda natural aqua park. It’s well known that I love aqua parks so the slides were my top spots. After a long day in 35 degrees we returned and went out for dinner. I haven’t really talked about food yet.

Based on 3 weeks experience I have to say Brazil isn’t a major tourist attraction because of its food.

I tried a few things but the fruits are far the best. Just to mention my favourites:

açai, cupuaçu, piña,guava, papaya

The Brazilian cuisine has lots of deep fried and bbq meat. You can buy food in restaurants ‘al peso’, where u pay by the weight of your food. I tried the famous feijoada but i found an organ in it that i couldn’t identify and based on the look it didn’t trigger the need in me to examine it in –depth or continue eating it.

I tried Farofa (a dish of toasted manioc flour with small amounts of flavoring ingredients such as pork, onions, hard boiled eggs or different vegetables)

Moqueca- typical Bahian food, similar to a curry.

Coxinha- it’s a pear shaped breaded fried chicked snack.

Tapioca- it’s like a sweet or savoury pita bread

Dulce de leche- a lot of people (especially aussies were surprised that in Brazil they serve cakes in the morning that you can have with jam, butter or dulce de leiche.  It is prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a product that derives its taste from caramelised sugar. It is a popular sweet in Latin America, where it is known under a variety of names. In Chile, Ecuador and Panama, it is known as manjar.

On the last day of Lençois we booked another tour which was a day of hiking in blasting sun uphill  to Brazil’s highest waterfall called: Fumaça. When we got to the top the view was sensational..

You had to lie down on your tummy on hanging cliffs to see the waterfall.  The height is probably the greatest in Brazil but the volume of the water was very small as it was dry season.

But before arriving  to the waterfall we had a bit of an adventure lol.

The tour guide (different to the previous one) had to walk slowly because a group member was struggling uphill.

So the rest of the group (7 people incl. me) decided to try to find this waterfall alone…you can imagine what’s next: we got lost 🙂

After going circles and circles we developed great experience in identifying the difference among the paths which at first seemed to be all the same. Eventually we met other groups who helped us with directions but upon arrival to the waterfall our guide was nowhere. He went ‘into the wild’ to look for us…and came back after a couple of hours pretty pissed off but at the same time relieved that we were there.

The view was something similar:

After this we walked downhill back to the minibus (I became a roast chicken). On the way we saw a snake sliding slowly in the bushes. Turned out it was a boa constrictor..even if i freak out of snakes it was quite an experience see one of these ‘in person’.

After this we went swimming to a natural lake and then back to Lençois. Only few hours were missing until my bus at 11pm back to Salvador so we went for dinner, said bye to each other, packed and left the town. I was was amazing..I kinda feel that i will have problems let great phases go..but this trip is all about enjoying a place for a bit then leave.

I got to Salvador at 5.30 am on the 28th Feb. Went straight to the airport and took a flight to Belo Horizonte. The only reason why i got a ticket here is because this was the cheapest option to go down towards Foç do Iguassu by plane otherwise i would have needed to take a 15+ hour bus on a more expensive rate.

I have to say my Portuguese is improving..using my Italian, French and Spanish makes a unique language that Brazilians kinda understand. Hardly anyone speaks English which is quote frustrating every now and then.  On the plane a Brazilian girl started chatting to me. She told me about her terrific time in Salvador during carnival the fact that she will not have money now for a while to travel anywhere. She offered me to take me to the hostel i booked for 15 REALS (taxi fare from Belo Horizonte Confins airport to downtown is around 90 RLS normally). Her stepfather and brother came to pick her up so in the car they told me a bit about Belo Horizonte and Brazil. We did some price comparisons in house purchase and rental Brazil vs. London/Hungary. I have to say Brazil is an expensive country for people earning 1/3-rd of what an average Londoner earns.

The hostel I stayed in was very nice, I found myself in the middle of a Portuguese lesson as soon as I arrived which was very useful and raised the curiosity in me towards this language. I like the sound, I like the people, I like the spirit, so why not learn it?

The next day I did some admin washing and beauty hours and in the afternoon i visited Belo Horizonte..this amount of time was more than enough for this city. It’s just a typical city…nothing special..a few parks and nice buildings, and as I got to know from Chris the hometown of Sepultura.

The 3rd day I went on a trip to Ouro Preto which is recommended by Lonely Planet and it’s about 2.5 hours distance from Belo. On the way there we stopped for an hour because of construction works on the road which created again a ‘survival union’ among the bus members. I chatted to a Peruvian lady (around 65 years old) who gave me her facebook details and suggested that we meet up later on in Peru. Great!:)

Ouro Preto is a little town famous for its churches and position surrounded by mountains. In the old town there are little artiginal shops selling local products. One of my favourite was Douce Leite and the different coconut products. An afternoon was enough also to this little town. On the way back the bus broke down so we didn’t skip the 1 hour wait..

And now..I am on the bus to Iguassu Falls..27 hour Marathon ride which started very good.. Bus left BH Rodoviaria at 8am and made it until BH suburbia when it broke down…2 hours wait for the new bus..Initially it was 15 minutes (Brazilian time which is min. 40) but the driver got lost so we had another hour and 20 mins to was great. We are 4 of us on the bus..2 military police men with proper guns and an old fellow ..i am assuming he is drunk.

I can’t wait to post this once I am at Iguassu:)

So that’s it, I am leaving Brazil..i saw only a few out of many many breathtaking places. Next time I will do the North and the Amazonas or Pantanal.

Argentina is my next post.


Ok so I decided to add the Iguassu Falls experience here..The bus ride took slightly more to arrive here..actually 34 hours so i guess from now on 16 -20 hour bus rides will not cause problems..

I got the hostel and stayed in. The day after Tracy came to pick me up and go together to the Brazilian side of the waterfalls ( Tracy was the first person I met upon the start of my trip in Rio and we went together to Ilha Grande so she is special for me). It was so nice to see her again after 3 weeks..we arrived to the national park and saw the waterfalls…well…words cannot describe how stunningly beautiful the scene is…we spent the whole day there walking and admiring this Unesco World Heritage…

Once we got home we took our stuff and headed to the Argentinian side. The boarder crossing was a very easy process questions, no hesitation, stamp and go. After arriving to out hostel we had a beer with Tracy and went out to celebrate her birthday with the first Argentinian steak and Malbec. Then after midnight headed to the only night club in Puerto Iguassu: Cuba Libre. we were the only guests..too early hours for Argentina,,so we went to the bar next to it to drink and chat..4am it was hard to walk back to the hostel:)

And today we had to wake up fairly early..8am and go to the Argentinian side ..

La gargante del Diablo….is something …unbelievable..

Tomorrow the plan is to go there again early in the morning because it changes from the morning to the afternoon.


So that’s it for Brazil…I’ll write soon about Buenos Aires and Uruguay.

I know a lot of you were already expecting a sign of life from here I am after a crazy week in Rio…

After an emotional goodbye to my friends especially Claire at the airport I walked though the gates knowing that this year will be my year with all the ups and downs that it involves..

After waiting 4 hours in Rome to my connection flight (it was delayed due to adverse weather conditions at Fiumicino) i was on the plane at 1 am towards Rio de Janeiro..It was safe, no turbulences, some sleep, some films..and after 12 hours and 30 minutes I landed.

The heat hit me..29 degrees, excited passengers, great pre-carnival atmosphere and my past behind.

Certainly i left my waist coast on the plane so i had an extra 30 mins wait till someone got it for me. I took a cab and arrived to Books Hostel in Lappa.

I started with a beer and Facebook till i was waiting for check in. Tracy was the first person who walked into the room. She is Aussie from Melbourne, very nice. Then Lili came in from HUNGARY:)  A real surprise ..she is nice too, and then slowly I met the other people, namely D and Son from San Paolo (siblings) and Nati and Lia from Argentina.

In the afternoon we went with Tracy to a pre carnival street was AWESOME!  And that time I didn’t know that this is only the start…

Had my first Capirinha..they make it with about 3 table spoon of sugar but the lime makes it a bit has become my favourite drink in no time:)

In the evening i passed out around midnight due to the long flight but next day i was ready to go up to the Corcovado mountain to see Cristo and the stunning view to the whole city. Whoever hasn’t seen the pics yet on Facebook can do it here. But this is what I’m talking about:

In the afternoon I met the above mentioned crew and we went together to the Sugarloaf mountain with similarly superb view.

We spent a whole afternoon up there just chatting, getting to know each other, then I had my first Brazilian hotdog which has literally everything in it starting from cheese, quail eggs, grated crisps, ketchup, mayo, gherkin and some other ingredients that are hard to define. We sat down in the beach with a beer and continued to know each other’s life stories..Brazilian live music was a fantastic addition to the atmosphere.

The day after me and Tracy left at noon to Ilha Grande which is fairly large island about 150 km far from Rio. We booked accommodation there but since nobody knew where it was when we arrived we got to the hands of a great salesman called Hans (don’t judge by name..he is Brazilian:). We shared a house with 4 Chilean girls (there are a lot of Chileans in Brazil because they have cheap flight between each other), and in the evening Hans came to the house to teach us how to make Capirinha ( I’m struggling to believe that it’s a regular service given that on that night the attraction of Tracy and Hans bloomed into a nice holiday fling). On the second day we did a bit of trekking to Lopes Mendes (one of Brazil’s most beautiful beaches):

It was a 2.5 hour trekking in a forest where we saw monkeys, wild nature and as I got to know after the trip (luckily) full of poisonous snakes…

The water is warm unlike in Rio and the waves are usually great ..perfect for surfing.

In the evening Nati and Lia (AR girls) came too so we stayed in the same house and I learnt a lot about the history of Argentina. Now I cannot wait to go to Buenos Aires to see them because they are 2 of the most fantastic people I met so far.

After a chilled out 2 days on the island I went back to Rio on the 16th. Carnival started on the 17th so the choreography was pretty much the same every day: from 6pm drinking in hostel, then around 10 out to street parties till the morning, then 10 in the morning heading out for day parties, go home in the afternoon to have an hour power nap and continue the night..I have to say it took a lot out of me but it was the most unique and exhilarating experience in my life. One night I went out with a Brazilian girl (who showed me how they celebrate here:P) and a kiwi girl plus many more people from the hostel. And the night after my 2 beautiful Argentinian friends surprised me in the hostel so we got smashed and had tons of fun together. (they came back from Ilha Grande on that day). The cherry on top of the cream was certainly the Sambodromo (parade) on the 19th. I planned to go to this one with no hangover and relaxed as it starts at 9 pm and finishes at 6am in the morning meaning that 1 samba school is marching for more than an hour..and there is 7. We got there at 7 to have the best possible spot within my section (7). I went there with Tim and Sasha (Aussie travelling fellows- they both told me excellent tips for my itinerary). The costumes, the atmosphere, the samba…it was just my world..i got lost before sunset and came back to ‘my world’ just after sunrise…Brazilians know how to dance..for sure! I would recommend to everyone this stunningly beautiful event!

On the 20th I had my flight booked to Salvador so that I can have a bit of taste from the Carnival here. Due to the heavy party session in Rio I didn’t have the strength to go out on the fist night (I got to the hostel just after midnight) so I rather had a good 6 hour sleep. And here we are now..over (or in the middle) of the last night of Carnival. It is very different to Rio..there are trucks with music that you can follow within the security lines or without depending if you bought a ‘VIP’ T-shirt. (I didn’t because i knew I wouldn’t want to go crazy is supposed to be a bit more dangerous than Rio ).

So now it’s almost 2am..time to sleep but my body is not used to going to bed this time..I stay 2 days in Salvador and then I am going to a city 5 hours bus ride away called Lencois (Google images are very very charming when you search the city). Then I decided to go back to Rio to stay a bit in Ipanema beach because during carnival I stayed in Lappa which is the most fun but not the most beautiful and safe part of the city. Plus during carnival you have no time to do the tourist stuff so it will be good to see how Rio de Janeiro is when it calmed down..

If you would like to experience a great Formula 1 ride, hop on a bus in Rio..first of all to get in you need to pass through a spinning iron gate. That’s how Transport of Rio avoids free riders.

Well..some people still find the way I guess…

Then if you are lucky, you can have a seat and you survive the ride with minor injuries. If not, grab anything you can to hold onto and hope for the best.

Little annoyances:

-on day2 my iPhone died..RIP

-my camera got stolen from my lap by a 5 year old but managed to get it back with the help of a guy who has previously run the Marathon

– Brazil is expensive…even though it’s a fabulous country and i would love to spend here more time I cannot because after 10 days I am over my monthly budget..

– You cannot book any flights on the south Brazilian airlines unless you are Brazilian (ID number is linked to cc)

– Food is not the best..lot of deep fried stuff but the fruits are amazing especially mango

– Brazilian men are quite pushy..during carnival they have the ‘excuse’ to kiss anyone without permission so once eye contact made you can expect a kiss coming..from here it’s up to you if you return it. It’s not uncommon seeing couples having sex on the beach or in an alley

– Toi Toi toiletts are disgusting..i chose to pee on the street instead of going into one

So it’s 3am some company that delayed the finish of this article. I should go to sleep. Feel free to comment/ask anything that you feel I missed out.

Bye now x