February 16, 2008

It´s time to Paraty!

When we met a random traveler in Argentina, and asked him about places to visit in Brazil, we were really lucky that he suggested visiting Paraty (although our friends Kristen and Greg suggested it as well, but we forgot). An old Portuguese colonial gold rush town, Paraty is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town is located in a bay, about 4 Hours south of Rio de Janeiro, and is surrounded by approximately 300 islands. Here is the official tourist site.

The old part of the town has beautiful cobblestone streets, and buildings that date as far back as the 17th century. We unfortunately couldn´t afford to stay in the old town on our traveler´s budget, but we found a great pousada (guesthouse) just on the border of the new part of town for 60 Reals a night (about $33). If you end up in Paraty, we highly recommend the family-run Pousada Marques, just around the corner from the bus station. Their breakfast, or cafe do mañha as they say, was amazing, and is a typical Brazilian spread of breads, ham, cheeses, juice, coffee, and fruit.

All in all, we spent about a week in the area of Paraty. Unfortunately the town itself doesn´t have great beaches, but there are several options closeby. One day we took a boat trip to several private beaches around the bay. Another day I took a bus 40 minutes to the small town of Trinidade, which has 4 amazing beaches (unfortunately Julie was sick that day and couldn´t join me). The highlight of our trip however was the 4 days we spent on a remote beach not far from Paraty or Trinidade. Considering our huge readership (insert sarcasm here), we felt it would be a good idea to keep the location a secret. But if you really want to know, email us and we´ll tell you how to get there.

The beach is an unspoiled stretch of fine white sand, and you can only get there by hiking in for about an hour or so, or by boat. The beach is a small community of fisherman, and most people live in modest houses or tents. There was electricity, powered by generators at night, but other than that, no noise...except for the waves.

It was hard to tear us away after 4 days, and we probably could have spent another week there, but we wanted to see a little more of Brazil, and so we are now 2hours north of Rio in a popular surf town of Saquarema.

We will be around this area for a couple more days, and will then head to explore Rio with our friend Maria who is coming to visit us from New York! If you´d like to see what Paraty and the surrounding area looks like, here are my photos.

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