Three days in Paraty wasn’t nearly enough, but it is certainly worth a mention here on this blog.
An early start, an Uber, a five-hour bus ride, and then a local taxi, and I arrive in Paraty shortly after lunch. As a recovering hippie, the old colonial town of Paraty really did appeal to the residual hippie in me, and the nearby Tridade just a short bus ride away certainly has the potential to win the hearts of those searching for Hippieville.
The difference in pace, attitude and energy compared to Rio is palpable. And this is not just due to its size. There is a warmness and stillness about the place that is ubiquitous with those who live close to nature, and is so often lost in a city, no matter how many parks and or open spaces it may have. With almost 10 years in London and then two months in Rocinha I had had forgotten these simple pleasures. As I sat on the balcony outside the guesthouse listening to the birds, it struck me that the last time I had heard birdsong was in April when I visited my mum. I hadn’t even notice that I had missed it.
The best breakfast I'd had since arriving in Brazil.
My friend and I stayed a short walk from the old town close to Jabaquara Beach at the Casa Tulipa Guesthouse. Being away from what I am going to loosely call ‘the action’ was just perfect. While I am sure that I could have enjoyed the dawn chorus anywhere in the town, I wouldn't have missed out on the love and hospitality I experience while staying with Patricia and her family for the world! The place was spotless, the bed was the most comfortable I have slept in for about 4 years, and I should also mention that she makes THE most amazing breakfast! Five stars recommended: www.casatulipa.com.br
The town itself is stunning. It’s is an old colonial settlement, with cobbled streets and white washed buildings and 18th Century architecture. It was first settled by the Portuguese in 1667 and has plenty of old churches to explore as well as forests, waterfalls, and islands nearby to enjoy. There is a real treat when the tide comes in and washes up over the stones and floods the walkways. I’ve heard it affectionately called Brazil Venice, although a quick internet search tells me that somewhere else already holds that title. Somewhere, I’m sure, that is not as beautiful as Paraty.
The day we arrived was Brazilian Independence Day, and so we were able to enjoy some of the festivities. I felt that these were pretty meager on Independence Day itself, with a marching band playing a slightly out of tune Baile de Favela, and bunting strewn with the Bandeira do Brasil. I was assured that the weekend would see a much more spectacular celebration. Alas, this would start on the day we would leave.
Cachaça, Cachoeiras and Trindade.
With a little help (and prompting) from our host Patricia, my friend and I had two gorgeous day trips outside of the Paraty old town. On the first morning, whilst enjoying the best breakfast in Brazil, she arranged for us to go on a full day jeep tour, exploring waterfalls, cachacaria, and local produce – with free tasting thrown in! The trip was R$50, with an 11am pickup, and drop off at 5pm. It was a brilliant day out and the weather was perfect for it too.
Barrels where the cachaça is brewed.
It was pretty cool to see how and where the cachaçais made, giving how much of it I had consumed over the past two months. Not straight, obviously. I’m not mad. But the $R5 caipirinha’s in Rocinha were not going to drink themselves, and when in Rome, etc etc.
Cachoeiras, or waterfalls as we call them in English.
The following day we visited Trindade. Buses leave every hour from Paraty, and while it is only a 45 minute ride along the coast, I will warn you that it is not for the faint hearted. I would strongly suggest that you wait to have lunch once you arrive in Trindade. And under so circumstances should you make the journey with a hangover. Make sure you take water, a sick bag and/or a change of clothes with you just in case, and be prepared to hang onto your seats. You are in for a white knuckle ride! You should go and see for yourself, and then decide if it is worth the ordeal.
Trindade is undoubtedly beautiful with it's miles of unspoiled beached. There is also all the dream catchers and overpriced tie-dye you would expect from Hippieville. And it is also known as a bit of a surfers paradise, apparently. Although I saw little evidence of that on my visit.
My only complaint about the place (aside from the overpriced tie-dye) was the weather. It was pretty overcast, with showers of misty rain on and off all day. I realise that this isn't Trindade's fault, and it really did make me feel quite at home. I also think it was a little out of season and so many of the shops and cafes were closed or only open at the weekend. That said, it is definitely worth a look and probably even more so in the high season November through to March.
When I said unspoiled, THIS is what I mean.
That is pretty much it for my stay in Paraty. As I said, it wasn’t nearly long enough, but was the perfect amount of time to relax my body and mind and reacclimatise to life outside of a big city. My next stay will be somewhere even more remote, and I definitely think I needed this pit stop en route.
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