Brazil in 15 Days

by adventurejosh
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As the largest country in South America, I trekked out for ten days on a quest to conquer this immense country over the course of half a month. Brazil was destined to be unlike any other trip I had done in the past. With an action-packed itinerary and years of travel experience behind me, I selectively chose what to see based on creating a diverse schedule and the highlights that appealed to me most. This wasn’t to be a trip to photo document the entire nation much like India was last year.

With the trusty aid of Sky Scanner, being flexible with dates, and booking a couple months in advance, I was able to secure a hell of a deal on airfare. While I may have had luck with my ticket, I had a nightmare with vaccinations.

In this post I have chosen the “best of” photos from the adventure. See my Brazil Gallery for the complete photo set.

Vaccinations

Before I left, I spent over a month trying to get my vaccines in line. I knew that I’d be heading into the jungle. After checking my old vaccination records, I was shocked when I realized that I didn’t have my Yellow Fever shot when I had gone to Peru in 2012. This vaccine is good for life and is quite pricey. But worse, incredibly hard to come by in Canada due to its high demand. Backorders are common. The mortality rate if you develop a severe case Yellow Fever from a mosquito bite is fifty percent. Those are some pretty scary numbers. Suffice it to say, I was in a panic.

Finally, on the day before my flight out, and exactly ten days (how long it takes the vaccine to become effective) before my jungle excursion, a lady who owns a local travel vaccinations clinic called me back on her day off. She opened up shop for me and saved the day! With the risk of becoming ill mid-commute, I figured that living, in general, was a bit more of a priority.

Language Barrier

Like most countries in South America, Brazilians speak very little English (3% fluently); ause of Google Translate is essential if you don’t speak any Portuguese. Offline, Google Translate does a horrendous job of translating Portuguese to English, but with a data connection to its cloud services, it is damn’d near perfect. Being a master of charades in Brazil will come in especially handy when trying to communicate. With the similarities to Spanish, Portuguese speakers can roughly understand the language, but the reverse isn’t often true.

Weather

Thundershowers in Rio during the first week of March.

Hanging off of the bottom half of the equator, be prepared for some pretty enjoyably warm weather year-round. In the wet season (October to March) prepare for intense bursts of tropical downpour, and even thunderstorms. Roads can often be excessively flooded causing major traffic congestion.

Hanging off the bottom half of the equator, be prepared for some pretty enjoyably warm weather year-round. In the wet season (October to March) prepare for intense bursts of tropical downpour, and even thunderstorms. Roads can often be excessively flooded causing major traffic congestion.

Poverty & Crime

Unlike many of the other nearby countries in the region, Brazil feels substantially more developed for an emerging nation. It has many of the amenities and atmosphere you’d expect across the first world. But, there are some areas strikingly demonstrating the complete opposite.

Tap water, however, is generally considered safe to drink in major cities — but the taste leaves a lot to be desired. Two of the most important phrases to learn? “Água sem gás” for normal still water, and “água com gás” for carbonated water. Brazilians love their sparkling water more than the natural stuff, it seems!

In Canada, as of 2019, 9.5% of the population is below the poverty line. In Brazil, this number is substantially higher at 25%, but they are making huge strides to change this. Over 28 million people have been lifted above the poverty line in the last 15 years. Regardless, there is a substantial divide between the wealthy and the poor in the country. Travellers should protect themselves from petty crime by following my safety tips.

Day 1: Delays, Delays

When landing in Brazil from my international flight, I had booked a domestic route directly to Foz do Iguaçu. Seeing the falls the next day was to be one of the highlights of this trip. As is typical with domestic flights in developing nations, there were delays, delays, delays. For good practice, I had ensured to leave a 4-hour gap between landing and my domestic flight for just such an occasion. “Best practice” wasn’t enough to save my butt this time. This is also exactly why I will never book any activities or tours for “day one” of a trip.

Flying in over Sao Paulo

My flight to Foz do Iguaçu was cancelled entirely due to weather and the airline booked me into a hotel and on the flight the next morning. The problem being was that I had my falls tour starting at 9am and I wouldn’t arrive until around 11am! Iguazu Falls was one of the most important items on my bucket list for the country as it’s one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Skipping this attraction wasn’t a reality I was willing to accept. With my rigid schedule, a delay of an entire day on the itinerary would send everything into chaos.

For six hours, I got kicked around from the front desk to the back administration office. With the massive language barrier, and the poor data service in the airport, communication tried my patience with every minute that ticked by. Eventually, I started inquiring to other airlines servicing the airport if they had flights going to Foz do Iguaçu. No luck.

Salvation in São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport

There must have been plenty of irate customers, because as the final hours of the day approached, the airline added an extra flight to Foz do Iguaçu as the weather had cleared. It was a good thing I didn’t hit the hotel and admit defeat!

However, it was apparently already completely booked. I flew standby hoping a seat would be open, and they let me on without an official boarding pass. Waiting for the rest of the customers to board, I took the first available empty seat. Thank goodness for that random person who no-showed. The trip was saved! Now time for some much needed sleep…

Day 2: Foz do Iguaçu

Group tours are a pet peeve of mine. Being one of the most important objectives on my hit-list for this trip, I played it safe and booked one anyway. The group tour turned out to be completely unnecessary. Grabbing an Uber and buying my own admission would’ve sufficed. The “tour” consisted of an English speaking guide giving basic instructions and providing transportation. The rest of the day was self-guided.

After taking a short jungle walk for half an hour, take the gondola down to the edge of the river where you’ll board either the wet or the dry boat to see the falls. There’s no cost difference. Opting in for the wet boat, they take you on the adventure route directly under falls. Wear a bathing suit as you’ll get drenched.

On the border between Argentina and Brazil, the true sightseeing for this incredible natural phenomenon is on the Brazil side. The longest drop on the falls is 82 meters. Upon returning to dock, tourists follow the perimeter of the falls for a short walk and enjoy a more birds-eye view of the majority of the area. Be prepared for huge crowds and waiting in line to take a good selfie.

At the end of the walkway, strut on a metal pathway overtop of the falls themselves and enjoy the refreshing mists in the ever-humid and hot Brazilian climate. While on trail be ware of Coati’s begging for food and attention. They are not friendly and warning signs around the area inform that they bite!

On the route back to town from the falls, the Parque das Aves is a small and cute bird sanctuary. With admission around US$11.50 it’s an ideal way to spend the afternoon. The town of Foz do Iguaçu really doesn’t have many other attractions. From screeching parrots and macaws that compete auditorily even with the most obnoxious screaming child, to caimans, anacondas, toucans, flamingos, and more.

Save yourself some cash and book directly online for the 90 minute (plus dinner) “Rafain Churrascaria” dinner show and then hop an Uber. The show cost, if booking direct, is around US$36 (R$142). The only tour company for this that I found was “Grayline Argentina” and for US$90. They pickup, clearly, in the neighboring town Puerto Iguazú in Argentina. Enjoy the incredibly huge buffet of gourmet food that is a mix of all sorts of ethnicities as you kick back to traditional dances from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile and Mexico!

Day 3: Curitiba

The city of Curitiba was mildly underwhelming but made for some nice photography. This city is an easy skip for most tourists but can provide an opportunity to experience Brazil as the locals do. I’d compare it to being American equivalent of visiting Seattle. It is a very nice low-key destination without the massive tourist influx like in Rio.

Tingui Park

Tingui Park is a short walk where you’ll be able to watch locals go for their morning jogs and see the Ukranian Memorial (a church) that celebrates their immigration. Suitable for all ages and those who are less mobile.

Bosque Alemão

In contrast, Bosque Alemão celebrates German immigration and is a child-friendly stroll with placards telling the story of Hansel and Gretel before reaching a “gingerbread and candy house” where children can listen the story told live.

Tanguá Park

This grand park is the one to visit in Curitiba. While you’ll also be able to catch many locals cycling or walking, it was originally slated to be an industrial waste recycling park! It is complete with a 65 meter high waterfall, large French-style water fountain-laden garden with lookout post, and tons of local foliage. This free attraction should not be missed if you find yourself in Curitiba. The other parks can be skipped in preference to this one.

Bosque Papa João Paulo II

En-route to the Oscar Niemeyer Museum, I stopped in at the Bosque Papa João Paulo II. It is a historical site dedicated to yet another ethnicity of settlers in the area: the Polish! Enter homes that were built around 1878 and moved to this location for the pope’s visit in 1980. However, the main house on the property was built for the pope and not authentic – but you’d never know! See period-specific crafts, furniture and tools. This park is also host to various Polish festivals throughout the year.

Oscar Niemeyer Museum

This museum was completed by Brazil’s famous futuristic architect at the age of ninety five. It’s well known for its the giant eye-shaped structure. The museum itself centralizes on arts, architecture, and design. Admission is a mere US$5 (R$20) and worth a stopover. When I went and climbed into the eye I expected a grand exhibit, yet found myself in an empty hall!

Wire Opera House

Capable of hosting up to 2,400 guests and opening in 1992, this is an attraction unique to the city and a walk through should only be skipped if it’s possible to actually book an event ticket here! Built out of steel tubes and glass, it hosts everything from plays, concerts, graduation ceremonies and symposiums. Admission is free.

Panoramic Tower

I briefly took the elevator up to the top of the lookout on the Panoramic Tower. Maybe I’ve just done so many of these, but I didn’t find it all that remarkable. Regardless, the ultra-cheap admission of US$2 (R$6) made it a stop that was impossible to pass up.

Cathedral, Old Town Square & SESC Palace of Liberty

The city’s main cathedral was built in 1893, and like most, has some impressive stained glass work. It is walking distance to Curitiba’s Old Town Square of Order that boasts some great pubs, unique graffiti, and a bizarre Horse-Baboon fountain. Just around the corner, find the SESC Palace of Liberty — a historical cultural centre.

Botanical Garden of Curitiba

This is a must-stop for all tourists. The French-style gardens have fountains, waterfalls, and ponds. The main greenhouse was under renovation on my visit, but is said to resemble the Crystal Palace in London.

Rua XV de Novembro

If you’re a shopper, this is the street you want to hit up in downtown Curitiba. It’s also locally known as Flower Street and is pedestrian access only. While all I did was grab a tea and admire the contemporary nature of the district, it was packed with people. It was clearly a hub of activity for tourists and locals alike. Occasionally you’ll be able to catch a street performer as well!

The street is a chance to spot the Bus Rapid Transit system where some of them run as often as every 90 seconds. Over 85% of the city’s population uses this system for their commuting needs. Seeing one of the stops will make you do a double-take as it feels like something out of a utopian movie. This system of transportation has been a model to revolutionize transit around the globe.

Days 4 & 5: Rio Sightseeing & Carnival

Pedra da Gavea Hike

Nestled in Tijuca National Park, the trek up Pedra da Gavea was challenging even for an experienced hiker like myself. While it technically can be done at any pace, the grade of the trail, the occasional need to hop over boulders, and one incredibly steep section that is best done with rock climbing gear makes it best done with a local guide. Keep an eye out for “jackfruit” trees and the “face” on the monolithic pedestal at the half-way viewpoint.

At the top, enjoy panoramic views of Rio stretching all the way to the beach district of Copacabana and Sugarloaf Mountain. That is, permitting that you don’t get clouded in like I did. The hike took me two hours to get to the top — and that’s fast! With commuting time from my hotel in Copacabana and back, the entire experience sliced six hours out of my day.

Copacabana Beach & Food

The beaches in Rio are everything that you would expect. They are also insanely huge! Trek across the hot white sand for what feels like 500 meters through volleyball courts, vendors, and rentable cabanas. While it’s pretty common knowledge that Brazilian men wear speedo-esque bathing suits, they discreetly chuckle at our more conservative trunks that they compare to diapers!

Bars dot the crest of the beach. Stop in virtually anywhere for Picanha. These are marinated slices of steak that are brought to the table barbecue-style and often served with onions. While you’re at it, don’t hesitate to try their famous Caipirinha cocktail. It’s Cachaça (which is rum-like but made with sugarcane juice), sugar and lime. Throughout Brazil you’ll find countless varieties of Cachaça and Caipirinha.

Hauntings

Courtesy of my mom, I’m now predisposed to seeking out attractions that feel haunted or have an abandoned atmosphere. Largo do Boticário was a bit of a commute and is located in the Cosme Velho neighbourhood. It’s an alley that features neocolonial houses that were later refurbished by modernist architects. A unique photo stop, but not quite as eerie as if you’re able to find the Skeleton Tourist Hotel.

The Skeleton Tourist Hotel (Esqueleto Hotel) is not open to the public and it took some serious questing to find. It’s clearly visible on Google Maps on Satellite view, but the road leading up to it required asking a local resident. My Uber driver was relishing in the crazy time overages he was able to bill while we were on the hunt. The exact location of the trailhead is on the left on the road up at 22° 59’ 9.252” S, 43° 16’ 19.458” W.

For almost 50 years, this 16-floor hotel has been left to the elements after the project was abandoned due to bankruptcy. It has the aura of something straight out of a horror flick, and I only spent a few minutes grabbing photos as the sun was setting. Who wants to be trapped there after dark? Don’t expect beds or amenities. It is essentially a concrete frame.

Christ the Redeemer

At long-last it was time to knock off a major Wonder of the World from my list. Booking an official tour, I felt safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t miss this iconic attraction. It’s a 30 meter tall statue of Jesus peering over Rio with arms-wide. It’s been struct by lightning a number of times since it’s completion in 1931, which only adds to its allure.

En-route, due to the high winds, our bus was delayed accessing the site as a tree had fallen across the road. We waited for an hour. Then, upon reaching the main ticket office, we learned that more trees had fallen over on the final road to the top. Our tour group waited around for a while hoping it would open. The tour guides eventually gave up and took the rest of the group to the next stop. Refusing, as usual, to give up, I abandoned my group and waited. A mere thirty minutes later I was able to buy a ticket and make it to the top as one of the first groups of the day!

Sugarloaf Mountain

For those not willing to brave the Pedra Gavea hike, Sugarloaf Mountain is a great chance for a panoramic view of the city. Pay a little extra to skip the line with the “Golden Ticket,” get an adult beverage and take the gondola to the top!

Downtown

Heading downtown, I stopped at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil for a Pixar exhibit on How to Train Your Dragon, climbed the famous Escadaria Selaron steps bearing witness to some pretty Carnival costumes, and did a walk by the Museum of Tomorrow and Municpial Theatre for photos.

The Escadaria Selaron are steps designed by Chilean artist Jorge Selarón as a tribute to the Brazilian people. The tiles on the steps were originally scavenged from construction sites, but as its popularity grew, they were donated by visitors from around the world.

Carnival

The Mardi Gras of Brazil, sans the beads and garbage. Join “Blocos” which are huge street parties with too much booze, too many people, and too much sweat! Chow down on snacks from street vendors, dance to music, admire the wacky costumes, and meet some locals! Unlike the Blocos in Salvador, the ones in Rio are completely free and don’t have any clear defining boundaries.

The Carnival parades happen for multiple days at the Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí — a facility built specifically for Carnival parades. Samba schools practice around the year for this grand event. Parades will start as late as 11pm and go until almost sunrise. Having bought my ticket well in advance (4 months) for my front-row seating, it still took almost an hour and a half at the ticket office to claim my entry pass!

Given that it was the shoulder of the wet season during Carnival, I had to trudge through puddles so deep that they encompassed my entire ankle. Bringing a plastic poncho will save your day, but these can also often be bought from vendors at the event.

The floats are spectacular, but don’t expect many amenities in your booth other than typical hot dogs, hamburgers, and soda. Nightclubs inside the exhibition area have become a destination for the elite and younger crowd.

WARNING: As a final note on Carnival, absolutely follow my travel safety tips. Petty theft is incredibly common during this time!

Day 6: Manaus

In Manaus, famous for its transgender community, upwards of 1 in 10 “women” you meet will have been born male. In 2008, after a court ruling, it became free in Brazil for trans people (over the age of 18) to have sexual reassignment surgery. Brazil is famous for its obsession with plastic surgery. Manaus is also the gateway to the Amazon and the reason most people visit the area.

Local Markets

The banana, meat, and craft markets (all within walking distance of one another) are a unique sight. Though, bring a clothespin for the meat market. The stench of rotting meat is surely gag-worthy for most that are unaccustomed to the smells of an open-air market of this type. Brazil accounts for ten percent of the world’s production of bananas!

Amazon Theatre

The Amazon Theatre regularly has features from the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra, choirs, concerts, and other performances. Tours are available in English and Portuguese. It was envisioned by its creator as a “jewel” at the heart of the Amazon rainforest and opened in 1896. It’s designed in Renaissance Revival-style with ceiling art to match!

Ponta Negra Beach & MUSE

Paranoid about my Yellow Fever vaccine being in full force yet, I braved the Manaus Botanical Gardens (MUSA) to climb the observation tower to overlook the forest and headed to the Ponta Negra beach. While not quite as impressive as the beaches in Rio, it was swarming with both locals and tourists.

Meeting of the Waters

The Rio Negro and Amazon River connect just outside of Manaus. “Connect” is a pretty accurate term; they don’t mix! Due to the substantially different temperatures, speeds, and densities of the two rivers, the division between the two are very evident!

Pink Dolphins

Located just beyond the Meeting of the Waters, hop in the river for a swim with the pink dolphins! These are fresh-water dolphins that can weigh up to 400 lbs and reach over 9 feet. They’re actually born grey, and slowly turn pink as they age. Why they turn pink is up for debate and there are a number of theories.

 Aldeia Cipiá Indigenous Community

Accessible by boat only, and about 80 km from Manaus, I had a chance to watch a private local welcoming ceremony by the chief and the men of the tribe. They had a wooden instrument I hadn’t seen before that had a pretty unique sound. The second dance, the topless women of all ages joined in and grabbed me by the arm and toted me around. While I loved being immersed in their culture, I felt like such a tacky “white” tourist!

They also gave me the chance to eat some local grub. Concerningly, one of my tour guides inquired for the price to fool around with one of their daughters. Prostitution in Brazil is legal after-all. They didn’t seem offended and quoted a price and they laughed about it on the boat ride out.

Days 7 & 8: Jungle Survival

My time had finally come. We hopped a boat and headed up the river to Lago do Ipanema to the tourist nature resort at Amazon Riders. We were a bit too late to setup camp that day, so we setup the hammocks in their gazebo, chatted with other tourists, and waited for sunset.

In complete darkness, we took a motarized boat out on the lake while the guide shone his light in the grasses surrounding the perimeter. Finally catching a flicker from the eyes of a caiman, we slowly crept over. In one quick swoop, he grabbed it by the snout and tied it off. It immediately became incredibly docile and stopped thrashing. We all had a chance to handle this incredibly heavy and leathery creature.

The next morning we hit up some locals on the lake for basic supplies that we’d need for our campsite: cooking pots, rice, and fishing lines as we’d be catching all the food we’d be eating for the next day. They really do live off the land when they’re this remote, but the government still managed to wire them some electricity. Sneaking a peak inside their house, I noticed a huge LCD TV. A minor buzz kill!

We spent hours cruising around the lake in the excruciating heat splashing water on the reeds by the shore in an attempt to reveal any frogs that we could capture as bait. We resorted to docking and digging for worms. This is where we found a Cupuaçu tree and drank some of the juice from its fruit. No luck finding any worms. Frustrated after half a day of hunting for bait, we snuck back to the local’s hut and borrowed some chicken skin.

We headed outside of the lake back to the main river and cruised the shoreline. We bumped into another tour guide with his guests along the way. It turns out he was the “expert” one I was supposed to have originally, instead of the kids wound up with! Regardless, it didn’t take long before I was catching more piranhas than I’d be able to eat!

At camp we had used a machete to cut down palm leaves and laid them over branches we had rigged up to hold our hammocks. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty proud that we managed to make such a convincing shelter. Hopefully a good deterrent from Jaguars, dangerous insects, and surprise rainfall, right?

Finally it was time to eat! After deboning and cleaning the fish, we dug a pit in the ground, shaved bamboo to get some good fire starting material, created a roasting stick, and got our dinner on the go. Sure, it may have taken about three hours, but we finally got to eat after a long day out in the sun.

I’m sure that it would’ve been an early night had I not been so terrified of a tarantula bite, the countless bizarre animal sounds, and the constant noise of howler monkeys in the distance. My ear plugs felt completely useless. It didn’t help that the guides, earlier that day, had enjoyed poking sticks into nearby tarantula hole to tease it. I laid awake almost the entire night, on high alert, under my mesh mosquito netting in my hammock waiting for the sun to rise.

As torturous of an experience as spending a night in the jungle was, it was the highlight of my trip. While I never would do this again, it was an awesome experience that I’m so glad is now safely secured in my memory and off of my bucket list!

Day 9: Brasilia

Brasilia is the federal district in Brasil. That means it’s where all the government offices are. And, well, that’s about all you’re going to get! The single highlight of Brasilia, and the only reason a tourist should ever visit this city, is for the Jetsons-like futuristic architecture!

Day 10: São Luís

With vast stretches of beautiful beaches, São Luís seemed to me to be a “forgotten city” (not the “Island of Love”) of Brazil. It is well known for it’s African population and influx of reggae music. The streets were substantially emptier than any other city so far and the countless beach bars ‘open’ but completely deserted; an almost eerie and uneasy calm filled the air. Perhaps it’s because it’s off-season or maybe it’s because everyone was down in Rio for Carnival.

Cabana do Sol

This restaurant is popular among locals and tourists for the huge array of authentic Brazilian food. With the huge African influence in this city, enjoy food that’s infused with both cultures. Before ordering they’ll start you off with a complimentary pastery and pepper jelly. Don’t let the freebie delude you; this is an incredibly expensive restaurant! The portion sizes equally match the price.

City Tour

For my entire time in Brazil I only booked two “panoramic tours.” These are cities, like Sao Luis, where I had a hard time picking favourite attractions to visit. Panoramic tours take you on walk or drive-by landmarks for photos. This usually includes narration by the guide, but will not include entry or visitation times at each destination.

We did a walk by the cathedral, the town hall, and the local shopping district. Nothing in-particular stood out versus any other town I had already visited. However, it was the first time I got to see crabs in a bottle infused with Cachaça booze (it works as a preservative). How they got the crab into the bottle in the first place, I’ll never know!

Days 11, 12, 13: Lençóis Maranhenses

Barreirinhas is a town five hours drive east of Sao Luis and is only accessible in such a manner. It’s the reason most people fly into Sao Luis with over 60,000 visitors per year. It’s home to the famous Lençóis Maranhenses desert oases! We spent three days 4x4ing into these dunes and swimming in their vibrant blue waters. The extra time commitment was well worth it.

Lagoa Bonita in Lençóis Maranhenses Park

During the dry season these pools can completely disappear. It’s the hard bedrock below that prevents the water from escaping during the wet season. This area is unique in the regard that the vegetation changes from dense rainforest to rolling sand dunes for 10 km before finally hitting the ocean.

Vassouras & Monkey Hut

Day two in the park we headed to more dunes for more swimming, and got a glimpse of the wind mill farm and a got to hang out with some pretty friendly monkeys!

Vassouras is a small fishing village with a lighthouse called Farol Preguiças. It can be climbed for a stellar view of their community.

The last stop on this day was the peninsula community of Caburé. While it’s mostly a stop for some swimming (again), there are ATVs to rent for a quick run up and down the beach. I met a girl there who works for a Sao Paulo reality TV show sort of like “Big Brother” and we split the cost to catch some wind!

River Tubing on the Rio Formiga in Cardosa

The final day in the park we 4x4ed out to a small village called Cardosa, grabbed inner tubes, and floated for a couple hours down the Rio Formiga. It was a nice way to unwind after an incredibly busy two weeks abroad.

Day 14: Rest

After flying back to my departure city of Sao Paulo, I was pretty burnt out after two weeks of adventuring. I kicked back, splurged on a nice hotel, and gorged myself on good food. That’s when I decided to finally bite the bullet and get my travel blog rolling and officially launched AdventureJosh.com.

Day 15: São Paulo

São Paulo is a monster city of 14 million people (21 million in the metropolitan area) and surrounded by tons of other smaller communities. From soccer, music, and museums to artisans, churches and architecture — the city has it all. It has the “big city” hustle-and-bustle vibe. It also is host to the largest Japanese community outside of Japan which began in the Liberdade Neighborhood.

Japan Town & Beco do Batman

While you can hit up the cathedrals, museums, and good restaurants, you can also do that anywhere else. Beco do Batman is a block in the western side of the city that has some incredible graffiti. There are no rules. Artists come and create. I was awe-struck! This is a major highlight of the city that should not be missed, yet it never made the TripAdvisor top 10.

Unfortunately, in 2013 the city mayor made all graffiti legal for a short time. Not all taggers are artists and that’s clearly visible with the mess across almost every building in the city.

Embu das Artes

This smaller city far east of Sao Paulo has its origins in Roman Catholicism and converting the natives, but now features some of the most talented artisans in the area. Since the late 1930s, it’s been a growing creative hub. This is the perfect spot to try the wide range of Cachaça, try milk candies, and pick up your travel trinkets.

Of course, I had to try the local wine being a brew master for the last decade myself. The difference? At the one place where I tried Brazilian wine, it completely lacked sulphites. It tastes, quite frankly, like grape juice. Perhaps all these years I’ve been honing my tastes to love a varietal of sulphites, not grapes. I couldn’t believe it. Because of this, it has a very short shelf-life of about 90 days from production to table. I’m not sure if this true for all Brazilian wine, but it was a unique experience nonetheless.

Ibirapuera Park

If I didn’t visit the #1 rated attraction in a city, I would probably feel like I had missed out. I did a quick one-hour stop by Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo. It’s absolutely huge. With water fountains, a planetarium, event grounds, museums, and a music hall, it’s a very well-used and busy park with a lot of attractions. It’s not particularly the most visually unique or stunning, but it’s a fantastic spot to watch local “big city folk” unwind after a long day. I would say it is very comparable to Central Park in New York.

Conclusion

Brazil was a shocking country because of its rapid development and progress. North Americans will feel comfortable in virtually every facet of every day life. Traffic is moderate, prices reasonable, and food and water healthy and diverse. The people are incredibly outgoing and welcoming to tourists and have a passionate sense of community.

Some of the people I met in Brazil explained to me the difference in the workplace environment versus America. In the US and Canada, during lunch-break it’s common for staff members to buzz off and do their own thing. In Brazil, it would almost be rude not to have lunch with your peers. Perhaps this is the sense of community that we’ve lost in our rush to modernize.

Would I recommend this destination to travellers of all experience levels? Absolutely. Would I go back? Having checked off so many bucket list items on this adventure, I’m looking forward to the next destination!

1 comment

Steacy March 24, 2019 - 10:23 pm

Great read, loved it!

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