My Brazilian Experience
This months blog is rather different from my others so apologies for diverting slightly but I wanted to start to include a bit of travel and lifestyle. Theres a bit on art and interiors I promise but I really enjoy mixing it up and writing different types of posts, so please let me know what you think.
So my boyfriend and I decided to book a holiday to Brazil for 3 weeks in August only a few months into our relationship at the beginning of the year. One of the main reasons we choose Brazil was because he was born there and hadn’t seen some of his family in seven years, but also it was very much on my list of places I’ve always wanted to go to. I wont lie when I say it was a bit of a nightmare to organise as there was so many places we wanted to visit in such a small amount of time, we honestly couldn’t of gone for less than 3 weeks. Also trying to find flights at reasonable prices was easier said than done for the August summer holiday period. We were partly restricted of when we could go too as my other job means our office closes for 3 weeks in August so ideally any large holidays need to be taken then, plus it was also a quiet time at my boyfriends work too.
We finally decided on 3 areas in 3 weeks which ended up including 7 fights! I honestly don’t know how some bloggers handle it with all the travelling, as I need a holiday to get over my holiday. I got back on the 31st August and it took me 4 days to recover, plus all the mass washing.
So of course we needed to spend some time visiting my boyfriends family who were all mainly based in an area called Salto, a few hours outside of Sao Paulo in the South of Brazil. As it had been such a long time since he had seen everyone and also my first time meeting the family sp we decided we needed a full week there. Plus compared to me has an extremely large family so even then it was hard it see everyone we wanted to.
All the other areas we wanted to visit were in the North, which we settled on Natal and Jericoacoara. We both like very different things to each from a holiday so the first week was based around family and friends, the second, a lovely hotel with pool next to the beach with a mix of pool, beach time with a bit of sightseeing and the last week to be full on with activities in a small bed and breakfast. Due to the way the flights worked for us to get the best deal we had to fly to and from Sao Paulo to the UK therefore the last day of the holiday was spent in the centre of Sao Paulo which was nice as I actually got to see a bit of the city as id only seen the inside of houses in Salto on the first week.
Our travel itinerary looked like this:
London Gatwick to Sao Paulo via a 21/2 hour stop off at Madrid.
Sao Paulo to Natal.
Natal to Fortaleza and then a 5 hour partly off road 4 x 4 drive to Jericoacoara.
5 hours drive from Jericoacoara by 4 x 4 to Fortaleza airport and the a 3 1/2 hour flight to Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo to London Gatwick via a 2 1/2 stop off in Madrid.
SAO PAULO/ SALTO
Our first week was spent in the the small village of Salto visiting my boy friends family, meeting lovely people and eating amazing food. I was slightly worried as I am a rather fussy eater but the food the family made was right up my street with lots of meat and rice and I tried a few new things along the way. There was always so much food and every time someone meets its around food. I’m not a big breakfast person but even before I’d woken up properly there was a selection of large freshly made cakes, bread and cheeses. I have definitely come back with a few extra pounds, which you can see in my photos at the end of the holiday.
I did find it a bit overwhelming as none of the family spoke English and I don’t speak Portuguese which actually made me feel drained for a lot of the fist week as I was constantly concentrating and trying to communicate, as everyone who knows me, knows I’m extremely sociable and love to talk, so I found that hard. But after a few days I was surprised how quickly I picked up some basic words in Portuguese and would definitely like to continue to learn more. Everyone I met was so friendly and welcoming, I honestly felt like part of the family from day one.
As the first week was spending time with family, we didn’t really get time to sight see so it was nice when a load of us went to visit a local waterfall, hidden away amongst the trees. It was a bit of a climb but very much worth it, although freezing cold. Of which I actually then caught a cold!
Jumping to the last day of the holiday quickly, due to flying back to Sao Paulo the day before heading home, it meant we had a day in the centre of Sao Paulo city. It was rather hectic as we had a 5 hour part off road car ride, then a 3 1/2 flight through the night with no sleep. We then dumped our bags and then went straight out to the zoo followed by dinner out with more family.
The zoo was the …… and was very quiet when we went which I preferred and could see a lot of the animals up close. The Zoo itself was part Safari and part by foot but due to time we only did the walk round, which in my opinion was enough and got to see everything i would expect from a zoo, with lots of space and pleasant surroundings. I would definatley recommend although I know there are several other zoos in Sao Paulo that will be on the visit list for next time as I always seem to visit a Zoo or nature park on my holidays.
We had chosen Natal as we had heard it had beautiful beaches whilst being a city with plenty to see and do. I had a hard time finding a hotel I liked the look of as I’m extremely fussy as I wanted to spend some time relaxing in the hotel and by the pool, so I often choose a hotel based on a nice pool.
Whilst the beaches were beautiful, we definitely went the wrong time of year and there was a lot of wind and the sea was very rough at times. I like the weather over 30 degrees and I found it cold in the evenings, and even sometimes in the day with the high wind. Another let down partly due to coming out of season was that the town was dead. So much so that we struggled to find restaurants open, so ended up eating the majority of the time in the hotel.
We stayed at the ‘Wish’ Hotel Natal and although we were advised it was in fact the best hotel in the area and that the area itself was one of the nicest in Natal, we were still rather disappointed with aspects of the hotel. The pool was as expected and lovely with a pool bar and activities such as Aqua aerobics and volleyball but as it was taken over a few years previously and transitioning from a 3 to a 5 star hotel, there were still many areas that needed improvement. Firstly the room they gave us was meant to be newly renovated and when we arrived it looked like something you would expect at a holiday inn. After complaining we got moved to a master suite that was about 3 times the size and so much nicer and more of what we were expecting from such a hotel.
There was currently only one of the restaurants open but this may have been due to coming out of season, so the food choice was rather limited.
The sun loungers were metal and plastic with no padding so were not very comfortable, although I did find cushions from another section of the hotel which I sneaked across each day. I did manage to have a fight with one of the the sun loungers on the last day of Natal which ended with a partially disconnected toe nail and cut on my big toe that needed to be bandaged up.
The plus side of the hotel was that it had a beautiful beach and the service and food was very good although they have a slower pace of life there which to be honest we didn’t mind as we were on holiday after all.
As we were out of season the hotel was very quiet and so was the surrounding town, so in the week we were in Natal we did a couple of day trips and various small visits and long walks and less time in the hotel than originally intended.
We did a day trip to the area of Praia da Pipa and visited 3 surrounding beaches which were each very different and beautiful as well as the main centre having a lovely artisan shopping area. As part of this trip we visited Amo restaurant which was as the name says, a restaurant, but one that overlooked the beach below but also had a lot of quirky fixtures and pieces of art to have your photo taken with as well as a pool and hammock area.
The 2nd day trip was a shared buggy with one other couple who were very nice although unfortunatley for me didn’t speak any English. The trip was a combination experience of zip lining, visiting lagoons, beaches and sand dunes.
We used the same tour company ‘Turistando Natal’ for both trips as we found them very professional from the start.
Natal was lovely and I enjoyed my time there but not somewhere I would necessarily come back to as there are so many other areas in Brazil I would like to visit for next time.
Jericoacoara was again completely different from both Sao Paulo and Natal and although I can say I am very well traveled it was so different to any place I’ve experienced before. The style and vibe was right up my street with a hippie, chilled atmosphere and with a buzz of small boutique shops, unique bars and cute and cosy restaurants, many of which over looked the village below.
What made Jericoacoara so unique is that its a 5 hour drive from the nearest main airport, part of which is off road and a rather bumpy ride. It is completely cut off from everything and can only be accessed via buggy or 4 x 4 as you need to cross a lot of beach to enter. Plus the whole village is purely beach, sand roads and walkways with no actual road/pavement. Even some of the restaurants and shops had sand as the ground, as was the restaurant in our bed and breakfast.
As we knew we were only going to be in Jeri for 4 days and nights we knew we had a lot to pack in so didn’t need a swimming pool and just wanted a nice hotel that had a great location and was very in keeping with the village as all the places were just a few minutes walk to the beach.
I had found Pousada Pescador online while searching for hotels in the area and it had great reviews and i loved the rustic style. Boasting a décor inspired by a fishing hut, Pescador is a guest house located in the village centre and offers great value for money. The room was compact but perfect for what we needed and the breakfast was served in the restaurant downstairs and offered a lovely spread of fresh fruit, breads, juices, and to order foods such as crepes which I had every morning I was there. The lady Adriana who I booked with was extremely helpful and continued to be so throughout our trip and everyone was very friendly. I would definitely return to Jeri and also to the Pousada pescador guest house which I would highly recommend for a friendly and unique experience.
I am a particular fan of graffiti and street art and loved the abundance of colour and designs that covered the buildings in Jericoacoara, based mainly around animals and nature.
The only downside I found to Jeri is that you are constantly dusty from sand and the majority of the time in the day it is actually easier to walk bare foot as you are constantly fighting with the sand. This wasn’t ideal as I had a poorly toe that I kept bandaged for the first day but then gave up and let the sea and sand do its thing as there was no getting away from it.
Again we decided to do 2 day trips and used the same company ‘Leste este’ for both. It seemed the main things to see could be done on these 2 trips so I don’t feel like we missed out on anything although a week in Jeri would have been nice rather than 4 days so we weren’t quite as rushed, especially when its a 5 hour drive from the airport too so lots of traveling in a short space of time.
The first trip we had a private buggy, and just as well as we had to rescue some people who’s buggy had broken down in the middle of the sand dunes. The trip started with a visit to a small lake that is home to many sea horses and red and black crabs that we got to see up close while on a small boat ride. Then we travelled with our buggy’s on a buggy raft over the black lake to the off road dunes. Amongst the dunes we visited a small lagoon where we went zip lining and finished up the trip at Lake Grande where we sat and had drinks at our table and chairs partly submerged within the water. This is also where we had lunch, although I was rather limited as it was mainly fish which unfortunately I don’t eat. We also passed through the are of Mangue do Guriu which on first look one would think the area had either been set on fire or was used as part of some sort of cult/horror movie as the trees were very distinct in the way that they grow as the roots grow up and then bend back down towards the ground. This area I particularly liked and had lots of objects and swings made from the trees to have photos taken amongst.
The 2nd trip was by quad bike which took us across beaches and to a national park with a lovely lagoon with clear waters. We then visited ‘ Lagoa do Paraiso which is a beach club that we had seen online prior to visiting Jeri and was somewhere we were very excited to see as it looked like an exclusive restaurant with loungers on the sea front with crystal clear waters and hammocks in the water. Some of this was true but the photos definitely looked better than real life and we were rather disappointed as it was very touristy and rammed with people. Any loungers, you had to pay for in addition to the entrance fee and as we were there as a part of a trip we were only there for a few hours so it wasn’t worth it and we actually left earlier. Also from the photos online there looked to be much more beach but unfortunately most of this had been submerged by sea over the past few years since the photos were taken and some of the areas had to be decked up instead. En route back we visited a famous tree that you can see is very distinct by the way it grows. After more photos we headed to a village next to Jeri called Praia do prea where we stopped off at a restaurant overlooking the beach and chilled in hammocks for awhile before heading back to our hotel.
Overall I can say I would definitely return to Brazil as its just so vast and theres so many other areas I want to see but the only things I will be doing next time is to come in season as Sao Paulo and sometimes in Natal the weather wasn’t quite hot enough for me and the winds were extreme which meant we missed out on the beautiful clear blue seas. Also as we would love to re visit Jericoacoara we would fly to the Jeri airport which opened last year which is only approx 45 minutes from the village as the 5 hour car journey before a flight was a bit much, especially as the return journey was through the night. We left our hotel at 10pm, got to the airport at 3am, flew at 5am for 3 1/2 hours and then had a full day out. The only reason we didn’t fly to Jeri direct this time was that there were only 2 airlines currently flying there as it was so new, and the dates and times did not work out for us, plus was so much more expensive.
I throughly enjoyed Brazil and all it had to offer but I am now exhausted hence my quietness on social media. Now back to business and prepare yourselves for the holiday spam to come!