Friday, May 14, 2010

North eastern delight

Arriving in northeastern Brazil you can easily be forgiven for thinking you have inadvertantly crossed a border into another country.  The landscape, climate, people, music and cuisine all have their own unique beat that creates an idyllic tropical paradise that you may never want to leave. 

Chegando no nordeste do Brasil, você pode achar que atravessou a fronteira de outro país.  A paisagem, o clima, o povo, a música e a cozinha tem sua própria identidade, é um paraíso tropical que deixa você sem querer ir embora. 

My husband Paulo and I spent just over a month travelling round various beaches in the following states: Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco & Alagoas.  We met numerous characters along the way, made a lot of friendships that I hope will last and were lucky enough to see some of the world's most naturally beautiful beaches.

Meu marido Paulo e eu passamos mais de um mês viagando pelas varias praias nos estados seguidos: Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco & Alagoas.  Nós encontramos vários personagems no caminho, fizemos bastante amizades que espero durar, e tivemos sorte de conhecer algumas das praias mais lindas do mundo.

This region is famous primarily for its beaches, which are different from the rest of Brazil. The population is more heavily African and mestizo, the cuisine is spicier, the weather hot and dry. Did I mention the beaches? They are stunning, and the cities are picturesque and historical, no matter what you are looking for, you are sure to find it here.

Esta região e famosa principalmente por suas praias, que são diferentes do resto do Brasil.  A população predominante é descendentes dos Africanos e Indígenas, a comida é mais apimentada, o clima é quente e seco.  Já falei das praias?  Elas são lindas, maravilhosas, e as cidades são pitorescas e históricas.  O que você estiver procurando, irá encontrar aqui. 

This blog was brought to you by Miranda & Paulo.   

Esse blog foi escrito por Miranda e Paulo.  


Friday, April 16, 2010

Heading north

We got back from our exceptionally incredible trip to the north east or 'caribbean' of Brazil this week and after many animated discussions have decided to a series of His'n'Hers posts on what we liked, what we didn't like and what our top tips are. 

As a bonus the posts will also appear in Portuguese so many of you can practice your reading and translating skills! 

Watch this space for our travelling tales....

Sunday, March 14, 2010

For the love of Foz!

Last month I finally went to Foz de Iguacu or the Iguacu Falls.  It's been on my list of places to see since we got here last December. 

Months of waiting made the trip all the more worthwhile.  In fact , I would go as far as to say that it's my favourite place that I've been to so far - beating the Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China and the Grand Canyon.  There is something so emotional and uplifitng about the life force behind water and it's exaclty that that makes this place so special. 

For any visitors I would always recommend the Argentinian side unless you just want a good view.  In Brazil, the falls are situated so that you can view them front on allowing you to see how wide they are, but there is not much else to do apart from a boat trip which is cheaper in Argentina.  On their side, they really got the lion's share of the falls.  There you can take a shower under the falls, take a boat ride around them, hike up san martin island and visit devil's gorge - a truly awesome site. 

What to wear and take:
Bikini/swimsuit or bermuda shorts
Flip flops
Waterproof camera case
Small towel
Water bottle (there are several fountains around the park)
Sun block

This is a must-see, so make sure you add it into your Brazil or Argentina holidays. 

Devil's Gorge

The Falls

Breathtaking views

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn

It's been a while since I've posted I know, family reunions, birthdays and Carnaval! But I've loved reading all the comments from my last post. 

But now that things have calmed down I'd like to talk about sex, not like the song, but more in a cultural context.

In Maringa, and in most of Brazil, motels are a common site. But be warned, these are not the sleazy, water-bed, shame-inducing kind. The kind that would seal your reputation as a floozy and make others think that you are either a prostitute or an adulterer.

Motels in Brazil are stylish - yes, that's right stylish, modern establishments that offer comfortable settings for couples to relax and enjoy, er, special time together.

It's normal here for children to live with their parents until they get married (I know!), so when they are in the courting stage, couples need a little privacy, and this is where the motels come in. As well as offering hourly rates, you can also reserve a room for the whole night and get a room service breakfast.

On my first visit to a motel here, I was apprehensive, I didn't want anyone to know where we were going. For me, it still carried the negative connotations from my culture. My husband thought it was hilarious that I made this association and explained to me that motels over here are different.

From the outside all motels are the same, they look like huge garages. When you drive up, the electric door opens, and then closes behind you. A voice comes over the PA system and you choose your room, which you then drive round to and guess what inside the motel looks like, lots of garages! You pull up and drive in, the room itself is entered through a side door from the garage. 
Most of the rooms seem to be pretty standard, containing a jacuzzi, lcd tv with plenty of channels to get you in the mood; the stereo also has several well-thought out soundtracks if you like accompaniment. 

The spaceship-themed bed


The shower - big enough for two!

The serving hatch that they push breakfast through - they buzz first of course!

I love the fact that this often conservative, sometimes god-fearing society indulges this side of its charater which offers any couple a little privacy and intimacy in a dedicated environment. 

If you are ever in Brazil with your loved one, I thoroughly recommend visiting a Brazilian Motel. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sun, sand, sea and selling everything!

First of all I just want to acknowledge all the new people who have been stopping by my blog and leaving comments.  Thanks for all the positive feedback guys!  It's nice to know that a select (or miniscule) group are reading my blog! 

I've been back about two weeks now and I'm having severe beach withdrawals! 

It's not just the sun, sand and sea, it's the whole atmosphere and the rituals that go with beach life that I love.  Drinking ice cold beer at 9am, - who doesn't love that, if they're honest - eating deliciously fresh seafood (we're stuck inland so can only get frozen) and just generally hanging out as if there isn't anything else more important to do in the whole world. 

The other side of beach life I love, in Brazil that is, is the exhausting amount of wares that are endlessly paraded up and down the beach by vendors.  I mean, never have I seen anything like it.  You can buy usual things like beer, ice cream and sarongs but how about grilled cheese, chains, rugs or maybe a chess table?

Whilst I was on the wonderful island of Floripa, at Praia das Ingleses, (yes that does mean Beach of the English or English Beach, something to do with a sunken ship) I managed to catalogue as many of the vendors as was humanly possible.

Buying some Milho Verde (Corn on the Cob)

Grilling my cheese in the sea

My grilled cheese with oregano

 Rugs, mats or hammocks?

Bracelets and anklets                                             Beach bling!

Um, Bolivian? rugs                                              Me getting a henna tattoo

My tattoo which I managed to smear off about 30 minutes later and had to get redone on the other shoulder.  We got chatting to the guy who had travelled down by bus from Bahia (for those who don't know this would be like coming from Iceland to England) to work on the beaches from Rio downwards.

Can't believe I nearly left out the chess table! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Porto Alegre

One of the most important economic and cultural cities in Brazil, state capital Porto Alegre was our final stop on our Rio Grande do Sul tour.

Founded in 1742, this city actually began life as a large farm.  It is situated on a delta where five rivers converge.  Today it's one of the wealthiest cities in Latin America and the combination of history and architectural contrast makes it a great place for tourists to visit. 

My sister-in-law told me that she imagines London to be a bit like Porto Alegre.  When she first said this to me I thought she was mad to such an assumption but when I arrived I started to understand what she meant. 

There are many similarities between London and Porto Alegre - the many styles of architecture that help to tell the story of the city and create a stunningly contrasting horizon; the strong cultural presence and of course the climate which is indeed very similar - lots of rain and cold. 

Touring round the south of Brazil has been something I have enjoyed immensely.  I never fail to be amazed at the historical, ancestral and cultural diversity of this country that I have called my home for over a year now. 

There are so many regions to visit each one with a unique beauty, you could easily spend a lifetime travelling along one of nature's most beautiful roads. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

As sweet as Canela

Canela (cinnamon) is a small town west of Gramado.  There a numerous attractions for tourists to visit but my personal favourite is the Parque da Cachoeira - the waterfall park.  We descended 650 steps to see the Cachoeira do Rio Cará which is 8 metres deep.

It was definitely worth it, but we nearly died on the way back up!

Also in the park is a cable car, an obsvervatory, picnic and camping areas and trails.

It is well worth a visit if you love nature or if you just want to relax in an unspoilt landscape.