A Travellerspoint blog

Beach Life In Brazil

Surfers in Itacare

Surfers in Itacare

After Morro de Sao Paulo we caught a bus down to Itacare, thankfully foreign tourists haven’t really caught up to Itacare yet so it was really nice to relax in a place with the locals. We stayed here for a full week going to the beach almost every day and working on our tan. The beach’s were amazing, white crisp sand and warm sea with a good amount of waves. Itacare is a real surfer town too so you can just pass hours watching the surfers and eating grilled queijo (cheese). We tried Moqueca, the local Bahai dish one evening, it is a bit like a mild curry but is a stew made with fish, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, coconut milk and palm oil. It is served with rice and a salad.

Next on our list was Porto Seguro, another beach town on the East coast of Brazil. Here it was much more lively, but again with locals which was nice, I don’t think we heard one English speaking foreigner here. In the evening the main street came alive with numerous market stalls selling everything from wooden bowls to massive chocolate cakes, there was also a street where there were loads of cocktail stalls, with masses of fresh fruit piled up.


To get to the nicer beach, Arraial D’ajuda we had to cross the estuary by ferry and walk 4 km, I wasn’t too impressed with this beach as there was so much seaweed and it was dead. We stayed for a few hours but went back to Porto Seguro soon after, it was also very very hot.

After 4 days in Porto Seguro we flew back to Rio and stayed in the boheium district of Saint Teresa for one night before we had to fly back to the UK. Our flight back home wasn’t until 11pm so we had the whole day to potter around and enjoy Pauls 30th birthday. We walked to Saint Teresa’s mosaic stairs then caught the metro to Copacabana where we had the biggest pizza in a nice restaurant opposite the beach. It was really lovely being back in Rio, and it was so different than when we visited the month before for Carnival.

Then it was off to the airport to fly back home in preparation for a week of skiing in France….

Posted by LeahPaul 08:23 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Salvador & Morro de Sao Paulo

Salvador was the next stop after Rio, we decided to pay about £10 extra each and fly up instead of getting the 27 hour bus.

We had booked an apartment in Pelourinho the old town of Salvador, well it was just a few blocks out. The guy who owned the apartment we were staying at picked us and another English guy we met on out flight up from the airport and gave us the low down on Salvador. I didn’t want to get out of the car after he had finished telling us how dangerous the city had become, he explained it was almost how Rio was before it got sorted out. He showed us around our apartment and explained it would be better for us to get a taxi to the centre of Pelourinho, literally a 10 min walk away as a few people had been pick pocketed around Christmas and New Year, we guessed ‘pick pocketed’ was a subtle way of saying mugging.

Finding out that we couldn’t walk around much of Salvador was a real shame as that is what we enjoy doing best, walking around a place, maybe getting a little lost but really seeing what the place is like, we were told not to take our camera out either so we have very few photos. So we were a little unsure of what to do. We spent quite a bit of time in Pelourinho as this was a ‘safe zone’ with police literally on every street corner. The roads are hilly and stone cobbled, there are so many gift shops you wouldn’t believe it. It was nice, we met up with Jack the guy we met on the flight from Rio to Salvador and met a few of his friends on a night out drinking Caipirinhas until the sun almost came up.

Our time in Salvador was nice but we couldn’t really relax, unless it was in our apartment. We decided to go to Morro de Sao Paulo, a tropical island 2 hours by boat from Salvador. It was like heaven!


We stayed in a cute little hostel a block from the beach, which did the best breakfast. And we just relaxed most of the time, on the first night we bumped into Jack and his mates again so ended up staying out until about 2am, and the 2nd day we hired sunbeds, a parasol and chilled out at the beach eating grilled cheese on a stick.

This is the life….


Posted by LeahPaul 05:14 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Biggest Party in the World… Rio Carnival

The Carnival in Rio is quite simply the best thing I’ve ever been to.

We arrived in Rio on the Thursday before Carnival, after a lovely 25 hour bus ride from Foz do Iguacu and we felt ready to party! 5 days of Carnival was to follow with non-stop samba, beach and partying. The atmosphere was something we’ve never sampled before. The whole city was alive with colour and happiness. We stayed right on Copacabana beach, just a few blocks away from Ipanema where all the action was. The beach is incredible, 4.5k of white sand and clear water.
On the main strip in Ipanema you could go down anytime from 11am to 6am and there would be something going on, whether it was full on bloco street party, with floats, live music and lots of dressing up or beach parties that go on until the sun comes up!
We randomly met up with various people that we’d already seen on our travels so far and we all seemed to be staying in the same area.
The locals were all really friendly and Leah was taught the Samba numerous amounts of time (but she still can’t understand or remember how to do it).
The last night of carnival was particularly amazing as we met up with some Australian friends we’d met in Buenos Aires and went to Ipanema. We eventually ended up at a beach party dancing until the early hours of the morning, before our friends had to get a flight to Peru at 7am. suffice to say although I still feel young at heat my body is starting to struggle with 5 days on the razzle dazzle!!

The next couple of days in Rio consisted of us both feeling sorry for ourselves and no alcohol!
Once this stage was out of the way we pulled ourselves together and checked out some of the more touristy attractions of Rio.
Christ the Redeemer statue was a particular highlight. You get a great view of Rio, unfortunately it was a bit hazy so out photos aren’t great. We also went to the lake in the middle of the city and just had a good wonder around. Rio is a lot safer than most people think, just as long as you are careful and ‘street wise’. One of our friends got mugged but apart from that no problems and everyone we met were really welcoming and helped us.

Rio during carnival is a must see and would recommend to anyone, so far one of the highlights of our trip!!


Posted by LeahPaul 18:04 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Impressive Iguazu Falls


After another long rather boring bus ride we arrived in Puerto Iguazu, a small town close to the falls. It was hot! Our bus dropped us off on the Brazilian side so we had to get a few local busses back to the Argentinian side, not great after a 22 hour bus journey.

After settling into our hostel, the first one where we have had to share a dorm room ☹ we got some food and just chilled out by the pool.

We had 3 days in Iguazu so decided to just relax by the pool the next day, and save the falls the day after. The temperature must have been in the high 30’s, a little too hot for me but it was nice to have a pool to dip into.



The next day we got up nice and early to get the bus to the falls, even in the morning it was baking. Once we arrived at the entrance we walked around the national park taking in the different wildlife and plants taking an extra hard look for the jaguars, unsuccessfully. When we got closer to the falls we could hear the rumble of crashing water, it was amazing. Then when we first saw the falls it was just breath-taking, unbelievable. Its quite hard to describe so make sure you check out the photos. The park is set out with walkways so you can wonder around and see the falls at different angles and heights. We had also booked to do a boat tour which takes you up to the falls and even underneath getting soaking wet.


Around midday I unfortunately started to over heat and we had to go back for fear of me getting heatstroke, but we were kind of ready to go anyway, the only disappointment was not seeing a jaguar.


After leaving Puerto Iguazu we headed over to the Brazilian side, Foz do Iguacu , we had planned on going to see the falls from this side but a few people said it wasn’t really worth it as the Argentinian side was much better. So we decided to just walk around Foz and prepare ourselves for another long bus journey to Rio de Janeiro.


Posted by LeahPaul 15:21 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Buenos Aires

After a sleepless night and 15 hours on the bus we arrived in the city of Buenos Aires. We hadn’t realised how big it was, getting into the city from the suburbs was like getting into London.
The bus station wasn’t too far from our hostel so we decided to walk it, we instantly regretted it once we got out of the bus station and into the 36 degree sun and masses of people.
We just spent most of our first day in Buenos Aires checking out the local area where we were staying, Recoleta.
We initially planned to stay for 5 days but we soon realised this wasn’t enough time as every night we went out Leah needed half a day to recover. In hindsight this was a bad idea as on the last couple of days we had a black out and massive thunderstorm. Due to this we didn’t have power or running water in our hostel for 2 days.
Buenos Aires is a city that never sleeps. If you venture out before midnight then you’ll find the nightlife doesn’t kick in until 2am. We met some cool people in the hostel and went out with them on a few different occasions. One night meeting a local, brining up the Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands) was a bad idea!!

BA is easy to walk around (apart from the heat) and so we managed to check out quite a few of the main attractions while we were there.
Where we were staying has the Cementerio de la Recoleta, where Argentina’s elite are laid to rest in magnificent chambers. This is where Evita grave is.
Evita's Grave

Evita's Grave

Cementerio de la Recoleta

Cementerio de la Recoleta

On Sundays in San Telmo they have a 2k long antiques fair. I’m not really into this and most of it looked like junk but it was interesting seeing all the people buying trash. We stayed there until the early evening where in the main square locals show off their tango dancing skills. We stood well back in fear of being scouted as a tango partner.
Tango in BA

Tango in BA

Centro is the centre of BA and hosts the main shopping high street, Casa Rosada (Pink Presidential Palace), the Obelisco and the Plaza del Congreso amongst other.

The Pink Palace

The Pink Palace

On the last couple of days we walked to Palermo, which is full of big green parks. We walked around the zoo and the Japanese gardens as well as taking a look at the botanical gardens. The highlight of Palermo was seeing professional dog walkers with 15 dogs plus strays following in tow, very amusing!!!

Dog walker in Palermo

Dog walker in Palermo

We had a great time in BA sampling many different steaks and red wine!! I’m still trying to digest some of it now…



Posted by LeahPaul 12:14 Comments (1)

Night Bus from Mendoza to Buenos Aires

So, the day had finally come where we were to get our first long distance night bus. I was feeling apprehensive, as many of you know I am not the best sleeper, especially when travelling so the thought of being on a bus for 15 hours, at night and not being able to sleep was not nice. But it had to be done, most of the buses from Mendoza to BA are night buses plus it would save a nights accommodation. Road out of Mendoza

Road out of Mendoza

After a few pick ups in other towns we were on our way to BA, well after a few short breakdowns we were on our way. We think by the sounds of it, the bus had a problems with the gears, we had to stop several times for him to sort it out by thankfully no longer than 10 mins each time. Once the bus was sorted food was served. First the starters came out, a selection of meatballs, bread, potato salad etc. Then the main hot meal came out. I opened the container and thought 'what the ****'? On first examination I thought they had given us a meal of potatoes and chicken skin, you know how chicken skin goes wrinkly after a while, well this is what it looked like. I was absolutely no way going to eat this. Paul however was happily chomping away and even enjoying the meal. After a while I started to scrape away at the skin to find it was brown inside, I thought what is this??? Chicken is not brown! After scraping a bit more and discussing the meal with Paul we had discovered that this was not chicken, it was a beef steak covered in a wrinkly weird batter. I tasted it and it was actually ok, once I scraped everything off.Bus Food - not as nice as plane food

Bus Food - not as nice as plane food

So after our eventful dinner we settled down for the night. We had thought it a great idea to choose the front left seats of the double decker bus as we would easily be able to see the lovely Argentinian scenery. But we didn't think about the night, we didn't think of how even with the curtains closed bright lights would be coming towards us every few mins. A few times the buses or lorries on the other side of the road actually seemed like they were coming to hit us straight on. There was no way I was going to be able sleep in this spot, thankfully the bus was almost empty so I moved back a few rows, lay horizontally over 2 seats and fell blissfully asleep. We both kept walking up ever 30 mins or so but overall the journey wasn't too bad. We woke around 6am, had some breakfast and arrived in BA for about 8.30am. Not too bad at all!

Posted by LeahPaul 09:54 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Empanadas & Wine in Mendoza

We arrived in Mendoza at 5pm and after a half an hour of going around in circles (all Pauls fault…) we found the route to our accommodation and checked in. We were feeling quite tired but ready for a good meal after our 8 hour bus journey from Santiago so found a nice outside restaurant on the main high street and had a wonderful Chicken & Salad dinner with wine, it was yummy!

The next day we had decided to get the bus to Maipu, a wine region where we could rent bikes and explores the different wineries. At first I was quite disappointed as we seemed to be the only tourists around and the whole area just looked like an big industrial site. But after we cycled a while and went around the back streets we came across some very nice places. Me on a bike

Me on a bike

Firstly we stopped off at Entre Olivos, an amazing little place where they grow olives for making olive oil and grapes for their liquors. They also made some lush balsamic vinegar and mustard, which we bought on the way out, yum!
The next stop we made was to the wine museum, the whole tour was in Spanish so we didn’t learn a great lot but the tasting at the end made it worthwhile. Malbec at 10am in the morning tastes great ☺
Wine tasting

Wine tasting

Next we thought we would causally and strategically bike it to the end of the route to get the hard part out of the way, we didn’t realise this would be a 30 min bike ride on a main road, but again it was worth while. We had a lovely tour around a small vineyard and learnt more about the process of making wine, and tasted their exclusive range, yum again. By this time I was in desperate need of some food, or risked falling off my bike, or worse, accidentally riding into the middle of the road and bing knocked over buy one of the oncoming trucks, so Paul decided we would stop at a local beer brewery for some fresh beer and empanadas. Wow! If you have ever tasted empanadas you would know how happy they made me. They are like mini Cornish pasties, but nicer, if you can believe that! Paul really liked the beer, but I thought it tasted too much like hops.Empanadas


After a chill out at the beer brewery we decided to visit the chocolate place on the map. We thought we would see the chocolate being made but unfortunately we only got to sample a few small pieces and have another shot of liquor. The choc was tasty, the liquor not so much. By now we were both spent so decided to hand the bikes back and bus it back to town.
When we got back to the room I had a nice 3 hour kip and then went out for a classic MacD’s.
After a nice nights sleep, we walked into town and booked our bus to Buenos Aires for the next day and then explore the city.
The bus trip to Buenos Aires is a 15 hour night bus, so wish me luck…or maybe pray for Paul ☺
Chewing on vines

Chewing on vines

Posted by LeahPaul 05:12 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Torres Del Paine & Santiago

After a quick 7 hour bus journey we arrived in Puerto Natales after lunch time. We had most of the afternoon so decided to book our trip to Torres del Paine for the next day and check out what the town had to offer.
An early start the next day and we were picked up from our hotel and taken to Torres del Paine national Park.


As we only had one full day here we just had enough time to walk the 18k round trip to the towers. The hike started off well with lovely sunshine and an easy gradient to climb. Things however soon changed and ahead of us was a climb to 1000 meters in aprox 1 hour , this was nothing compared to the Inka trail, but due to Leah having a cold she really struggled. I was as sympathetic as always, and made sure we didn’t stop and got to the top as quickly as possible.
Nearing to top the well renowned Patagonia weather changed and we were lashed with wind and rain. This unfortunately ruined our view of the towers so we took a few pic’s of what we could see and started our walk down again.


the clouds soon passed on the journey down and the view was amazing. Surrounded by waterfalls coming down the mountain and beautiful clear rivers running through the valleys.


We had a great day, although tiring but at least our bus to the airport the next day didn’t leave until 10m so we had a nice lye-in.
After a couple of flights and 2 excellent in-flight meals with wine we arrived in Santiago.
We arrived late on Sat night and after a days travelling decided to turn in. Unfortunately we only had one full day in Santiago, and it was a Sunday so everything was shut, so it was pretty crap. Most of the indoor market was open so we had a quick look around, went for some food in one of the few open restaurants with a very rude waiter and just chilled out in the Santiago sun.


Now we are on a bus to Mendoza, our 3rd overland border crossing to Argentina.

Posted by LeahPaul 10:14 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

South Patagonia

After almost 2 full days of travelling we ended up in El Calafate, a small town in Argentina. Its probably only visited due to the closeness of Torres del Paine and Perito Moreno Glacier.
We arrived in El Calafate around 2pm, checked into our guesthouse and explored the town. It s lovely here! Most shops are full of hand carved ‘mate’ teacups and souvenirs or Goretex gear but the town has a very warm friendly feel. Our hosts really made us feel at home, we had a mini kitchen and a small living area.
We booked our bus tickets to see the glacier for the next day and settled down in the sun with a beer and relaxed!
The next morning we had a lye in as our bus for the glacier didn’t leave until 1pm, we had a wonder around town, made our lunch for the day and sat in the sun.
The bus took slightly longer than expected, one and a half hours but when the glacier was in sight the whole bus was wowing. We had decided to get the afternoon bus to the glacier instead of the morning one as we had been told that in the afternoon sun there was a higher chance of larger parts of ice dropping off into the lake, we were not disappointed. The first time we heard a chunk of ice crack and drop was AMAZING; the sound was louder than any thunder you would have heard. And when we saw the effect of the ice crashing into the lake it was incredible. When we got off the bus, walked down the platforms to the balconies we were quite overwhelmed! It is something you have to see in your lifetime!
We spent the whole afternoon in awe of the massive spectacle in front of us, just waiting for the next chunk of ice to crash down into the lake. After enjoying some lunch and walking about to make sure we got to appreciate to glacier from all angles it was time to leave. The trip out was totally worth it and I would recommend to anyone to come and see it. Check out the pictures we got and you’ll see what I mean…
Next we’re back on the bus down to Puerto Natales, in Chile and to see Torres del Paine national park.

Posted by LeahPaul 15:05 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Adventure's in Bariloche

So, the day had come that we were to go White Water Rafting! We got up early, had breakfast and once picked up by the tour bus started on our 2 hour journey to the Rio Manson. I was feeling nervous but as the group consisted of 2 men and 4 women I thought it couldn’t be too bad. We stopped for a 2nd breakfast of guess what…? Yes, bread, butter, jam and coffee, had a small rest and started to sort our wetsuits out. We had both come prepared with our swim gear to put under our suits, Paul was sorted quickly with a well fitting suit, then they got to me and held the suit up against me, hum…the legs would have had to have been doubled over as they were so long, after a check in the back the guide came out with a young boys suit and held it against me, perfect fit! Perfect height, perfect width…but unfortunately I do not have the chest of an adolescent boy, I have the chest of an adult woman, thank god I had a flimsy unsupportive bikini top on. I thought there is no way this wetsuit and bikini are going to stay on while I am vigorously paddling for my life, fortunately the guide then handed us our life vests and once these were fitted I felt nice, secure and almost unable to breath, but at least nothing unexpected would pop out!100_0079.jpg

We then drove another 10 mins to our drop point where we were given a very brief safety talk and hopped in the boat, I say boat but it was more like those blow up ones you have on holiday in Spain. I immediate went for the middle of the boat, as I knew this was the safest part, well it would have been if it weren’t for Paul jumping up and down all the time!
The first part was flat for about 20 mins where we were give instructions of how to row and what commands were to be given etc. We then came to our first set of rapids…easy! We followed our instructions and all when to plan. The rapids only lasted aprox 10 seconds and we were on the flat aging. On about the 4th rapid they started to get bigger and we reached one called ‘Deep Throat”, this one our guide informed us, you could surf on due to the water going over the rocks creating a hollowed wave, like a wave on the sea over a reef for example.
We paddled up to the rapids and as we started to head through it the guide shouted for us to hold on and get inside the raft. Paul however decided that this wasn’t for him and kept on the side. This lead to him falling out and being dragged under the boat – look at the photo below and on Flickr, they are so funny! I panicked and screamed “HE IS UNDER THE BOAT!’ everyone else was laughing! Then his head popped out the other end and I bravely pulled him to safety!
With Paul now back in the boat our guide insisted we row back to it and surf it anyway. So we paddled hard up to it, followed our guides instructions and all got inside the boat holding the rope tight, it felt like the boat was going to flip over but thankfully it didn’t.
We were on the water for about 2 hours going through aprox 10 rapids, each time my heart came out of my chest. On one of the calmer rapids we all jumped out of the boat and swam through, I timed holding my breath wrong an swallowed about a gallon of water, not a great thing to do as I felt I couldn’t breath for a few minuets.

After the excitement was over we went back to the base and have a lush lunch of trout and salad, yum!

We left Bariloche the next morning feeling refreshed, and caught the bus back to Puerto Varas and then flew down to Punta Arenas in South Patagonia.

Posted by LeahPaul 13:03 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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