A Travellerspoint blog

Beautiful Búzios

Chapter 10: Ten Beaches in Three Days

sunny 98 °F

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We just returned from Búzios, a peninsula 2.5 hours East of Rio that's famous for it's beautiful beaches!

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Búzios was a rural fishing village until the early ’60s, when it was "discovered" by french actress and fashion model Brigitte Bardot and her Brazilian boyfriend (re-enactment pictured below).

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It’s now one of Brazil’s most famous seaside escapes.

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Praia means "beach" in Portuguese, and we did our best to check out as many of the scenic praias as possible during our stay.

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We rented a little spot downtown among the narrow cobblestone streets speckled with shops and restaurants. Locals zoom from beach to beach in Malibu Barbie-style dune buggies, and Sarah couldn't resist hopping in one for a quick photo op:

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Steps from our door was a picturesque waterfront walkway that began at Praia do Armação - #1.

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On day one, we walked to lunch at Praia João Fernandes - #2.

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From there, we decided to swim to the sister beach Praia João Fernandinho - #3. This ended up being quite a bit further than we anticipated, and we were reminded what a great workout swimming can be!

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Afterwards, we hiked northwest to Praia Azeda - #4 and Praia Azedinha - #5, where we had a late afternoon snorkel. Sarah was thrilled to spot two large sea turtles and an eel feeding on a fish!

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We stopped at Praia Dos Ossos - #6 on the way home to watch the sunset before heading back for a calamari dinner.

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Day two began with a stroll along the boardwalk at Praia do Canto - #7.

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Later, we hiked across the mainland to the southern part of the peninsula to check out Praia de Ferradura - #8. We practically had the beach to ourselves, so we enjoyed the whole afternoon between the waves and the shade of a cluster of palm trees.

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We ended the day with an incredible dinner at Mistico Lounge. If you ever find yourselves in Búzios, you must order the grilled seafood platter for two and tuck in for a romantic sunset overlooking Armação boardwalk.

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On day three, we trekked to the southeastern tip of Búzios, passing several scenic inland views along the way:

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We ended up at Praia Brava - #9, which lives up to it's name and quickly became our favorite due to it's more remote location and the rock formations with tide pools dotted along the sandy shore.

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Nathan was a pro at spotting even the most camouflaged crabs:

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We walked over one of the larger rock formations to see Praia Olho de boi - #10, but returned to spend our final hours at Brava, before catching the night bus back to Rio.

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Sadly, next Sunday's issue will be our last dispatch from Brazil. Three months have gone by so fast. We will be taking a few weeks off, but we will be back soon for the next leg of our trip: Peru!

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Posted by wintermaasz 14:46 Archived in Brazil Tagged beaches sunsets buzios Comments (1)

Ilha Paquetá and Ilha Grande

Chapter 9: Island Hopping

sunny 90 °F

We were all about islands this week!

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First, we took a lovely trip to Paquetá Island.

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Our generous host from Carnival, Henrique, and his wonderful children led us on a tour of downtown Rio, before hopping on an hourlong ferry to cross Guanabara Bay to the island.

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During the ride, we tried our first Globo, a manioc root flour "donut" that is one of Rio's signature foods.

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Paquetá is an auto-free island, so travel is limited to boats, bicycles, and horse-drawn carriages. Clopping hooves can be heard on every cobble stone street.

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We rented some bicycles and rode around the island, stopping for a fresh fish lunch and açaí berry frozen desert. Here are some of the lovely views:

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We rode back a different way and stopped to take in the local cemetery.

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After such a lovely afternoon riding bikes around Paquetá, we decided to take another day trip later in the week to Ilha Grande. We enjoyed lush scenery on our two hour bus ride south through the countryside.

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When we got to the harbor, we were delighted to learn this beauty would be our ship for the day:

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It really felt like our honeymoon as we sailed through the tropics with the wind in our hair:

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Ilha Grande is largely undeveloped because for the last century it was closed by the Brazilian government to settlement, as it first housed a leper colony and then a top-security prison. The prison was closed in 1994, and most of the island is now a protected state park.

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We stopped at four different beaches, but Lagoa Azul was the highlight of the trip. Truthfully, we were so busy snorkeling, we hardly took any photos of the gorgeous crystal water.

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The bow of the ship casting a shadow on the all the fish below:

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Tchau until next week!

Posted by wintermaasz 18:40 Archived in Brazil Tagged boats Comments (2)

Jardim Botânico and the Funny Fruits of Brazil

Chapter 8: Flora and Fruta

sunny 90 °F

For this week's blog, we bring you a dispatch from Rio's Jardim Botânico, the largest botanical garden in Brazil.

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It was founded in 1808 by King John VI of Portugal when gardening became a hobby for the wealthy.

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A line of 134 palms forms the impressive Avenue of Royal Palms at the entry to the garden. These trees descended from a single tree, the Palma Mater, long ago destroyed by lightning:

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But they weren't the only impressive trees:

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There was a variety of remarkable of themed gardens in the park, including an unlikely cactus grove:

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And a beautiful Japanese garden:

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A couple other amazing sites included the Friar Leandro Memorial:

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Cascada Brilhante:

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The Fountain of Muses:

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With all of the focus on plants this week, we also thought it would be an appropriate time to share some of the funny fruits we've been eating. Kiwi, mango, passionfruit, guava and papaya are some of the most common fruits here, and we are lucky enough to enjoy them on a near daily basis:

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Many of these will probably be familiar, but every week at the market we buy a fruit we have never seen before to try out!

Kiwano or Horned Melon: The texture is like slimy jelly and the fruit tastes like a mix of cucumbers, kiwis, and bananas.

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Pitaya or Dragonfruit: The texture is similar to kiwi and the taste is like a very mild pear. Based on the bright magenta husk, you'd expect it to be more flavorful than it is.

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Atemoia or Pineapple Sugar Apple: The texture is like banana and the fruit tastes like a honeydew melon. You can break it into large finger sizes pieces and bite the white fruit off the peel, but you need to watch out for the large black seeds.

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Mangustão or Mangosteen: There is a legend that Queen Victoria offered 100 pounds sterling to anyone who could bring her a fresh Mangosteen, which is how this fruit became known as the Queen of Fruits. The outside has a thick leathery texture that you pull apart like an orange peel. The part inside that you eat has six soft white pods with texture like lychee and the sweetest taste of peaches and vanilla. They are truly delicious.

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Have a fun and fruity week, everyone!

Posted by wintermaasz 09:21 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Iguazu Falls Part II

Chapter 7: Flying high

sunny 90 °F

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On the morning of our second day in Iguazu, we took a thrilling helicopter ride down the Iguazu river and over the falls. Neither of us had ever been on a helicopter joyride before, so we were both pretty pumped.

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Sarah made friends with the staff as soon as we got to the helipad, with the express purpose of getting the prime seat up front next to the pilot, with the best views and the glass floor beneath her feet.

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Nathan sat behind the pilot - the next best seat in the house - and the experience was just as exhilarating!

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If seeing the falls from the ground and the water was spectacular, taking in the massiveness of wonder from the birdseye view of the helicopter was the only thing that could have topped the first day's experience:

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We even literally got to go over the rainbow!

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Throughout the ride, watching Sarah squeal with delight at every turn and swoop was just about as enjoyable as the thrill of the helicopter and the view of the falls themselves. Here's just a brief clip of her shenanigans, (including an inexplicable rendition of the Indiana Jones theme song):

After coming down from the helicopter ride, both literally and figuratively, we headed to Iguazu's next major attraction: The Parque das Aves. This park has the largest parrot aviary in the world, and is home to 1100+ animals and 140+ species of birds, over half of which were rescued from mistreatment and trafficking.

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The coolest part about the park is that you can walk through half a dozen aviaries and actually get up close with the birds inside.

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And it's not just birds, there are plenty of reptiles, fish, and amphibians too.

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There is a even a barboletario, or butterfly house, that allows you to walk among hundreds of butterflies.

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Here are a couple of our other favorite photos from the park:

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As the day of our helicopter/bird park adventure happened to fall on March 17, we couldn't help but complete our journey with a stop off at the local Iguazu watering hole for a mighty beer tower. Sarah did great work toppling it all by herself ;)

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Posted by wintermaasz 21:31 Archived in Brazil Tagged water park fall bird falls brazil de natural wonder iguazu foz aviary Comments (2)

Iguazu Falls

Chapter 6: Into the Devil's Throat

sunny 90 °F

Since we missed last week, here is a double issue:

On March 15th, we hopped on a plane to Foz de Iguazu to visit one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

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We spent the morning of Day 1 walking a 1,200m trail overlooking the Brazilian side of the falls at Iguazu National Park.

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Iguazu Falls is 2.7 km wide and 80 m tall, giving it the largest surface-area of any waterfall on the planet.

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It is twice as tall as Niagara Falls and three times as wide. Upon seeing Iguazu, former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly exclaimed "Poor Niagara."

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It is also made up of the greatest number of individual waterfalls in one place: 270!

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The Garganta del Diablo, or Devil’s Throat, is where 50% of the entire falls’ flow runs into an impressively narrow u-shaped section.

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We walked out on a platform that extends into the Devil's Throat for a closer look, and the 80m drop results in a roar of sound and a huge upward mist, so it's extremely loud and wet!

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The upside of the mist from all the falling water is that there are perpetual rainbows everywhere:

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In the afternoon, we took a hike through the rainforest, where we saw hundreds of butterflies, a few lizards, and a family of Quatis (which look like a cross between a raccoon and an opossum up close).

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We finished off the day with a speedboat ride along the bottom of the falls.

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We had to hurry to hide the camera in a plastic bag when the boat took us directly under and through the falls. But here is a shot of how happy (and wet!) we were when we came out on the other side:

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And that was just day 1! But here's a final aerial shot to take in the scale of Iguazu Falls, and also serve as a preview of our helicopter ride on day 2:

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More to come!

Posted by wintermaasz 21:27 Archived in Brazil Tagged waterfalls water falls brazil de natural wonder iguazu foz Comments (1)

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