losmorris (losmorris) wrote,

Paraty, Rio de Janeiro

Memorial Day in the States is the beginning of the official summer season – a time for picnics, parades, beer and, if one is lucky, the beach. Well, we have the beach all the time but beer and relaxation sounded good so we decided to take the long weekend and extend it by a few days to head down the Costa Verde to Paraty and other points south and west. Paraty is described in the travel guides as a very well preserved colonial town dating back to the late 17th and early 18th century. We love colonial towns so had been curious for some time about Paraty. Having had some less than stellar hotel experiences on past trips we decided to go without reservations and make up our minds once we arrived.

All of our travels are adventures and this one started out in that mode. We headed west via Barra de Tijuca, the modern suburb of Rio replete with high rise apartments, mega shopping malls and way too little pavement for the growing population. Our Garmin (a must in Brazil given the poor quality of maps) and Google Maps kept trying to send us out of town by heading east then west. That made no sense to me so we gave the new route a shot. As you might gather it was a total mistake. An hour and a half later we had covered about 30 miles and seen way too much of what looked like the suburbs of Houston or any other major U.S. city. Next time I trust in technology!

Fortunately, the rest of the drive was quite pleasant. The Mata Atlantica (Atlantic coastal forest) is lush, green and a lovely backdrop to the hills, ocean and hundreds of islands along the coastal drive. We arrived in Paraty mid afternoon and clearly had the look of tourists in search of lodging. A guy on a motorbike pulled up next to us as we were driving very, very slowly on the cobblestone street and offered to show us to our hotel and provide other suggestions if we needed them. Since we were lost and Garmin was unfamiliar with the inner workings of this former colonial port city we accepted. In the end it turned out for the best as Marcelo directed us to a pretty nice pousada with a view of the bay and comfortable lodging.

Hotel Pousada do Forte is on the Pontal side of the city, across a small bridge from the Centro Historico. At R$180 a night we had a nice room, a great view and a pleasant breakfast.

Sadly, the weather was way too cold (we are now Cariocas!) to use the pool.

But we did partake in some nice breakfasts with lots of local, but polite, visitors.

One great advantage of this hotel is that it is right next door to the Thai Paraty restaurant, home of about the best green curry dish I have ever had. Another is that it is very near the Jabaquara beach area, a quiet seaside community sort of off the beaten track.

We were there in low season but were amazed at how few people were on the beach.

Brazil is funny in that way. The beach is crowded in the summer when it would be far more comfortable to be in air conditioned comfort. But as winter approaches, even though it may be 80 degrees out, the crowds clear out. So on this day we had the beach pretty much to ourselves – save for the local wildlife.

I have never been much of a collector of seashells but this place had a wealth of unbroken shells washed in with each tide. Who could resist?

One particularly charming and odd thing that we encountered in this very rustic, out of the way beach was the street signs in this area that are apparently sponsored by Master Card.

We spent our non-beach time wandering the colonial center of the city enjoying the architecture, the colors, the shopping and the restaurants. Some shots of the colonial architecture in the town:

As I mentioned, the city sits on the ocean but also the Rio Pereque Açu which was also quite charming. A view of the main church from across the river:

And the colorful local boat traffic for tours and water taxi service. As the clouds came in and the wind came up we decided to pass.

After a few days in Paraty we decided to head further down the coast to Trindade, described as having dazzling beaches, hiking and heavy wave action. Trindade makes Paraty look like a booming metropolis but was perfect for relaxation and wave watching. While only 15 miles south of Paraty the trip had its own challenges. The road to the beach is being repaved and is apparently only open for an hour each day. No surprise that the town was pretty empty. However, we did find a lovely little stand and great service at the Restaurante o Teimoso on the beach.

Trindade is clearly a fishing village and watching these guys untangle the net was most interesting. Think they are as good at sorting laundry and separating socks?

Again, an empty beach all to ourselves…..

Complete with crashing waves as promised..

So activities were pretty sedentary but quite pleasant.

Home away from home at Pousada de Pele.


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