My Travel Map

My Travel Map

21 December 2010

Paraty, Brasil

There are just a few places that I personally consider to be close to Heaven on Earth...New Zealand has always topped my list, but now I must add the Costa Verde in Brazil. Missy and I took 4 days in a beautiful little, historic town down the coast from Rio named Paraty.

Being a beautifully preserved colonial town, possibly with the best examples of Portuguese colonial architecture ANYWHERE, Paraty draws its fair share of tourists. Miraculously though, the place isn't spoiled by it. It doesn't feel fake like Disney World. Perhaps it is because if you get a place in the old center, you are sleeping in a building that actually is hundreds of years old. We were very lucky to find a great place that has been a guest house and family owned for over a century now. Impressive and really added to the charm of the place. The shops and restaurants obviously cater to tourists, but most of them are actually Brazilian, so as a foreign visitor, it still feels great and very local. Plus most of the places are privately owned and small isn't all corporate and large hotels...actually, I didn't see a single large chain hotel at all there. I loved it!

Paraty is old...very old, yet they have done a wonderful job keeping everything maintained and repaired. There were always workers painting or fixing buildings. This gives the place a very unique feel. You know how old everything is by the style, make, and quality of it all, but the fresh, vibrant paints and lack of a feel of decrepitude about the place seem to transport you back in time. It's awesome really.

I try to avoid people in my pictures...but don't let that fool you. There were a lot of others in Paraty with us. The newer parts of town expand just beyond the border of the old, historic center, which butts right up against Paraty Bay.

The old and irregularly cobbled streets make you wander slowly. So you have plenty of time to relax and take in the atmosphere and detail on the buildings. They have these awesome old windows, the panes and shutters of which took all different shapes and styles. Also, some of the bigger buildings had these geometric, colorful designs along the edges.

Little shops were everywhere in the old center; it is really an antique, art, and small-trinket lovers place to be. In fact, there were some really great galleries sprinkled around is obviously an artists haven. I guess there is a good reason for this, the surrounding area as well as the town itself are beautiful beyond any description.

Looking out on Paraty Bay...with over 60 islands and more beaches than there are days in a year.

Boating is popular in Paraty Bay, and many people make their living doing so... not fishing though but taxiing tourists from island to island and beach to beach.

One of the brightest highlights of our trip was just such a boat ride on the good ship Moana. The captain is Italian born and married to a Brazilian woman. His son serves as first hand on board. The ship is old wooden schooner probably somewhere around 60 feet or so in length and painted bright green and yellow. The length of the deck is covered with a canvas tarp to keep passengers sheltered from the Sun while still allowing them to take in the sea air and phenomenal scenery. We shared our bay trip with about 10 other people, all of whom were Brazilian, which was awesome. Only one of the older guys spoke great English, so I got to practice my Portuguese quite a bit, but still got a solid English explanation of a lot of the area.

Setting out and looking back on the town. Here you can see the pretty significant mountains around the town. This is one of the things that both Missy and I were surprised by...we were not expecting such large mountains right up against the coast. However, anyone that knows me knows that this is one of my favorite types of landscape in the world...mountains and beaches! The bus ride out to Paraty from Rio was also spectacular...the Costa Verde is mountainous the whole way and the coast is littered with these beautiful islands, both big and small.

Still looking back at Paraty, but now showcasing some of those mountains I've mentioned.

One of the beaches we stopped at with another ship seen here. As soon as we knew we were there for a while, I jumped right off the side of the ship into the crystal clear turquoise water. It was winter in Brazil, but the water was lovely.

The coast here is popular with retirees... I'm considering looking into a place myself!

Off to the next beach!

Back in town: a man and his dog outside the fish market.

The old church.

The best times to walk around are early morning and in the evening...the play of shadows and perfect lighting on the buildings is spectacular.

The view from our was awesome and so relaxing.

Next stop, a little down the coast at the little village of Trinidade. This place is popular with surfers and those who really just want to lose themselves for a while. Camping is quite popular here, we met quite a few surfers who just set up on the beach in a tent with their boards...pretty cool.

La piscina, the pool. A short hike from the village and its busy beaches is this place....a natural pool of crystal clear water, no deeper than about 8 or 9 feet, and sheltered by these enormouse boulders. Beautiful and very peaceful. We hung out here all afternoon.

People came and went, and Missy and I spent the time chilling on our boulder. I also crossed to the other side and scrambled around on the rocks a bit...pretty fun.

Looking down on the main Trinidade beaches...there are these restaurant shacks there who set up the chairs for their clientele. So the place has everything you need if you're camping out.

Overall, I'm really looking forward to returning to Paraty and the Costa Verde the next time we're in Brazil.... it really is the type of place that I absolutely love.

No comments: