Published: March 16th 2012March 16th 2012
Our last night in Paraty was enjoyable as the town celebrated its birthday – meaning some live music and a very big cake. We got up reasonably early the next day to take a bus to Angra dos Reis, a small port town noticeable only for being very hot and the gateway to Ihla Grande.
Josh and I spent five nights in Ihla Grande, a paradise island with excellent beaches (including the stunning Lopes Mendes), good hiking, waterfalls and boat trips (in which we were lucky enough to have dolphins swim alongside us). Every night there were campfires on the beach with street performers and live music. We reluctantly left after a great week, taking a boat back to the mainland and then a bus to Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo is a monster of a city. More people live there than in the whole of Australia and from above it looks like a endless jungle of skyscrapers, with no obvious city centre. However it is also a largely wealthy, fashionable and sophisticated place, with expensive shops, classy bars and good food (including amazing Sushi in the Japanese district). I went there with fairly low expectations, thinking that it was
somewhere I really should see, but actually had an enjoyable few days away from the gringo trail.
We spent four nights in Sao Paulo, visiting the footballl museum (in Corinthian´s Municipal Prefecture Stadium), Italian district (where we ascended a tall skyscraper for views of the city), the Municipal food market, the centre and Villa Madalena, a quieter bohemian district near our hostel. Unfortunately my camera died as soon as I arrived in the city, so I also spent a lot of time visiting shopping malls and wincing at the high technology prices in Brazil.
After a few days in the big city and armed with a new camera, I headed south and back to the coast. We spent a few nights in Florianopolis, on Ihla de Santa Catarina. This relatively large town serves as gateway to the hedonistic beach towns around the island and we had a few more days of sun and sand. Now well and truly beached out (poor me!) we took a night bus inland to the three way border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay at Iguazu falls.
It was a long journey on a freezing cold bus, not made any more pleasurable when
we were dropped at a out-of-town bus station and had to walk 2 miles to our hostel. However once I had freshened up and made it to the falls the reward was one of the most incredible natural sites I've ever seen. Iguazu falls is absolutely stunning, a collection of 275 individual falls creating the second greatest flow of any waterfall in the world. The view from above the Devil´s Throat, where about half of the river plummets, has to be one of the awe-inspiring panoramas in the world.
We spent the first day on the Brazilian side, which has a great overview of the falls in their entirety (in total the falls combine to make the widest waterfall in the world) and a good bird sanctuary where I finally got to see a Toucan. On the second day we visited the slightly more impressive Argentinian side, where you can get close to the falls by speedboat (very wet) and where you get the best view of the Devil’s Throat.
I’m now in Puerto Iguazu on the Argentinian side, having left Brazil for good after almost exactly a month there. I’m travelling to Buenos Aires this evening, without Josh who has more time so has decided to visit Paraguay. After a slow paced month on the beaches of Brazil, I’m now looking forward to a more active section of the trip as I head down the Southern Cone.