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Published: June 11th 2015
Parati, sometimes spelt Paraty and pronounced Parachi, is a well-preserved Portuguese colonial town, in the south of the state of Rio in the “Parque Nacional da Serra Bocaina” (the Bocaina National Park). Building regulations are severely strict, resulting in a completely unspoilt environment, with lethal cobbled streets, artisan craft shops and a wonderful winter tropical climate; it would be somewhat harsher in the summer. The rainforest-clad mountains reach down to palm fringed beaches where horses bathe in the water beside fishermen stringing their nets. It is a little piece of paradise, or as the Brazilians would say, “um paraiso”.
The only thing lacking, in our opinion, is good food. South America just does not seem to have the culinary skills found in Europe or Asia. Here in Brazil everything is served with both plain boiled rice as well as chips; vegetables are a rarity and salads are not exactly gourmet. Last night, for example, we ordered steak parmigiana, a meat version of an Italian classic. We think the steak was stewing beef, it was pretty tough, and it was served with boiled rice and chips, no salad or veg! We did
get some decent calamari on the beach in Ilha Grande, but for the most part the food is pretty bland. Tonight, however, we went to a Thai restaurant, in the hope of savouring a bit more flavour. It was good, although pretty expensive. It was probably the best meal we have had in South America, apart from the delicious food on the cruise ship.
Our journey here on Monday, from Ilha Grande, went smoothly and we are staying in a little “cama e café” (B&B) in the historic old town of Parati. As we go south, we are finding that accommodation is getting a little less expensive, although prices are still expensive compared to at home. In Spain, one can get a much higher standard of hotel for what we are paying here for B&B and hostel accommodation. We expected this, so it isn´t a problem, but worth noting if you are on a shoestring budget.
Yesterday we spent all day just wandering around this delightful little town. Note: the uneven old cobbles are deadly if wearing flip flops! The pavements, also cobbled, are higher than the roads because many of them fill with
water when the tide comes in. When it is the rainy season (ended now in this region) all of the roads in the old historic town fill with water. No motorised vehicles are allowed at any time, to preserve the cobbles, only bicycles and horses. Actually, it would not do a car´s suspension much good on these huge uneven cobbles. It is a step back in time to a simpler age!
Today we walked up and over a hill to the next bay, to the long beach of Praia Jabaquara, where we saw horses bathing in the sea. Beware of horses galloping between the tables at the beach bars, as one did today! Such an event could give one awful indigestion! Also, do not be surprised to see vultures on the beach. They are to be found everywhere in Brazil; in the rainforest, in the city and on the beaches!
Tomorrow, we shall stroll around some more, soaking it all up, then on Friday we shall head to the bus station to get a bus to take us further south. We have decided to go to Sao Sebastiao next, in the next state of
Sao Paolo. Sao Sebastiao is twenty five kilometres south of the Tropic of Capricorn, so for the first time since arriving in Brazil, we shall no longer be in the tropics; may have to buy some winter woollies! Sao Sebastiao is 150 kilometres south of Parati and the coach fare is just B$34 (Brazilian Reals) which is about 10 euros each. Bus travel is really good here in Brazil, so long as one accepts that the bus drivers like to take their time to stop for lunch! One cannot be in a hurry doing anything in Brazil, which is just fine if one is on holiday! Life is “tranquilo” here. We just love Brazil; beautiful country and really lovely people.
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