Posted on July 26, 2015
Paraty: Stepping Back in Time
Check out time for our apartment on Ilha Grande was 10am and unfortunately the ferry didn’t leave until 1:30pm, so we wandered into town and found a bench in the shade where we could read and people watch for a few hours. Grabbed a quick lunch at a small sandwich shop and had a good laugh when Aaron’s double cheeseburger arrived! Don’t worry he didn’t eat it all.
We were a bit hesitant to use Easy Transfer Brazil ($25 each) again but this time it was much easier! Thank goodness. It took 3.5 hours by ferry and van to get to Paraty (pronounced ‘para-ah-che”), a small town on the coast of Brazil. We booked a room at the Che Lagarto Hostel near the historical center of town. However, despite our private room with an ensuite, the walls were thin and it was pretty loud. There is a large group of teenagers staying at the hostel and a family with little kids who enjoy running up and down the hallways and slamming doors. Glad we packed our ear plugs! The internet was super slow, like dial up speed slow, which made it difficult to email, blog or look things up. But, the hostel was clean, has a good breakfast and is in a good location. It suited us fine for a couple of days.
Walking around Paraty is like stepping back in time, all the way back into the colonial times. The streets are paved with cobblestones which makes it really hard to walk and caused some hilarious stumbles. At one point we ordered coffees and just sat outside a shop and watched people stager around on the uneven stones. I know sort of a sick form of entertainment but we enjoyed it! It’s a pretty sleepy, slow town especially now during the off season so we just wondered around taking lots of photos and poking around in the eclectic shops. Many of the restaurants have live jazz music throughout the day and into the evenings and it fills the streets with beautiful background music as you explore the winding streets.
As for food in this town there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to when places are open or closed. We’d decide on a place, wander the streets until we found it again (which proved to be way more difficult then necessary!) and then discover it was closed for the day. So frustrating and this happened for both lunch and dinner and always different depending on the day. Thankfully we did find a few gems in which we enjoyed some delicious meals. We had a great fish dinner at Sarau while listening to live music, slurped down some delicious coconut soup (surprisingly though the Pad Thai not so much) at Thai Brazil, devoured delectable tacos at Frida and Diego’s Mexican Taqueria (although super slow service as it took 30 minutes after finishing the meal to pay the bill) and savored homemade craft brews and good food at the local Brewery Caborê. Such a treat after drinking the mediocre local pilsner options the last 2 weeks. We have been so spoiled with great beer in the States.
The weather has been a bit cloudy and rainy but we decided to head out into the light drizzle anyways and hiked up to the Fort Perpetual Defender. Not a lot to see, just an old building and some cannons, but a nice short walk through the woods and a wide panoramic view of the town. Seems the oysters are quite feisty around here…
For our last day in Paraty we booked a Jeep Adventure Tour ($21 each) through our hostel. Unfortunately we were not told it was all in Portuguese and therefore didn’t really know what was going on the whole time. We did a lot of smiling and nodding when spoken too!! hahaha. 12 of us packed into an open back jeep and headed up into the hills outside of town. We made 2 stops at 2 different local cachaça distilleries (we were not aware this was part of the tour). Cachaça is a liqueur made from sugar cane and is used in the traditional Brazilian drink Caipirinha. Again the distillery tours were in Portuguese and it was kind of a bummer as we would have liked to actually learn about the process and history behind it. We enjoyed a few free tasters and just sort of went along with what everyone else was doing.
The main reason we actually were on this tour was to see a couple of nice waterfalls we’d heard about. They were pretty cool but unfortunately with it being winter and rainy here it was just too cold to fully enjoy them. In the summer months it would have been really fun to swim in the falls, jump off the rocks and slide down the natural rock water slide. Oh well, it was still worth seeing and a nice way to spend the day.
Easy Transfer Brazil seems to be the best option for price, ease, and timing, so we booked again ($45 each) for our trip to Sao Paulo and didn’t get a mile down the road before we had to pull over at the auto shop. After 1.5 hours waiting around while they fussed with the oil pump, we were finally headed to the airport in Sao Paulo. The drive took 4 hours and once there we waited for the free Salvatore Executive Hotel shuttle for 1.5 hours! We unhappily found out at the hotel that the shuttle comes every hour except the hour (4pm) we wanted it? What in the world? Another long day of travel and so after checking in we ordered some room service and enjoyed a clean room, big king sized bed and fast internet. It’s the small luxuries in life that mean the most!