Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Moving further North - Curitiba, São Paulo, Paraty

Leaving the incredible Iguazu falls, we decided to do one of our 'favourite' travel combination: 1 night travel by bus + 1 day visiting a new place + 1 night travel by bus.
Well, that was the plan at least...


Our first stop was the city of Curitiba which was fairly highly recommended in our guide book. Luckily, as we were running out of time until we needed to be in Rio, we had decided to limit our time in the city to one day and take the bus out of there to Paraty the same night.

I say luckily, as although this is probably one of the nicer cities to live in Brazil with it being more environmental friendly and clean that most other big cities, it was really quite a bore to visit and a day felt like more than enough.

We did see some nice places though including the old town and quite a big park that was filled with  exotic birds of all kinds, as well as an outdoor gym that we played around it for some time. Not a bad idea with these free outdoor exercise machines as it allows everyone to use a gym.

Our fun time a part, we were quite content to board yet another bus that same evening to move on more to the north and the sea town of Paraty. Or so we thought. The plan was in fact to take a night bus to São Paulo and then the early morning bus from there to Paraty. The only problem was that you cannot buy the bus tickets to Paraty with a foreign credit card, but as we had never had any real problems before with full buses and as we were to arrive at 6am and be among the first at the station, we figured it wouldn't be any problems.

At the end, we were lucky that we got any tickets at all into Paraty even though it meant having to wait 8 hours in São Paulo, as only two buses that same day had seats available and then all the buses to Paraty were booked full until after the end of carnival!

After a first slight chock reaction, as it was still only 6 in the morning and we had only had about 5 hours of sleep in the bus the night before, we decided to use this 'won' day to explore the huge city of São Paulo.

I had originally wanted to check out this city, but as we didn't have that much time we had decided to skip it during this trip and hopefully save it for another time.

But faith wanted differently and we spend a lovely, albeit quite rainy, day visiting this metropolis, riding the packed subways with the locals, eating some greasy breakfast like the locals and having lunch with a hoard of admin workers at a buffet by weight place.

The only grey cloud during the day, except for the ones in the sky, was that Nuno's back was hurting badly, so after lunch we decided to cut the day short and head back to the bus station making sure also this way not to miss the bus and not to have to stress to get their in time, for once.

So it was time to board yet another bus after a couple of fairly tiring nights and days. This time though we were supposed to arrive already at around 10 pm and hence be allowed a full night in a real bed.

'Supposed to'. Instead we finally arrived at around one in the morning after having passed partly flooded  roads where only big vehicles like our bus could pass the high water. It was raining hard. The streets were covered in water. Our eyes and backpacks heavy. We were without a map and there was no one around to ask in the rain, just some homeless people sleeping in the covered areas of the small bus station. We were exhausted and our patience was wearing very thin. We desperately needed a place to stay, rapidly.


However, we were not the only tourists in town that night and we were for sure among the absolute last ones to arrive.

The first few places we stopped at were all full, but finally we found one where they had a double bed available in a dorm room with 4 other people already sleeping in the room.




Although the idea of sleeping the two of us in a double bed with strangers in the room felt very weird, we were tired and desperate enough to accept the proposal as long as we found a place to put down our tired heads.

As luck would have it, another couple who we had started out the search with but then lost somewhere in the rain, had made it to the same hostel a bit before us and gotten the last private double room. However, as they had just realised that the door to the room didn't lock they decided to take off again into the rain and night.

I guess they had probably slept the night before in a real bed as there was no way I was able to take off again in search for another hostel that same night, lock or no lock. Furthermore, I have stayed in dorm rooms before and they hardly ever have locks, so it didn't really bother me as long as I could have my cold shower to wash off three days worth of grim and then rest my head on a pillow for a full night. Bliss.

We had finally arrived in Paraty and although the weather gods were against us during our two days in this lovely sea town, we had a great time walking around the old, narrow streets, seeing the church plaza that seems to be flooded at every high tide and jumping over water to cross the street. We also enjoyed a beautiful vegan lasagna that was made with palm heart instead of pasta as the base and served with ginger rice, the best cachaça I have ever tasted in a special shop and some nice ice cream.
We missed the beaches that Paraty are famous for due to the weather as most of them require going by boat and you don't really want to spend 4-5 hours on a beach in the rain waiting for the boat to come back to pick you up. But we enjoyed being just the two of us again for a couple of days, as Nuno2 had taken the bus directly to Rio from Curitiba, leaving some intense weeks of travels à trois behind us before then boarding the last Brazilian bus to meet up with family in Rio.

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