Friday, March 2, 2012

Why I've gone back again and again

Don't get up from your beach towel to shop! In Florianopolis (and Rio) beach vendors pass around selling everything from munchies to dresses. 

As you may have guessed given that I recently gave advice about how to get a tourist visa to Brazil, I recently travelled there!  Though jumping through bureaucratic hoops just for kicks sounds fun too... 

This was actually my third trip to Brazil, I keep going back because there's always more to see and I love it.   I went through a little rough spot this summer when I got injured during my vacation (honestly the main reason I love vacation is so that I can go running during daylight and work out at the beach), so I price-checked about 15 countries throughout South & Central America, Europe and Africa and deduced, based on price and having not really researched most of those options, my best travel option was Brazil.   

To me, Brazil is very comfortable, almost nostalgic, to travel in.  There are so many tall blondes I don't call too much attention.  Things in Southern Brazil are organized and clean, the people friendly, the system easy to navigate.  It actually reminds me a lot of Minnesota in how things work and how people in society act.  Nobody bothers or cat-calls, health and fitness is big, recycling is everywhere, public transportation works with set bus stops and orderly lines, and people are willing to help you out in whatever situation.  It helps that I'm fluent in Spanish, which is fairly easy to get by with in the parts I've been, though from what I understand it gets progressively less useful as you go further North.  English is also pretty useful, as many people speak it well, especially those in tourism.

I don't really want to do a play-by-play of my entire trip, so instead I wanted to highlight some of the places and things I've seen, liked and tried.  

Iguaçu is worth stopping by!
I am not a luxury traveler.  I usually travel by bus between cities, carry only a backpack, don't book anything in more than a few hours advance, and sleep in hostel dormitories.   I love the open hostel atmosphere and enjoy meeting other people from around the world while I'm traveling.  

During my trips I've been to Foz do Iguaçu 1 2, Rio de Janiero 1 2, Curitiba, Sao Paulo, Florianopolis (city proper, Canasvieiras, and Lagoa da Conceiçao), Sao Vicente, Camboriu, and Santos.  By far my favorite cities have been Rio, and Florianopolis, though Foz makes the list just because Iguazu Falls are not to be skipped.  I've enjoyed everywhere to some extent, though Sao Paulo has nothing on Rio for anyone wanting a city, and Camboriu, despite a beautiful beach, lacked atmosphere (for my standards in Brazil, at least, though it easily surpasses Chilean beaches by a long shot). 
Rio has a little (or a lot) of everything...  city, beach, character!

Most of the places I've stayed have been good, though I suppose since my very first night in Brazil over 5 years ago was in a scetchy motel... it can only go up from there!  I added links added to the city names above for hostels I'd recommend.  Two places I will hands-down promote are Tucano House in Lagoa da Conceiçao*, which has an absolutely spectacular, relaxing atmosphere for backpackers, and Copa Hostel in Copacabana*, Rio de Janiero, because it has everything you could want in a hostel including an unbeatable location just 2 blocks from the beach, in the middle of shopping and night life, and with easy access to everywhere in Rio.

Açai and a cheese/onion quiche!

Honestly, I am not a fan of the food (and especially not the juice!) in Chile, so I love going on vacation to places that have tasty new things.  In Brazil, I pig out on 3 things:  Açai, Guaraná, Pão de queijo.  I could live off these and nothing else.  I may start obsessively writing Chilean supermarkets begging them to start importing Açai, anyone with me?  It'd probably be so expensive I'd never afford another trip again anyway.  I always like to try feijoada because its traditional, and, just because I can, have some guy whack off the top of a coconut with a machete so I can drink the milk out with a straw.  

The green ones have way more coconut milk than the brown furry ones you buy at the grocery store. 

I've been studying Portuguese on my own for about a year now, and though this trip would be a good chance to practice.  However, I have sort of a struggle seperating Portuguese and Spanish.  The two languages are so similar that its not terribly difficult to manage with the comprehensive skills..  its pretty easy to read in Portuguese if you already speak Spanish, and you can probably at least get the gist of a conversation.  However, this can become a negative aspect of studying the language because everything in Portuguese seems so obvious that I think the brain doesn't put in so much effort to remember new thinks its so obvious no effort is needed.  However, when it comes to actually needing to produce the language, its difficult to recall the slight changes or pronunciation to the words I thought I knew. I did to speak sometimes, but I found myself speaking a lot of Spanish and just hoping whatever I said was similar enough that they got the point.  

*I wasn't sponsored to write this but if you feel like sending me money in retrospect, thank you in advance.  I accept paypal, flight vouchers, and/or shipments of tasty goodies.  


  1. I was addicted to Acai juice when we were in Buzios last year! Soo delicious!

  2. Thanks for sharing your wounderful experience. I enjoyed reading it and I really would love to visit this place in future.Thanks.