Part two of our adventures with Sian take us to Paraty, a colonial town 5 hours down the coast from Rio.
It’s one of Brazil’s most popular towns, due in part to its remarkably well-preserved colonial, car-free centre with its centuries old architecture. The cobblestoned street, whilst being a nightmare to walk down without having eyes plastered to the floor, are littered with beautiful white facades, charming restaurants and shops.
The town gained fame at the end of the 17th century when gold was discovered in the neighbouring state of Minas Gerais and Paraty became the stop-over between the mines and Rio and therefore making it a busy port and a haven for the wealthy.
Whilst the port now is more beer boats than gold boats, it’s still a very popular town especially for weekend breaks from Rio.
We picked it as our retreat for Christmas, as it also has some wonderful beaches and great boat rides which the Schutz’s in particular are big fans of.
We checked into our hotel Recanto do Praia, a few blocks from the beach in the Jabaquarta area of town (slightly out of the colonial centre but right by the beach), which immediately filled us with joy with its two pools and lovely gardens. We were in for a wonderful few days.
We spent out first day, Christmas Eve, in the most un-Christmassy (at least by western standards) way possible – lunch of fish and caipirinhas by the beach followed by a soak in the pool. We also then went for our first explore of the town and stumbled across a divine italian restaurant where we enjoyed festive pizza in 32• heat whilst listening to a guitarist play acoustic versions of Christmas songs. Warm Christmas was starting to grow on us very quickly.
Whilst you can certainly tell it’s Christmas in Brazil, with quite a few Christmas trees in buildings and the odd decoration, it is by no means as obviously commercial as it is in Europe. A deeply religious country, you get the sense it’s more about the actual birth of Jesus as opposed to money-making Santa Christmas we are all used to.
Anyway, we awoke Christmas Day and exchanged a few gifts (mum kept her promise of not gifting as generously as she usually does, seeing as we can’t fit anything more in our already full backpacks), and headed for breakfast and a morning rest by the pool. We wanted to do something memorable for Christmas Day, so Katie and I learned how to stand up paddle in the afternoon, whilst mum enjoyed caipirinhas on the beach and dutifully took our pictures.
You see SUPs everywhere these days, and we’d always been hugely intrigued so we rented two boards for a few hours and set off for a small island we could see in the distance. We first watched another couple of first timers attempt to master the SUP, and both promptly fell in, so we didn’t have the highest hope for us and our clothes, especially my Santa hat. However we were very quick learners if I may say so myself and took to the seas with no issues at all (well aside from that one time Katie fell in). We paddled up to a cluster of rocks, around the island and back to shore all within an hour. It was hugely fun, and quite hard work, but certainly a ‘talent’ we shall be pursuing in future. Tokyo 2020 here we come.
I had made reservations for dinner at restaurant considered one of Paraty’s best and happily right by our hotel, so after a freshen up and a quick visit to a bar doing 2 for 1 caipirinhas for all of £2.50 we headed to La Luna for our Christmas dinner.
Turkey it wasn’t, but it was amazingly special, watching the sun set over the ocean whilst eating fresh fish, shrimps and amazing steak. We all very quickly agreed that warm Christmas by the beach is definitely the way forward.
The following day we fulfilled our Christmas present to mum – a day trip on a boat taking us to some of Paraty’s famous beaches and islands with 4 stops for snorkelling. Our idea of heaven really.
We grabbed three recliners in the shade (the heat was really getting to us) and enjoyed a brilliant day snorkelling and jumping off boats and swimming in clear waters. I’ll let the pictures do the talking for this bit!
Our final day in Paraty saw us each having very different days – we’d planned to do a day trip to Trindade, a town near by that had come highly recommended by several people. However mum got burnt on the boat and hadn’t had enough of the town’s shops so wanted a morning around town without us complaining about going to shops and churches (fair enough), and I quite fancied a day by the pool reading and catching up on general life admin. So poor Katie dutifully headed to Trindade on her own, I sat by the pool, and mum headed to town. We all reconvened for the afternoon and spent our final evening in town.
We headed back to Rio the following day, as mum was flying out to see my sister that evening and we had dinner reservations (thanks to my wonderful colleagues at Albion) so spent one final afternoon at Copacabana beach before parting ways.
Whilst it was a very different Christmas than any of us were used to, it was hugely refreshing and relaxing, and so great to have family with us. We miss you, Mum!
Bye for now x