Monday, 18 June 2012

The Hippy Market

On Sunday morning we got up pretty early as we wanted to visit the local Ipanema hippy market to do some souvenir shopping.

The market was in the main square plaza and was packed full of little stalls selling everything from huge cow hides to fruit basket hats (see the hilarious photos) and Brazil flagged gifts!

We spent a while strolling around and picking up some bits and pieces, including an essential Caipirinha cocktail kit complete with wooden mixer. Perfect for when we have a Brazil themed party at home!!

A funny morning trying to haggle prices in a mix of Portuguese (them not us), Spanish and English!


Saturday Night in Rio

We wanted to keep pretty close to our hostel, to explore what was near to us and also so that if Anna started to feel tired we could easily walk her home.

We headed out for a nice dinner at a place which was recommended to us and was about a 20 second walk from the hostel. Again VV and I ordered seafood, this time in a pasta which was just as delicious! Anna had a bit of a nightmare though as she ordered garlic chicken - sounded lovely on the menu. Well it turned up and was just a HUGE pile of deep fried chicken with chunks of garlic sprinkled on top. Def not the most appetising at all!

After dinner we went for a few local drinks near the main 'Ipanema strip' by the hostel. Obviously more Caipirinhas flowed and strangely we also ended up having some German beer in a little quirky bar.

We all rolled back to the hostel a little tipsy, excited about waking up to our first full day in Rio.


Friday, 11 May 2012

Rio Hostel Nightmare

On Saturday morning we wanted to sort out a plan for getting to Rio later that day. Although we had only been in Ilha Grande a short time, we wanted to try and be in Rio for as much of the weekend as possible.

We hadn't booked anywhere to stay, but didn't see that to be too much of a problem. After calling and emailing a few places, we soon discovered that everything was booked as it was the week approaching Easter, which is a big holiday in Brazil. After another hour or so of looking, it got to the point that we had called every hostel in 2 lonely planets, had looked on and there was nothing but slim pickings. The search had eaten up alot of our morning and we had really annoyingly missed the boat transfer that we wanted to get to the other side of the island.

Having not booked any hostel at all throughout the whole time I have been away, I was sure that once we actually got to Rio, we could sort something in Ipanema, which is where we wanted to be - right by the beach. But it was a risk, especially as it was a Saturday night. Taking all of that into consideration, we decided to leave the island a little earlier than planned on the 1pm hostel transfer which would get us there by around 4pm.

We had about an hour before we left, so we popped next door through the postcard window to the little beach, sat relaxed and had a drink.

To get back to the main land, it was an hour or so boat ride, but this time it was a proper boat (like what we had caught to Lopes Mendes) rather than a ferry. It was a really nice day and the sun was shining, so we took advantage and sat at the front of the boat. Poor Anna still wasn't feeling too well so took the opportunity to have a little nap in the sun!

The boat took us a different route to the ferry though, which was really nice as we got to see even more of the surroundings across the tropical water.

From the boat we took a 2 hour minibus which took us directly to Ipanema to begin our search. Anna and I headed out to the main few roads where the hostels were based and found somewhere right in the centre of things that we could stay for at least a few nights. It was perfect and the lady who ran it was really sweet (although very scatty and highly disorganised)!

Panic over, we settled in and got glammed up for a night out in Rio!


Thursday, 10 May 2012

Seafood On The Beach

After our day at the beach, we headed into the little town in search of something to eat. We decided to splash out and have dinner at one of the restaurants with tables on the beach. It was sooo cute with live music, candlelit tables and fairylights dotted around.

VV and I shared a HUGE seafood broth type thing which was so full of the freshest fish, mussels, prawns, squid, octopus... This list could go on. And just to put it out there, think it was probably some of the best seafood I have ever had!!

Anna not being the biggest seafood fan opted for Beef Stroganoff - which I think must be a bit of a Brazilian favourite/ specialty as we saw it in lots of restaurants.

After dinner and a few Caipirinhas, we were all in the biggest food comas so set off along the lovely walk home.


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Lopes Mendes Beach

As I mentioned the island is free from cars and rickshaws etc meaning that the only real way to travel is either by hiking through the jungle or getting on a boat.

The next morning we arranged for a boat pick up to take us to what is classed as the most beautiful beach on Ilha Grande.

The boat ride in itself was lovely going around the island and going past all the other different little islands scattered nearby. Again it was slightly cloudy on the trip, but we were hopeful it would clear up by the time we got there.

After about 40 minutes on the boat we moored up at a little idyllic beach with crystal clear waters and not much in sight apart from a floating bar just off the shore. This was picturesque enough and we werent even at the famous beach yet!

To get there we had a mini 20 minute hike through a jungle trail, which like the one in Ubatuba, it was a minefield of bugs, mosquitos and things just lurking around waiting to bite us.

Poor Anna still wasn't feeling good and was dosed up on painkillers and antiseptic mouthwash. But getting to Lopes Mendes beach was just what she needed. Not only was it like something from a postcard, but it was also so peaceful. When we arrived after 5 minutes or so of 'wowwwing', we all sat down to take it in and relaxed so much that we fell asleep for a few hours listening to the waves.

Again the beach was free from touristy stuff with just a little guy selling beers and snacks from a cool-box, which suited us just fine.

We had to catch the last boat back to the other side which was at 5pm so around 4.15 we packed up and headed off back through the jungle path. This time it was more downhill walking so seemed much more enjoyable!

When we got to the dock, we rewarded ourselves with a beer on the floating bar.

The boat trip back was just as lovely, although we spent less time looking at the scenery and more time playing cards!

Another day in Brazilian paradise...


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Snaps From Our Hostel

Just a couple of photos to show the views when we stepped outside...


Monday, 7 May 2012

Ilha Grande

After our rainy day, we woke up to sunshine again in Ubatuba. We took advantage with breakfast outside in the sun before packing our bags to head off to catch the bus.

It was only a few hours on the bus, which took us briefly through Paraty. Originally we had thought we might spend a few days here, but Ubatuba sucked us in for more time than expected! We were due to catch a boat over to Ilha Grande at 3.30pm and arrived about an hour before it was leaving.

We just relaxed in a bar near the port, with a Caipirinha (can you see a pattern emerging here?!) before getting on just before it left.

The scenery was really nice with jungle filled islands dotted all over the horizon. It had clouded over slightly by this point and the boat was actually a little cold. I didn't really see too much of the scenery after the first 10 minutes as I fell asleep, but I was told it was nice!

We arrived in Ilha Grande around 5.30pm and began the search for somewhere to stay. An amazing part of the island is that it is free of cars, buses and rickshaws. Something we would appreciate much more when we weren't lugging our backpacks up and down the beach finding a hostel. Actually I say this, but Anna had the smallest backpack in the world and VV's was half full, so I was the only one carrying a completely unnecessary amount of stuff.

We found a little hostel set right on the shore and overlooking the beach bay and mini port. It was a beautiful setting and we could hear the water lapping at the rocky walls while we enjoyed another good few Caipirinhas.

Anna had another early night as she was still not feeling 100% and didn't want to overdo it, especially after drinking a few cocktails already. But VV and I set off along the beach to have a look at the tiny town on the waterfront. I had been told that it was a bit of a party island and seeing as it was Thursday night, we thought there would be something going on.

First of all we stopped in the main square, and what I can only described as a pack of dogs where loitering around. I stupidly sat down to put my shoes on after the beach walk and a bloody dog jumped on me - think it was going for a mount. Naturally I screamed while pushing it off; all the locals looked, laughed and VV found it hilarious!

After the town square incident, we got out of there sharpish and started to have a wander around for an hour or so. We quickly decided this was not the place for a party. Everywhere was either shut or very quiet, but we still found a couple of nice places to sit and have some drinks.

We called it a day around 1am and headed on the beach route home complete with picturesque moonlight!


The Famous Slide & Rope Swing

Waking up a little hungover after our jammin' session, we had the freshly picked breakfast and headed back to the same beach we had been the day before. We just loved it so much, we didn't want to have to compare it to somewhere else. The beach was just as amazing the second time around, but today the weather was even better with it being sunny all day. This actually meant quite a bit of sitting in the shade to avoid our skin frying and any further burning....!

Anna had been feeling a little ill all morning and by the afternoon she had tipped over the edge into full blown sick with swollen tonsils and a high temperature. Exactly what you don't want when your on holiday! We headed back to the hostel and Anna went to bed for an early night. While VV and I stayed up and had another funny night pretty similar to the one before with drinks and cards.

The next day, Anna decided to spend at the hostel sleeping in the hope of making a quicker recovery. We had all agreed that giving up 1 day was better in the long term as she didn't want to to sick for the whole 2 weeks. Also to be honest none of us were quite ready to leave Ubatuba and this gave us an excuse to stay even 1 night longer!

As creatures of habit, VV and I headed back to Praia De Prumirim, but first we thought we would check out the famous rope swing and water slides that Mikey had raved about. We asked him for directions there which lead to another funny Mikey moment (following on from the mimed actions) with him drawing us a map, complete with sketches of us both having fun on the slide and swing!

The slide was fun and we both had a go, although the water at the bottom was pretty cold. It was then time for the rope swing, which I had decided I wasn't brave or strong enough for. You had to climb some rocks with the rope, then jump and hold your body weight as high as possible before finding the exact landing spot where the water was deep enough. VV gave it a go though and survived! I watched and took some photos and one of them is one my favourite holiday snaps with VV in full Tarzan mode... and I managed to perfectly cut his head off!! By the time he was off the ground, I had closed my eyes and was screaming rather than focusing on the photo taking!!

When we arrived at the swing, it was cloudy but by the time we got to our amazing beach spot the sun was shining with no clouds in the sky.

Again our afternoon consisted of beers, seafood, tanning and cards - perfect. Actually by the time we left, I was feeling pretty drunk and managed to loose my new sunglasses at the beach - which naturally I moaned about everyday for the next 2 weeks. Think Anna and VV were secretly pleased though as they thought they made me look like John Lennon!

We caught our now 'regular bus' back to town, and wanted to go and check on Anna to see how she was feeling. And the answer was crap! Although the hostel lady did manage to lure her out of bed for an hour or so as she had cooked her some homemade veggie soup. Literally the nicest place and people...

That night VV and I headed out with Mikey for our Acai trip while Anna had another early night. We did bring her some takeaway Acai, which Mikey ended up eating as she hated it!


Mikey - Mr Ubatuba

So I have briefly mentioned Mikey, who we jammed with, but he was such a highlight of our time in Ubatuba that I felt like he deserved his own post!

First to mention is that in looks and the way he was, he really reminded us of Ben Stiller - hopefully you can see what I mean from the photo.

When we started chatting to him, we didn't know how to take him, was he serious and genuinely didn't realise how funny he was or was he constantly trying to be funny in a dry Ben Stiller type way...?!

We soon realised that his slow talking, enthusiasm for everything and believing in everyone was just the way he was. But he always managed to give his outlook a hilarious spin!

Just a couple of 'Mikey Moments' to jog my memory when looking back:

- During one of our first chats, he showed Chris a photo of a sandwich he had made earlier, which was essentially a plastic giraffe on a piece of bread!

- 'No, no that wasn't today, it was a day very close to today' - talking about what he had been doing yesterday!

- 'The Guac off' with the abundance of avocados, everyone at the hostel was constantly making their own version to be tasted and tested by others (not to boast but ours was pretty good).
On day 3 Mikey having never made guacamole before stormed in and made the best one yet with a new secret recipe ingredient which had just come to him in some kind of vision - and it was delicious!

- He gave us instructions and directions to get to the rope swing and slide at the beach by giving a full mimed demonstration complete with actions and sound fx. My favourite was him swoooshing through the air.

- His love and chat about Acai, one night he even took us out for us to try it. It's a Brazilian speciality, which is a superfood berry that they freeze with sugar and flavourings to make a slushy and serve with fruits. VV and I thought it was delicious, Anna however thought it was possibly the worst thing she had ever tasted!

I think it may be a case of 'you had to be there' to appreciate how funny and genuinely nice he was. He definitely kept us entertained and laughing almost constantly!


Fallen In Love With Ubatuba

The night of the Acai trip, there was a HUGE thunder, lightening and rain storm which was really crazy to watch especially as it came directly overhead of us.

The rain continued solidly the next day and even our best efforts of heading to the beach anyway didn't clear it away. This was mostly to see if I could retrieve my lost sunglasses, but no luck as everything was shut due to the storm. After a wasted trip, we all headed back to town soaking wet. Anna was still feeling pretty rough and I was sad about my sunglasses so poor VV had 2 grumpy ladies on his hands!

Solution: Rum and cards of course! This pulled us all through and we were all happy again by midday.

We took the opportunity that afternoon to brave the rain and head out for a proper walk around Ubatuba town. As I said we hadn't seen much as we spent so much time at the hostel, so it was good to see what was out of our 2 block radius to and from the supermarket and bus stop.

On the rest of my travels I had considered that rain meant it was time to leave, but this time I found myself asking 'Does rain mean we HAVE to leave?'. I think we could have all stayed there for 2 weeks easily, although the pull towards Rio was pretty strong!

We made a decision to have just one more night and leave the next morning, no matter what the weather, in an attempt to see more of Brazil than just 1 town and 1 beach.

We had all officially fallen in love with Ubatuba....