All posts filed under: Brazil

Me, You and Caruaru/Gravatá

Continuing on my exploration of the Northeast of Brazil’s cultural gem, Pernambuco, we rolled early out of bed, gathered some snacks, shades and sun cream, jumped in the car and took a road trip West of the coast toward small towns Caruaru and Gravatá. Snacks for the ride: Bolo de Rolo Biscotinhos – i.e. crunchy nuggets of sugary heaven. Caruaru is well known to be the artistic centre of Pernambuco, Alto do Moura, being the origin of the famous ceramics of Pernambuco. Driving down long and bumpy open and narrow roads, weaving in and out of slightly decrepit buildings and homes, getting inevitably lost, we finally found the the centre we were looking for. Known for being a haven for beautiful Pernambucan gifts, I whipped out my reais/Pedro’s debit card and filled my heart and Pedro’s car with beautiful hand crafted wooden and ceramic gifts. My indecisiveness often fuels excessive sweating, and so the searing Caruaru heat added to my skin’s discomfort. We also visited the small home of Mestre Vitalino, Master Vitalino, the man who …

Linda Olinda

A small town neighbouring Recife overlooking the ocean, founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, Olinda radiates colonial beauty and charm. Having thought to be named by people exclaiming “Oh… Linda!”, Linda meaning beautiful in Portuguese. Surrounded and filled with a mass of greenery, Olinda is bathed in a tropical light high up on a hill with a sandy shore and ocean below. Filled with baroque churches and chapels, small markets, historical landmarks and rows and rows of vibrantly coloured houses, it’s impossible not to fall in love with Olinda’s charm. Being notoriously safe for tourists and well maintained as a historical nucleus of Pernambuco, you can stroll along the cobbled roads and streets, passing small food and gift markets and buildings,  children playing outside, nuns strolling to church and locals bumbling around getting home from work. If you’re lucky you can have Repentistas sing to you; literally “Repeaters”, men bearing guitars stroll along the streets singing and playing Repente – a kind of improvised sung poetry found in the Northeast of Brazil. Colourful …

Porto de Galinhas

Riding down miles of clear road does wonders for clearing the mind. And as the sun finally peeked through layered pillows of slowly shifting rain clouds, ones that had been haunting Recife for far too long, I was elated. Porto de Galinhas, literally “Port of the Chickens/Chicken Port”, is only an hour and a half away or so from Recife is the host to one of the most beautiful beaches Brazil has to offer. Whenever a local asked where we were visiting during my trip, the first suggestion they had that rolled off their tongues without hesitance was Porto de Galinhas – and for good reason. Driving into the area was even magical, forests of palm trees encompassing the port swaying in the breeze, little to no traffic, and colourful cafes and small shops lining the roads. Once you stroll for a few minutes through some pedestrianised streets filled with shops selling a variety of beach-wear, food and drinks you arrive at the beach and it’s nothing short of stunning; all you need to do …

Better Lake Than Never

Região dos Lagos is a picturesque coastal region, radiating with natural beauty. It’s both luxurious and simple, colonial and modern; a perfect alternative to the hustle and bustle of Rio’s capital. Only two hours away from Rio’s centre, one can only think to be in a dream when travelling alongside the beautiful coast. Despite being super later for the coach, speeding through the manic streets of Rio in a super swanky Uber which we feared was a going to empty our pockets (turns out it was a recent convert from Uber Black to Uber X) and believing a ghost had mysteriously nicked a pair of Pedro’s sandals (turns out they were just under the bed), our cares dissipated in the warm breeze and serene atmosphere of our new destination. Praia Do Forte Cabo Frio – one of the most stunning beaches I’ve ever seen – the sand was so unbelievably soft. Staying with your man’s family has perks; excellent local food, a personal tour guide and a warm welcome to an unfamiliar place. I even made …

Christo Redentor Returns

Our last morning in Rio was greeted by warm weather, clear skies and sad goodbyes (our airbnb was so damn beautiful). But this stroke of luck with the weather, that had been toying with us the entire trip, could only mean one thing; it was time to see Jesus. Amazing freshly baked goods at a local bakery… Having already planned to head to the botanical gardens before our coach to Região dos Lagos (lake region), we made an abrupt turnaround when we glanced up toward the surrounding mountains to see the statue in its full visible glory; an opportunity not to be missed. We rushed out of a local bakery, inhaling a fantastic lime cheesecake, carrot cake, mini coxinhas and mini pão de queijos (we had to save most of it, never fear) and ran towards Cosmo Velho where we waited in anticipation to get back on that tram up Corcovado. With one eye on the queue and the other on the prize (and any suspicious looking clouds) we jumped on board and ascended 710m, armed …

At the Copa, Copacabana

To comfort a failed attempt at visiting Rio’s famed Botanical Gardens (who doesn’t have card machines anyway these days???????????) condensed milk popcorn was in order, and yes you heard that right; condensed milk is extremely popular throughout Brazil, it being used as a topping for cakes, doughnuts, ice cream, fruits and more. Including popcorn. On the streets of both Rio and Recife are tiny vendors selling popcorn, salty or sweet. The salty variety is usually topped with something called Bottle Butter – which is exactly as it sounds. The contrary is coated in a slightly crunchy caramel and topped with runny condensed milk. When consuming make sure to have some napkins and bottled water to dribble on your fingers when done, the popcorn makes a rather sticky, yet un-regrettably tasty, mess. In the hopes of being second time lucky with seeing Christ, we abandoned plans to see Ipanema beach and hurried to Corcovado. At night the statue is illuminated and has a supposedly beautiful view of the sunset over Rio. But alas, as if luck …

Bread of Sugar

On the quest to be the ultimate tourist, hitting all the hot spots Rio could dish up, Sugarloaf mountain was next on the list. If you’re not afraid of extremely high cable car journeys and viewing platforms 396m above sea level then this trip is for you. And if you are afraid you should cut the crap, put on you hat of bravery and get yourself up there anyway. Even with misty sky and lurking clouds in the horizon, the vistas were stunning. Well worth the albeit slightly terrifying cable car trip. Its comical name Pão de Açucar (literally bread of sugar/sugar bread) was coined in the 16th century by the Portuguese during the heyday of sugar cane trade in Brazil; when transported the sugar was placed in conical moulds made of clay, shaped in a similar peak to the mountain. Lunch called for more traditional Brazilian food as we headed to a common style of restaurant/cafe. The seemingly untitled restaurant was bustling, yells travelling from the tiny kitchen port window to the main cashier …

Real Rio Nights

Nightlife in Rio is as vibrant as expected, but watch out when in very busy or very quiet areas – hold onto your purses ladies. And use caution when whipping out flashy camera equipment, phones or other tech. I’ve not had the misfortune of being separated from my devices in such a way, but not many people have a Brazilian telling you angrily 109349 times a day to put your phone back in your bag – good intentions I’m sure, no hard feelings…   If without a car your nightlife should be well planned, as we discovered this night; after an interesting trip to CCBB – Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (a cultural centre with art, theatre and more) – to see some weird sound art and German photography, Feira de São Cristovão was our next stop – a famous night market filled with souvenir, amenity and food stalls and many restaurants. The market is notorious for its Northeastern Brazilian goods, unhelpful for exploring Southern culture but nice nonetheless. After an intense restaurant war, being …

Rendezvous in Rio de Janeiro

Travelling to Rio De Janeiro super early (i.e. 5am) seemed like a good idea two months ago. I warn against this activity. Despite our 3am wake up call and late bedtime, travelling to Rio De Janeiro was seriously exciting; the iconic city of Brazil awaited us. And first thing on the agenda; see Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). But alas, our naivety and excitement to see Jesus led us to pay an absurd amount of Reais to not even see the iconic statue; enveloped in a thick blanket of cloud and fog, you could see nothing but his head and palm.  Perplexed at our poor decision making, we stood amongst a crowd of indifferent tourists, selfie-ing like there was no tomorrow. Determined to come back when the weather was better, we descended back down Corcovado on the tram, disappointed and seriously hungry. After seeing some Naif art, primitive art from Brazil, at Museu De International Arte Naif, we somehow ended up a spooky historical house where a sketchy woman lives (and by lives we think …

Four Fantastic Fruits From Afar

When in another country you always expect to be surrounded by new local cuisines and dishes, but in Brazil when it came to simply fruits I discovered a whole new array of tropical tastes that blew my British socks off; I figured I was pretty familiar with most of the fruits the world had to offer, but to find such a new variety was naively unexpected… 1 | Pinha (Peen-yah) My first experience and realisation that there was more to the fruit world than that Sainsbury’s could offer was with a Pinha; a tennis ball sized fruit with a crusty, thick scale-like skin. Each scale has one tiny piece of edible fruit with a big fleshy seed in the centre. The meat is white, super sweet and smooth – think grape-like but with more fibre and chew. If you get one ripe enough, the meat will melt in your mouth and the skin and flesh will crumble in your hungry hands.The juice is also delightfully refreshing on a hot (standard) day in the North-East coast …