Brazil has never been on my high priority list and I don’t know how much time it would have taken me to visit the 5th largest country in the world, if it hadn’t been for the Olympics. But 2016 was the year of Rio de Janeiro and as I was going to volunteer for the first Olympic Games in South America, I decided I might as well travel around and discover the beauty of the host country. I asked my friends to join me, but no one was willing to pay sky high prices for flight tickets and hotels. I was actually ready to travel alone just by myself (and that was a scary thought!), but then I decided to check with online friends. I thought of 2 virtual friends that could have been interested in an adventure like this. And one of them, amazing Anna, said yes! I was very surprised by her prompt answer (she has even booked flight tickets before me!), but very-very happy as well that I got a chance to travel in her great company. As I said, I have never met her before in real life, but through her instagram I knew we would get along! And I was so right ) Later on another friend of her, Sasha, has joined us and we became a gang of three ready to enjoy Brazilian winter.
We have made a very intensive and a bit crazy plan for travelling around Brazil. After researching for a while we have selected the following route: Sao Paulo – Salvador – Brasilia – Iguazu – Rio de Janeiro. 4 flights in 2 weeks. And one detour from Salvador to an island for 2 days. I thought I would be exhausted by the end of our trip, but the only 2 things that bothered me were packing and unpacking my suitcase and waiting in the lines to drop off the luggage at the airport (they were always so slow!) The rest was quite cool! All our destinations were so diverse and unique that I never had a feeling like I was bored or tired. Sao Paulo was an urban mass of concrete skyscrapers, Salvador was a colorful colonial city, the island Morro de Sao Paulo was a breath of summer, Brasilia an open air museum of architecture, Iguazu Falls were a wonder of nature and Rio … Rio was just love.
I have to admit right away: I was very scared of going to Brazil! I have read many forums in Russian and English and there were a lot of comments about violence and robbery at knife or even gunpoint. Everyone was writing about the indispensable precautions: don’t wear jewelry, don’t bring big cameras, don’t walk around with your smartphone, don’t walk in the night, don’t go to non touristic areas, don’t carry a lot of cash, never leave your belongings unattended (even flip-flops on the beach) and so on. Be always alert and check your surroundings (and at the same time be relaxed otherwise you will attract unnecessary attention). I have left all my “precious” things at home (like my fitbit bracelet and my kindle eBook) and the only valuable things I had were my rather cheap camera and a smartphone. I made peace with the idea that I would be robbed at some point, took a deep breath and told to myself, that this trip was worth it… And then I decided to follow my friend’s advice: negative thoughts attract negative things! I stopped reading the internet and convinced myself, that I should apply common sense, follow the rules and it would be just fine! After all, come on, I am from Russia )
Our first stop was Sao Paulo. We had 3 full days to explore it, including the day of arrival when we landed at 5 am in the morning (me from Germany and Anna from Denmark). We lived in a hotel on the Paulista Ave. – the main street of Sao Paulo. During the first day we have walked it all through, visited MASP museum and botanical garden and then rushed back to hotel as we were so scared of walking in the darkness (hahaha). In the next 2 days we have done a free walking tour, visited Edificio Italia (a skyscraper with a great view on the city), walked in Iberapuera park and checked the Japanese district Liberdade. All in one not impressive at all. If you ask me, this city can be easily skipped on your visit to Brazil ) I know I know the are big fans of Sao Paulo and I know a person who is absolutely in love with it, but for me it’s just a bunch of ugly concrete buildings. Apparently, Sao Paulo has a great cultural life and a lot of cool bars and cafes, but you need to be with locals who would show you all of that. As a plain tourist you can only do the basic sightseeing and it’s just boring. The only thing that rushes your adrenaline is the thought of being attacked! xD In my first days I was very-very nervous and tensed about all the dangers awaiting me, but later on during our trip I became ok and at some point even relaxed… Whatever, bring it on! 😛
Sao Paulo is a very old city actually, founded in 1554! But nowadays you will find nothing historical here: paulistanos (the locals) were very keen on demolishing old buildings and erecting new ones. What you can see all around are concrete giants from the 20th century. The view from Edificio Italia.
One of the greatest experiences in Sao Paulo was the visit to municipal market! There you can find stands with fruits, which names you have never heard of. A sales assistant was taking every fruit, cutting it and then giving it to us to try. For the first time in my life I have tried a sweet maracuja! Wow, it can be so delicious! We were so full and overdosed with fruits, but they were incredibly good… And costed a fortune! After this degustation you were supposed to buy some fruits, I took like 5 and paid around 20 euros (!). But it was worth the fun )
Sasha, me and Anna in some old bakery during our walking tour. Bakeries in Brazil are very good by the way!
I am not a foodie and can rarely recommend anything (cause I don’t really go to “cool” places), but this restaurant in Sao Paulo was just very-very good! It’s all you can eat and you will not be able to stop! A lot of healthy choices, great variety, great taste.. You should try )
After 3 days in the biggest city of Latin America we were ready to fly to Salvador …