I recently travelled to South America and would like to share with you some of my most memorable moments from Brazil including Iguazu Falls and the party city of Rio.
Before I even arrived I knew it that will be amazing trip! This is Itaipu Lake, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay.
Despite my fear of flying I decided that this natural wonder can only be truly appreciated from above. This picture can only give you a little idea of this place – when I returned to London I wasn’t surprised that Iguazu Falls was announced as one of the seven winners of the “New 7 Wonders of Nature.”
After full day excursion on the Brazilian side we want to see the Falls from the Argentinean side with famous La Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat) a giant horseshoe-shaped waterfall 150 meters long, and 80 meters high -this is the place to appreciate the power of these falls.
Watch out for your lunch – Coatis are coming! It’s difficult to miss these racoon-like creatures in Iguazu Falls. You will be surrounded by half of dozen of them when you sit down for your lunch in one of the cafes in Iguazu National Park. There are pretty harmless but can be quiet annoying when you try to finish your sandwich in peace.
Don’t be fooled by their cuteness – the only thing on a Coati’s mind is how best to steal your food!
According to the Reader’s Digest, Curitiba is the best place to live in Brazil and it’s easy to understand why: clean streets, low crime rate, a strong economy and many beautiful colonial buildings. Or maybe it’s because Curitiba has the second largest Polish diaspora in the world (after Chicago).
The largest city in Brazil, South America and the southern hemisphere –yes São Paulo is really big. There are almost 200 buildings higher than 100 metres, and the sky buzzes with the largest fleet of helicopters in the world, as they transport important businessmen from one building to the other. Time is money, and they can’t waste it in traffic jams. São Paulo may not be the prettiest place in Brazil, but it’s definitely the busiest.
São Paulo has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, and the Liberdade Japanese Quarter is packed with bars, restaurants and street vendors selling tasty Japanese sushi and snacks as well as food from all over Asia. It’s a good place for lunch or evening meal, you’ll also love it if you’re a Manga (Japanese comics) fan.
Parati is a small, charming town on the Atlantic coast. With its cobbled street colonial buildings converted into art galleries and restaurants, it’s very popular with people seeking the ideal place for their wedding, honeymoon or stag party.
Parati is located on the Bay of Ilha Grande, which is dotted with many tropical islands, and the boat trip to visit them is one of the main attractions there. For the equivalent of £20-£30 you will get a 5 hour boat ride to 4 islands, with a spot of snorkelling and lunch. Parati is also known as “Brazilian capital of Cachaça”. Every year Parati hosts “Cachaça, Culture and Flavours Festival.” During the 17th century there were over 100 distilleries in Parati, but today there are only six left. Obviously the most popular way to drink cachaça is to mix it with lime, sugar and ice – to make the national drink of Brazil, caipirinha. But some of the best cachaças are so smooth and delicious that should be drunk neat.
As well as Copacabana Beach, Rio Carnival and the Statue Of Christ, Rio is also famous for its favelas or shanty towns. I visited the largest favela in Rio and Brazil – Rocinha. Rocinha is built on a steep hillside overlooking Rio de Janeiro and has a population of around 100-150 thousand (some believe it’s closer to a quarter of million). Although I felt totally safe there with a knowledgeable guide, I wouldn’t recommend going there on your own.
Lapa – the bohemian district of Rio – is famous for its nightlife as well as its architecture. Escadaria Selarón is a set of world-famous steps in Rio de Janeiro decorated with over 2,000 brightly coloured tiles from more than sixty different countries. If you are lucky you might meet the creator of this artwork – Jorge Selarón, the Chilean born artist who is still modifying and replacing some parts of these steps.
Look closely and you may even find a tile from your own town or village.