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 Best of Brazil
   

A short list of Brazil‘s most popular spots with photo, short text, links and hotel suggestions.
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Best of Brazil


Paraty

Paraty is a beautiful colonial town located in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Undoubtedly one of Brazil‘s best destinations, it is easily reached from both São Paulo (330km) and Rio de Janeiro (248km) and offers a great choice for a weekend excursion. Not surprisingly Paraty is listed as a National Historical Monument, in order to preserve its natural and architectural charms of which there are many. This article gives you a touch of the history, some suggested activities during your stay along with recommendations on hotels and restaurants.

History
The village was founded in 1667 around the Church of "Nossa Senhora dos Remedios", its patron saint. Paraty (sometimes spelled "parati") had a significant economic importance due to its sugar cane mills (it used to have over 250 distilleries), and the name "paraty" was at a certain time synonym of a very good sugar cane rum.

In the 18th century, the port of Paraty was an important outlet for the gold and precious stones brought on horseback from Minas Gerais State to be shipped to Portugal. However, constant pirate assaults who took refuge in beaches such as Trindade , led to abandoning the gold route, resulting in a great economic isolation. After the opening of the Paraty-Cunha road, and especially after the opening of the Rio-Santos Highway in the seventies, Paraty became an attraction for Brazilian and international tourism, due to its good state of preservation and thanks to its natural beauties.

Today the historical Center of Paraty takes you back in time. The center is free of cars enabling you to explore on foot. A word of warning - you will need to walk at a leisurely pace as roads and paths are constructed from cobblestones. The construction of its old housing and churches reflect the architectural style of the day. Look out for the mysterious masonry symbols which decorate the walls.

What to Do?
Once you have wandered around the colonial streets, explored the shops and visited the churches you may wish to consider some of the following activities.

Boat Tour of Paraty Bay
This is a must for anyone visiting Paraty. The Paraty Bay is one of the most beautiful places on the Brazilian coastline with literally hundreds of small beaches and islands. You can swim and snorkel in the clear warm water looking for colourful fish and marine life. There are a number of options for visiting the bay. You might consider joining a tour on an old schooner or maybe hire one of the many small trawlers located along the habour. Depending on your bargaining skill and proficiency in Portuguese you can hire a boat with enough room for six people from around R$200 a day. Allow at least five hours to cruise through the islands, stop for some seafood lunch, have a swim and sun bath on one of the many beaches.

Trindade
Trindade just a short drive from Paraty was once refuge for the gold raiding pirates, however today it is a charming fishing village with a rich history. There are some great beaches nearby, including: Brava Beach - which is wild with access on foot, Cepilho Beach - surf beach with access by car, Fora beach or Ranchos beach - bounds the village and has many bars, Meio Beach - picture postcard, small with calm waters and a few bars, Cachadaço Beach - can be reached by foot, some camping areas without electricity, be careful of undertow and tides, Figueira Beach or Pelados Beach - small nudist beach reachable by foot, Cachadaço - marvelous setting with rock formations creating a natural pools and accessed via foot.

Waterfalls
After a few days of sea and beaches you might like to break things up a little and visit some of the waterfalls that are located in the nearby mountains. Try Pedra Branca, Tobogã and Corisco waterfalls where the river has also formed some lovely swimming holes. You should stop by a distilleries to see the traditional method of making the famous Brazilian drink ‘pinga‘ or ´cachaça´. While there, it would be remiss not to sample a few as well!

Where to Eat?

Margarida Café offers a cozy atmosphere which is excellent for couples. There is also a bar ideal for a few drinks. The restaurant offers a contemporary menu with typical Brazilian products. Try Amir Klink (the great navigator of Paraty) - grilled regional fish, with grapes in white wine sauce and palmetto risotto or Escalope Paulo Autran (an icon of the Brazilian theatre who has an Inn in Paraty) - filet mignon escalopes, covered in Dijon mustard, served with potatoes cooked with pesto and nuts. All bread is baked on the premises in a wood oven. In the evenings singers from all over Brazil provide the pleasant sounds of MPB, Bossa Nova, Forró, Tango, Jazz and French Music. Margarida Café Pça do Chafariz, Paraty. Phone (24) 3371-2441. Check the website: www.margaridacafe.com.br



WHERE TO STAY




You could try Pousada do Forte which offers great views of Paraty and surrounds. It is located within a short stroll of the Historical Center. The hotel has a swimming pool, bar and TV room. All rooms are air conditioned, with fridge and color TV. Breakfast is included. The Pousada can arrange transport to the waterfalls and ‘pinga‘ distilleries. Pousada do Forte: Al. Princesa Isabel, 33 Paraty. Phone: (24) 3371-1462. Check the website: www.paraty.com.br/hotforte/Ihforte.htm

How to get there?
Paraty is ideally located within easy distance of both Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. If you are coming from São Paulo allow 5 hours, take the Rodovia Ayrton Senna or Rodovia Dutra turning off just before Taubate onto the Rodovia Oswaldo Cruz to Ubatuba then take the Rodovia Br 101 (Rio - Santos) to Paraty. Avoid the Rodovia Paraty-Cunha which looks more direct on the map but is a rough dirt track. From Rio allow 4 hours, take the Rodovia Dutra to Barra Mansa-Angra and then take the Rodovia Br 101 (Rio - Santos) to Paraty. There are 6 daily buses from São Paulo and 10 daily buses from Rio.

Useful Links
www.paraty.com.br
Loads of information about Paraty in Portuguese, English and Spanish

www.paraty.com
Information about Paraty in Portuguese

www.paratytours.com.br
Information in Portuguese and English about excursions around Paraty



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 Short Trips
   

Looking to get out of Sao Paulo for the weekend. Check out our suggestions for short trips from Sao Paulo and leave the smog and stress behind.
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