No matter where you live, even if you live in a vacation destination, you need to get away, relax, and recharge. So, last weekend we woke up early and loaded our luggage, snorkel gear, and groggy teenagers in the car for our first road trip of 2016. Paraty is a coastal, colonial town 4 hours (in good traffic) south of Rio. We didn’t have time for the waterfalls this trip but I feel I experienced that to the fullest last year when it ended for me in the emergency room with stitches 🙂
For blog sake, lets approach Paraty by sea, like the treasure seekers, slave traders, plantation owners, and pirates centuries ago.
I covered the town’s Portuguese roots and Caminho do Ouro (Gold Road) history previously in my blog, so I’ll limit my historical tidbits and focus on Paraty’s architectural charm and the beauty of its bay and islands.
Igreja de Santa Rita – Built in 1722 by former slaves who had earned their freedom.
Walking in Paraty is tricky; the streets are paved with huge stones that were once ballast in the ships arriving from Lisbon. It’s funny – everyone walks with their eyes on their feet, picking their way cautiously from stone to stone, stopping to safely soak in their surroundings and snap photos. It is impossible to walk and not roll an ankle without looking down.
Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário e São Benedito – This church took several decades to construct. Completed in 1757 it served Paraty’s slave population.
I’m not sure what it is about riderless bicycles but I must take pictures of them.
Horse and buggy at high tide – ingeniously the town’s creators used the sea to clean the streets and once a month during the full moon the old town streets fully flood. We visited on the new moon, so there was only partial flooding on the streets closest to the sea.
During high tide, little crabs came out from their burrows between the stones.
The ceramic woman gazing wistfully out the window is popular in Brazil; she is a ‘lady in waiting’. Tradition says that her presence means there is a woman in the house looking for a boyfriend.
There are many colorful and fun shops in town selling arts and crafts, souvenirs, Cachaça (distilled sugarcane juice), and other local specialties.
Indigenous street vendors taking an ice cream break.
While it is a pleasure to explore the town, the true joy of Paraty is found at sea.
We walked the dock at dusk to secure a boat for the following day.
For dinner on our first night we chose Thai Basil – great food and whimsical decor! Love their fresh juices!
In the evenings lots of folks head over to Praça da Matriz – street musicians play, vendors sell ultra sweet desserts (condensed milk is a main ingredient in most), and people gather to chat. Some go to Saturday night mass at Igreja Matriz Nossa do Remédios ☠ Local legend says pirate treasure discovered on Praia da Trindade (Trindade Beach) was used to build this colonial church.
A thunderstorm rolled through during the night and I was a bit concerned that our boat trip would be rained out.
Luckily, the morning blanket of clouds parted and we had a beautiful day swimming, snorkeling, and island hopping in Paraty’s bay.
Our boat was the Golfinho which means dolphin.
I don’t have an underwater camera 🙂 but I have a waterproof bag that works fairly well.
Attennnnntion! Here comes a Sergeant Major (or pintano)
Our boat captain would drop anchor near an island and we’d hop off and snorkel over the rocks and reefs looking for sea life and swim to shore if there was a sandy beach.
My daughter finding shells
My son and husband water wrestling.
In between drop anchors, we sat on our boat’s upper deck and watched the world.
We feasted on coconut water and freshly caught seafood at a small island restaurant on Praia Vermelha (Red Beach)
Hours of fun in the sun + a full belly = naptime for my guys.
On the way back to port, my daughter Snap Chatted with friends and family. The smile is in response to a friend who was freezing in Idaho.
We ended the day at Casa do Fogo, our favorite restaurant in Paraty.
Their Passion Fruit Kiwi Sangria is refreshingly divine after six hours at sea.