My husband and I recently took a ferry from the Praça XV terminal to quaint and tranquil Ilha de Paquetá – a small island neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro’s polluted but extremely picturesque Guanabara Bay. The island was inhabited by the native Tupi people when the Portuguese first “discovered” it in 1502. For a brief period, the French allied with the Tupi and claimed the island for France but the Portuguese defeated both, opening the island for Portuguese settlement. In the early 1900s Ilha de Paquetá was a chic place to be – wealthy Cariocas (Rio locals) had summer or weekend homes on the island and are said to have thrown lavish parties. However, in the 1970s, Paquetá fell out of favor with the fashionably rich. Thankfully, many of the historic, lovely, colorfully painted homes still stand, providing a charming step back in time for day-trippers and overnighters from Rio. Paquetá is a no car zone, so you walk, peddle, or hop on a bicycle rickshaw or horse drawn carriage to get around. My husband and I had a lovely seafood lunch at Zeca’s, explored the island on foot, and enjoyed Paquetá’s serenity and slower pace. I would love to visit again and stay at one of the island’s pousadas.