We somewhat underestimated how much time we might need to traipse our way up to Rio where we had a plane to catch to the Pantanal on 13 April.
This meant that we only had time for a couple of days each for Sao Paulo, Ilha Grande and Rio. Despite the whirlwind tour – we packed a fair amount into the first week.
This city is the largest in the southern hemisphere – with something in the vicinity of 20 million residents. This is fairly evident in the sea of high rises as far as the eye can see. Perhaps the best way to get a good sense of the vast population is to ride the metro, even better – ride it at peak hour. Our bus arrived into São Paulo plum in the middle of the morning peak. Feeling like confident, seasoned travellers we opted for the metro. Undeterred by several trains that sailed by, packed with human-sardines (mandines), we took some notes from the locals and decided, if you don’t shove your way in, you ain’t getting on. Easier said than done with substantial packs, front and back. The only way forward, was to aim the pack at the open door, (and the mandines) and walk backwards. This worked like a treat, until you wanted to get off.
Turns out the mandines decide when you get off. Despite gallant efforts – we were unable to plow through to freedom and even were propelled off our feet in the process. Luckily we weren’t taken far off route – the next stop was where all and sundry burst out in a stampede with us in tow, astonished at what had just unfolded, and that we had survived.
Despite the enormous numbers of people using the metro (4 million/day), it still runs with truly impressive efficiency – with seas of people constantly on the move at pace.
With only two days in town (and one allocated to theme-park ‘Hopi-Hari’), we barely scratched the surface of this enormous city. The one exploring day we had was spent enjoying high tea at a knitting café (holy grail for some), followed by a visit to Pinacoteca do Estado museum and finishing up with a visit to the Municipal Market for a feasting on gorgeous tropical fruit and sandwiches with an unnecessary amount of meat. Without having more time to explore – the jury is still out on São Paulo, but it certainly lacks some of the obvious attractions that Rio has, and no-doubt requires a bit more digging to find the good stuff.
Our high tea was awesome - we even got to sit on chairs made out of cardboard (needless to say us fatties were a bit nervous)
Awesome knitting to advertise where to go
Finally we have access to glorious tropical fruit
Day two was spent with adrenalin pumping through the veins - a Christmas gift care of Courtney & Intish. Located in the middle of nowhere, Hopi Hari theme park really served up a change in pace to our holiday and it was fun to see how the carnys do it in Brazil. Unsurprisingly there was that same vomit-inducing fun found at such establishments around the world, but perhaps with slightly more lax OH&S regulation.
This is the fifth largest wooden rollercoaster in the world. Similar to the scenic railway at Luna but there are no brakes applied
We watched some 3D movies - in Portuguese. We had no idea what was going on
This rollercoaster was so intense that it deserved its own video
Sweet island time, oh what a luxury. We were stoked to be able to squeeze in a couple of days on Ilha Grande en-route to Rio – it was just the ticket to get the heart rate down after our visit to Hopi Hari.
Between hammock time and consuming many a caipirinha and eating cake for breakfast we strolled over to one of Brazil’s best beaches – Lopes Mendes, which was a sweaty 2.5 hour walk from the main town.
One of the many beaches along the way
Well worth the walk over the hill
Although some of the walkways were a bit dubious (this is a bridge which ends in the water...)
...and at times some of us did need a hand off the ground due to the muggy heat
An incident worth noting on our walk to Lopez Mendez – we spotted a man walking quickly across the beach after a large snake, then giving it a couple of swift whacks on the head with a paddle, then dragging it into the bushes (whilst we squealed like girls). We later learnt this snake was poisonous, but even so, one is not supposed to bludgeon them to death…
This is as close as we wanted to get even though by this stage it was dead
We really loved Ilha Grande, and could’ve done with a few more days, but never mind – things to see and do. Next up: Rio in all its splendor.
How could we not love a place where there are no cars and the only way to collect rubbish is by boat
Someone forgot her book so fund other ways to entertain
Finally after the past three months of travel we finally get to swim