cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Paraty - RJ

the gold stops here

Thinking about going to Rio de Janiero? Why not try for something a little smaller, a little cozier, and a little more colonial. The coastal city of Paraty (par-ah-chee) is about a three hour drive from Rio and is thus easily accessed by bus, taxi or van from the airport. Paraty rests on a natural bay on Brazil's Costa Verde (green coast). The bay is protected from waves surrounded by coastal mountains, and spotted with so many small islands that one feels planted in the middle of a Pirates of the Caribbean scene. The waters and sands of Paraty are not the typical images of sprawling sands covered with sun bathing bodies. The beaches are shallower, dotted with shade trees, and offer more than an arm's length of personal space between you and the sun-bathing Brazilian next to you. But more than the beach, more than the private jungle swimming with pool-side monkeys, more than the five-hour boat cruise through the bay with quick blue-water dips, is the fact that Paraty is an historically preserved colonial town complete with original cobble stone streets, Portuguese tiled and painted buildings, and an overall feeling in the air whispering that you have been transported back in time, and if you just look over your shoulder, there will be a majestic caravel sailing off the port with its bounty of Brazilian gold. How romantic. Just keep the murderous pirates out of your fantasy.

Paraty was "founded" by the Portuguese in 1667. The original inhabitants were the Guaianás Indians, but the Portuguese felt their need for a gold port was slightly more relevant than a complete way of life. However, in well-known Portuguese courtesy, the original name of the region was kept. Paraty, which in the Tupi language means "river of fish", became the destination exit port for gold mined in Minas Gerais (view story on Ouro Preto). Today, Paraty is an historically preserved heritage site with a down town reserved only for pedestrians willing to navigate the uneven hand-size cobble stone alleys puddled with sea water and the occasional crawling crab.

We arrived in Paraty at night, after a six hour drive (four hours under good conditions) from Sao Paulo through the foggy Serra do Mar, the coastal mountains that separate the sea level from the upper plains, and the never-ending stretch of coastal high way through machine-gun rain. With nerves wrecked (Brazilian rain can kill, and it often does), we entered the town through stone gates. Priceless. The rain trickled off as we made it through the city center toward "pousada avenue" as it appeared. There is no lack of lodging in this vacationer's destination. Of the some one hundred pousadas, the Brazilian equivalent to the bed & breakfast, out destination was Eliconial Pousada & Spa (website); a paradise inside of paradise already. A private pool surrounded by palm trees and tropical vegetation and visiting monkeys. Each room is fashioned as a miniature suite complete with kitchen and private bathroom. The private secluded atmosphere is undoubtedly one of the strongest features of the place, as are the welcoming staff typically Brazilian breakfast served each morning. Eliconial, and the majority of other pousadas in Paraty, are within walking distance (about 3 minutes) of the beach and of the downtown (about 20 minutes).
The best way to explore Paraty and it's breathtaking bay are to first simply stroll through the historic down town on your way to the port, and then jump on one of the many boats ready and waiting to take you on a cruise through the bay's many coves and miniature islands. A boat ride through the bay is undoubtedly the number one must-do in Paraty. The rides are extremely affordable, between 20 and 4o reais per person for a four to five hour cruise. Mine, however, was free as i was on my honeymoon. Remember that tid bit. The dock is packed with an immeasurable number of schooners (escunas) and their crew calling-out for customers. Choose whichever appeals most to you, however, i recommend "The Name of the Rose," (O Nome da Rosa) a comfortable and friendly schooner whose crew lead you on a five-hour tour to numerous islands and inlets, anchoring for blue-water swimming dips straight off the boat and a snorkeling dive to view any willing sea life. Many of the locations visited are only possible via boat, so don't miss out. My husband and i both agree that lounging on the deck of boat while sailing through the warm blue-green waters was the biggest highlight of the trip.

As far as food goes, Rio de Janeiro does not have as distinct a regional food as say Mineira cuisine (from Minas Gerais). However, when in Paraty, take advantage of the fresh seafood. If the area is crowded by pousadas, it is overrun by restaurants. Aside from tourism and art shops, the down town hosts no less than three restaurants on every street. The atmosphere is not unlike the nightlife in Paris' Latin Quarter, complete with a variety of gelato (sorveteria) shops to make the cobble stone walk after dinner a little sweeter.

Visit the churches, view some local art, read up on some of the town's history, buy a t-shirt--but when you're ready to relax, grab a towel and a coconut water, and plant yourself under a palm on the beach and just enjoy the beauty around you. I could not have wished for anywhere better for my honeymoon. History, beach, privacy- paradise on earth.

A bientot

upcoming: my new kitchen


M.Lane said...

What a perfect spot. I have always wanted to travel to Brasil and when I do this is the first place I am going!


Mallory Elise said...

yes it is quite perfect, and in March it is the start of the Brazilian autumn, so not crowded! do go Monsieur Lane!

El said...

Such beautiful travel photos. The place looks amazing!

Patty said...

I love those little cobblestone streets :)

Guriamundial said...

Hi! I'm a long time fan of your blog, congratulations btw! I was in Paraty last August and absolutely fell in love, I thought it was funny that every restaurant was touting moqueca since I associate it with comida Nordestina- thoughts?

Rita Gomes. said...

Hi!!! I just found your blog by accident but coudnt leave without writing you :)
I'm a paulistana and my namorido is an Irish who has been living here for one year. So, reading some of your posts I realised that you gringos pass for more or less the same things.. and its not that easy sometimes.. but I suppose its interesting a least :) Things became much better after he improved his portuguese, so I wish you the best with yours! (I spent 3 days in Paris and would love to live there!!! you lucky one!)
Great pics from Paraty! we were there last september, but the weather wasnt very good.. the food tought was gorgeus.. loads of muquecas hehe

Mallory Elise said...

"you gringos pass for more or less the same thing." ....ouch Rita!!! hahaha. well i'm trying, like your husband is i'm sure...i'm trying.

i actually didn't eat any muquecas while i was there, none! oddly enough i didn't even know what one was until about a week ago while we were driving to a sushi place in my city and passed a muqueca restaurant. H asked "know what that is?" i said no. and then got a lecture on Espirito Santo :) at least i know what it is now. next time i'm in Paraty i will search it out.

so you live in Sao Paulo the city??

SerbaSerbaCom said...

Your article is very interesting and useful.
Thank You

Unknown said...

I've been there!
Love your pics!!!!
I miss Brazil sooooo much :(

Well, I came to check out how did get on your brazilian wax,was it easy as I describe? I hope so!

I'm following your blog so it is easy to check your new posts!

Mallory Elise said...

are you from rio corine? i really can't wait to go back to paraty...

hahahaha! well unfortunately that's not the type of story that generally makes it on this blog... :P i'll send you a message :)

Rita Gomes. said...

Hey! Oh.. I think I didnt make myself clear.. just meant that foreingers go throught same things in common cause brasil is not very used to them (like the bureaucracy with policia federal to get married/ residency).
Congrats in your marriage :) we did the same, just in cartorio (but with no flowers and only a suprise not-very-nice cake.. poor me srs) We are planning though, a another one in a few years in ireland!
How you fiding life in this side of the equador? I'm very divided.. love the big city sampa, but miss a lot cute dublin...

Mallory Elise said...

awww. crappy cake is the worst part. let me know when you do plan to get married. i'll make your cake as i will be ten times better by then!

yes i understand you now, and isn't it weird that the immigration process is so hard here? i really thought it would be easier...guess i didn't know much about brazil :P

i'm doing great, great for being moved for almost three months. we went to sao paulo on saturday to visit some family. i stay put most of the it's nice to pretend i have some friends ;)

hey you miss Ireland, do you know the blog Half Brazilian half Irish? there's a link on my side bar. the blogger is a brazilian married to an Irish man living in Ireland, your opposite :)

ps. i've been to Dublin for only 4 hours about 3 years ago, and i loved it. hehe.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that will be lovely to have a proper cute "pasta americana" cake :)
I do know Karine's blog, I've being reading it for a couple of years, but the portuguese version.
Next time youre in sao paulo send us a mail and we can have something nice to eat around here :)
This is my boy's blog about being a gringo rsrssrs

Rita Gomes. said...

Ops.. the comment above is mine (Rita)

Cherry Blossom said...

Olá! – Eu não sei se você prefere ser chamada de Mallory ou Elise!
Você me visitou há um tempo atrás. Eu sou a autora do blog “Cozinha é Poesia” e apesar de já ter vindo até aqui e também ter visitado o seu portfolio naqueles dias apenas hoje achei um tempo justo para falar com você e agradecer os elogios que você fez ao meu blog.
Eu fiquei muito lisonjeada com suas palavras por que suas fotos são tão lindas! Você usa cores são suaves e a sua escrita também é igualmente suave e deliciosa de ser lida.
Hoje eu tive a oportunidade de ler a sua linda apresentação do “The Salty Cod” e pude entender a razão de você morar em São Paulo e escrever um blog em inglês.
Minha querida, eu fiquei muito feliz em te conhecer. Já adicionei seu blog na lista dos blogs que sigo e pretendo passar sempre aqui para ler um pouco mais da sua história e apreciar seu lindo trabalho fotográfico. Gostaria muito de trocar experiências com você.

Ah! Paraty é linda, mas ainda não conheço já fui no máximo até Guarujá, as fotos nos deixam com vontade de viajar o mais rápido possível para lá.
Um abraço!

Anonymous said...

Ola, tudo bem?
adorei suas fotos, parabens!!!
Espero que seu portugues ja esteja tao bom quanto para voce poder entender o que escrevi....

Alexandre (Eaton)

Carina R.S. said...


Brynn said...

Mallory, congrats on the wedding! It looked simple and lovely. My husband and I got married in Rio at the civil registry in front of a crazy judge who wanted to include quotes from both Aristotle and Daniel Steele.

I love Paraty and I love your photos! They are stunning!

One last thing, if you actually get your RNE card in six months please let me know. First,I will not believe you, then I will be consumed by jealousy and finally I will want to know exactly how you did it.


Rachel said...

Beautiful photography! I've only been once but would love to go back. Only when both my boys are big enough to enjoy a boat ride