Over the new year, I made my first ever trip to Brazil. It’s been near the top of the list for me and my SO, Keith, for quite a while.
We flew into São Paulo on Christmas evening and stayed a couple of nights. Most of our time was spent in the Vila Madalena neighborhood, a bohemian and creative part of the sprawling city.
One of my favorite things there was Beco de Batman — aka “Batman’s Alley” — three long and twisting alleys that intersect, and are filled with graffiti and mural art. Every square inch; even the cobblestones on the streets. This open-air gallery began way back in the 1980s, when a rendition of the comic book hero appeared, from an unknown artist.
Since then, artists from around the city, country, and even the world have made their mark here. The area continues to exist in a state of flux, with old pieces disappearing as new paintings are created on top of them, always with the previous artist’s permission. The ever-changing look and feel of the site make every visit to Beco do Batman a new and exciting experience.
From São Paulo we took a bus down to Ilhabela, an island off the southern coast about 4 hours away. Ilhabela means “beautiful island” in Portuguese, and that it most definitely is. It has some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen anywhere, and the mountainous rainforest as a backdrop is a stunning contrast. Also, the entire island is a protected place, and about 85% of it is totally undeveloped parkland.
After four wonderful, though hot, days in Ilhabela, we flew to Foz do Iguaçu, to see the amazing Iguazu Falls. One of the natural wonders of the world, the magnificent falls straddle the border of Brazil and Argentina and are four times wider than Niagara Falls.
Visiting the falls was definitely one of the most impressive travel experiences I’ve ever had. The park is very well-done and easy to get around, with walking trails but also buses and even a glass elevator that is right by the main waterfall, offering a close-up view even for those who can’t get around as easily.
Besides the attraction of the falls themselves, the park was filled with these adorable little critters called coati. They were curious and playful.
In Foz, we stayed at an amazing little guest house that I HIGHLY recommend. Called SouLocal, it was very artsy, with a beautiful courtyard and swimming pool. They also offer cooking classes there which I would love to go back and take. Oh, and last but not least – their caiparinhas were fantastic!
I had an amazing time in Brazil, and definitely want to go back!