A Three Week Tour of Brazil
Now is the perfect time to visit Brazil. If you are considering a trip to Brazil, do it before the Olympics in 2016. Right now the Brazilian currency, the Real, is very low compared to the dollar. So, for the first time in a long time Brazil and travel in Brazil is cheap for tourists. It won’t stay that way forever (hopefully!).
We enjoyed three weeks of traveling around Brazil when my father-in-law came to visit. It was fun. It was also affordable. This article is a day by day rundown of our whirlwind tour.
I’m dedicating this blog article to Dale Edward, my husband, and Dale Lee, my father-in-law. I was fortunate to get to know Dale Lee better over the three weeks he stayed with us. I learned a great deal about him. He shared many interesting stories about his own expat years. Dale Lee lived and worked as an expat most of his life. He lived in many countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and Libya. In fact, Dale Edward was born in Tripoli, Libya. It was interesting hearing the differences between expat life in the 1970’s-1980’s and expat life today.
We will always look back fondly at this time together. So here is our summary. We hope you enjoy this article because we enjoyed making these memories!
Wednesday, September 2nd, Dale Lee arrives
While Dale Lee was having a trouble free trip (no delays, all early flights, and easy travel) we were stuck in traffic for almost an hour trying to get out of our city of Joinville to pick Dale Lee up in the much larger city of Curitiba. We picked him up. He was sitting in a chair by the exit of the airport patiently waiting on us. Hugs ensued. We drove home and let Dale Lee relax.
Thursday, September 3rd, party time Brazilian style
Dale Lee and I did some shopping while Dale Edward was at work.
We met Dale Edward and a few of his employees for lunch in the small town of Pirabeiraba. It’s a beautiful area surrounded by mountains.
That evening we went to happy hour at a pavilion used by employees of Dale’s company for social events. It’s a nice area with soccer fields, BBQ grills, seating areas, pool tables, etc. The guys cooked Churrasca style for us (Brazilian BBQ). They cooked many different types of meat. As they pulled the meat off the grill they would cut it up and we would snack on it using small toothpicks.
Add music and beer and we had a fun party!
Friday, September 4th headed south to whale watch
Dale Lee and I took a long walk. I showed him our neighborhood. We went to our local grocery store, Angeloni, to buy food for our trip to Praia do Rosa. I spent most of the day organizing and packing for the trip.
Dale Edward came home from work and we headed to Praia do Rosa. Praia do Rosa is a popular beach destination in our state of Santa Catarina. It is popular with surfers. It’s also popular in September and October because the Southern Right Whales swim into the bays to give birth and nurse their calves. None of us had been whale watching before so we were excited.
We stopped and had dinner at Madero Container. This is a popular burger chain found along the highway that is built out of old shipping containers.
We arrived to Praia do Rosa and checked into our two bedroom bungalow. It was a little rustic, but had lots of room and a full kitchen.
The owner showed us around and invited us to a party the next night. You see it was Brazil’s Independence Day weekend so there were lots of parties going on.
Saturday, September 5th, whale watching and party animals
We woke up early and headed out to the beach to do some whale watching. We had lunch at a restaurant on the beach. It was cloudy, windy, and chilly outside. We bundled up and climbed the sand dunes to watch the whales. We could see them and their blow holes but they were far away and difficult to photograph. We enjoyed sitting up on the sand dunes though taking in the view.
That evening we went to the party. We had a blast. Our hosts’ family was visiting from Rio Grande do Sul. The gauchos from that area are known for their BBQ, and they brought the beef with them from their home town. We were not disappointed. They had the best sausage I’ve eaten. They also brought local beers from that region and insisted that we try each one. I drank some really tasty Chilean wine.
One of the family members brought his guitar and played songs from the countryside between Uruguay and Brazil. He was amazing. Of course Dale Edward and Dale Lee were invited to play guitar and sing too. So here we were in the main reception area of the pousada drinking, visiting in mixed Portuguese and English, and listening to and singing music all night. The next day we were told that a couple from Uruguay staying at the Pousada asked the owner if they have live music every night. Everyone thought that was funny.
Sunday, September 6th, touring the island with hangovers
Dale Edward and I work up with headaches and feeling worn out. Dale Lee has a lot more experience than we do handling his alcohol. He was chipper and ready to go. We were invited to another party this day but none of us had the energy to do this a second day in a row.
We drove an hour to Florianopolis and toured around the island.
After all the driving we were hungry. We went to an awesome pizza place in Praia do Rosa for dinner, Pizza na Pedra. If you ever do visit you have to try their pizza.
Monday, September 7th, whales up close
We woke up early and drove to a small fishing village. There were colorful buildings right on the beach as well as interesting churches and buildings in the old part of the town. We then headed to another beach for whale watching.
We were not disappointed. At this beach we saw whales and their calves up close from the cliffs. We sat out there for hours just watching the whales. The calves were frisky and they were jumping out of the water and doing headstands. We walked over to a beach restaurant and ate lunch, had a few beers, and watched the whales some more. This was a highlight of our trip.
We drove home late that afternoon.
Tuesday, September 8th, Relaxing in the country and eating meat pies
We spent the day relaxing, doing laundry, and unpacking. We took a drive into the mountains around our city. We met Dale Edward for lunch in Pirabeiraba and ate Brazilian meat pies called Pastels.
Wednesday, September 9th, soccer game
Dale Lee and I did more touring around Joinville while Dale Edward worked. Then Dale Lee and Dale Edward went that evening to watch our local soccer team, JEC play at the local stadium.
It turned out to be a great game and they had a blast. I sat on the couch and watched television and did my nails. I was happy with my decision to stay home that evening.
Thursday, September 10th, packing and German food
We spent most of this day packing because we were getting ready to travel for 7 days. Dale Lee and I ate at a Colonial (traditional restaurant with the types of foods from Brazil’s colonial era). We pigged out on pies, cheese, salami, and all kinds of desserts!
Friday, September 11th, flight to Foz do Iguacu
We drove to Curitiba and then flew to Foz do Iguacu. There was a mechanical issue so we all had to get off the plane. Chaos ensued. People were screaming at the gate agents. One woman was yelling at a gate agent in Portuguese about how her child was hungry and she was going to call the police. We found out that they were putting a few people on another flight and they were getting a different plane for the rest of us in about 15 minutes. Not that big of a deal. I don’t understand why people feel the need to flip out on gate agents over minor travel issues. They can’t do anything about it. I feel sorry for Brazilian gate agents when this happens. Nevertheless, we arrived in Foz do Iguacu safe and sound and checked into our hotel.
Saturday, September 12th, Brazilian side of the waterfalls and bird park
After eating breakfast in the hotel we went and explored Foz do Iguacu on the Brazilian side. We saw some hungry and cute coatis, beautiful panoramic views of the waterfalls, and finished the day with lunch at the Canoas restaurant. The view from this restaurant is spectacular!
It only took us around 3 hours to tour the Brazilian side of the waterfalls, so afterwards we visited the bird park which is right next to the falls. This park is cool. You get to walk through the bird cages while the birds fly and walk around you. If you visit Foz do Iguacu and have some extra time please visit this park, even if you are not a bird lover (I’m not) you will enjoy it!
After touring the falls and bird park all day we were tired we ate dinner at our hotel. It was actually a decent meal and relaxing. We had a couple of drinks with dinner and went to bed.
Sunday, September 13th, Argentinian side of the waterfalls and La Mafia
We toured the Argentina side of the falls this day. We walked all the trails and even though this was my second trip to Foz do Iguacu, I was still impressed. From this side you see the waterfalls up close and can even walk into some of the spray. There are more visible rainbows on this side too, and a lot of butterflies. It is magical! We finished the day at the Devil’s Throat, where you can stand on top of the giant waterfalls and look down. The power of the falls is impressive!
That evening we ate at my favorite restaurant in Foz do Iguacu, La Mafia. A car and driver picked us up at our hotel. I had a basic ravioli dish and the ravioli was cooked perfectly. The guys had steak and pasta dishes and we all shared bites and their dishes were also excellent. Paired with an Argentinian wine it was the perfect end to our time in Foz do Iguacu.
Monday, September 14th, headed to Rio de Janeiro
We had a big breakfast in the hotel, packed our bags and headed to Rio de Janeiro on an early afternoon flight.
Once in Rio we went to our Airbnb apartment. We rented a two bedroom, two bath apartment with a full kitchen. It was only two blocks off Copacabana beach and next to many restaurants and a grocery store.
After checking in, we walked down Copacabana beach and looked around. We went to the grocery store and stocked up on water and food. We had dinner and beers at one of my favorite places, Boteca Belmonte. They make awesome empadas!
Tuesday, September 15th, City tour of Rio
This day we took an day tour with Rdj4u of the city. We visited the Metropolitan Cathedral, drove by several points of interest, went to Sugarloaf mountain, followed by lunch at a churrascaria and then Christ the Redeemer. This day was so wonderful we wrote an entire article about it and you can read it here!
Wednesday, September 16th, favela tour and another soccer game
We took a half day tour of the Rocinha favela and learned a lot. We also wrote an article about this tour that you can read. We started the tour at the top of the favela and walked up to the rooftop of the tallest building in the favela. After the tour we ate lunch at Devassa and sampled a few of their local brews. I liked the Pilsen beer the best!
That evening we went to see a soccer game at the famous Maracanã stadium. We were also impressed with how nice this stadium is! We bought slightly more expensive tickets and were able to hang out in the lounge area. We watched Palmeiras beat Fluminense. There were a lot of exciting goals. The Palmeiras fans went crazy.
Thursday, September 17th, headed to our home
This day we packed, ate lunch, and traveled.
Friday, September 18th, Italian food
This day was a day to recuperate from our travels and catch up on laundry. We relaxed at home and went out to eat dinner in Joinville at one of our favorite restaurants, Italia. Italia has what is called a rodizio. That is an all you can eat restaurant in which the waiters bring by your table all different types of pastas, pizza, and desserts for you to try. We ate like pigs and shared a bottle of wine.
Saturday, September 19th, European valley and German cities
This day Dale Edward and Dale Lee drove to the German cities of Blumenau and Pomerode. They ate at a German food buffet and drove through some beautiful mountains and valleys. I stayed home and relaxed this day and let them have some guy time together.
Sunday, September 20th, rural tourism
This was Dale Lee’s last full day in Joinville. We drove him around some rural tourism sites in our area. We returned to Pirabeiraba and ate meat pies again. We went to Estrada Bonito and drove by several small German houses, colonials and walked along the river.
Monday, September 21st, heading back to the USA
This day we drove Dale Lee to the airport in Curitiba. We said our goodbyes and Dale Lee began his long journey home to Tulsa, Oklahoma. He had a slight delay, but he made all his connecting flights. He was tired when he arrived home on Tuesday, September 22nd, but his travel was easy.
We feel so lucky to be able to share our love of Brazil with Dale Lee. Dale Lee said that reading our blog inspired him to come and visit us in Brazil. He also said that Brazil not only lived up to his expectations, but exceeded them.