Some years ago I spent my summer holidays with my family in Brazil. My parents have both travelled through South America and my mother has even spent some time living in Brazil. She planned the whole journey showing different aspects of this huge country.
We started in Rio de Janeiro, the former capital of the country that was a colony of Portugal. Fun fact, Rio has even been the capital of Portugal for a while in the early 19th century. We stayed in a hotel in Niteroi, it is safer there than in the city center and with the ferry it doesn’t take long to go to the center.
The first day in Rio we had a private guided tour driving in a car to nice viewpoints, walking through the city center and saying hi to the statue of Cristo Redentor on top of the Corcovado. The next day we had a tour in a luxurious hotel right a the Copacabana beach thanks to travelling connections in the morning. In the afternoon we had the possibility to visit a school in the Favelas with a friend. It was very special to see both sides in one day. This contrast of rich and poor you find everywhere in Rio, the wealthy people living in houses near the beach, the poor people living in Favelas on the hills. The next two days we spent on our own, going on top of the Sugarloaf mountain and walking down after reassuring that it isn’t dangerous, relaxing at the beach, spending time together.
From Rio de Janeiro we flew to Brasilia, the capital city since 1960. We had a guided tour there as well. The formation of this city is very interesting. The city hasn’t existed before they wanted to move the capital to the exact center of the country. As they started building a city from scratch, they planned everything. They imagined the car to be the most important vehicle, so they built big roads and not many pavements. The whole city is very symmetric and has different districts with apartment buildings, a school, a church and grocery stores in each of them. We visited some churches, one has only blue windows and therefore is in a very special light, another one is constructed for a special acoustic so that you can hear things clearly from one side to the other because of the curved walls. Another outstanding building is the National Congress with its two towers of the legislative. Its importance is defined through its place at the head of the main road.
The next stop was the Pantanal. Pantanal is the Portuguese word for wetland and that’s exactly what it is. During the raining season, a lot of the area stands under water, whereas in the other months the sol is dry. The Pantanal is known for its diversity in wildlife. We stayed in an Estancia that organised every day trips like canoeing, fishing in a lake, horseback riding, and a walk through the forest where we’ve seen a lot of animals and plants.
Impressions of the wildlife
From the Pantanal we went to Natal, a city in the north of Brazil at the seaside. There we met a friend of my mother in a churrascaria. The rest of the time we spent at the beach, admired the dune Morro do Careca and drank caipirinhas. One day we did the famous beach buggy tour. We drove along the beach for a whole day, tried some sandboarding and crossed rivers on rafts. In Natal we also visited the world’s largest cashew tree that is… huge.
With a bus we went to Olinda, that is located close to Recife. It’s a small colonial city with colourful houses. Sadly it rained a lot these two days and there was not much going on.
Our last stop was Salvador, the first capital city of the Portuguese colony Brazil. It has beautiful coloured houses too. Maybe you’ve even seen it before, as the videoclip of Michael Jackson’s song “They Don’t Care About Us” was filmed there. A typical souvenir from Salvador is the Fitinha, a coloured wristband that someone has to knot around your left wrist with three knots, each one for a wish. One day we went to a nearby beach, the last time seeing the sea for quite a while.
After three weeks in Brazil we flew back to Europe, a lot richer in experience. It was my first time in South America and I’d like to go back one day to this different world full of joy.