In the last 18 years, I’ve been asked 1 question more than any other. It’s neither deep, nor profound, but it’s one I’ve heard in more languages than I care to remember, and the follow-up question is pretty much always one of two.
It usually goes like this:
Where are you from?
(and then 95% of the time the follow-up is either a or b)
A) Ahhhh…. Manchester United or Manchester City? (Neither… I don’t like football)
B) Ahhh… Is that near London?
Why do I bring this up? The first few times it galled me a little that London was the centre of the UK universe, and all cities were judged in relation to it. But then you think about how small England is, and it really makes sense. Compare it to Australia, India or Brazil… and it seems like each city is just a light stroll away from one another.
And also… London is pretty friggin famous. Hats off… it’s an impressive city, and totally understandable when people know London and only London.
Flash forward to me living in Brazil for the last 2 months, and seemingly every friend I speak to opens with the same questions:
“Have you been to Rio?”
Yes. I live here.
“How about São Paulo?”
Yep… it’s a big city…
And that’s it. Obviously we chat about much, much more than that, but they’re the only cities people (my non-vagabond friends) know and recognise.
WELL NO MORE! I consider it my mission to educate you in the ways of Brazil. After reading the next run of posts you’re going to know at least 8 more cities. You’re going to feel confident talking about the local foods and customs from the various cities, and you’re going to have a good idea about how much it’ll cost you to travel between them.
We kept a track of our budget and expenditure so you’ll have a clear idea of where to go, what to do, and how much it’ll cost you.
Sound like a good deal?
Excellent… then let’s get started!
As I too had little knowledge of the riches of Brazil, I left the majority of the planning to my amazing Brazilian
girlfriend, Carolina. She is now an official member of Team Fraytrain, so you’ll be hearing about her and from her in
the coming weeks, months and years… yay!
What she doesn’t know about Brazil really isn’t worth knowing, so I knew we were in safe hands.
We had a month to explore, which in the grand scheme of Brazil is absolutely nothing. You could travel for a solid year here and still not enjoy all the diversity.
But a month we had, and so an itinerary was made… and it looked a little something like this:
First stop: Ilheus
Ilheus is one of the most southern cities in the state of Bahia, and it’s a pretty popular tourist destination for Brazilians, due to the rich Portuguese history all around. We decided that, when not staying with friends, we’d be using Airbnb for all our stops.
For complete transparency, if you use our Airbnb link, you’ll receive £25 in travel credit when you sign up, and we’ll get £15 credit too… winner winner chicken dinner!
Ilheus… it’s a cute little city. Our accommodation (R$132) was a 15 minute bus ride away from the city centre, and the surrounding area wasn’t the most glamorous, but it was a roof, and it had a bed. Job done. Now to get out and explore!
The first order of the day was food. After a crazy early flight from Rio (R£588) we were pretty ravenous… and this is where I got my first introduction for the many juices of Brazil!
I’d normally just stick a pin in and hope for the best, but having a juice connoisseur by my side, I was guided towards a Cocoa juice whilst she opted for a Cajá.
Back home in Manchester, I can’t really say I’ve explored the juicy options… but most of them tend to be your standard Orange, Carrot and Apple, Mixed Fruit fare. These juices were a slap in the tongue! Never have I felt so clean and refreshed after something non-alcoholic! And for R$6 (£1)? We were not disappointed.
For food, I opted for a big juicy breakfast hamburger (don’t judge me!), whilst Carol went with a classic Bahia delicacy of Corn Cake, a Brazilian tradition dessert filled with moisture, flavour and love. (R$30 in total)
We decided to let the Corn Cake settle with a nice leisurely stroll around town.
The Bataclan is a stunning building, and well worth popping in should you visit Ilheus. What is it? The sign outside describes it beautifully:
The Bataclan, a cabaret house… immortalized by the novels of Jorge Amado. There were presentations of Tango and Can-Can… it was also a brothel, and an important place where political and business decisions were made.
This place had it ALL going on! I’m just gutted we missed it all by 80 years.
It’s not so fancy from the outside, but inside it’s quite fabulous. It still has that real seedy boudoir kinda vibe going on. They wanted to charge us R$80 for a tour with lunch option, but that was a little too steep to go explore an 80 year old brothel, so we passed.
If you were wondering who exactly the above-mentioned author, Jorge Amado, was… you can have your selfie taken with him if you want (I personally think he went a little overboard with the bronzing lotion).
The author of 25 novels, translated into 48 languages and which stayed on bestseller lists in 52 countries… not bad! Probably why he’s the best known of all the Brazilian modern writers. The house where he lived and worked is situated not far from the statue, and now serves as a museum to the great man. For only R$10 each to enter, it’s well worth a visit (he loved frogs!)
Our final stop in this little city was a trip to visit Jesus.
Apologies if you just choked on your beverage. Fear not. Big J didn’t fake his own death and run away to South America. This Jesus in question is the little brother of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.
Situated on Praia do Cristo, he’s not quite as awe inspiring as his big brother, but he’s kinda cute.
Aside from Do Cristo, there are a multitude of other beaches – North Beach, South Beach, Millionaires Beach (didn’t see any), Back Door Beach (which hosts plenty of surfing competitions due to the crazy high waves)… and many, many more!
As we were there in April there wasn’t much action going on, but it was still toasty warm and an absolute pleasure to wander the colourful streets. We didn’t stick around on the beaches either because we knew we had more idyllic sandy destinations to come.
Before leaving we also made one last stop at Fazenda Yrere. It’s a farm located not far from the centre (a short taxi ride away. There you can learn all the witcraft behind the making of chocolate… another winning destination for Carolina!
So how much have we spent in total so far?
Flight from Rio to Ilheus: R$588
Museum visit: R$20
Juicy breakfast: $30
Taxi and chocolate tour: R$30 + 2xR$30
Total: R$860 (£160)
And what have we learnt so far?
Brazil is the land of juice.
The Cocoa seed is the secret to all witchcraft.
Ilheus is a beautiful stop if you’re planning a Brazilian roadtrip.