● For full details on our route, transport info, hotel details, etc, look at our Google Maps page

Monday, 28 April 2008

Arraial d’Ajuda

23rd April – 28th April

After two weeks, it was a while since we’d had to load our packs onto our backs, so a 6.30am start wasn’t the most pleasant start to the day. Neither was the thought of an 8 hour bus ride, a 15 minute bus ride, a 30 minute ferry and then another bus!

We won’t bore you with the journey, needless to say when we arrived in Arraial, we were pretty knackered! The hostel was quiet, but we did bump into Claire from Bristol. We heard about a Comida a Kilo (pay for what you eat by weight) restaurant up the road and headed there for our first experience of this Brazilian feasting tradition.

The following day, we headed down to the beach for some well deserved R&R! Claire ended up having a free all over body massage, expertly given by Jose… some additional entertainment was provided when a TV film crew turned up and began filming a piece for the Belgian version of Temptation Island. It must have been pretty low budget as they were trying to film a couple in a sea kayak from a tiny little boat. They disappeared off into the distance and returned a hour later with a very wet camera and crew and a very bemused director.

On Friday, Martha, Thomas and Felix arrived in Arraial. We’d met these guys previously in Itacaré. We headed out in the evening together for dinner and stumbled upon a Sushi restaurant doing an all you can eat sushi… how could we resist? The food was OK, but a little too much heavy stuff – surprising that! We were soon full!

Afterwards, we heard that the WRAP Party was occurring in the club above the restaurant. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to mix with the beautiful stars of Temptation Island (Belgian, Low Budget), we promised to the waitress that we would be back. We’re sure they just wanted to up the quality of the talent in there…! We went for a drink at another bar, Sam had a yummy iced chocolate milk and vodka drink made by a very lovely bar man, then headed to the Party. The pictures tell the story! Click the link at the top right of the page.

A late start to Saturday, more beaches and preparation for the hostel BBQ! Led by Chef Ady (who else of course?!) we scourged the supermarket for as many fresh ingredients as we could lay our hands on. Agreed by all, this was said to be the best home cooked meal we’d had since arriving in Brazil. I shouldn’t mention that a member of our group was ill shortly afterwards…the ice of course, not the meat!

On Sunday, we headed south to nearby Trancoso for the day. Our Footprint guide to Brazil had us believe this would be another Praia do Forte – upmarket tourist haven featuring chic boutiques and pricey restaurants. What we found was a really delightful village featuring a pretty church and yes, a village green! The local teens were kicking a football around on the green and the atmosphere was really laid back, almost as a friend described, like a small village in the English countryside!

A path from the far end of the green takes you steeply down towards the beach, with amazing views across the surrounding jungle and mangroves. The beach here merges with the beautiful Pitinga beach of Arraial; you can in fact walk between the two. There were of course a number of really amazing Pousadas in Trancoso, but very tasteful and low-key, blending in with the surrounding village. We struck a bargain deal with one of the Pousadas (thank God for low season!) and arranged to travel down the following day to spend a few more days in this peaceful corner of Bahia.

Back in Arraial d’Ajuda Sushi followed by Forro dancing (similar to Salsa)…well, that is to say we watched the dancing rather than participated, a certain someone has two left feet! Claire and Martha however provided us with more than enough entertainment!

Anyway…Monday morning on to Trancoso, to recover from parties, Forro and excessive sushi eating!

Friday, 25 April 2008

Salvador extra pictures

We've had the disposable camera developed now and the extra pictures from Salvador are available here.

Thursday, 24 April 2008


11th – 23rd April 2008

We ended up spending much longer in Itacaré than we planned, so this post is a pretty long one! We hope you don’t get too bored with our ramblings!

Arriving into Itacaré at around 4pm on Friday afternoon, after what seemed like an eternity on a minibus, we set about looking for somewhere to stay. Well, Nicky and Sam searched and Ady looked after the bags and felt sorry for himself. Somehow, the side of the bus had not been marked after the journey…

Itacaré is a picturesque fishing village that sits in the midst of remnant Atlantic Coast rainforest at the mouth of the Rio de Contas. Some of Bahias best beaches stretch north and south – the majority are great for surfing.

Sam and Nicky chose the Billabong Pousada –
something to do with it having some life and fit men… Sam was also quite taken by the circular thatched cottage in the courtyard – rather like a boutique hotel at half the price! We dumped our bags, grabbed some food and crashed out – hopefully everyone would be feeling better in the morning.

A day on the beach was called for, and Tiririca was the destination. The Billabong Pousada is quite popular with the Israeli crowd, and we bumped into a couple of guys from the hostel. In the evening, we headed out for a Moqueca (Seafood cooked in a sauce with palm oil) served with Farofa for dinner was our first real traditional Brazilian dish, and was delicious.

Some extreme activity was needed before Nicky headed further south, so we booked a day white water rafting. We were supposed to be picked up in a 4x4 at our Pousada at 9am… and a 4x4 pickup arrived at 9am, but there seemed to be some confusion. After 10 minutes, the driver beckoned us to a waiting taxi. Not just any taxi, but a Fiat Uno taxi (NOT a 4x4 Fiat Uno, for those of you that remember them!). Anyway, by now, we had met Charlie, a Brazilian from Brasilia who was also going rafting… He joined us in the taxi.

We knew the rafting place was 30kms away from Itacaré, so it was a squeeze, but wouldn’t be for long we thought. 10kms into the journey, all was well… then the road turned into a dirt track! Now we know why we were supposed to be in a 4x4!

After over an hour of creeping along the track, bottoming out the suspension, banging heads on the roof, and first gear crawls up rocky hills, we arrived at the town where the rafting was based. We kind of expected the taxi to go back now, and for the mythical 4x4 to continue the rest of the journey…

Safety lesson (in Portuguese!) over, we kind of got the gist of what to do, we were ushered back to our Uno! This time the instructor climbed in the boot, and off we went. How we got up the hill to the start of the rafting is a mystery – but we made it and before we knew it we were off down the river.

The pictures
here tell the story – it was great fun and we would recommend it to anyone.

Before we could take on the river, we had to pay our respects to the River God – you can see us doing this in the photo to the right. Respecting the River God ensures you have a safe passage through the rapids.

At one point we did a canyoning style jump of 7 metres – Ady managed to drown the waterproof digital camera at this point – never to be seen again. Nicky spent 10 minutes teetering on the edge of the jump – but made it eventually.

Towards the end of the rafting, we got an added bonus when three fish jumped into the raft… Sam screamed and tried to jump out! She’d rather join the piranhas in the river!

Next was a zip wire… Ady was first and managed to get stuck 3 metres from the start! A rescue was initiated and a faulty piece of equipment to blame – nothing to do with excess Pastel eating we were told!

The event was concluded with lunch at a local restaurant – it turned out to be a feast of all you could eat and we thoroughly enjoyed it. As we were just about finished, we looked out of the restaurant and couldn’t believe our eyes… yes, you guessed it – the Fiat Uno! We were already tired, but the thought of another 2 hours in that car almost finished us off…

All in all a great day out – shame about the transport!

Party Time
Nicky’s last day was spent on the beach followed by dinner at the Falafal restaurant. We met up with the various other people that we had picked up along our route so far.
The Favela bar is where it all happens in the evening in Itacaré – a small bar that spills out into the street. Ady was feeling the pain again with a dodgy tummy, but Nicky and Sam were on a mission – the Caiporinihas were flowing, followed by Watermelon Caiprioskas.

Nicky seemed to be getting very friendly with a certain young man, and from this photo it looks like Sam was being her usual flirty self!

Promises of a beach party didn’t materialise, so the evening didn’t have a crazy ending! Nicky had a transfer booked for 9.30am – she was heading to Rio – so the night came to an end.

We had such a good few days in Itacaré, that we decided to extend our stay for a bit longer – so the tales continue…

Just the two of us
It’s time for Nicky to head south to Rio – and she left us at 9.30am. A quiet day by the beach with some people from the Hostel and a bargain dinner of Chicken, Rice, Black Beans and Chips for £2.50!

Time to start our Surfing lessons… and it wasn’t so much in at the deep end as in at the shallow end with no waves at all… we learnt how to control the board properly in still water, which should give us more of a chance when we get to the waves on Thursday.

All you can eat pizza seemed like such a good idea after all that hard work on the surfboards….

Thursday and Ady has a bad stomach… again. A Surfing Sick day is called for and our lesson deferred until Friday. Ady spends the day feeling sorry for himself, but manages to head out in the evening for Falafal!

Back on the surfboards, we get to see the real waves… 9.30am and we are in the thick of it with 8 foot waves crashing into our 9 foot longboards and bodies! This was a different league to the surf that we’d frolicked in before in Devon and Cornwall!

Sam struggled to get out to catch the waves, and Ady spent most of the time underwater! By the end of the lesson, we were both just about standing up (in the shallows this is, the waves continued to grow in size!), but were totally exhausted and feeling pretty dejected.

Emma, from one of the Local travel agencies had seen Ady taking a photo the day before (one of the dragonfly pics!) and asked if we would like to join her on a wander around the older part of the town to take some photos. We met up in the morning and had a stroll around… the resulting pictures are all here – the best ones are in the Itacaré Best Pics folder too. It was good to see the parts of town that the tourists don’t normally venture into.

In the afternoon, our final surf lesson, and we both felt battered and bruised from the day before. Ady managed to catch a few waves, but again the size and strength of the waves were more than we were used to.

Saturday night was party night and we headed to Pirilampu where the final party was being held before the owners sold up. A good time was had by all and the evening was rounded off by a dodgy burger from the 24 hour garage and a walk home in the pouring rain! It’s not all sun and surf over here!

Back at our room we were greeted by a dismembered cockroach in the bed… How it had got there we have no idea… Ady expertly dealt with it and we crashed out… what a hard day!

On Monday we headed to the Tijupe waterfall – there are some pictures of the falls in the Itacaré folder. It was a Brazilian public holiday so the place was busier than normal. Our final day was spent on the beach as usual, gathering the energy for the upcoming move to our next destination.

Our last meal was at what seemed to be a good restaurant, with a group of people from one of the hostels. We ordered Mango Chicken, which actually turned out to be Chicken in a cheese fondue sauce… not exactly what we expected. The cheese affected our sleep – we awoke at 3.30am to the sound of ‘something’ in our room… too big to be a Cockroach, we couldn’t get back to sleep – Sam had to call the security guard down to help, but he just shrugged his shoulders and laughed!

The best photos from Itacaré are available
here and at the link on the top right – Itacaré Best Pics. There are lots of others too, all on the PicasaWeb site in the ‘Itacaré Others’ Folder.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

A Guide to the Blog so far...

We´ve just posted loads of updates... if this is your first visit, then read our posts at the bottom first.

The photos that are online are on the menu to the right, and you can see a map showing where we are now. Click the map to explore our route further...

Morro de Sao Paulo

9th – 11th April 2008

Journey to Morro de Sao Paulo

After our night on the town, we had to get up for the 9.00am boat from Salvador to Morro de Sao Paulo. We were all feeling pretty rough, and a 2 hour boat journey wasn’t appealing.

We flagged down a taxi from outside the hostel, and then the fun began. The boot was full so we had to squash the backpacks into the car with us… We told the driver to go the Terminal Touristico Maritimo for the 9am boat to Morro de Sao Paulo. He had other ideas and took us to the main ferry terminal… Ady was suspicious as the journey was only supposed to take 15 minutes, and after 20 we were still going. Looking back, we actually passed the proper terminal on the way that the driver took us… Anyway, when we arrived at the ferry terminal, there was a big sign saying ‘Catamaran’, so we thought that we must be in the right place… We paid the driver and headed to get tickets…

‘No! Terminal Touristico Maritimo’ was the response from the lady at the ticket office. Not impressed, but too hungover to care, we bundled ourselves into another taxi to take us back to the proper terminal. We didn’t have much time and if we missed the 9am boat we’d have to wait until 2 in the afternoon! The second driver was much more cooperative and put his foot down in order to catch the boat (at least they’re not all cowboys… unless they were in it together!!!)

We made the boat with seconds to spare, by now Ady had developed several leaks and was dripping with sweat. This was supposed to be the boat that everyone was sick on… after our palaver to get on the boat, the rest of the journey was pretty uneventful. There are some great pictures of Salvador, taken from the back of the boat – there are here.

The Island

Morro de Sao Paulo is on the headland at the northernmost tip of Tinhare. (Tinhare is a large island separated from the mainland by the estuary of the Rio Una. There are no wheeled vehicles on the island, and the island is lush with ferns, palms and birds of paradise.

Tens of ‘Taxis’ lined up to greet the boat. Taxis on Morro are black and yellow wheelbarrows pushed by local boys! Much to Sam’s disgust, we passed on the numerous offers of a taxi for our bags to the hostel – well - the hill to climb nearly finished us off in the heat of the midday sun! Thankfully, the hostel was quite close to the port, so we were there within 10 minutes.

The hostel was very quiet and the kind lady offered us a discounted rate for our triple room… but we didn’t get it in writing… We dropped our bags and headed to the beach to relax and recover.

Morro was very chilled out, and we spent the days relaxing after Salvador. On the first evening we heard of a party, but when we found it was 30 minutes walk away, up a hill, and still feeling rough from the previous night, we decided to crash.

The plan was to move on after 2 days on Morro, to find somewhere more lively – after all, Nicky was on a mission! Itacare had been recommended to us and was on our route south to Rio. We booked a private transfer for the next day as it would take half the time of a normal bus. Little did we know that Thursday night was party night…

A quiet walk down the beach turned into a very messy affair… there are some pictures in the Morro album, and a video on YouTube here. At 4am we stumbled home, and tried to get some sleep.

Click here to hear what happened next, alternatively if you are squeamish, let’s just say Ady wasn’t feeling great.

At check out, the hostel tried to charge us double the price we agreed! After a bit of a slanging match, just what you need with a hangover, we stood firm and ended up paying the discounted rate!

Friday morning, and Ady, Sam and Nicky all have hangovers… what a day for a speedboat journey!!!

Photos from Morro are available at the top right of the Blog.

Next Stop, Itacare.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Salvador de Bahia – Part 2

7th – 8th April 2008

Monday morning, we moved hostels to somewhere with more life – and then spent the day on the beach. The pictures that we do have include some underwater pictures of the fishes… check them out here! We met some new people in the hostel, (a couple of Swedish blondes, Emma and Josephine J ) and made plans for the best night out in Salvador – Tuesday in the Pelourinho.

Tuesday was another beach day, saving ourselves for the party… we headed out at around 7pm, and went to the main square where there was live music and street stalls selling food and drink. We got a table, and then it started… buy this, buy that, give me some money for the music… after our first drink, we decided to head back and see Big Momma…

Ice cold Bramha with the locals again – a table was put together for us… The beer was so cold, it froze as we poured it and started to overflow. After several bottles, including a free one, we headed on to another side street where the party was really starting to happen.

You can probably imagine the attention that 4 blondes together would get in a nation of dark haired people… before long we’d attracted a loyal following, lead by a Rasta guy who we’ll call Bob… There was a band of local drummers playing and dancing in the street and everyone was on their feet... again, we’ll add pictures later.

We sat at a bar in the street with our even newer new friends, and more bottles of beer were brought out… we were wondering what the ulterior motive of these guys would be. After a couple of drinks, they suggested moving to the special samba bar that they knew. We didn’t really want to go as it all sounded a bit dodgy, but when we realised it was just the bar on the opposite corner with hundreds of people dancing outside, we agreed!

More amigos tagged along, and we danced the samba with all the locals. Next we moved onto a bar with a live singer – the Brazilian men showed us their version of line dancing…!

When we were ready to leave, Bob said he would sort out a special taxi… here is the catch we thought… but no! He persuaded a proper taxi to squeeze the 5 of us in the car and it cost us less than 2 taxis home!

Wednesday morning, and Sam has a hangover… what a day for a ferry journey!!!

Monday, 7 April 2008

Salvador de Bahia – Part 1

5th – 6th April 2008

The Linha Verde bus that took us to Salvador wasn’t the only thing that was green… too many home made Mojitos and a Strawberry Daiquiri meant that Sam was feeling the pain as we boarded the bus. It wasn’t exactly the express bus we’d expected, but it was comfortable and the service at bus stops, cans of ice cold beer sold through the windows is something that National Express could learn from!

Salvador, the third largest city in Brasil, is the capital of the state of Bahia, dubbed ‘Africa in exile’ for its mixture of African and European. Often referred to as Bahia rather than Salvador, the city is home to a heady mix of colonial buildings, beautiful beaches, African culture, pulsating musical rhythms* and a rasta guy we’ll call Bob and tell you about later...

3 hours later, we arrived at the Rodaviaria, and expected to be mobbed as we got off the bus, with offers of taxis into town… it was very quiet and we got a proper taxi from the official stand. He even put the meter on without us prompting! The journey seemed very pleasant, until a car drew up next to us, hooting its horn and gesturing for us to pull over… We looked at each other and thought one thing… HIJACK!!!

Turns out Sam’s door wasn’t closed properly. What helpful people!

The taxi driver didn’t know where our hostel was… we found it eventually by chance. The hostel owner greeted us and informed us that the Tourist Police were on strike for 3 days, and that we should be extra careful on the streets… she then showed us to our small, cramped, stuffy bunk room… how we missed Praia do Forte. Time to get out and explore – but is it safe?!

We’ll post up more pictures of Salvador soon – we didn’t take the digital camera out as it was likely to be stolen – we have a disposable camera… can’t wait to get it developed!

Sam’s friend Nicky flew into Salvador on Saturday evening and we took a bus to the airport to meet her. We sat outside under the runway and watched her plane come in to land. Nicky had also flown from Madrid with Air Europey, but this time it was a proper big aeroplane. Sam was very excited by the loud roar of the engines. I was concerned. I thought I was the geek.

The next day we decided to take a bus into the Pelourinho, the historic centre of Salvador. For a short time we thought we were back in England as the heavens opened whilst we waited for our bus. This didn’t feel like a tropical rainstorm either but more like the cold drizzle we all know and love :-/

We sought shelter in the nearest public building. As this was a Sunday and many places were shut we found ourselves in a museum hosting an exhibition of Buddhist relics. To Nicky and Sam’s horror we were ushered through the doors and sat down to watch a poorly dubbed DVD about the relics before being asked to remove our shoes for a chance to see the relics for ourselves…and to have a blessing from a monk! Ady agreed…we all suspected he had an ulterior motive, which turned out to be true – he wished for safe travels and immunity from the mosquitoes!!! Poor little lamb has already been bitten to death! Nicky and Sam had by this point made a rather hasty exit!

After several hours of sightseeing and street-seller avoidance (we were hassled non-stop and it was getting tiresome) we were thirsty. Nicky wanted a beer and spotted a bar selling what hopefully would be cheap beer. The guy who owner the bar had a barbeque going in the street, in an old car wheel. He was cooking food for his family and friends. There wasn’t another tourist in sight; we were guessing they may have been intimidated by the locals!

We stumbled inside and tried to explain that we only had R$10, and asked how much the small plastic cups of beer that all the locals were drinking were. R$2.50 was the reply, and a table was quickly put together for us in the street. Out came a large bottle of Bramha, and 3 cups… we paid and it was only R$2.50 for the bottle! The woman who owned the bar was like a Big Momma… from the moment we sat down we were made to feel part of the family. Not one street seller hassled us there (I think they might have been scared to!) and soon we were offered some food from the BBQ – some delicious lamb skewers and liver – free local food – what a find! We ordered another bottle of beer, this time it was only R$2.00! We’ve got some pictures, which we’ll get developed and post up soon! The locals seemed pleased that we had strayed away from the tourist bars, and joined them to enjoy ourselves their way.

Time to head for the bus home, by now we barely had our bus fare home left. We promised we would return on Tuesday for another drink and said our goodbyes.

After hearing of a concert going on in the Atlantic Suburbs, we caught a bus up the coast to see what was going on. Before we could enjoy the music, we needed some food. A Churrascaria offering all you can eat was the best thing we could find… the food was excellent but we didn’t really do it justice – the Brazilians certainly know how to eat!

The concert was rock music – we spent more time people watching than looking at the band and decided to call it a night at around 10pm – Nicky was feeling jet lagged and we were all ready for bed… all that remained was to get a bus home…

It said Farol de Barra on the front – but didn’t mention how it got to the Farol de Barra… round the houses on a magical mystery tour. The driver was a maniac, even so, at one point Nicky managed to fall asleep sitting up. Then he came to a bus stop and stopped with the usual Brazilian braking technique. There was a bang as Nicky’s head hit the seat in from of her! That certainly woke her up! An hour later we approached our stop… from the wrong direction. At least we were home!
*from our guidebook

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Praia do Forte

1st – 5th April 2008

Now the adventure can begin… What adventure was that then?! Praia do Forte is a quaint fishing village, 70kms north of Salvador, home to Projecto Tamar and a number of expensive Eco Resorts catering for the middle aged, fatter wallet!

Our Hostel had spacious rooms surrounding an airy courtyard, giving us a nice start to our trip. The village was geared towards upper class tourists
and was very expensive to eat out in. Luckily, we were able to make good use of the local ingredients and hostel kitchen to cook up a feast of our own. Fresh limes and mint were available at the local supermarket and Ady decided to try his Mojito making skills at the Hostel… so much for the detox!

There were several other people staying at the hostel, (Hi Angelo, Martha, Jo and Ian!) although it was very quiet overall. We heard many stories about our next destination, Salvador, and that we would be lucky to escape the city alive. Ian had been mugged, and Angelo had countless horror stories to tell. The guide book also warns people to be extra vigilant in Salvador… we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it!

The beaches were nice, if a little small – and the water although warm, was full of seaweed – we did find a couple of good spots for swimming over the few days we were there.

We visited Projecto Tamar one afternoon, and saw the good work that they do to help the endangered species of Sea Turtles along the Brazilian coastline. Praia do Forte is the headquarters of the project.

After several uneventful evenings, it wasn’t until the night before our departure that we managed to find some nightlife… It was Friday night and the locals decided to come out and play! We ended up visiting a local bar where there was a live band playing… cocktails flowed and we partied until the early hours. Photos of this night and the rest of PdF are here.

Saturday morning, and Sam has a hangover… what a day for a bus journey!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Leaving Europe - by Ady

After saying our goodbyes in Madrid, we headed to the airport. This time the packs were adjusted and almost bearable... although Sam still needs to loose a few pounds (the rucksack that is!)

We flew Air Europa (we'd never heard of them either, but for £220 to Brazil, it had to be worth a punt!) not knowing what to expect. At check-in we were given a letter to say that due to a shortage of aircraft, the flight had been subcontracted out to a different airline to minimise disruption and delay, and that Air Europa hoped we would find the other airline satisfactory.

Not knowing what to expect on out 'alternative airline' we thought we'd better prepare for the 9 hour flight with some food. After being robbed the Spanish airport prices (Travel Tip #1 - Always buy food before you get to Spanish airports - I should have remembered being stung €1.60 for a bag of crisps once before in one!), we headed the long walk to the gate...
When we got to the gate, our Executive Learjet awaited us and we were showed to our private suite, with double bed and champagne waiting...

When we woke up after falling asleep and daydreaming while waiting at the gate, we looked out of the window of the terminal and saw the Air Comet (we'd never heard of them either either!) plane which seemed a bit small to get as far as Brazil... Thoughts of refueling stops midway and arriving in Salvador a day late crossed our minds...

Then the tannoy in spanish, but including the words 'Weightman' and 'White' somewhere in the message, made us both look at each other - so I went up to the desk to see what they wanted. After a close examination of just my passport, they gave it back to me and said no more. Wierd.
The flight wasn't too bad actually - we got to Salvador on time at least. ^


When we got through the airport, we were greeted by the heaviest rain storm that I have ever experienced! Steam was literally rising from the tarmac! Luckily our taxi that the hostel had arranged for us picked us up right outside the door...

I wouldn't normally bore you all with the taxi ride, but it is worth a mention... about 30 mins in, on a deserted strip of road there was a loud bang and a strong smell of burning rubber... We ground to a halt by the side of the road... The driver looked puzzled, and didn't speak english. Given we wanted to get to our room as soon as possible, i jumped out of the car and showed him how to change a tyre :-) Luckily I had a torch, otherwise we would have been there till the morning!

Finally we made it to the hostel, and had a good nights sleep... Now the adventure can really begin!

Visitors Since 19th May 2009...