Olá a todos! Welcome….no I can’t speak nor do I understand much Portuguese, but y’all….. The lil spot I was so lucky to have visited in Brazil was maybe my favorite place on this whole planet (and I have seen some pretty awesome things in my life so far, so Brazil…. Babyyy you have outdone yourself).
Where and Why?
Alrighty, so some of you may or may not know that I lived in Buenos Aires for a semester abroad during my undergraduate career. During that time I was able to travel to some of the most beautiful places across South America, and Brazil was one of them. My best friend Kate said that she had a friend from university who was studying abroad in a quaint lil place called Florianopolis. She suggested a vacation to visit her friend and explore a country that we both were very interested in exploring. I was very down to go, so we went! (booking random trips with friends is literally one of my favorite things to do!).
Florianópolis is the capital of one of Brazil’s many states, Santa Catarina. It is a small island, and it is quite well-known for its beaches, lagoons, and popular for boating. It isn’t the most stereotypical place that people go to in Brazil, but I highly recommend going if you are a beach person or want an escape from the city life.
In terms of common dishes, I noticed any combination of meat with rice and beans was typical. Because my friend Kate and I were both vegan or mostly vegetarian, we thought we would seriously struggle at first. Now when I studied abroad, I stayed pescetarian because I knew living in South America as a vegan would be difficult. When we went out to eat, we did eat a lot of rice and beans. To our surprise, we did find quite a lot of foods that spanned a number of different cuisines. The best part was finding a vegan burger place! I literally was so happy because this was food that I really enjoyed and that my friend and I were able to eat.
Here is a nice picture of one of the fancier dishes I was able to enjoy at a nice restaurant. Again this is a great depiction of how rice is a staple, and y’all now know that rice is one of my favorite foods on the planet!
My Favorite Parts
~I apologize ahead of time for totally forgetting names of places! This is your reminder to journal when you can and remember those cute coffee shops you’ve been to!
Having Connections: On our 4-5 day journey to Santa Catarina, we were able to meet Kate’s friend (Alex) and his friends. It was heartwarming meeting other foreigners and study abroad students that were living a similar experience to what we were. Having friends and connections in a city we were unfamiliar with was extremely beneficial because we had people that were able to tell us the things we had to see and how to avoid places that would be too crowded or not worth it. They were able to give us advice on places to eat considering Kate and I were both particular eaters.
Coffee Shop: Each morning Kate and I would walk over to this cute little coffee shop and simply sit and enjoy the fact that we were just two university students enjoying the sunshine and winds of Brazil. Again, I wish I remember the name of this place, but the beauty of this part of my experience was that I got to spend quality time just chatting and embracing our surroundings with one of my best friends.
The Hike of a Lifetime: One of Kate’s friends, Alex, was a study abroad student in this city and went on hikes quite often because this area of Brazil has a lot of nature. People who enjoy the beach or rigorous activities like hiking are probably going to be the ones to enjoy the province the most. We set a whole day aside to be able to enjoy a lovely hike. I thought the hike was going to be super easy…boy was I wrong!!! Definitely pack those hiking boots or super sturdy tennis shoes because y’all are going to need em! We hiked for a few hours before we got to a beach that we relaxed at for a bit. I honestly was about to fall asleep because I was so exhausted from hiking so much! I felt super out of shape considering I hadn’t hiked in a long time! The beach was really small, but it was nice and relaxing that day. The weather wasn’t too hot or too cold. There were plenty of others enjoying the beach, too and it just seemed to be the perfect day. After a resting point, we continued to climb up what looked like the steepest mountain/hill I ever saw in my life. We slowly climbed this, which took probably another hour because we stopped to pictures along the way and I felt like I was going to trip and die, and finally made it to a point where we could see the whole Atlantic ocean! It was BEAUTIFUL! We were in awe! Everyone in front of us took turns standing on this ledge off the mountain to take pictures. The cool part is that it is supposed to make you look like you are falling or hanging off the edge of the ocean. This was totally worth the pictures! We then made our way down, which is always harder than up especially if you are tired from a whole day of hiking. We walked back hours through the main forest that we came from to the beginning of our trek and back into civilization. From then on, I was ready for a fat nap! It was seriously the craziest and one of the most gorgeous views I have ever encountered in my life (and I have traveled quite a lot!).
Concerts: On our very first night, we were able to meet one of Kate’s friends (Alex) and his friends from uni, as well. We went to a bar that had live music, and that was super unexpected! I loved that there was such fun, upbeat music from local artists and musicians of the town. We all had some drinks and danced until we were too tired to stand. I think having locals play music in bars is a common thing, and I sure wish I could experience that more! It was nice to have insiders in the city to be able to help us experience this part of Santa Catarina to the max because I know my friend and I wouldn’t have been able to find this place on our own! If you haven’t yet, Brazilian music is so upbeat and fun! I highly recommend giving it a go if you are into dance music or party vibes music!
The Beach: I know I mentioned a beach previously, but my friends and I went to a different beach one of our travel days and got to experience little shops. What I mean by this is that there are always street vendors selling different items and food all across the beach. I tend to collect flags from countries I have previously traveled to, and so I bought a pretty beach towel with Brazil’s flag on it. I still keep it on my wall to this day because it serves as a wonderful memory of that trip with my best friend (and I love the colors of their flag lolz!). I think this is one of the biggest parts of life in Floripa, so definitely taking advantage of the good weather and enjoying the beach was a highlight of the trip. There was a kind of sand dune place where we saw people gliding and surfing down on the sand, so we decided to surf down the sand as well! It was amazing to see just what felt like miles and miles of sand around us on our walk back to the hostel . The sunset made the whole scene and experience even prettier.
The Hostel: We stayed at a hostel called Geckos Hostel. It was super nice to be at in terms of closeness to the city and what they offer. We were able to have free breakfast each day which consisted of fresh fruits and bread. It was really nice considering some hostels don’t provide breakfast or much food at all (especially not for free or included in your payments). Many hostels have the options of staying in mixed dorms or gender-specific ones along with shared or private rooms. This one didn’t have a lot of options for us, but my friend and I are the type of people who don’t entirely care which rooms we get if there aren’t many options. We stayed in a mixed dorm with 8 beds, and for the most part we got lucky. Again, you can’t really pick your roomies or avoid potentially uncomfortable situations with roomies, but we knew that going into this situation. Our roommates were very friendly even if they snored a little (a lot) bit lol! For a place that was on an island and very inexpensive, I’d say the hostel was a great choice.
*Side note about hostels: sometimes, you won’t get the nicest options or the cheapest, but you have to remember what your priorities are along with the price you are willing to pay for accommodation. I prefer picking high rated places that are still relatively cheap because I don’t want to spend money on accommodation as that isn’t the most important part of my experience anywhere. Definitely keep in mind that you could always make friends with these strangers, and if you have a hard time with the individuals you are stuck with, talk to a staff member because they are probably more than willing to be of help to you!
WHY THIS IS IN MY TOP 3 FAVORITE PLACES I HAVE TRAVELED TO
I have a thing for warm weather places, and as a Spanish speaking individual (and still learner), I have a thing for romance languages and the culture those countries encompass. I think Portuguese sounds beautiful and loved that I was able to learn a few words here and there during my visit in Brazil. In addition, I have some AMAZING Brazilian friends who make me want to go back and visit. If y’all enjoy warm weather, you are gunna loveeee it here! The beach is one of my favorite places to be because it means I get to be by water, which is my favorite natural thing to see. Seriously, I could go on and on about the views and food, but this needs to be on your bucket list if you plan to go to South America some day in the near future. I would go back to Brazil in a heartbeat!!! Totally impressed!
LIL LIFE LESSONS W Random Ria
Alright y’all….. You know what time it is…. And it’s your Random Ria thoughts of the day time!
This time around I have a few generalized pieces of advice for you:
- It is so important to live in the moment rather than be so caught up in taking pictures because then you truly forget to enjoy the experience in the moment. With that being said, I also think it is important to capture yourself in the space you are in as it is nice to keep memories. Sometimes I regret not taking enough pictures of myself because I always like remembering just being in that moment with my friends. Just find balance in this!
- If you are a meat eater, try the local cuisines! If you are vegan like Kate and I are, try to find ways or places you can maintain that need of yours. Of course, in some places it will be more difficult than others, but we were surprised to find amazing food options that fit both of our needs in a country that I feel is quite meat heavy. It is possible for bigger cities, but for those smaller places, just keep looking!
- This goes for anywhere you all travel to…but learn about the local culture and try to interact with the locals. We got to watch people sing and dance in the streets and in parks just enjoying their lives and vibing, and it was such a beautiful representation of what I felt Brazil encompasses, and that is togetherness and warmth (literal temperature and figuratively with the closeness of the people). People are so welcoming and homie there, and I am sure that you will encounter some very sweet people like we did. I seriously was so pleasantly surprised at how kind and welcoming all the locals were when we went. Sooo, maybe try interacting with them if you can, and you might just meet some awesome people! (y’all already know I am about meeting all the new people)
For the Future
I highly recommend visiting places in Brazil outside of the main big cities people might normally visit, although….go see those, too! I want to go back so badly and explore more of this incredibly beautiful country. I hope you all are encouraged to explore someday soon!
Until next time, tchau for now!