Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vitoria, Belo Horizonte and Florianopolis


I decided to take a night bus to Vitoria to save some travel time. First I had to get a bus down to Ilheus and change there. This an easy journey from Itacare except the stupid local bus stops everywhere along the way so it takes twice as long as it needs to.

But then there is something interesting when you get to Ilheus. The prison is just across the road from the bus station. Handy if you escape from jail and want a random getaway. Although given how frequently the buses stop, the police could probably catch up to the bus just by walking.

This was my first Brazilian night bus experience. They are not as good as some of the other night buses I've taken (Mexico and Argentina are the standouts). And for some reason we had to change buses at about 3am. I have no idea why. They just turned all the lights on and we had to swap buses. Inconvenient.

In the morning we get to Vitoria and I find a local bus to the hostel, which is out near the beach. So I'm on the street but I can't find it cos they have changed half the numbers. Why? Who knows! After walking up and down a few times and getting totally confused I ended up asking some locals on the street. They didn't know it but called the hostel for me. Of course I was only about 100m away.

Now, I'm not going to name the hostel. After my stay I complained to the booking site and was told for legal reasons that my review couldn't be published since I made some serious allegations of drug use and sexual harassment. Based on that I will not mention the hostel here. However, it's not difficult to find it if you really want to know since the options here are limited.

At checkin, the first thing I see is the owner’s bag of weed sitting on the counter. This should have been my first warning. Not that I care about weed, but the fact that the owner didn't think that running a business and open drug use were a problem is slightly concerning. 

Plus it's 9am and he's just walking around in his togs.

Thankfully, not quite this bad. Also how much manscaping does this require?

But Brazilian men like do like their skimpy togs. Google it. You'll see.

I should point out that there's no pool at this hostel but he'd decided that wearing togs was appropriate work attire. I don't think I saw him in actual clothes the whole time. 

About half an hour after I arrived the smell of pot of was wafting throughout the hostel. Him and his mates (who may or may not have been guests or just living here, it's hard to tell) start drinking. I left to go and have a look around.

Vitoria is a big city between Rio and Salvador so if you're doing this route, you will go through it. On the other side of the river is Vila Velha. Both cities looked ok from what I saw from the bus, but this was more of a stopover for me rather than a destination so I didn't fully experience what either one has to offer. I didn't end up going to Vitoria's city centre, only the beach nearby. It wasn't that great compared to the one's I'd just experienced further north so don't bother staying here for that. I think Vila Velha's beaches are nicer but I couldn't find any hostels there. Plus, Vitoria has the main intercity bus station, which is what I really needed.

I had lunch at this veggie place. It was pretty good. It also has a good size natural food store attached to it, which I liked and meant I could get some snacks for my next bus ride.

So, late afternoon I come back to the hostel and by now the owner is completely off his trolley stoned and pissed. He's talking about superheroes and trying to hug me and asking me if I want to have sex with him. I'm like no, not really. Thanks. Anyway, I get away but then soon after he breaks a beer bottle, finds me, and asks me if I can help him clean up the glass cos he can’t see. While I'm looking for a broom he tells me he has Jesus inside him and he can see the future. Clearly he didn’t have a premonition of the bottle breaking or he would have put some shoes on! I should point out that no one else had any shoes on either, which is why I had to sweep up the glass before they could move.

I'd also like to point out that all the time this is happening, this guy is supposed to be working. It would have been nice if, at a minimum, he'd cleaned - or instructed someone else to clean - the bathroom, which was quite gross.

Then later on when I was making my dinner, he just walked up and took food off my plate and kept walking. WTF dude??? Some others staying here told me he just takes guest's food from the fridge. I hid mine right down the bottom since I had stocked up on bus food for the next day.

And the story doesn't end there. I was in a mixed dorm (despite there being a female dorm advertised on the booking website, which he just laughed at when I arrived). I'd met a couple of the others in the room and they seemed ok, so it was fine. However, after I went to bed, he comes in, turns the light on and touches my foot. I pretended to be asleep hoping he'd go away, which thankfully he did. 

Seriously, who is this guy?

At least the next day I was up early to get my next bus so I didn't have to see him again. A sober guy who seemed to work there part time (mostly doing damage control I expect) apologised to me for the day before. 


I won't be recommending this place butthis guy did provide me blogging gold so it wasn't a total waste.

Belo Horizonte

The reason I went to Vitoria was so I could get a bus to Belo Horizonte. This is where my good friend Marcia from my Aberdeen days lives.

The first time I came to Brazil we spent New Year's together in Rio and it seemed wrong being in South America for a whole year and not visiting her.

There are a reasonable amount of buses between Vitoria and Belo Horizonte and the journey is about eight hours. 

This city is huge!

Apart from seeing Marcia again, the best thing was I got to stay in a flat. Seriously, unless you are a long term backpacker going from one hostel to the next, you have no idea how good it is staying in a private home. Luxury!

And she has a car which meant I didn't have to work out public transport. Marcia just drove me around. 

Also, how good is her licence plate?

Since Marcia is an architect, I learnt more about buildings and town planning here than anywhere else I've been. 

Not that I remember anything now but I got a very detailed description of everywhere we went.

All the city streets are tree lined. It's very green. I liked it.

Belo Horizonte seems like quite a wealthy city and a nice place to live considering it's not on the coast. There is a lot of mining activity in this state (Minas Gerais), so that probably helps.

There's a big lake in the city which offers a nice cityscape, which you can kind of see here.

There are several galleries around the lake which we went to. I remember one of them had some fantastic photo displays.

And some lesbian statues.

We went out on the Saturday night for someone's birthday (I think).

This guy is apparently my future Brazilian husband.

And this would be my future Brazilian sister in law. In fact, I think it was her birthday we were celebrating.

I should move to Brazil. 
Men like me there (even though some - mostly hostel owners - are super sleazy). 

I get no love in Brisbane.


After farewelling Marcia, I took a direct flight to Florianopolis (or Floripa as the locals call it) on the southern coast. I really wanted to go here the first time I came to Brazil but did not have time.

I am glad I came this time cos it's a beautiful place. Make sure you book your accommodation in advance though cos it's really busy in peak season. One of the girls staying at the hostel in Asuncion (Paraguay) gave me the name of this hostel, which she really liked. It's in Campeche close to the beach. It's also only about 30 mins on the bus from the city centre. You definitely need to do some research about where you want to stay, cos there are a lot of different areas, with different beaches etc.

Some nights this hostel even has free vegan food. Yay.

You have to cook it yourself but that's fine.

The beaches here are gorgeous. It's totally what you expect Brazil to be like.

There are a lot of vegetarian restaurants in Floripa. I ate here, here, and here. They were all good.

Although you go for the beaches, the city centre is worth a visit.

If nothing else, take the bus in and check out this majestic tree. Like most beautiful old trees, the temperature underneath is really pleasant when it's really hot. It's a good place to sit down and eat an açaí bowl!

I really liked Floripa. Like Itacare, you could easily spend a lot of time here just hanging out and going to the beach or going in the pool. For a reasonable size city it's also safe. I don't think there are any real 'no go' areas. 

Sadly, this was my last stop in Brazil. This was my third time here and I still love it. The people are really friendly, the beaches are awesome, there's tasty fruits and vegetables that don't seem to grow anywhere else in the world, and of course there's lots to see and do. Even though they speak Portuguese, I noticed that as my Spanish improved, travelling here got a lot easier cos many of the written words are the same/ similar. Speaking and listening is a whole different ball game but even that gets easier if you know some Spanish. 

If you have the chance to come to Brazil then you should. It's a great country.

Next stop: Uruguay.