Now that it’s getting cold, like the rest of São Paulo we have curtailed our beach visits and headed to the mountains. My husband and I couldn’t help wonder why we didn’t head up during the heat of summer, but oh well. Now is the time to head up to Campos do Jordão, as it is Pinhão season.
What are Pinhão? Well they are GIGANTIC pine nuts. Needless to say, my husband was in heaven.
Like all trips we jumped in the car and figured we would just happen on a Pousada. We had heard Campos do Jordão really doesn’t look like São Paulo, and we were not disappointed. It was like entering a semi-tropical Switzerland. The pine trees were a bit different, tropical vines mingled amidst the conifers, and behind all of the lovely European styled homes and hotesl, you could catch glimpses of the atypical Brazilian home. It was a beautiful mix, and it made you feel like you were not in Brazil at all.
We drove around, my husband jumped out and asked if the hotel had vacancies, and what the rate would be. We stopped at the Quatro Saisons and Home Green Home as both looked very pretty and overlooked the green valley below–both were very booked, and probably out of our price range. There were so many lovely pousadas.
As we drove around to various hotels, chalets, and pousadas that looked nice on the outside, we found we were not the only ones. We watched one woman jump out of her car, run in, and run back out.
“They do not have any sport channels.”
Yes, it was the São Paulo versus Santos game… there was no respectable Paulista that would miss this! In fact, as we drove around we happened upon a bar fight at BadenBaden (the restaurant of choice it seems for the area as it was ALWAYS packed). There were about 15 BadenBaden guys surrounding 2 guys, a woman, and a 10 year old kid hugging on to one of the guys. There was yelling and you could see the kid was kinda freaked out. Since they were pretty much blocking the street and all traffic, my husband pulled over with everyone else to see what all the fuss was about. Turns out one of the guys had pulled a gun out in BadenBaden, and all of the staff were trying to detain him until the cops arrived. We were pretty sure that it had something to do with the second goal that Santos just scored.
We ended up staying at the Leão da Montanha. It was I am sure pretty nice in the 80s, but seems to have not been updated for a bit. It was great for families. There was a large TV and game room, as well as an indoor pool. Not only did you get breakfast, but you also got a free dinner at their restaurant, which placards noted had won awards. I am wondering who was paid off, as dinner was horribly lacking in any flavor and just tasted old. The rooms as I mentioned were old, but there were actually two rooms, one with two twins for the kiddies, and then the parents room. So that was nice. We paid R$250 a night on a Promocão. There was also an indoor and outdoor play area for kids. We got some slide time in with our son… cept he didn’t quite know the proper way, so while it was not the best hotel, I still liked it for the family nature of it.
We headed downtown to the main area as there was an orchestra playing. Campos do Jordão seems to be pretty much a tourist town, so they seem to have a lot of festivals to lure folks up. While we waited for the orchestra, we also decided to grab some Fondue. It has been a good 10 years since I have had fondue, and why not in Campos do Jordão. My husband was reminded why he hates it, and I was reminded at 2 am, 3am, 4am, and the rest of the day the reason the Swiss recommend drinking it with hot tea. Stomach did not settle until breakfast and a hot cup of water. Either way, for about R$100 it was not worth it.
The orchestra concert was fun, and we had a front row seat. Our son really really loves music and dancing, so we were curious to see what his reaction would be to a full orchestra. He did not let us down.
We also went on a nice scenic drive through Camos do Jordão. We stopped at the tourist informacões center, got a free map, and some “touristy” photos. Before heading to Duche do Preto.
The falls are completely man made, so you can get right up on them. Flowing water loudly splashing everywhere was definitely a must do for a family with a 1 year old kid. At one point you can actually get right under the water flowing out of the hose if you really wanted to
We then heard Horto Florestal was a must see, so began the 12km trek to it. A long the way saw all of these folks with bags picking up things from the ground. That is when we realized the R$10 bag of Pinhões we had purchased can be had for free if you are willing to pick them up underneath any of the thousands of trees! We hucked one to see what it would look like.. and they really are huge.
When we got home, my husband quickly microwaved a bunch in water for about 5 minutes. I think I would prefer them roasted in the oven, but whatever. Most of them were bug riddled as well, so keep that in mind when buying them.
We also got to see some of the local wildlife. We almost got suckered into the Borboletaria *butterfly thingy* but for R$20 each, we don’t love our son that much. So we opted for some free squirrels.