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Tag Archives: Vacations in Sao Paulo

Police Jeito

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So this weekend we headed off to Maresias. There was a 40% chance of thunderstorms, but weather prediction in Brazil is pretty fickle… as you can see from this lovely photo.

As we pulled out of Sao Paulo city, my husband mentions he forgot to grab his passport, and how he’s essentially driving illegally. I was confused as he’s never brought this up before. So he explains, that a cop could pull us over randomly (um ok paranoid much hon?) and we’ve been here long enough that he should have got a Brasilian license. With the passport he could weave a story about how he just got here (since he was recently in the US). Then I start thinking about how in Brasil you have to have some kind of documentation to travel with your kid, to show that they’re not kidnapped. Then I realized this is just crazy think that we’d get pulled over, and went back to sleep for the long drive.

That was until my husband was waived off to the side by a cop? WTF?!! Yeah, at one of the roadside police stations, a cop was just standing in the middle partition of the the road and decided to wave US over. My husband immediately turned on his charm (he can seriously talk his way through any ticket), but then the cop asked him to get out of the car and step away from it. Crap right?

No this is my weasley husband here…he’s good at weasling.  When he got back to the car, he let me know that the cop was enjoying the conversation about California and the tv show C.H.I.P.S.  so much, that he asked my husband to step into the police station for a “cafe”… yeah okay that makes sense. My wife and children are sitting in a tiny hatchback in the “pull off area” on the side of a small freeway, and we’re going to go inside and drink some coffee and talk about C.H.I.P.S.  He actually had to explain to the cop why he couldn’t.. the fact that we were clearly on our way somewhere before we were waived over seemed to slip through the logic that was being used.

Otherwise, Maresias was as lovely as ever. I did get eaten alive by these tiny vampire mosquitos.  You can see the little bits of blood they left all over my ankle.  It actually hurts to walk on my right foot due to the sheer numbers of bites.. and that’s just my right ankle (9 on just the right side of my right ankle).


Hubby has broken up with the GPS

So on Saturday we had our carefully planned sightseeing trip.  We’ve been stuck in the city the last few weekends, and we wanted to get out and see some more of Brazil!  Hubby found Paranápiacaba on Wikiloc  and it looked perfect.  Beautiful misty green city, with hiking, and trains! for the wee one.  It was a prefect day drive, so off we went after our son woke up from his nap.

And  then we missed the free way “split”  Things get tricky with the GPS when on freeways, and it’s a common occurrence.  Unfortunately, the way back according to the GPS took us through traffic ridden side streets. No biggie, just a slight detour!

I nodded off, and the next time I woke up we were bouncing along a dirt road. Yes, a dirt road.   Hubby assured me just 10 more kilometers… and round and round we went along these little dirt roads and through the jungle.  When we were “1 kilometer” away and driving through a dirt road through lush jungle, I pulled my kid out of the car seat and he got to drive with daddy. He was getting pretty angry, so we figured it was fairly safe… since there seemed to be NO ONE around.  I think this may have been the highlight of his day.

And then we arrived!

Isn’t it beautiful??  We let the monkey get out and run around for a bit, and then I turned to my husband and asked him where in the world he had driven us to!! The son loved it, as we also let him drive the car..

It wasn’t like there were other cars around . . .

Yeah, in case you are wondering, someone (ahem) decided to just type in the city name and GPS it. With the assumption that the GPS would take us to the center of the city… oh it took us somewhere.

The road it took us to was now covered in tall green grass, a dead end.  We were lost. And we were lost in the middle of nowhere.  Yes, there were cows wandering the roads!

I decided the kid wasn’t gonna take much more driving, so we might as well let him get the wiggles out and head back to Sao Paulo, and just try next weekend.

… next weekend is probably going to be a few months out, as when we got home my husband exclaimed while turning on the TV.

“I have whole Saturday’s full of fun for the next 4 months!!! “

Followed by a reverent sigh of

“College Football”

A European Vacation— in Brasil

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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.


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We have decided that Maresias is our favorite destination. Maybe it’s our love of Kauai and Maresias’ beachy similarities, maybe it’s that it is only 2 hours away, but feels like another world to São Paulo.  This time we showed up and then tried to find a Pousada and negotiate the price.  Vacation season is over, it was a rainy weekend, and it’s getting cold now, so we figured we had more wiggle room.  As Maresias Hotel is on the beach, we tried them first.  Their lowest rate they told us was R$290.

So we stoped at Pura Vida, a Pousada on the back street of Maresias.  From the outside it looked nice, and it had the typical electric security wires seen on most wealthy homes– we figured that was a good sign as they are obviously catering to the wealthier Brasilians… or skitish tourists right?  Also, being just one street back, it was still close enough to walk to the beach, and actually closer to more restaurants, which are not located on the main beach street.  They gave us a rate of R$200 + a 10% service fee, and came with a full kitchen with a large fridge, stove, sink etc.

We got a basic room, but some of the suites come with jetted tubs.

This is my favorite Pousada so far. Yes we have only stayed at 2 others, but still, favorite Pousada.  Since we all know most of my decisions are influenced by food, I won’t disappoint. Best breakfast by far!  They had mango, mullberry, and grape juice, as well as tea, coffee, and hot chocolate.  Standard Cafe de Manha fair, fresh made rolls, cheese and meat. But you could also order from the kitchen filled pancakes or fresh made omelets . Their pão de queijo was very good. And they had corn cake and chocolate frosted carrot cake. I don’t call it corn bread as it isn’t the same as the stuff in the US.  Nor is the carrot cake the same for that matter, it looks and tastes more like standard yellow cake.

This place allows dogs. In fact the owners had a yellow lab, and a rottie watched the cars. So bad information by Mibamar, they are not the only place to accept pets! The beds were comfortable, the hotel we stayed at in Ilhabela had a crappy mattress. The pool was beautiful and clean (unlike Ilhabela),  as was the room (unlike the Mibamar). It seemed liked they had a baby pool but it was empty, and when I look at the photos on their website it seems it is alway empty. Too bad !  Ambiance of  the hotel was a Bali theme, so it was decorated nicely.   In fact there is  a koi pond along side the walk way to the rooms, which my son just loved. In fact, he tried with all his baby might to get my husband to drop him into the water to grab the fishes.  And when it rained, there was a gentle sound of rain hitting water, which was super relaxing.  We took a nice, much needed, super long nap.

What made this place stand out was the extra amenities. There is a billards room, so after a day at the beach there was something to do. A hot tub, sauna, work out room, and a movie room with DVDs. With a wee one this is nice as we could leave him in the room sleeping and just take our baby monitor, without feeling like we were too far away.  There are photos of all of these on their site, and all pretty accurate (unlike most hotel photos right!) Although the hotel is all 220 volt, so we could only charge our laptops.  They have an iron and a blowdryer you can ask to use.  And as it was 220V we ended up using our android phone app Nanny (free) to keep tabs on our sleeping son. Love the Nanny app by the way.

On my last visit to the US I picked up the PeaPod. It is a nifty little pop up tent. It is super light and comes with a blow up bad if you are going to use it on a hard surface and what your child to have some padding.  We took the PeaPod to the beach, and after letting our son crawl back and forth throwing sand everywhere, he finally wore down and we were able to stick him in the tent and relax ourselves for the first time at the beach with a kid ever!  I think if the waves were a bit less rough we could have taken him swimming, but it seemed more like a surfing day, so he pretty much stayed out of the water.

Valentine’s Day– a bit early

This weekend my husband was uncharacteristically not working, and as such he thought it would be a good idea to surprise me with a vacation out of the city to an unknown location.  So we hopped into the car and drove the 150 km to the beach.  My first photo opportunity was the toll road!  My husband leaned back and asked me for my small bills, only to discover that it was ~R$20.

Brasil is interesting, as there are always people handing things out (kind of like Japan) in public.  At this stop there were girls handing out samples of pasta packages.

We stayed at the Mibamar Pousada, right across from the beach.  The hubby wishes we had paid more and stayed at the Maresias Beach Hotel across the street or Coconuts, the other hotel with beach access and that is a real hotel.  These hotels are modern and crisp, and the rooms face the beach.

With a 9 month old, sitting on the beach was a nightmare an adventure.  As this is Brasil, you don’t exactly leave your belongings on the beach while you swim.  So we took turns heading into the water, while one of us watched the little boy as he tried to shovel sand into his mouth.  What was nice is that there are these little stands at the beach that if you order food/water/coconuts etc.. they give you a chair and umbrella.  Our Pousada rented us them as part of the accommodations.

However, after a few trips into the ocean, we decided to take a break from the sand buffet, and head to the pool at the Maresais hotel and eat lunch and enjoy some not sand…. like daddy’s shoulder.  MMM sunscreen!

There’s no point to this photo, other than I love how blue the sky was in Maresais and how green the greenery was! … and I love my boys.

We thought we’d eat at the hotel’s restaurant, and I ordered a burger and fritas and my husband a chicken sandwich.  you can see from the pricing on the menu that we expected the food to be edible.  For those of you who have ever eaten public school lunch in Hawaii, you’ll know exactly what this food tasted like.  For the rest of you, imagine the saltiest, greasiest, processedest hamburger you’ve ever eaten on really dry bread.

As our hotel was a Pousada, it was much more boutique, so the hotel was a bit of new renovation and old charm. Personally, I liked that it was cozy.  My husband hated that you could see through various cracks under the door, and in the wood beams. I loved all the green plants, the little play area that was not made out of plastic, but a hand-made house and kid’s swing.  We were also told that this is the only hotel that allows pets, so for pet lovers good news. For those of you like my husband, who don’t like to hear your neighbors dog bark until they get home at 10pm, I’d look elsewhere.

As my son didn’t quite take to the ocean waves (he wasn’t ever quite sure if they would sweep him away), we decided to take him into the pool (tons of firsts this weekend!).  He loved the splashing, and made some friends with some of the other kids.

I am very proud of myself that I could actually follow the very cute conversation my husband had with the kids.  With questions like, “Do you speak Portuguese?” (This is of course about 5 minutes into the conversation held entirely in Portuguese between my husband and the boy).  Or requests like, “Can you say your son’s name in Portuguese?”… i.e. please pronounce it so it makes sense to us.

And of course ………

both boys really liked the ladies.  . .

We also hit up a few restaurants in the area.  For dinner the first night (no photos as my camera died) we went to Tia.  A lot of time in Brasil when you order a meal, it’s not just for one person.  This was the case for this family restaurant.  The meal was for two; however, the serving size was more like for 3-4.  We ordered stroganoff with rice and fries.  Someone else ordered a platter of seafood and other items and it smelt amazing!  There was also a cute sign in Portuguese that said my family works to serve your family, so I’m pretty sure it’s a family restaurant.

Lunch the next day was Empanada Tucumana, where unlike all empanadas I’ve ever had in California, they were baked, not fried, and were delicious!

I also saw the first Coke Zero in a bottle.  I wish bottled drinks were sold more often, they’re soo beautiful.

We also picked up a small bunch of apple bananas for R$10, the large ones were R$30.  They were sooo sweet and teeny it was cute.

Well I know this was a TON of photos, but there was just so much that we saw, and this doesn’t capture half of it!  All in all it was good to get out of the apartment and to finally see a bit of Brasil!  Yes, even the bub was sick of all the photos. As a native Californian, my child has learned from the celebrities of Hollywood how to properly handle the Paparazzi.