New Discoveries – visitors ahoy!

Visitors ahoy!

We have recently had good friends Brian and Tricia visiting us from England and it has been a delight showing them something of Brazil as seen from our eyes. The interesting thing is that we have made new discoveries along the way too, so thank you Brian and Tricia for giving us the opportunity to explore with you!

One of the places they wanted to visit whilst they were this far from home was Foz do Iguacu (or the Iguassu waterfalls). Fatima and I had been before but we so much enjoyed our first visit we were game to go again. So we arranged a three day outing with the travel company CVC… I wouldn’t normally mention a company in my Blog but they were so very good with their arrangements and with their guides whilse we were there that they deserve a positive shout for their efforts. So, well done CVC (and thank you Carlos, in particular, for your friendly “guiding”)
12. Cataratas do Iguaçu - Iguassu Falls
The Falls are really impressive and I personally prefer them to Niagara Falls as a spectacle. And you do not have to put up with the very tacky souvenir shops and stalls that marred my visit to Niagara some years ago. The souvenir shops and restaurants are all very discreet and do not impinge upon your appreciation of the powerful nature of the falls As well as doing the pleasant walk along the Brazilian side of the Falls, we all went on the “Macuco” river trip, too, which takes you right up to and right UNDER the falls (in a boat with two very powerful motors to overcome the turbulent waters and the fast-flowing river). You will inevitably get VERY wet if you go on this river trip but we have no hesitation recommending it – BECAUSE IT IS GREAT FUN. We have now done it twice and would certainly do it again!

We travelled back from Foz do Iguacu VERY early on the Saturday morning and then had to get busy making sure the house was ready to receive visitors in the evening as we had arranged a Festa with some live Samba music, because Tricia, in particular, had expressed a wish to hear some Samba music. We organised for our favourite live-singing guy Dilson to come and sing for us. He and his wife really know how to provide music for a good Festa – and one “new discovery” was how well Tricia responded to the Samba beat! Well done Tricia – I wont put the movie on the Blog, don’t worry!

Twice whilst Tricia and Brian were here, we ended up sitting in the same roadside bar on Niteroi waterfront looking over the Guanabara bay at Rio de Janeiro facing us in the sunshine. there is always something to keep your interest, whether it be little fishing boats going and coming, large cargo ships coming and going, planes landing and taking off from Santos Dumont airport across the bay or, on one occasion, a little submarine floating not so far from the airport. Quite what the little submarine was doing there we don’t rightly know!?

By the way it turns out that Alberto Santos Dumont was a Franco-Brazilian aviation pioneer, which is why the airport is named after him and he flew the first heavier than air dirigible balloon and many Brazilians (including my dear wife, Fatima) will claim that he was the first to fly a heavier than air fixed wing aircraft, too. Certainly there is still a discussion ongoing about whether it was Santos Dumont or the Wright brothers or a lesser known German who deserve true credit for the first flight. Dumont supporters will tell you that their man was definitely first because the Wright brothers useda catapult to help launch their first flights so that doesn’t really count. But who am I to argue, I wasn’t there. So we will agree that Santos Dumont was definitely A pioneer and “amongst” the first.

So, what, you may be asking, were the “new discoveries” I mentioned?


By far the best ‘new discovery’ was our visit to the small island of Paquetá. Fatima has been before, of course, but has been telling me she would ‘take me’ for ages, but we had never got round to this visit. The fact of Brian and Tricia coming was the catalyst we needed, and a lovely visit it was. First of all we drove into Niteroi and parked near the Ferry Terminal, just missing the ten o’clock ferry. At this point I must say I was concerned, bacause we were aiming for the 10.40am ferry from Rio termnal to Paquetá and if we only caught the 10.20am from Niteroi and it takes twenty minutes across the Bay… ? As it was we DID catch the 10.20am ferry, but it was the more modern catamaran option rather than the older ‘ordinary’ ferry, so it was a fifteen minute journey rather than a 20 minute journey.

As always it was a delightful ride across the bay, even though we were standing at the front, rather than sitting down, since we knew we might have to make a mad dash for the ticket offices! Since Fatima was the youngest of our party we sent her rushing ahead to buy the tickets and we all made it with a minute and a half to spare! It was about a 30 minute catamaran journey to Paquetá (40 minutes back on the older ferry later) and it was nice to see Rio and Niteroi from yet different angles from sea level.

Paquetá is a little bit like an infinity sign with two small hills either side and a narrow waist only a couple of metres above sea level. The ferry terminal is at the narrow waist and when we alighted from the ferry we decided to cross the island on foot and explore the small village street that crosses the island. It was a weekday and not in the holiday season, so there were not hordes of visitors to contend with – I think it probably gets rather busy at weekends and peak holiday periods as there are a lot of holiday homes on the island.

It was, nevertheless, rather hot with the sun beating down and I had forgotten my hat and forgotten to pick up my sunglasses from the car! So we were pleased to walk in the shade where we could – but it did only take about seven minutes to walk from one side to the other. One thing that delighted us all was the fact that it is a car-less island – or at least it boasted the fact that there were no cars allowed on the island. But, while we were there we saw a fireman’s van (OK, that is understandable!) and a police car (OK, that is understandable, too) – OH, and a telephone repair van too, hmmm?

It was rather nice, however, once we had reached the other side of the island to hail a two pony trap (with full shading from the sun!) and he offered to take us all the way around the island, with a twenty minute stop allowed for a drink and photo-opportunity, for an all-in fee of R$100 (about #28 for four of us at current levels of exchange). The driver was a really nice guy who was born on, and lived on, the island. Brian was particularly pleased that the driver’s son’s name was also Brian, I am sure it made his day! The driver gave us a commentary about the places we were passing, including several churches and schools, as well as a little of his family history with respect to Paquetá.

One of the places he stopped at for us to get out and explore was, quite possibly, unique to Paquetá. It certainly claimed to be the only cemetery in the world for birds (yes “BIRDS”!) There were little graves and gravestones and poetical plaques to lost friends and loved ones. It was certainly a nice peaceful resting place amongst the shade of many trees. So, if you are coming to Brazil for the football World cup and coming to stay in Rio de Janeiro, you should try and make time for a visit to Paquetá. We had a lovely day.

So, that was one “new discovery” and another was the new Maracana stadium. Brian is a football fan for the now-lowly team of Notts County, which he was claiming as the OLDEST football team in the world. It shares its black and white striped colours with Juventus and, here in Brazil, with the Botafogo football club in Rio. So we had to take Brian to see the new Maracana stadium, so he could take back a photo for the Notts County football programme magazine! This meant us taking the ferry again on a different day and walking to the Carioca metro station, then just a few minutes on the metro and there we were at Maracana. The stadium is now complete and looks magnificent from the outside but they were still working on the concrete overpasses taking you on foot from the metro to the stadium itself, crossing over many lanes of fast moving traffic in safety. I am sure the atmosphere will be brilliant for the World Cup when it arrives (and, by the way, if you didn’t see my last Blog, we now have a website telling you about our available accommodation , if you happen to be coming to Brazil soon! – – if you want to see what is on offer.)

Come to Brazil and share our ‘new discoveries’ for yourself!


About Keith Melton - Green Lib Dem

Retired English liberal environmentalist living in Nottinghamshire; spent six years in Brazil. Author of Historical Novel - Captain Cobbler: the Lincolnshire Uprising 1536. Active member of the Green Liberal Democrats - (pressure group in Liberal Democrats) - was Founding Chair of GLD in 1988
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