Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Islands and Village of Paraty

It was a bit rainy as I arrived in Paraty about 2 PM and quickly found my way to the Che Largarto Hostel and booked into a mixed dorm with A/C. the place was quite lively with mostly young travelers from Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Holland, Germany, and the UK---No one from the USA except me. they had two pools--one to swim in and one to play along with a Sky TV lounge--with futbol the staple.

They not only had a full bar, but also featured a theme dinner with the first night Indian chicken curry and the second Mexican combi. It was a great way to mingle and hear about others' travels.

Before dinner, I toured the walking area of town with centuries old cobblestone roads and sidewalks. The buildings mostly were occupied by hotels--Pousadas-- hostels, restaurants, art galleries and curio stores.

Although bars outnumber churches, there were churches for slaves, freed mulattos, white elite, and a Catholic church for others financed by discovered pirates' plunder. This is the latter, Matriz NS dos Remedios.

Morning brought lots of sun along with a schooner tour of four islands with Paraty Tours for 30 BRs. I am at the front of the schooner just before we left the harbor.

 

Our first island stop was Ilha Comprida where we snorkeled for about an hour before going to our next spot, Praia da Lula. This was a sandy beach where we swam and sunbathed before reboarding for the Lagoa Azul.

This is where we had lunch for grilled fish smothered in shrimp and sauce while we continued to listen to Carlos, the fabulous guitar player and singer, who played for us during the entire cruise.

Our last stop was the Praia da Conceicao, another sandy beach. Most of the passengers were from Brazil with others from Canada, Holland, Australia, UK, Argentina, and Kenya--again, I was the only one from USA.

We passed this island with a very unfriendly guard dog. It seems like there are dozens of small islands and beaches that are privately owned in this area.
Buses, cars, and horse/donkey carts rule in Paraty, and the carts seem to fair better over the rough cobblestone roads in the older parts of town.

I decided to splurge for a dinner at the Restaurante Porto which was listed as one of the world's top 100 restaurants.

I ordered the scallops with a risotto and vegetable blend with appetizers of a roasted elephant garlic, stewed eggplant and onions, and a hot bean soup topped with scallions along with a small bottle of wine.

The appetizers were delicious and then came the main course and I was disappointed to see that they were the small scallops which are tougher than the larger ones I prefer. The scallops were cooked in a white wine reduction sauce that was very flavorful. The risotto had fresh slivers of zucchini that were fresh and crisp and went along well with the reduction sauce.

Maybe some of the disappointment was that the last scallops I had were so delicious with a crispy top and bottom with a barely warmed interior that contained the scallop favors served with lightly sauted pea vines topped by chantrells. My new son-in-law, Josh Beckham---a sous chef at the Bellevue Club--had prepared this meal for us recently which has become my new benchmark for quality cuisine. I guess I am now spoiled.

I finished touring Paraty with a visit to several art galleries and walking over the unique cobblestone streets before preparing for my travels by bus to Sao Paulo.

 

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