In our Slow Travel Manifesto we said that one of our most enjoyable ways to explore a new place is to wander aimlessly and be open to what we might come across. In a big city this can be overwhelming and the best way to focus your exploration is to choose a specific neighbourhood. Our favourite cities have distinct diverse neighbourhoods with their own characters, and we gravitate towards areas with independent businesses and restaurants, good food, an artistic creative vibe, beautiful architecture, or a village-like feel.
Iguazú comes from the Guarani words y (meaning water) and ûazú (meaning big). We visited the falls over two days in May, and it was a mind-blowing amount of Big Water.
The falls straddle the border between Brazil and Argentina, with the Garganta del Diablo or Devil’s Throat Falls marking the boundary. Two thirds of the falls, er, fall on the Argentina side, but there is much to recommend on both sides.
Everyone told us that Ipanema was the place to stay in Rio de Janeiro: the beach was long and beautiful, and it was much safer that the infamous Copacabana beach. But this wealthy area of soulless high rises just didn’t seem like our kind of place, and we prefer our beaches wild and deserted anyway.
When I heard about the historic, hilltop area of Santa Teresa, home to artists and beatniks, I knew that this was the place for us.
Ipanema is the easy option in Rio, but Santa Teresa is a bit trickier. There’s no airport bus so we had a nightmare getting there by taxi on a rainy night. But as soon as we headed out along the windy cobblestone streets to the picturesque European-style square of Largo das Neves we knew we’d made the right choice.
When we were told that the tickets to see two of Rio’s biggest teams go head to head at the world famous Maracanã Stadium were only R$40 (approximately £14 or $22) and that it wasn’t just a football game, it was a Life Experience, how could we refuse?
At some point on the subway ride to the stadium a huge storm had erupted. We arrived to howling winds and torrential rain that managed to pull some signs in the open air mezzanine off of their bolted down stands – one of them clocking some poor guy in the back of the head in the process.
South America is not going to be an easy place for two vegetarians who like their food, so during our travels we’ll be investigating the best meat-free options and creating a Vegetarian Survival Guide for each country we visit.
Brazil is as meat orientated as the rest of the continent, and has the additional problem of being quite expensive for budget travellers. We found that most cheap restaurants don’t have any vegetarian options at all, as the set meals consist of meat, chicken or fish served with rice, beans and salad.
We managed to survive though, and without blowing the budget too much. Here are our recommendations for vegetarians visiting Brazil.