Hmmm maybe this isn’t the best way to get to Paraty. The thought quickly came to mind during our road trip from Sao Paulo to Paraty in Brazil this past weekend. The journey was full of adventure, incredible views, and some truly anxious moments on the road.
It’s pretty amazing that this view is less than a quarter day’s drive away. But our trip to paradise was not without its literal twists and turns.
It started out pretty well. We left around 5 p.m. on Friday evening, stopping in the town of Taubate to rest around midnight. The next morning we were up early, eager to reach our final destination. When searching directions on the Google, we of course went with the shortest route to Paraty from Sao Paulo.
Fairly quickly after leaving Taubate, we began to climb in elevation. The views were gorgeous, exciting us for what was to come. After an hour or so, the road turned from standard pavement to more of a brick road situation. And then, nothing. We’d hit the Paraty-Cunha road. A dirt road with jagged rocks jutting out everywhere, extremely steep and winding and quite narrow. Beautiful though.
This photo doesn’t get the point across at all, but I was too busy clutching the door handle and and my dog during the scariest and, sadly, prettiest parts.
Did I mention that our gas tank was on empty? Another thing you should know if you plan to take the shortest route to Paraty, be sure to fill ‘er up before you hit the road. We thought there would be ample chances to get gas, but not so. There was a barber shop, a store that sold many toilet seats and a bar or three on the descent down the mountain but no gas station for miles. Priorities, I suppose.
So yes, we found ourselves barreling down a mountain on a nonexistent road without gas, barely speaking to each other as we each pictured the myriad ways disaster could befall us. But then we made it, and could laugh about it. A sort of traumatized, grateful laugh. Tom is a great driver. He just learned how to drive stick last month, but handled our little VW Fox like a pro and got us to safety.
However, it was decided without speaking that we would never traverse that road again. On the way back, we took the long way through Ubatuba, which was still kind of scary (I’m a mountain driving wuss), but a thousand times better. We’d actually been warned about both routes being a bit treacherous before we left, but I guess we had to find out for ourselves. That said, I highly recommend taking the long route unless you have an all terrain vehicle or really enjoy being terrified. Many people do it and we saw cars less suited than ours heading UP the mountain (which just seems insane to me), so I’m probably being a tad dramatic, but that is my right. After filling up on gas and sending thank you prayers to the heavens and checking into our charming pousada, it was time to explore Paraty.
The colonial town of Paraty is a little slice of history in Brazil. No cars are allowed on its cobblestone streets and none of the buildings have been modernized, offering a glimpse of what life must have been in the town dating back to the 1600s when it was a hub for the gold trade from Minas Gerais to Portugal. The Paraty Historical City is actually considered a National Monument in Brazil.
I loved the colorful door frames popping against the neutrals of the street and buildings. You can take horse and carriage rides through the streets, or take a historical walking tour. There’s also plenty of shopping and eating to be done.
We had lunch at Restaurante Porto, late by Brazilian standards and the restaurant was empty. Ashton was pretty excited to be allowed inside.
It was probably our least favorite meal while in Paraty, but it wasn’t bad at all. Our server was really accommodating and we enjoyed unwinding after the stressful trip into the city. After lunch we walked over to the port to finally see some water.
Living in Brazil for two months without hitting up any of the coastal areas might be a record. But good things come to those who wait!
Stay tuned for more about our amazing time in Paraty, Brazil!
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