Jun 4, 2010

Charming Paraty under the rain: a reflection of colonial time

by Antonella Kann

There are a few spots in the world which remain unspoilt even when it rains. The bad news is that there aren´t many. But luckily for us, Paraty is one of those places where even when hit by the bad weather ( quite often, I must add) it never looses its charismatic beauty.

This colonial town, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century , is a World Heritage site and all of its buildings remain intact. Paraty is a piece of art framed by the lush vegetation of the Mata Atlantica. Located less than three hours by car from Rio, it´s easily reached on the Rio-Santos highway. But make sure you leave before three in the afternoon or you´ll be stuck for ages in heavy traffic.

For the last couple of years, every time I set foot in this romantic town it was pouring. The last time was at my son´s wedding, who, like many young couples, had chosen Paraty to celebrate D Day. But even under such circumstances, the event was a success.

Photographers never get tired of browsing the labyrinth of streets and alleys which usually lead to a church or a praça (square). You can easily get lost, but not for long. The sea and the port, as well as the Praça da Matriz, are your references and if you are surprised by a sudden shower, you can always retire into a bar, and have a few glasses of cachaça, the speciality of Paraty.

The beauty of its architecture with colourful facades are only one of the many attributes that attract thousands of visitors year-round. Besides strolling on the cobbled-stoned pedestrian-only alleys, you may splurge your time between eating and shopping. The restaurant Banana da Terra is one of the traditional establishments and although the food is simple, think fresh fish and regional condiments. The leading ingredient is, of course, banana. Salty and in sweets, too.

There are a range of excellent restaurants and accommodation from the simple bed & breakfast to top five stars pousadas, like the Casa Turquesa www.casaturquesa.com.br where guests are surprised by the superb suites overlooking a quiet inner garden. Of course, these regal choices don´t come out cheap, but Paraty itself is not only for savvy travellers. Another very hospitable and much more affordable place to stay is Pousada Arte Urquijo www.urquijo.com.br where rooms are cozy and you feel at home.

Suddenly, when Paraty is as wet as it can be, it seems like a ghost town. And even though, it´s beautiful. The Serra da Bocaina, above and around, is stunning. The sea, framing the port and all the fishing boats, is also a magic sight.

Last, but not least: every Saturday there is a very typical puppet theatre, called Contadores de Histórias ( Story Tellers), at the Espaço Cultural Paraty. This is not to be missed. You´ll never see something similar anywhere else. Make a booking beforehand and enjoy your experience. Even if it rains…

there are hundreds of labels for the cachaça, so feel free to browse - and try!

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1 comment:

  1. Next time when visiting Paraty, you might want to try the Shambhala Spa, an Asian oasis at walking distance from the historical center, offering massages, scrubs, masks and hot tubs. The place is pieceful and has a stunning view at the Jabaquara Bay. A perfect option on one of these rainy days...