The happy southern city, the Brazilian holiday destination and dream #33…✔️

Friends, I can only deeply apologise – working at a magazine is taking up more time than I thought it may, and I have much to catch you all up on.  However, before all that excitement, I must update you on the rest of my travels through Brazil.  Even now, after almost two months away from it, I sorely miss it; the people, the nature, the sprawling cities (one of which, of course, welcomed me to call it home).  However, there were some places that really gave me another insight into Brazil, letting me find out the breadth of different people there.

Porto Alegre was my next destination, and the literal translation of the city’s name is Happy Port, so one can imagine its rather a kind city to behold.  One of the southernmost cities in this tropical paradise, for those who are unfamiliar with some Brazilian history, the Southern part welcomed German immigrants from 1761, effectively creating the German Brazilian population that dominates the Southern region of the country today.  Of course, all ethnicities can be seen there, but the more south one goes it’s more common to see German Brazilians on the streets – Porto Alegre included.

With not even 48 hours, we took the decision to dive into sightseeing the morning after arrival, having left Iguassu Falls touristically satisfied but exhausted.  Our early morning flight from the airport was a breeze, and upon arrival in Porto Alegre we were effortlessly able to get an Uber to our very snazzy apart-hotel near the party neighbourhood.  We first decided to visit the football stadium on the north side of the city, which is home to the team of Gremio – this may ring a bell for a few people due to its famous former player, Ronaldinho. A rather impressive architectural feat, having only been finished in 2014, the stadium can hold a steady 50,000 and the club has a wide breadth of fans throughout Brazil.

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Gremio: the little stadium that could

After finishing up there, we sidled over to the central historic district to take a look at the beautiful buildings and markets. If there’s one thing these buildings scream at you, it is Europe; they sport the grandeur of a French edifice with the splashes of colour usually seen in Portugal, much like the City of Tiles, São Luis, which you will remember from my adventures in the north of the country where I saw the wonder that is the Lençois Maranhenses . We spent some time wondering around the city before returning to our abode for a quick change, then heading to the Cidade Baixa for a chill drink and bite to eat. The area was serene but still full of life, and we left Porto Alegre the next day feeling rather like we had experienced the city for what it was – lively, loving of football and chilled, but not with such a lacklustre speed as the cariocas.  Our friends for the evening were some middle-aged men, whom my friend had a wonderful talking conversing about the Serie A – Brazil’s answer to the Premier League – and we discovered a little bit about the rivalry between Gremio, Ronaldinho’s former team, and Internacional, whose stadium played host to matches up to the round of 16 in the 2014 FIFA world cup.  The next day, we spent some time walking around the park near our hotel before our flight in the evening.

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Porto Alegre: plazas everywhere were surrounded by beautiful old buildings

Our next destination was the beach city of Florianópolis. Home to one of the best nightclubs on the planet and as many as 42 beaches in the city alone, it boasts a rather exciting roster.  We had a little bit of trouble sorting accommodation for the night at such a late hour, but after a while we managed to find a great hostel in the centre of the touristy area.  After a good nights sleep in the Magic Monkey Hostel (highly recommended for those planning on staying on Santa Catarina Island), we took to the beach to relax and sunbathe – after all our walking in Iguassu and Porto Alegre, it was entirely worth our time, and although rather full, it was still easily enjoyable, with picturesque views and a gorgeous water temperature.

On our way back, we made for the Florianópolis dunes, where locals make money renting sandboards to adventurous tourists like ourselves.  For those of you who have read my dreamlist, you may remember that one of them, number #33 to be exact, happens to be trying sandsurfing/boarding.  My friend took the seated board while I opted (foolishly) for the more difficult foot board, much like a snowboard but made for sand. I fell on my bum quite a few times, and I could have saved myself the embarrassment by using a sitting board, but where’s the fun in that?  Although my skills were less than satisfactory, I did have an incredible time, and it’s totally worthy of ticking dream #33 of the list.  That night, we celebrated our great day with a few drinks and a promise to go out, but alas, after a wonderful Mexican meal from the food truck square just on the Lagoa da Conceicão, we both ended up simply spending the night sleeping easily in our beds.

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Trying my best: sand boarding in Florianópolis

So, the next day we left Florianópolis a tad hungover but running on pure happiness – the city was buzzing with excitement and I was rather high on having ticked off dream #33. The capital awaited, and so we rushed to it with renewed energy.

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