Week 10: São Paulo & Iguaçu Falls, Brazil

Trip Start Mar 31, 2014
Trip End Sep 18, 2014

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Parana,
Sunday, June 8, 2014

Oi! (Brazilian portuguese slang for hello)

We began the Brazilian leg of our trip in the massive city of São Paulo (6th largest city in the world). This city is seriously huge, but thankfully most of the tourist attractions are centered around the historical centre and Avenida Paulista (where we stayed), though we still did a hell of a lot of walking!

To visit the historical centre we took a free walking tour, which covered many of the key buildings, churches and plazas in the city. Afterwards we walked to the central market to have one of the 'must have' meals in São Paulo, a Mortadella Sandwich (layers and layers of ham with some melted cheese). It was good!

We also spent plenty of time around the Paulista area, including heading down to the Ibrapuera park (São Paulo's version of Central Park), walking around the wealthy Jardim district (São Paulo's version of Mosman), and also did a free walking tour of the area to see some of the other sites we hadn't seen on our own wanderings. On our last evening we also headed to the Japanese district, Liberdade, for some sushi! (Brazil has the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan).

One of our best discoveries of São Paulo though was an amazing ice block shop in the Jardim district. Here all they sold were home-made ice blocks filled with various types of filling, such as Passionfruit filled with Condensed Milk, and Nut flavoured filled with Dulce de Leche (caramel). They were so good we had to come back the next day for more!

And of course a trip to São Paulo had to include a visit to the football museum! Unfortunately after 3 days of beautiful weather it decided to pour, particularly whilst walking to and from the museum, however it didn't dampen our visit. There was possibly too much in this museum, but it was still an enjoyable couple of hours, learning a lot about the history of football in Brazil, including their World Cup feats, and even a quick game of fusball (Sal victorious 5-4).

And as expected we saw our fair share of protests in São Paulo! So far for: the Transport Union (including a partial metro strike which caused one of the biggest traffic jams ever in São Paulo); Construction Union; Metal Workers Union; One for those who have died in the construction of the stadiums; and one against Ripley. We weren't affected by any thankfully (and they weren't violent protests either).

Next stop: Iguaçu Falls

We must have brought the weather with us, because on arrival in Foz de Iguaçu and for the first half of our day at the Brazilian side of the Iguaçu falls we had non-stop rain. However that didn't take away from the fact that these waterfalls are remarkable! (And we were going to get drenched anyway). Once in the national park we walked the 1.2km falls trail, stopping many times along the way at each of the lookouts with great views of the 200 odd waterfalls, on our way down to the big mumma, the Devil's Throat.

At the Devil's Throat waterfall we were able to take the walkway out into the middle of the river, a very wet and windy walk from the sheer force of the waterfall, for much closer views. We were also able to stand on a viewing platform right up next to the falling water from the Devil's Throat, but we could only stay out there for a few seconds as water drenched us from all angles. Still a pretty awesome couple of seconds!

After lunch the sun decided to peek out and blue skies appeared to our sheer delight, so we decided to do the walk again. The falls were of course even better under the sun, and we were able to see a couple of rainbows over the falls too!!

Once we left the falls, we visited the bird park just outside the national park, and our day just seemed to get better and better. Here we saw TOUCANS!! We could get real close to them too! And MACAWS! (Sorry for the caps, but we were pretty excited). We even were able to hold a macaw. Both the toucans and macaws were as beautiful and colourful as we imagined! And there were many other birds and some reptiles that we saw, including some native and some endangered. In particular, many types of parrots, eagles, vultures, birds with afros and weird hair styles, just to name (or describe) a few.

The following day we planned to head to the Argentinean side to the falls. The day started well with a couple of toucans feeding in the trees outside our hostel, and the weather much better, but our excitement was soon cut short as whilst going through immigration we were informed the Argentinean side of the falls were closed due to the water levels being too high from the rain. So to our disappointment we had to head back to the hostel and spend the day there and hanging about town.

So tomorrow we are to fly to Curitiba mid afternoon, but we plan to leave our hostel early and try and get to the Argentinean side of the falls in the morning before we head back to the airport. Fingers crossed its open, but you'll just have to eagerly await next weeks blog to see if we got there :-)

Mitch and Sally
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