Ilha Grande - an island paradise

Trip Start Mar 17, 2008
Trip End Jun 08, 2008

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Where I stayed
Pousada dos Meros

Flag of Brazil  , State of Parana,
Wednesday, June 4, 2008 we left our Pousada in Santa Teresa on Tuesday morning and headed for Angra dos Reis to catch the ferry to Ilha Grande. We arrived at the Rodavario bus station in Rio about 10,55am, bought tickets and managed to sneak onto the 11am departure. Two and a half hours being flung round corners by a driver that seemed to think he was Felipe Massa´s brother did nothing for the stomach (although it was pleasing to finally be feeling better), and the American lad next to us had to bolt into the bus toilet at short notice!

Still we made it in one piece to Angra dos Reis, only to find the ferry was broken so we had to take a schooner across to Ilha Grande. How very civilized. On arrival in Ilha Grande we promptly got lost looking for our Pousada (a recurring theme throughout our travels), and whilst Pablo chuntered on about ´it´s definitely right here´, Carmen saw sense and asked a local. It was left, not right. Carmen wins!

All checked in we strolled around the main village of Abrao - a very pretty area with lots of bars, restaurants and shops; bought ourselves a map of the island and plotted our route for the next day over the world´s largest pizza!

Wednesday - joy of joys there´s granola and loads of fresh fruit at the breakfast buffet so instantly GB is in a good mood. And there´s plenty of bread, cheese, ham and strong (if bitter) coffee so Pablo is perky too! After a feast we set out on foot for Praia Lopes Mendes, often touted as one of the world´s best beaches. Helpfully the route was signposted, but this didn´t stop us getting lost twice and taking nearly three hours to get there. But along the way we saw some other beautiful beaches, trekked up hills, through forests, across rocks, and along stretches of powdery sand until we arrived at Lopes Mendes which is well worth its tag. The sand was so soft it scrunched and squeaked like snow when you walked on it - like nothing I had ever experienced before. The sun was blazing, the surf was up, but instead of being packed the beach was almost deserted as this is low season. Absolute paradise. We managed three hours there until Carmen got bored, plus we decided to save money and walk back instead of taking a boat. So we set off just before 3,30pm, and blazed a trail back to Abrao, not putting a foot wrong and doing it in 90 minutes. Tired, hot, but thoroughly jubilant at out extended workout we celebrated with a fresh strawberry juice by the sea before showering, changing and grabbing some dinner.

Thursday - happiness is an early morning bathed in sunshine - so happiness was assured as we had another gorgeous day. Buoyed by our efforts on day one, we decided to do the harder walk to Dois Rios (Two Rivers) beach which involved climbing to the middle of the island and down the other side. In fact the walk was much easier than the previous day in that there was a road to follow for most of the way - albeit a continuous climb for an hour and a quarter. But we were rewarded with stunning views of Abrao from the top, and a beach all to ourselves at the end. Dios Rios also contains a (now defunct) prison, and you can visit the ruins - a weird experience. We spent another three hours on the beach and feasted on fresh pineapple, mango and papaya for lunch - delicious, The walk back to Abrao was another good workout, so we´d had two excellent days and were looking forward to more beach action tomorrow.

Friday - misery is lashing rain on an island - so we were a bit miffed by the storm that battered Ilha Grande for the entire morning, afternoon and evening. We were confined to our room and even the brollies that the Pousada owners gave out couldn´t entice Pablo from the room. Carmen braved the elements and found everything shut!! Instead GB consoled herself with breaking her scrabble duck and finally defeating RJP for the first time in over a month by virtue of being allowed the word ´ie´ and RJP being stuck with the letter ´Q´.

Rather a damp end to an otherwise beautiful stay on a stunning island, we were further frustrated on Saturday morning - our day of departure and travel back to Rio - that the sun was back on Ilha Grande. Still surely this would mean clear skies and more time on the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. BRING IT ON!!
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