Florianópolis, Ilha de Santa Catarina, Brazil
01.02.2010 - 06.02.2010 40 °C
After a 12 hour overnight bus trip from São Paulo, we arrived in Florianópolis at the south Brazilian coast. Floripa (as it's called by its locals) connects the mainland to a quite large island, Ilha de Santa Catarina. The island is known for its many beaches (apparently 42) and good nightlife, so we thought it would be a good place to stay for a couple of days. There are indeed some very beautiful beaches for almost every taste - long beaches (up to 13km) and short beaches, wide and narrow beaches, busy and quiet beaches, warm or cold water, big or small waves, old or young people, fancy beaches, surfer beaches, family beaches, nudist beaches, whatever you like.
Praia Mole in the evening
The only difficult thing with so much choice was of course to figure out which ones would suit us. We first went by the recommendations by the hostel staff and were a bit disappointed, probably our expectations were slightly too high or we just got to the wrong places. But after visiting a couple of beaches during the next days we figured out the ones we like. Our favourite in the end was Praia Mole, a beautiful, relatively wide beach surrounded by green hills and large red rocks on one end, on the outer side of the island with colder water and bigger waves, hence less crowded with families and small children, but a young and relaxed crowd, partly a surfer beach but also good for a swim, enough people to make it interesting but wide enough not to seem overcrowded, some bars with music but no hotels directly nearby, and the road only touching and then disappearing behind the hills. You do get picky when you have so much choice
Rocks at Praia Mole
Speaking of choice, as mentioned the island is also known for its choices of nightlife. Here again we had some trouble finding the right spots at the start - one bar (Cachaçaria da Ilha) with a live band playing a local version of samba was great but we got there only 15 minutes before the band stopped playing, an Irish pub had live music which was good but not really Brazilian (more American country and blues). But there again we found the right spots in the end - the best part was our visit at the Escola de Samba Consulado, where local samba bands/blocos practise for Carnival. It's a wide and high hall with hundreds of people dancing to the extremely loud rhythms and songs (too loud for our ears, but that's part of the experience), with the hall heating up more and more and everybody getting completely wet from sweating and from the big overhead ventilators spraying out water in a desperate attempt to cool down the air a tiny bit. After about two hours it was over, which was good because we were completely soaked and exhausted, and our ears were buzzing for the next few days...
The other very interesting experience was when we got out of a bar (Jinga bar, where we again listened to live Samba) in Lagoa, the town in the center of the island, sometime between 2 and 3am. In the center of the town, there were hundreds of people on the streeds, standing around, talking, and dancing to music coming out of a couple of cars with HUGE sound systems. Now when I say huge, I mean it... the sound systems and speakers actually filled the entire car boots/trunks, imagine more a disco on wheels than just a car And there was not just one but several of them, competing who can play the loudest music, with people dancing around and between them. And many other people driving around town, showing off their big or loud or otherwise crazy cars or driving skills. Asking some other Brazilians about it, they said yes people are crazy about their cars in the south...
Not surprising that also here the local busdrivers seem to see their job as a race. There is no single moment where they are not operating their vehicle at maximum possible speed, including in turns where you feel like the bus is going to fly off the road, uphill parts where you think they will just blow up the engine going at full speet in the first gear, and any kind of holes or bumps in the road over which they just race with no regret for the poor old bus. These buses must be extremely strong to support that permanent torture!
All in all a very good time during our 6 days in Floripa! I suffered from the heat (most of the time around 40 degrees Celsius) and the first days it was impossible to avoid being burned by the sun due to its sheer strength here - closer to the Equator than I've ever been before. Even with factor 50 sunblock, drinking water all day, and staying out of the sun most of the noon/afternoon, I got burned... but after a few days at least the skin gets a bit more used to the sun. Just the extreme heat still exhausts me.
Next up: overnight bus trip to the Iguaçu Falls!