Sassy São Paulo

São Paulo feels like home from home and after the small town life we fall in love with the city. The tubes are more than efficient and make London look prehistoric with its cramped, delayed sweaty tubes. The carriages feel like penthouses with their air con and colourful chairs that don’t force you to sit in a rows avoiding eye contact with a stranger.

The area we are staying in is riddled with beautiful boutiques selling one off items, and having worn our clothes to extinction. Every item showing the signs of abuse. We decide it is finally time to lay our misshapen, off white, stained things to rest and adopt a new wardrobe. Day two and we head to Buntantan food and vintage clothes market where people rout through piles of junk looking for that one gem amongst the smell of dead peoples clothes. Then head to the food stalls and shoulder their way to the front to shout their order at very rushed looking staff. We indulged in both parts of this process and head home with yet more clothes. Feeling like something off a chic flick we defiantly got carried away and after two days we emerge new women. We now look far too clean for our hostel and hit the town. Where we end up in a swanky bar that reminds us of London. The gin and tonics go straight to our heads and before we know it we have joined a party of english speakers who meet up once a week to practice English. It’s a win win they get to hear a pissed up Brit in its natural habitat and we get to look like we actually have friends. And although we are in a swanky place we are still overdressed as we managed to turn up for a pyjama party themed night.

We stumble back to the hostel after an embarrassing money issue with the taxi driver where our card got declined so we showered him in change and left whilst he counted the coins. We managed it up the stairs and demanded a lighter so we could make drunken munchies before stumbling to bed armed with water. The next morning we rise, somehow without hangovers and feeling like we were winning at life we decide to hit the town again this time with a new friend. Once again we drink too much and chat political bollocks we know nothing about before deciding our bellies need attention and head to the Mexican up the road. We get multiple rounds of tacos before heading to a night club. A night club we decided was far too expensive so instead hung around outside drinking neat whisky and chatting to the locals. But Realising we could no longer stomach our drinks and every mouthful was a challenge we thought it sensible to head home.

The next morning barely a hangover in sight we head to the Japanese part of town where two quick efficient tubes later and you emerge from the station wondering how you made it all the way to Japan. The streets converted in to a marked wafting different delicious smells from every direction. Now with not enough belly space for all the new creations we want to try we get tactful deciding to order one of everything and split it therefore trying the maximum amount of flavours. The giant gyoza was swimming in a delicious sauce and the steamed bun felt like sinking your teeth in to a cloud. The prawn balls weren’t quiet as good but then maybe by this point we were spoilt. Followed by some sweet bean pancakes that really confuse the tastebuds in a good way. Next we move on the nick nack stalls where we buy things we don’t need at prices too cheep to question. A quick wonder around the town and the worlds tiniest Japanese garden and it’s time to drag our swollen bellies home. Deciding to walk it off before getting the tube, we leave Japan behind us and walk towards home where we stumble upon a run down part of town with a pile of puke every few meters and old grey buildings towering above us. After having only seen the bright lights of São Paulo its certainly a contrast. That evening after a few rounds of cards we take over the Netflix area dominating the sofas with our blankets and watch kill bill, and in every loading break we make up the stories to go with the Portuguese comics lying around. Giggling enough to drive the other back packers away wondering what we have smoked. (Let’s not tell them that we are naturally this blonde).

The next morning and time to say goodbye to our new friend and head out for more sight seeing. We start the day my favourite way and go for lunch. Where we order enormous bowls of ramen from Lamen Kazu, they defiantly live up to expectations and I slurp the contents down in record time and then help Daisy finish hers. (Moments like this remind me why we work so well travelling together). Next trying to fit in as many things in one day we walk home the scenic rout stopping at a park, then going to the top of a sky scraper for our classic view point where we were offered complimentary champagne. Winning! We stop at another park on the way home where we watch a hoard of skaters whiz by, a girl practising some very energetic dance routine to no music and a lost looking gringo play the harmonica. Wondering what the people watching us must think. On the way home we pop in to “Coffee lab” and order two caçhasa coffees… and wow they tasted like liquid heaven I won’t say more but go there!

Another day of adventures and we wonder back to our haven of a hostel “cafe hostel” where the owner is non stop singing, creating a ripple affect around the hostel as we all echo his cheesy tunes. That evening we head for falafel wraps at “Haya falafel” where we chose kale wrapped falafels and pumpkin houmos! Yummy!

That brings us to day five in the city and we head to the park to read our books in the sun, before visiting the modern art museum offering free entry on Tuesdays! We then head for lunch in “Jiquitia” where you can choose any three dishes on the menu to make your own set menu. Despite them being run out of everything the choices we did have were very nice. Made better by the incredibly sweet desserts. We arrive back home to find the hostel overrun with professional looking cameras and enough camera men to create a block buster movie. Only it’s not so no chance of us becoming famous no matter how much we hover around awkwardly trying to find a corner to ourselves.

So it’s our last day in São Paulo and what better way to spend it than to jump 12000feet out of an airplane for the bargain price on £50, which does beg the question is the parachute included? You’ll be sorry to hear it was and we will continue to clog your news feed for the foreseeable future. The dive was amazing despite missing our bus there and having to pay an overpriced taxi.

We all huddled in the back of the mini plane practically sat on each other’s laps, Nervously giggling as we watched the earth turn in to a patchwork quilt. After watching daisy plummet through the sky it was finally my turn. I dangled half in half out the aircraft and when thrown out my giggles morphed in to screams and my stomach struggled to catch up with me as the adrenaline coursed my body! All too soon the parachute is deployed and a few spins and a journey through a cloud later and I land on my feet only to be pulled back on to my bum in a fit of giggles.I feel like a child wanting to demand again again. That night we head to the bus station hoping to get the night bus to Florianopolis only to find out that we would have to wait till 23.30pm! Note to self: always book busses first unless you really enjoy 3 hours sat on uncomfortable plastic chairs people watching.

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Unbelievable Ubatuba

After leaving Thea I felt slightly lost, three months of clinging on to each other like leaches, whilst hiking and non stop giggling. I arrived in Ubatuba which is a town north of São Paulo, this is where the Brazilians go on holiday, to see 80 different paradise beaches – which really are paradise. I arrived at Tie hostel, where I exchanged work for accommodation. Only to find Brazilian hippes smoking weed, Incense burning all round the hostel and singing Portuguese songs which instantly reminded me of the inbetweeners “why is there always some prick with a guitar”. Let’s just say that first impression aren’t everything, within hours of being there I had met my new family for 10 days.

Constantly pointing at random objects and saying what the name is in our mother tongue, finishing every sentence with “entende” this is where I learnt not to just reply with just “Si si” as it made me look like more of a gringa.

After exploring ubatuba city I decided to volunteer at another hostel further down south called Tribo hostel. This was the place that you could spend 5 years and it only feels like a month has gone by.

A tiny little town where everyone knows each other says “bom dia” every morning, bbqs in the locals homes, dancing forró in the rain and nicknaming ubatuba “ubachuva” “chuva” means rain in Portuguese. I was extremely lucky with the people I met as Brazilians will make you your best friend within the first five minutes of meeting you even if you don’t speak their language.

We watched the stars at night guessing which ones were planets and figuring out which way is north and south, swimming all the way to the bottom of the sea bed to collect sand even if we couldn’t hear anything else for the rest of the day, jumping of the rocks not knowing if it was safe, drinking red wine, learning “portanol” which is Portuguese and Spanish combined. After a month of sunsets and sandflies it was time to say our goodbyes.

Parting in Paraty

Next stop after carnival was Paraty a place a little further down the coast. Paraty is beautiful and less busy than Rio which was a welcome change. Despite this we still managed to check in to probably the busiest party hostel with a hoard of drunken Irish cheering at any given opportunity. They were very entertaining for a short while until there already thick accents became thicker as they slurred their words and one began rambling political contradictory bullshit to people who weren’t listening whilst his friend tried his hand at beatboxing spraying the unfortunate audience with spit whilst another tried desperately to control his drunken friends shushing then every few minuets. A girl then came from another table announcing “by the way your friend just got his dick out”. This was my cue for bed. Where I lay on a ridiculously high top bunk in an overly sweaty dorm cursing the Irish as their voices boomed through the walls making my earplugs feel like megaphones. The next morning and after a sweaty Muay Thai class I was happy to see our new friends check out, and with only two broken hours of sleep we got a bus to Trinidade a nearby beach town with breathtaking views and a natural water slide a short walk through the jungle.

Waiting for the bus after a lovely day we met a man with a puppy and the cutest kid ever that hung off me trying to communicate in broken Portuguese.

The next morning we must go our separate ways, setting off on a new adventure volunteering. Daisy will be in Ubatuba learning to surf and I will be in Boisucanga teaching English.

Crazy Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

Carnival was as you can imagine crazy. The streets are full of drunken people in tutus, Lycra and covered head to toe in glitter. Everywhere there are huge trucks driving the streets with samba bands blaring their anthem. Whilst hundred of people try to sell you beers, caipirinhas and snacks. To one side you have beautiful beaches the other sky scrapers and you are surrounded by chaos.

We were lucky enough to have an apartment just out of it all, which became our sanctuary for the long hangovers we have become unused to. After not drinking for soo long we have become complete lightweights and after a few caipirinhas we are stumbling home slurring our words and downing water. Amid the drinks and dress up we did some of the classic tourist attractions Christ the redeemer was so high up one gust of wind and the clouds consumed the statue making it invisible and two seconds later they would part giving us a great view.

Sugar loaf mountains were amazing the view is priceless from the top and we stayed up there for hours taking it all in.

The botanical gardens were beautiful and we didn’t realise we had arrived on woman’s day until the tickets were free. Winner! We walked around the greenhouses dripping in sweat in the mid day heat.

The stairs in Lapa were very colourful and full of drunken youth dragging out the carnival as long as they could as us tourists stepped around them trying to get the perfect picture.

All in all Rio has been a blur of beautiful beaches and strong cocktails. And I would love to do it all over again but I’m not sure my liver would survive.

Ladies of leisure in Lima

Lima is a culinary maze and we have definitely over indulged in our gluttonous stay. Walking through various neighbourhoods stopping to share a plate in every interesting looking place trying to fit in many different dishes a day. One afternoon after a free breakfast we wondered the 5k across Miraflores to the other end of Barranco stopping at a place called “Bao” serving up some very mouth-watering delicious steamed rice buns filled with a range of different succulent meats and pickled veggies.

Next stop was to try Aji de gallina a traditional chicken and walnut stew said to be the best in “Las Mesitas”.

Next stop was “Barra Mar” where we tried another Peruvian speciality, Causa, potato, avocado and fish beautifully presented as a tower.

Despite my ever growing appetite during this trip, I can safely say there has only been two occasions where I have felt like I have completely overdone it. And fallen in to a food gouch so extreme I can no longer walk or talk only undo my trouser buttons sigh and hope the moment will pass. This was one of those occasions. To Daisy’s great amusement I walked 10 very slow steps and flopped on to the local park bench with an uncomfortable look on my face. In some kind of self inflicted food coma. After a few self pitying moments we decided the only way to solve this dilemma was ice cream! So a place we had seen with cues round the block became our next victim. Where we asked to try almost every flavour before making a purchase and flopping on to their sofas to indulge once more.

Still heavy with food we opted for a bus back unable to carry the excess weight back home. On the journey back I honestly thought this was us done for the day and that there was no way we would be hungry again for dinner. How wrong I was. A few hours later I was ready to go again and with it being the Chinese New Year and all the talk of the amazing Chinese/Peruvian collaboration dishes we couldn’t help ourselves and headed out to “Wa Lok” a highly rated restaurant. The food was expensive but we couldn’t resist and ordered the prawn and scallop dumplings and the stewed tofu to share.

We waited an age for the food and when it did come out it was very lack lustre and Luke warm. Leaving us underwhelmed.

The next day we were trying to cut costs before our extremely expensive reservation at restaurant central, number 6 of the worlds best. Breakfast was the free kind and we whipped up some cheep pasta for lunch. A quick wonder around town and a catch up of chefs table and we put on our most sophisticated outfits and set off. The food was like nothing else I’ve ever tried. After being shown to our table we were presented with a pleasant looking palette cleanser made with some very subtle Peruvian Fruits and a home made edible flower ice cube.

Next they bought an entire loaf of amazingly soft dense purple looking bread with a melt in your mouth it’s so soft butter cream and a herbaceous pesto.

The first of our eight course tasting menu was the sea bass and clams, which felt like an incredibly balanced ceviche where acidity and sweetness came together in the most complimentary way. The plum sauce was to die for and you were left with a subtle nutty hint at the end.

Next up the scallops and seeds, served with a new to us Peruvian vegetable, where they had appeared to have frozen and charred the meaty part and flaked the seeds from inside. The sauce packed a punch of ginger and lime.

Next was the tubers, thinly sliced and pickled yucca and potatoes so colourful and precisely cut and plated. Sat on a smokey creamy substance.

Next was the cured duck an absolute explosion of flavour and my favourite dish! The duck was beautifully crispy the squid perfectly cooked and the absolute balance of texture needed. Served with a bread type pitta I had to ask was edible. Now I’m the sort of person who only knows duck to be covered in hoisin and wrapped in a pancake at my local Chinese so this was amazing and definitely the best duck pancake I’ve ever eaten!

Course number five was named vegetable diversity and was a combination of flavours and textures I’ve never tried leaving me feeling a little bit confused but delighted. So thin they were almost see through vegetable noodles on an intense coffee broth and served with artichokes crisps. Tasting slightly bitter and earthy in all the right ways.

Next the beef cooked for 14 hours, it actually melted in my mouth! The sauce was rich and tasty with some sort of foam. The burnt corn purée was super creamy with chunks of all different coloured corn, lurking like little hidden surprises.

The first of our two deserts the Frozen Pomerose (whatever that is) was a beautiful bright pink frozen substance covered in a herby green dust sat on a sweet cream with some apple flakes.

Dessert number two was cocoa from the mill, let’s just say I didn’t know chocolate and honey could taste soo good.

Lastly they presented us with some chocolate Bonbons beyond words. Throughout the entire meal the service was effortless the staff topped up our wine at exactly the right moment and the chefs came and explained every dish we were presented with. The evening was a type of sophistication I would love to get used to and I left a very happy full lady! Lima has been some of the best food I’ve ever eaten from the local classics to the Michelin stars they know their way around a kitchen!

Places in Popayan

A boat and two busses later and we arrive in Popayan armed with some seriously toxic bed bug spray. We splashed out on a private room, locked ourselves in the bathroom with all our stuff and gassed ourselves out. Going a bit OTT with the bug spray looking and feeling like mad women when we finally tumble out with red eyes and serious headaches, hoping we had finally got on top of this infestation. Waking up with no new bites felt like winning an all out war! And although 100s of bites still remained scattered on my body I knew their days were numbered! We took our clothes to the laundrette changed rooms and strutted off to Silvia. A town so high in the mountains that Daisy shivered in her inappropriate attire. We bought some fruits for breakfast and scaled the nearest peak for our tradition of a viewpoint.

Everywhere In Colombia seems really easy to get too but is like a series of hunger games on the return journey. As everybody fights for a spot on the designated method of travel, on this occasion a bus. But feeling unbeatable after our victory with the bed bugs we decided against the scramble and strolled off in the general direction of Popayan. We successfully thumbed down a lift to the next town with a local and jumped on a conveniently waiting bus. Where we began attacking our bags of fruit, devouring tomorrow’s breakfast! Offering it to the locals and dropping it all over the place.

That night we ate at a place called Pita and as you’ve guessed it sold pittas.. with a variety of toppings. After a game of backgammon where me and Daisy realised we can’t play anything other than cards without bickering and Daisy wanting to quit because she’s loosing! So we left. I was definitely still hungry as I don’t believe hummus qualifies as a side so we shared some cake at the hostel whilst laughing at how pathetically competitive we are. (And for the record I won backgammon but maybe don’t tell Daisy I said that).

The next morning we grouped up with some people from the hostel and headed to the hot springs. Swerving the usual tour and catching a bus. The hot springs stank worse than my exes curry farts and at first I was hesitant to go in and cursed the children splashing in my general vicinity. But half an hour in and now immune to the smell we began rubbing smelly clay all over ourselves (doing as the locals do).

After a dirt cheep meal we went back to the hostel where we no joke tried a slice of every home made cake, rating them in order. My favourite being the chocolate, orange and zucchini followed closely by Daisy’s favourite Banana and cardamon and lastly the still amazing coffee and chocolate. Yum! That night we all went for Tapas at Restaurant Carmina. Where we drank wine, ate delicious food and drifted between intellectual debates and chatting shit. Until full and giddy we wondered home missing our turning for the second time since we’ve been here. The next morning we checked out only to later realise we had been undercharged. Alright for some!