Once again! TYB Goes south of the boarder . This time we make it a little further south, Brasil! Brasil is the largest country in south America and has A LOT of people who speak... Portuguese! Brasil is widely know for soccer, Carnival, it's beautiful woman, it's fascinating beaches and the lavishing corner of the world we call the "Amazons." Well I didn't go to Brasil to see any of that. I went to Brasil to drink and get hung over!
The country's home made alcohol is fermented from sugarcane called "Cachaca," or "Pinga" for short. The most common drink made with this stuff is the "Caipirinha!" Really easy to make. Cachaca is mixed with lime, sugar and crushed ice. This is the ultimate drink to have on the beach while kick'n back in the sun! Over the past few years it has been a growing trend to replace the Cachaca with vodka, in which case it would be called a "Caipirosca." A variety of fruits can be added to these drinks including kiwis, strawberry's, yellow lime pineapples, etc. I would say that The Caipirnha is the unofficial drink of Brasil.
The beer is good! I prefer Brahma! Brahma and Antartica or the most common beers in Brasil. However there are a ton of varieties of beers. Bohemia, Sol, Keiser and Skol, just to name a few. The best beer is "Bem Gelada" (icy cold). The only way to drink beers! You could also find some stout beers such as Caacu or Xinga, these are sweet black beers.
"Chope" is a pale blond pilsner draft. It's usually lighter and superior over bottled or canned beers. After vendors receive their kegs of Chope they need to sell it with in days. The best Chope is served within the first 48 hours. The only bummer about drinking Chope in the bar is that they give you an 8 oz glass. The glasses start to pile up on the table. Some make a pyramid, a symbol or badge of honer for bragging rights.
My first stop in Brasil was Pipa! This global village is located in the northeast of Brasil. Beautiful cliffs line the beaches and dolphins fill the warm blue water. I did get a few days of some good small surf. Most of the swell comes from the wind, not much of a break, but an awesome place to relax. The streets, or the main street, are lined with small restaurants, cafes, gift shops and pharmacies. There's a variety of foods from around the world and many fantastic home cooked "hole in the wall" places for a small price. Not to mention the street are filled with mini and big bars. Every night you're sure to find excellent live music, a fly DJ or the raging disco.
It didn't take long for me to feel at home, within 15 minutes I dropped my backpack at my bungalow, or "Pasada," and was sitting in a restaurant called "Golfinho" (the dolphin) over-looking the clear blue ocean with a seafood scramble ("Brahma Chope",) a shot of Pinga and a Caipirinha. I will return to live here one day.
During my ten days in Pipa I ventured out to a small town called "Tibau Do Sul." Here you can watch the sunset in the south, over-looking a huge river mouth flooding into the open ocean. I visited a small bar named "Marceleos." This small six stool bar is located on the main street as you enter the beach. Marceleo was a awesome bartender. You could tell he loved his job, loved his home and loves life. This guy puts a lot of energy and fun into his job without even trying. A natural born bartender. Got to love it. Marceleos' staple drinks were not bad either. His caipirinhas consisted of a south American fruit called "Maracuja" and he used a top grade pinga called "Ypioca." It's pinga, fruit, a little sugar, with ice, with a local flower and a straw served in a wooden cup. Not only was the presentation amazing so was the drink. He also had a huge glass jar filled with pinga and local grapes fermenting on the bar. Visitors and local crew helped themselves to shots. I did not think I was going to like it as much as I did, but the sweet tasty shot hit the spot. I felt I was enjoying an appetizer rather then taking a shot.
My stay in Pipa was short but sweet. If you like to escape from the crowds Pipa is a must. (Do it soon because the secret is out. In a few years the world cup of soccer will have games an hour away in a major city called "Natal." They're building a new international airport there, conveniently located but prices will rise and crowds will increase.)
There is no place like Rio! And its true. It hard to believe it took me seventeen years to make it back to Rio DE Janeiro. The last time I was in Rio it was the world cup of soccer in 1994, a lot has changed for the better. The drinking and driving laws changed. It's now illegal to drive with any alcohol in your system. That's right, ZERO tolerance. I was pleased to see Cariocas (people from Rio) drinking responsibly. Another thing that changed is smoking in restaurants. NO MORE! I was STOKED! This made going out much more enjoyable. One more change I noticed is the "Green" movement. I saw many people on the streets picking up trash and recycling. The beach's, for the most part, were spotless, and we're talking about the beaches of Rio, where there are tens of thousands of people on the beach every day, all summer long. These are good signs for Brasil.
I must mention Rio DE Janeiro is surrounded by beautiful mountain peeks. No mater where you are in the city, on the beach, driving or any downtown section, you will see the most amazing natural backdrop of plush green mountains surrounded by massive city structure. Its hard to explain but is truly amazing.
My first few nights in Rio I hung out with my good friend Alvaro. He lives in a apartment two blocks from the beach in "Leblon," a happening section of Rio. The streets are filled with bronzed beach bodies headed to the beach everyday. Day shoppers and people fill little bars that snake along the main street. It's a non stop movement. Bars are open late and people fill the streets with drinks.
One of Alvaro's favorite local bars is called "Jobi." Its located in the "Baixo Leblon" or lower Leblon. This bar/restaurant has great Italian food and "BRAHAMA CHOPE!" My first night here we drank $400.00 rais in CHOPES! ($250.00 US) (I mentioned that most Chope's are served in a 8 oz glass.) We held the badge of honor. It was a long time since I had seen Alvaro and we waisted no time catching up. Jobi is a open patio restaurant with twenty tables arranged close together. This place gets packed every night. People of all ages come to enjoy the great vibe Jobi has to offer. If you are ever in Leblon put Jobi on the list.
My next destination in Rio was "Barra DA Tijuca." Rio DE Janeiro is divided into sections, each section is surrounded by the mountains and has it own tunnel in and out. Barra is the last section and is located at the south end of the city. Barra offers miles of sandy beaches and is filled with snack shacks serving seafood, sandwiches, hotdogs, acai coco juice, caipirinhas and "cervejas" (beers.) This stretch of beach also offers miles of great surfing, volleyball and footsvolly, a game similar to volleyball but you cant use your hands. Kind of like soccer meets volleyball (Google "footsvolly brasil.")
Located in the middle of the beach with a large patio is a "cervejaria" (brewery) called "Devassa!" They offer a good variety of fresh brewed ambers, stouts and wheat beers. They also serve wine and food as well. Devassa is a growing chain in Brasil. There's one in Leblon and a few in the state of Sao Paulo. The woman on their logo is Paris Hilton. Go figure. (Out of the all the beautiful women in Brasil they picked Paris. "Devassa" means whore house.) One thing I liked about this devassa was smoking was prohibited on the deck. Look for this gem all around Brasil and the big green sign "Aqui se faz, Aqui se bebe" (here we make, here we drink.) And look for Paris Hilton on both sides of the word DEVASSA!
Right next door to the devassa in Bajja is a sushi restaurant, "Minimok." They offer all you can eat for as much as you want to pay. It's very authentic with lowered tables, candle light and a well dressed staff. Very cool! The fish is good, especially if you are in need of a sushi fix. They do have a several choices of saki and the caipirinha was really good. (Cheers Robert! Love you Bro!)
I then took a short trip to the south, to a small ocean village, or port, called "Porto Belo." This amazing little spot is located a hour north of "Florianopolis." I frequently spent time at a little bar called "Tatura Bierland," another micro brewery. I was there every day for a week. The beer was exceptional and the wine was delicious. The food looked and smelled really good but I didn't eat there. Every night there was live music, acoustic guitar, some mellow singing or maybe a little Brasilian Folk. The most memorable drink from south Brasil was the Kiwi Sake. This is not a common drink for the south but just one of the favorites that my host liked to make. Peel two kiwis and smash them up in a glass. Then add 10 oz of your favorite Saki. Mix it up and add some ice and a straw. This drink will kill you if your not careful.
I then went to an island called "Floianopolis." There is only one bridge to get there and it took for hours. On a normal day it would take 45 minutes. We left around noon from our house, during the holiday, and took us three and a half hours. It sucked. We ended up eating at a tiny dive and missing the surf by about five hours. (The wind picks up almost everyday so by the time we got to the beach it was blown out.) We decided to go sand boarding. Floianopli is know for its massive sand dunes. It was really fun but a lot of work. By the time this day was done I was ready to have a drink! "Por favor!"
A month in Brasil was amazing. I am very happy for the Brasilian people and their future. Brasil is not a cheap vacation but it can be if you spend time in rural towns. Keep an open mind, be respectfully and you should have a wonderful time, especially if you like to go out at 11:30 pm and rage till early morning.
And just for the record, you're not going to see beautifully woman walking around nude or topless, throwing themselves at you because you're an American. Some people watch too many movies. There are nude beaches, find out what the rules are because some nude beaches only welcome you if you are accompanied by a woman. No perverts!