On Thursday, June 7th, Brazil celebrated the Corpus Christi holiday, so Michael had Thursday and Friday off from work which meant…time to plan a little adventure! And an adventure we had.
We looked at a ton of places but ended up choosing Buzios, a small beach town settled a couple of hours outside of Rio. Buzios is known to some as the “Gisele Bundchen” of beaches, and since it’s “winter” here in Brazil (a cool 79 degrees out today), the deals on the beaches are great. Furthermore, Michael needed to work in Rio the week following the holiday, so all things considered we decided to fly into Rio, rent a car and drive to Buzios.
So it turned out that adventure #1 was the renting of the car. Naturally all of the rental cars are stick shifts and I have never in my life attempted to drive a stick. Michael learned a couple of years ago when we were in a similar situation, renting a car in Bariloche, Argentina, but it had been over two years since this one-time event. We sort of forgot about this little detail, so as we were literally stepping into the car, we were simultaneously pulling up YouTube videos on “How to Drive a Stick Shift.” This actually proved to be really helpful, however it did not prepare us for what laid ahead…
Michael miraculously remembered the feel and after a couple of laps around the rental car area, we hit the busy highways of Rio. We drove for a couple hours on everything from jam-packed highways to unmarked cobblestone roads. We frequently found ourselves on roads that did not show up on our iPhone GPS so we did our best to follow signs and literally, a compas — making sure we were going in the right direction. Eventually we pulled up at our Buzios “home” — the Pousada Saint Germain. We were exhausted so we checked in and immediately took a nap. We woke up around 7:30pm, hungry and excited to check out a restaurant in town. The only issues is that it was STORMING outside. Storming is really a major understatement. The roads had rivers flowing through them. You could hardly see 5 feet in front of you. We knew that the main downtown area with food and fun was a quick, 7 minute walk away, and we also knew that it would not be safe to drive in this weather. Was it safe to walk? In my opinion, not really. In Michael’s opinion, absolutely. I slooooowly got ready and suited up to weather the storm. We tried to wait for the rain to die down a little but it looked like that may never happen, and we were hungry and knew that a sweet pizza place was just down the road. So, eventually, there was nothing to do but head out. We made our way to Capricciosa and arrived SOAKING WET from head to toe. Thankfully they still served us, the pizza was hot and TASTY, and it was the perfect start to our trip. 🙂
The next day we had an amazing time exploring the town and hopping around to different beaches. Buzios is full of cobblestone streets lined with fun bars and restaurants on the water in what was once an old fishing village turned major tourist destination. The peninsula is absolutely full of charming pousadas — little bed & breakfast type inns.
Day 2 was not so…carefree. It started out nicely — we wanted to continue exploring the peninsula and so we hopped back in our ride and started touring around. We stopped off at this amazing spot for a fresh squeezed OJ,
and then we got more adventurous. Most of the roads we were driving on were not showing up on the GPS so we just felt our way around. We could never tell if the road we were heading down was going to lead us to an amazing view or a dead end so it made for some interesting situations. It was a little tricky too because most of the roads were these narrow cobblestone paths, up and down hills, and some of the roads were pretty broken up. As we were trying to make our way back to town, we found ourselves getting lost in a maze of random roads. Each one seemed unnavigable and we were getting a little nervous about making it home. And then we came upon a major roadblock. The road ahead was flooded and blocked with fallen trees and debris. So, we tried to turn around. But the road was so narrow and it was now really raining and the reverse was giving Michael a hard time and somehow we ended up driving into the bushes. We were on a slope and so we just could NOT get the car to go backwards. At one point, I was in the driver’s seat, Michael was outside in the bushes trying to push the car…but nothing was helping. Then – praise God – Michael figured out how to move us backwards. We moved back and then realized that it would be almost impossible to for us to turn around because right in the middle of the road was a giant hole. Now it was my turn to get out in the rain and act as a guide while Michael maneuvered the car back and forth, back and forth again, until we felt like we could drive over the hole without getting trapped by it.
And finally, we prevailed! Free at last, we drove home, parked, and got OUT of that car – not to return again until we were leaving Buzios the next day.
That evening we WALKED downtown to eat crepes and catch a “friendly” soccer match between Argentina and Brazil. Countries play these “friendly” matches in preparation for the World Cup — although everyone here knows there is no such thing as a friendly soccer match between Argentina and Brazil. 🙂 Although Brazil couldn’t pull out the win, it was really fun watching the game with the a big group.
Later in the evening we headed back downtown for another lovely dinner on charming cobblestone streets.
On Sunday we drove back to Rio and finished off the trip with a great sushi dinner at Sushi Leblon.
Such fun exploring this beautiful country!