Veronika, Outbound to Brazil

After 3 months I have learned how to appreciate the little things in life. I live in a relatively small city; there’s really only so much you can admire here. Like, an occasional rain in the middle of a hot day, or a cup of coffee with the people you care about the most… or better yet, when you get presented with an opportunity to travel! I cherish these beautiful moments the most. This past month alone, I got to go on a road trip to the state of São Paulo. Inside the state, we stayed in four different cities: São Paulo, Campos do Jordão, Ubatuba (Ilhabela), and Poços de Caldas. Initially, the trip was only to go to a wedding in the city of São Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil, but instead, that trip got extended to a nine-day vacation. Inside of São Paulo, we stayed in a neighborhood called, Liberdade. Liberdade is located in the heart of São Paulo and is considered the city’s Japantown. Filled with Japanese, Chinese, and Korean markets and diners, I got to experience all kinds of new foods... from dorayaki, a pancake filled with a sweet paste made out of red beans, to authentic green tea flavored boba tea. On the streets, you will encounter tall, red torii arches and hung up lanterns that light up the streets during the night. The wedding was incredible! Everyone left with a sense of happiness, fulfillment, and a slight feeling of tiredness... yeah, go figure, we all danced like no one is watching and returned home around 4:15 am! Our next stop was Campos do Jordão. The highest city in Brazil with an elevation of 1,628 meters (or 5,341 feet) inspired by Swiss, German, and Italian culture and architecture. Definitely looks like an “outro mundo” (another world)! The streets look NOTHING like Brazil. The most popular foods I was able to find were fondue and hot chocolate, they were practically on every corner. Our program included staying in a castle, taking the cable car to the top of the highest peak, and taking an all-inclusive trolley trip around the city! After we experienced what “cold” really feels like (9 degrees Celsius in the “summer”) we decided to change up the scenery and travel more North to the coastline. We stayed in a hotel on the Ubatuba Beach where we got to enjoy the sunny, touristy city. However, one beach wasn’t enough for us so we traveled across the bay to an island called, Ilhabela, literally meaning a “Beautiful Island”. This island was filled with rich villas and crystal clear water. The biggest difference between beaches here and Florida is that here, they are surrounded by mountain ranges across the horizon which makes the whole experience just THAT much more breathtaking and unforgettable. The centers of the cities are filled with boutiques of colorful bathing suits and clothes for surfing. The atmosphere was very laid back, the only thing I wanted to do was lay under a palm tree by the ocean and drink coconut water, you know? But the want to visit the last city made us get up and travel some more. This time we were headed to one of the most southern cities in my state of Minas Gerais, Poços de Caldas. Here we got to stay in the oldest hotel that the city had to offer, take a cable car (yes, again) to see the statue of Jesus overlooking the panorama view of the city, visit the Japanese garden and the Fonte dos Amores (the Fountain of Lovers). The two days we spent there felt the most normal because we had the comfort of staying in our home state and eating the “Mineiro” food. Didn’t think I would actually start missing Paracatu but the crammed week and a half of traveling did make me miss the comfort of my own bed that my family has provided for me. Moments like this make me thankful for everything I own in life. Be kind. Beijos.

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