Fortaleza, Brazil – August 2000


Before I kick of this month’s guide, I would like to thank everyone who sent me emails of condolences after last month’s fiasco with my apartment and especially to BootsnAll posse member (some might say groupie) Zelda who arrived in the middle of my nervous breakdown, took me out partying and endured all when less of people would have left! But we shall hear more of her later.

Moving to a new district has given me the opportunity to expand my horizons and check out some new exciting bars and restaurants. Based around the Avenidia 13th May in the Fatima area are some of the city’s finest places and it’s well worth the effort to go and seek them out.

Quente-Frio
Top of a very long list of places I have been frequenting recently is the soon to be world famous Quente-Frio bar. This has become somewhat of a legend amongst the locals here as it is one of only two bars which are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year – which reminds me of the coach company I used to use when I was a student to go from London to Birmingham which went ’7 days a week – except Wednesday’.

Quente-Frio may at first look like it’s the best place in the world to get dysentery, but trust me, after eating there almost every day for the last month I have had no trouble at all. However, it is often packed with beered up taxi drivers and you may like to think twice about taking a taxi anywhere in the Fatima area.

The sandwiches here are stunning. Not only are they prepared fresh to order and are always delivered rapidly, if not happily to the table, but they are cheap too (much more important in my book). Well worth the truck across town. Take any bus which goes to the Church in Fatima and Quente-Frio is opposite.

Pao e Dolce
Just along from the church is a small, harmless looking bread and cake shop called Pao e Dolce. Do not be fooled by its humble exterior, it is a world-class eatery. Not only do they have possibly the best selection of cakes in the city – which is really saying something as Brazilians have an excessively sweet tooth – but they sell the best savories in the world (believe me I am an expert on these things). For about 75 cents you can get a tasty hot cheese and ham savory, which will not only fill even the hungriest of stomachs (including even my girlfriend’s) but will send your cholesterol into new levels of excessiveness.

The store seems to be open from early in the morning till late at night, so there is no excuse not to become a fat person. At weekends they have a BBQ out on their front porch and cook chickens, which drives the whole ‘hood wild as the smell works its way around the streets.

Ice Cream
If that wasn’t enough to send you into calorific shock, next to this is the world’s best ice cream store. Although their selection is somewhat modest, only 50 flavors most of which are unique to Brazil, you are guaranteed free passage to ice cream orgasm for about a dollar. I am slowly working my way through the list and have got stuck on cashew and can’t seem to progress much further. Well worth a visit.

Blazdell’s Brazil
Talking of visits, the nice people at BootsnAll, in conjunction with our friendly state-side travel agent Zelda of Your Travel Agent Ltd and myself have got to together to offer in the coming months the first fully IATA bonded tours of Blazdell’s Brazil.

Zelda has just spent the last few weeks with me going over possible itineraries, checking out accommodation possibilities and, I might add, beer quality. The aim of our tours is not to replace the intrepid globe trotting devil-may-care back packer attitude we have all developed but to allow small groups to travel beyond the normal tourist routes whilst enjoying the luxury of cheaper flights and accommodation.

We are planning several 15 day trips which will focus on several themes. For example, one theme will be the World’s Best Beaches and will cover some of the finest and least known beaches of the NE coast. Another theme will focus on the search for cultural identity and delve into the black heart of Brazil – Bahia. One other possibility we are seriously exploring are trips “beyond the Amazon”, where we will take to boats and explore this remarkable river beyond the well trodden tourist routes. We are aiming at small group tours, no more than about 6-8 people. This will allow us to get maximum benefit from group travel discounts yet still maintain a family feel to the tours.

The aim of these tours is not for us to make money. Zelda and I have been poor all our lives and are too set in our ways to change this now. However, we do want to offer all those people who email me and say “I would love to visit Brazil, but am too scared because it’s dangerous or I don’t speak the lingo or I don’t want to go alone” to come down to this part of the world we love and experience it first hand.

All the technical bits will be handled by Zelda (ytazelda@isrv.com) whilst I will handle the Brazilian end. We shall keep to costs as low as possible but we would like each person who comes on the tour to make a voluntary $10 donation to allows us, and BootsnAll, to sponsor a child down here.

If anyone is interested in more information please contact me via email and I shall get straight back to you.

Philip’s Facts and Figures
    - A monthly troll through the weird and wonderful world of Brazil

  • According to Veja the Amazon is now the world’s longest river after a new source was found adding a staggering 1400 extra kilometers.
  • 20% of Brazilians never go to the dentist.
  • 953,000 Brazilians will visit the USA in 2003.
  • 59% of Brazilians believe in ghosts. The rest just believe in Telemar!
  • 685 tonnes of Marijuana, 58 tonnes of cocaine, 2 tonnes of ecstasy, one tonne of crack and 9 kgs of heroin were consumed in Brazil in 1999 (not by the same person I hope).

    Well, I am off to visit an oil rig this month. Happy travels where ever you are in the world. Have a safe month on the road less traveled.

    Geography

    Located just under the equator, in a clearly tropical position, is the Cearense coast. The greenish-blue water is warm all year around. The average temperature ranges from 25 to 28°Celsius.

    Fortaleza is the capital of the North Eastern Brazilian state of Ceará. It is a large, modern city where bold, new architecture contrasts with beautiful beaches and tall coconut palms.

    Brazil Map

    Ceara State Map

    Weather

    Why ask? It’s going to be hot, between 27 – 33 degrees, blue skies and heaven is a local call.

    Accommodation

    Accommodation falls into three categories. Hotel, motel and pousada.

    Hotels range from the reasonably priced such as the Hotel Passeio (tel/fax 085 252 2104) which has doubles for about R$30 a night, to the mid priced Olympio Praia Hotel (about US$100 a night) which includes a massive breakfast (tel 085 244 9122) to the massive Ibis Hotel (silly price).

    Motels are a Brazilian institution and most rent by the hour. Mostly, or so I am told, they are clean and reasonably priced. If you are considering staying in one it might be a good move to check the room before handing over any cash.

    Most people stay in a pousada. These small, often family fun hotels generally offer excellent value for money, clean rooms and friendly service. There are about 65 officially registered pousadas in central Fortaleza. Unless you are arriving in the height of summer, finding a nice room shouldn’t be a problem.

    Health

    Generally Fortaleza is a healthy place – the odd hangover permitting. However, there is some concern about a recent outbreak of dengue fever. As always, plan ahead and ask your local doctor before travelling. Malaria is not an issue in this area. Up to the minute updates can be found at:

    www.cdc.gov

    And more specifically on dengue.

    Travel

    Fortaleza is three hours flight, or two days by bus from São Paulo the main gateway to Brazil. The flights are not cheap, but sometimes Varig has special deals.

    The best way to travel around Brazil is with an air pass, which must be bought outside the country.

    The Author
    The author, who by his very own low standards is a hell of a guy, can currently be found pounding the streets of Fortaleza after his landlord kindly evicted him for no apparent reason.

    He divides his life between a stunningly unfulfilling academic career, traveling and trying to convince people to give him money. He has recently returned from Guyana where he spent most of his trip on the toilet.

    His favorite flavor of ice-cream is cashew nut and he really does have no clue who Brittney Spears is. He writes regularly for this and other travel magazines.

  • Traveler Article


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