Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Buzios By Bardot

There are a handful of Brazilian icons who have brought their beautiful country fame in many aspects.

There's Pele and Ronaldo, who have graced many a pitch in the World Cup football finals with their nifty footwork and agility.

There's Helo Pinheiro, better known as The Girl of Ipanema, and the singer behind that hauntingly catchy bossa nova tune of the same title, Vinicius de Moraes.

There's Oscar Niemeyer, the 102-year-old Brazilian architect whose modern, edgy buildings form the skyline of the capital, Brasilia. His futuristic creation in Rio de Janeiro, which looks like a spaceship parked by the sea, houses the museum of modern art.

There's supermodel Gisele Bundchen, leggy, bronze and beautiful, who has been pelted with names like "fur scum" for, well, wearing animal pelts.

Then, somewhere along that time line came Brigitte Bardot, former actress, model, singer and key ingredient in the popularisation of the bikini in the 1950s. (She's now a whoppping 75 years old, by the way.)

Huh? She's not even Brazilian. And what did she do for Brazil?

Buzios by Bardot, that's what. Nope, Buzios isn't some French eau de toilette - it's a small fishing and whaling village about 2-hours north of Rio de Janeiro.

Well, it used to be a small fishing and whaling village. Up to 1934. That's when Brigitte Bardot arrived on its shores on a vacation with her then Brazilian boyfriend. The buzz that followed on her celebrity heels eventually made Buzios a popular holiday destination. Details are scant as to how she actually helped promote and elevate Buzios' sunny reputation, but she must have done a fair bit because a bronze statue of her now sits in the centre of town.

Of course, we didn't go to Buzios because of Brigitte Bardot. We didn't even know such a lovely place existed. It was thanks to John and Nina, our hosts at the Rio Dolphin Inn, who suggested that we make a side-trip from Rio and spend a couple of nights in Buzios. The couple spends Christmas in Buzios every year with their dalmatians Yangyi and Genki (who rummaged through my beach bag left carelessly within reach of their spotty paws and gobbled down my newly-bought bread rolls... which John kindly replaced.) At first, we were loving the vibe of Rio's crowded beaches too much to want to get away from the city, but John and Nina convinced us that we would love Buzios' quaint laidback charm and cobblestone streets (I recall saying somewhere in my previous entries that we're a tad tired of quaint cobblestone villages), just like how their other guests had. We eventually let them book us on a northbound bus and waved them goodbye at their gate.

Aaaannddd..... WELCOME TO BUZIOS!

Picture taken from our porch!

Buzios is a warped squiggle of land sticking out of Brazil's east coast and into the Atlantic Ocean. It's undulating coast creates many different beaches, about 26 sandy parcels, all cradled in bays, protected by the harsh pounding waves sweeping in from the Atlantic. I loved gazing at the little blobs of colour interspersing the big blue body of water - fishing boats - while bigger, fancier sailing boats ferried tourists around on beach-hopping cruises all day long.

Getting from beach to beach is easy - you just hop onto a water taxi and zip along the coast to your desired sand patch. You can also rent a buggy to get around the hilly peninsula. We were expecting to see rickety little golf carts putt-putting along the streets and struggling up the steep slopes. Well, we were so wrong...

I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world. Life in pink...

Seems like we should have higher expectations for a place that was "founded" by a glamourous French starlet! S$60 and up isn't too high a price to pay to get a semi-stylish convertible to yourself for an entire day. But since we were staying right smack in the middle of some very good beaches, we decided to hike the sandy trails to the nearby beach instead.

Guess we weren't the only ones who decided to take a stroll...

Who dares cross my path?

When I first saw one of these little lizards, the shade of the green band across its torso was so evenly positioned and so fluorescent that I thought somebody had spray-painted it as a joke! It was as bright as that neon highlighter ink that I used to line my school textbooks with. I felt so sorry for the lizard and was going on and on about how cruel some people could be to animals when...

I saw another one.

And another one.

And another.

Okaaaay. So I don't think these crawling green highlighter markers are the result of Bart Simpson going around Buzios with a can of spray paint after all. Fascinating little creatures. I tried looking up the Internet for information on these reptiles and why is it that only half their bodies are shaded green but all references to lizards in Brazil pointed to "lounging like a lizard" on a Brazilian beach. Not quite what I was looking for.

The perfect camouflage - half leaf, half earth.

On our first day in Buzios, we walked to Praia Azeda and its small sister, Praia Azedinha. The water was calm, clear and cool - a far cry from the huge crashing surf on Ipanema in Rio. I had a whale of a time floating on my back without worrying about being pushed under by a giant wave or swept out to sea by the ripping current. I loved wading around the rocky banks, where small schools of little reef fish milled around my legs. Make that vicious little reef fish - they took many a sharp nip outta my calves. (Should I take that as a compliment that I have nice legs - albeit to fish only?)

Praia Azeda. Across the rocky ledge in the background is Praia Azedinha.

Both Praia Azeda and Azedinha are very small beaches. Which makes for a rather intimate session with all the other visitors. We stepped over a few outstretched ankles and squeezed ourselves into a tiny spot of sand on Azedinha and settled down on our cangas (sarongs, in Brazilian-speak) for our favourite beach activity in Brazil: voyeurism.

Working hard towards graduating from a frilly skirt to a skimpy Brazilian tanga

I wasn't the only person surreptitiously photographing this pair of lithe girls on the cliff. Their deep brown skin looked beautiful against the dark rocks.

Smiling for a self-portrait

Find a spot by the beach bar - old fishing boats perched on rocks, beautifully painted and stocked with fresh fruit and strong liquors

Run out of interesting people to spy on? There's always your own husband to watch (closely) in his spiffy new Brazilian-style trunks

The next day, we trudged a little further to Praia Joao Fernandes. This beach was much bigger than Azeda and Azedinha, and more commercial. The top of the beach was lined with wooden shacks, plastic chairs and beach umbrellas, under which people were enjoying ice-cold beers and coconut water straight out of the husks. The restaurants rented out beach umbrellas and deck chairs. Vendors plied the sands with bamboo poles balanced on their shoulders, draped with colourful cangas, and a tempting range of floaty white cotton sundresses and swinging bikinis pieces. Locals lugged styrofoam boxes filled with canned drinks, juices, ice-cream and hot food for sale. One enterprising ice-cream seller reached over our tanning torsos to hand us a couple of lollipops, even though we declined to buy anything from him. "Marketing", he grinned. Sure, but for an S$8 ice-cream bar? No thanks. But thanks for the lolly anyway.

We whiled away the day just reading, snoozing, tanning, swimming and people-watching. I had the additional pleasure of browsing the mobile bikini and dress stalls in search for the perfect white cotton sundress and yet another bikini. One of the vendors let me pull a sundress over my wet body and told me to run along to model it for my esposo, hoping that Dan's approval would convince me to buy the dress. His plan backfired - Dan didn't think it looked too great. At least I had someone else to blame when I returned the damp slightly salty dress to the vendor. I didn't succeed in finding another bikini either, cos I didn't like the ubiquitous twist-tie, one-size-fits-all tube top designs that were all over Buzios. Ah well, I guess a girl can only find so many perfect bikinis in a lifetime.

Praia Joao Fernandes. Dan claimed that the girl in the foreground was Jennifer Love Hewitt. I couldn't be sure enough to be able to agree with him.

Butt-floss galore

Even the aliens come all the way from outer space just to tan on this beach

At sundown, the streets in Buzios - albeit fashioned out of age-old cobblestone - throb with nightlife. Stylish restaurants, chill-out cafes, low-lit bars and no-frills eateries sit alongside one another. Throw a stone and you'll hit a souvenir store that's still open, waiting to catch revelers pouring onto the pier after a sunset cruise. Need another bikini or pair of boardshorts for tomorrow's beach? Just step into a store and select from the many choices available.

Boats come to a halt at sundown. It's quiet out at sea but look further inland and you'll find that the night is still young!

As for us, we were too knackered to stay out late. We knocked back a pizza while giving our fingers some exercise on our macbooks at a cafe with free WiFi and called it a night!

Hey, living life on a beach is tiring okay!

At the top of the world... before we crashed onto the bed.


Ed0-win said...

Wah.. Brazil really turning both of you into africans.. :D

So tanned now!!

Dannie said...

Dude... there are little or no Africans here leh... so your comment has no context! :p

But yeah, we both loved being able to tan on the beach after so many months of cold!

Forever Living

Forever Living
Read about the products, then contact our wellness sponsor!
Related Posts with Thumbnails