Chunder-struck by Florianópolis, Brazil
Note: After over a hundred posts, 17 countries and almost 12 months of traveling, I reckon you must all be fed up of hearing (or reading) my voice so I asked Alan – a friend from home who had been traveling with us for a while now – to write a guest post about what it is like to travel with one incredibly lazy photographer and one bossy, overbearing journalist. Let’s just hope he doesn’t show me up. May I introduce, ladies and gentlemen, Alfla.
There’s a particular radio sketch that became a calling card during myself, Gary and Roisin’s trip across South America (or as I like to call it, ThirdWheelFest 2010). It’s an ever-so-slightly exaggerated version of the typical 18-year-old English backpacker, blundering their way across the world on their “gap yaaar”, each visit to an impressive or hallowed vista punctuated by the revelation that they “totally chundered EVERYWHERE!” (see it here)
For seasoned travellers – especially the temple-and-trekking gang – it will ring more than a few bells, and it’s true that it can put a bit of a dampener on sunrise over the Himalayas if Sophie from Chiswick vomits on your digital camera. But as someone who has spent all his adult life visiting busy friends in busy cities for busy weekends, I’m not afraid to admit that the idea of a beachside relaxathon is more than a little appealing.
Florianópolis offers this in buckets and spades, while still retaining an air of South American class. On arrival, your best bet is to hop on a public bus and get yourself out of the busy, smokey city and over to beautiful Ilha de Santa Catarina. It will take you the bones of an hour to get there but as the sand in the air (more on that later) and the topless hotties quotient increases, all your cares will melt away.
We got our bus to the end of the line which dropped us at the door of Backpackers Share Hostel, a cosy beach-side hostel where the whole team, with the help of the family dog Benji, made us feel incredibly at home. And the best bit? You can almost dip your toe in the sea without having to step away from the barbeque. Breakfasts are generous, you can enjoy a caipirinha (local cocktail) while watching the beach stretch into infinity, and there are more events and free surfboards than you can shake a stick at.
But most of all Backpacker’s Sharehouse provides the social aspect of traveling that, for me, has always been more of an attraction than even the most glorious of temple treks. I’m not advocating chundering everywhere but travel is as much an exchange of ideas as it is a chance to see the world. On arrival in the hostel I learned how to play Chinese chess from a pair of Australians and within two days we’d shaved the head of a regretfully enthusiastic, wonderfully naive American student. How unfortunate that the word ‘shave’ rhymes so well with ‘Dave’.
Basically, no man is an island. And besides, with the beaches that Florianópolis has to offer, any such man-island (shaved or otherwise) would be put to shame. Aware of my short time south of the Equator and Gary and Roisin’s desperate attempts to out-brown their friends when they got home, we hit the beaches of Florianópolis hard. And, to be fair to them, the beaches hit back.
The first thing you’ll notice as you stroll through Florianópolis is the high number of Brazilian tourists which – like seeing locals in a restaurant – is always a good sign. The second thing, for us at least, was the sand in our teeth. It is a testament to the beaches of Flori that even under some very testing wind conditions we stuck it out, and despite the fact that I suspect I’ll be finding grit in my crevices from now until Christmas it was definitely worth it. Because there is so much beach to go around, a ten-minute walk should nab you a fairly isolated area. And if the sand does get a little much, grab a rocky outcrop and sunbathe like you’re in some over-priced perfume ad.
When not tanning yourself silly, the waves are big enough to get your surf on, but not so intimidating that you can’t enjoy a kayak or just a dip in the water. And as the public buses drive right up to the beach, you can easily make your way to the various waterfalls, quaint fishing villages and the beautiful coast on the south of the island. Closer to home there’s a lighthouse overlooking the bay that offers a stunning panoramic view, though if the trek up to it is attempted under hungover conditions it can rip even the most solid of friendships to shreds.
If your throat is hoarse from raving about the dignified people of Whadyamakawlit or the stunning temples of Djelibebi and you’d just like to drink, tan, read, write, laugh and relax yourself silly come to Florianópolis (and tell Benji we say hello).
Just try not to chunder everywhere.
There are more photos from Florianópolis available in the gallery