Paraty, Brazil + Happy Hammock: THIS is Where to Slow Travel
Only a few hours away from La Cidade Maravilhosa, Paraty is the perfect place in Brazil to enjoy a bit of slow travel. If you're unfamiliar with this type of travel, it simply about slowing down your pace, taking some time to really get to know the locals (or other interesting travellers) and not getting FOMO when you miss out on some of the touristy hot spots. I know, I know. This is no easy feat, especially for you travel box-tickers out there, but honestly, if you're looking for somewhere to slow things down, look no further than Paraty and a long stay at the Happy Hammock.
The good news is it's relatively easy to get to Paraty directly from Rio, which makes this another popular weekend getaway for the Cariocas. We used EasyTransfer to go directly from Ilha Grande which is also in the Rio de Janeiro State. It was a quick three-hour trip by Brazilian standards, via a ferry and bus. We arrived in the late afternoon just in time for the evening light to bring the town's beautiful colonial buildings to life.
But we still had one last travel leg to go because we'd booked some serious chill out time at the Happy Hammock boutique hostel, a beautiful little place just off the coast of the main town. The lovely owner Patrick picked us up from the main church in town and we hopped into a small speedboat to our final destination.
Arriving at the docks, my 'switch off' button kicked into gear immediately as I soaked in all the sights and sounds: the beautiful colonial-style home / hostel, the mango and coconut trees, the birds tweeting overheard and the water lapping just beneath our feet. I jumped excitedly off the boat, onto the cobblestone footpath and straight into the house.
Inside, things only get quainter. The open-plan first floor houses a lounge to lie around in, a dining table for guests to gather at every meal and a porch filled with hammocks for those (very necessary) long and lazy afternoon naps. There's absolutely no wifi and there are signs that encourage guests to speak to each other and enjoy other activities in and around the house.
Patrick led us upstairs to our bedroom, an adorable space with dreamcatchers hanging from the ceiling and epic views of the bay. I gazed happily out the window only to be greeted by a beautiful hummingbird flying past our room.
As you can imagine, the next few days were pure bliss. We had lazy lie-ins, long chats with our fellow guests over many-a-meal and plenty of walks (or should I say hikes) to the local beaches. And I couldn't get enough of the hammock naps, long reading sessions and, of course, the passionfruit caipirinhas. And surprisingly for this tech-addict, I even (dare I say it?) savoured the full-on digital detox.
We did manage to get up and go into town on our final afternoon, but only once we felt fully re-energised. And to be honest, I think we enjoyed Paraty's historic centre that much more thanks to our Happy Hammock chill out. We even put down our guidebook and wandered the streets aimlessly, soaking in the city's history.
Paraty was once a colonial stomping ground for the wealthy Portuguese looking for a travel break after collecting their literal pots of gold in the northern towns of Minas Gerais. But instead of hitting up all the recommended tourist hot spots, we roamed the town's romantic streets, savoured some fantastic ice cream (because the Brazilians have seriously got their ice cream game DOWN, but that's another post entirely) and gathered some energy for our next frenetic Brazilian adventure.
So if you're looking for somewhere to hit that pause button, whether that's from your busy working life or from an intense stint of long-term travel, seriously consider adding Paraty and Happy Hammock to your wander-list. You won't be disappointed. And you'll leave more refreshed than you ever thought possible.
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