When A Port Walk Turns into a Spa Day

We were very excited for Day 16 of our journey with port of call Paraty, Brazil. With it’s hyped colonial architecture and cobblestone walkways it was sure to be fabulous. The historic center of the city is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another interesting fact: the city was built below sea level so that at high tide the sea can flood the streets and clean them, more on that below. It was a rainy Wednesday morning as we boarded the 30 minute tender ride into the city center. From the ship, the scenery was undeniably beautiful.

As our tender approached the pier the first signs of trouble began to surface. Numerous scuba and snorkeling party boats were making their way out to see. Their appearance and those onboard did not suggest an elegant preserved colonial waterfront city center. We pushed on and disembarked the tender and made our way down the pier where we entered the city center. The cruise staff mentioned in passing to wear comfortable shoes to negotiate the cobble stones. We have experienced many a cobblestone street and sidewalk in Europe but this took it to a whole new and very rustic level. The streets and sidewalks are haphazardly placed stone/rocks and make it nearly impossible to walk with your head up unless you want to sprain your ankle. We have no idea how people in flip-flops and/or sandals were able to survive with all joints intact! Admittedly, the damp conditions exacerbated this issue, but nonetheless, you have been warned.

There were numerous shops and eateries but to us they felt more like tourist traps and nothing quaint and authentic. Some of the buildings were attractive, though the smell in several of the alleys was not (horse drawn carts…). The City streets were originally built below sea level so that the streets were flushed each day with the tide. There are still areas that appear subject to that and we suggest you steer clear.

After an hour or so of strolling, hopping, nearly breaking an ankle, we cut our losses and headed back to the tender and the ship. Based on our informal polling, most guests were underwhelmed similar to ourselves. We suggest picking an activity that leverages the area’s beautiful natural assets with a quick stop to see the City’s historic district to judge for yourselves. We completed our afternoon with a pair of massages in the ship’s spa. Unfortunately this was our final stop on our journey before returning to Rio and ultimately back home. We still had an evening ahead to enjoy with friends we met along the way and reminisce.

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