We still don’t know many Portuguese words but we do know Fechado. Oh yes…we have come to know Fechado very well indeed.
We have come to know Fechado intimately because we have seen it so many times as signs on the front windows and doors of restaurants, bars and shops that we go to. The opening times here are a mystery that I’m sure only the locals know as no matter how much we have tried to sync the time of our venture for food or coffee we have been at a loss as to why the sign Fechado remains.
There is one particular establishment that Josh has been eyeing since we arrived: a Creperie. The Creperie even has a menu outside the restaurant displaying their opening times for everyone to see alas every single time we have passed by there to get a crepe whether keeping within the opening times advertised or not it has been completely, and utterly FECHADO’D.
We have tried this with other restaurants in the area too, but it seems like they only open when they feel like it. The Italian restaurant was the same: Fechado, Fechado all day, everyday but then there was a Brazilian bank holiday (on a Saturday no less, I know I don’t really understand it either), and then suddenly they were open and it was packed! But since then, nada. Fechado. I’m sure they must have some kind of Brazilian communication software that Josh and I are not privvy to!
Santo Antonio De Lisboa
Lily, the lovely Brazilian lady who works in the Supermarket told us about a place nearby that she was sure that we’d like: Santo Antonia De Lisboa. A small, colourful, quirky village with incredible sunsets from it’s marina location, she told us that there were some lovely restaurants and coffee shops there that overlooked the small beach and it sounded just up our street to we stopped off at a local cupcake cafe first before going there for the day.
Small, cobbled streets with lovely colourful little independent restaurants and and coffee shops, it immediately impressed. We decided that we would go back on a day when it was sunnier to spend some more time trawling the streets browsing the local street markets and perhaps go for dinner at the sweet looking fish restaurant overlooking the marina?
Unfortunately, I have to take back what I said about their being no creatures in Brazil.
For the past couple of days we have seen not just more of those beastly looking iguana’s, waltzing around our garden with nonchalance but last night despite our best efforts to keep our apartment scrupulously clean and tidy at all times, making sure that we leave no dirty dishes in the sink and taking any smelly food straight out to the communal bins, we encountered my worst enemy: a cockroach (or barratas as it’s called here in Brazil) reared it’s hideous head.
Now I cannot make it any clearer: I CANNOT DEAL WITH CREATURES. Call it what you will but it is simply not in me. And yes, I was gearing myself up to encounter them in abundance as soon as I arrived in Brazil and in turn I warned Josh that he would have to prepare himself for bug extermination duties, so I was more then a little surprised and relieved to find that apart from the occasional ant or fly in our apartment we never really saw any bugs at all, and certainly no cockroaches anywhere apart from the one we saw in the street when we were out and about. I mean that’s huge. No fly’s and no mosquitoes in Brazil?! – one of the most natural environments in the world and the home to the Amazon which has some of the numerous species of animals on earth? Insane.
But each time we went out we felt comfortable enough to eat outside because there were no flies about and I wasn’t wearing any insect repellent at all because there were no mosquitoes either.
But perhaps it was just the time of year? I had spoken to my sister (currently trawling through high altitude terrain in Bolivia) and she said that she hadn’t seen anything or gotten bitten either.
But this night that all changed. I don’t know where this thing came from as we keep the windows closed in the evenings (or even if it was a cockroach aka barratas), all I know is that Josh and I were sitting down about to watch something on YouTube and then it suddenly appeared in the corner of the room by the skirting board with it’s nasty, crispy looking self, but as soon as we both saw it disappeared again through a hole underneath the fixed kitchen cabinet.
There proceeded the hunt for this despicable creature to try and find it and kill it before we went to bed. Thinking of that thing crawling around our apartment really made my skin crawl and I wasn’t sure that I could sleep knowing that it was at large so Josh set about trying to spray the crack that we saw it disappear underneath with heavy duty barratas killer spray, taking everything out of the kitchen drawers so that he could spray behind it.
Unfortunately we couldn’t actually take off the cover that he’d crawled underneath but we made sure to spray the entire area and the kitchen and then some, bleached the floor and sprayed all the entrances where we thought he might of gotten in from and then Josh proceeded to use plastic bags to block up all of the gaps in the kitchen cabinet so that it couldn’t get out again. I was skeptical of this at first because I thought that if it was small enough to get in there in the firstplace then it was probably small enough to get out again but afterwards I agreed that just minimising the spaces that it could crawl from was a great idea and it meant that if it was still in there then the fumes from the spray would hopefully kill it anyway.
After hours of watching the hole to see if the beast appeared again we eventually went to bed. I was feeling pretty traumatised by the whole thing truth be told as if there is one thing that I hate it is cockroaches. I detest spiders too but something about cockroaches just makes me feel immediately nausea’s. It probably has something to do with the fact that they are usually found in nasty places so it indicates that a place is nasty if it has a cockroach infestation but we had made sure that this place was spotless. We had even paid to have the apartment cleaned the week after we’d arrived, we had no food out on the sides, no crumbs lurking for it to eat and no place for it to go so why on earth did it decide to come in here?! I hoped it was just passing through..
To put my mind at ease Josh kept the lights on in the kitchen to try and trick the buzzard into thinking that we were still there, he also blocked up the entrance to the bedroom and bathroom by using a thin towel so that if it did get out it wouldn’t be able to come into our room (my main concern), and put the plunger over the shower plug hole incase it’s buddy’s got any idea’s but either way I had a restless night. As it was the air conditioning in our apartment wasn’t great – it was old and weak and hardly blew out any cold air at all so were were pretty much sweltering in the apartment and naturally we didn’t want to open the windows for fear that creatures (if there were any) would come in.
So that night I found it hard to sleep: coupled with the shitty air con I also had a genuine fear that this thing was going to find his way into our bedroom and crawl onto our bed!
In the morning all was calm and well. There were no signs of any barratas and it was as if nothing had ever been there at all. But due to the amount of time that Josh and I had spent the night before searching for this abominable creature, coupled with my restless sleep I was now feeling pretty exhausted.
To put my mind at ease Josh called the apartment manager, who had initially laughed and said “no, no barratas!” when I asked him when we’d arrived whether there were any cockroaches in the apartment, to ask him to come and search it to make certain that it wasn’t still there. So he came, somewhat sheepishly it has to be said, before proceeding to take each drawer out of the kitchen cabinet methodically to try and see if he could find it.
When he established that he could not he cleaned the drawer thoroughly and then sprayed the whole area with 2 powerful barratas killers. If it surfaced again he said, he would come and kill it himself.
The problem with cockroaches or barratas is that they are nasty. They thrive in damp, filthy, hot areas, and I don’t want one in my clean, dry, temperature controlled apartment!
Will Cook , Can’t Cook
Unfortunate as it is to admit it, Josh and I have come to the conclusion that these people can’t cook. We have had far too many bad experiences, in too many establishments to put it down to mere coincidence. We planned to go to Lucila’s Bistro, a local restaurant which we had previously been to for coffee and pastries, excited that finally we had perhaps found somewhere decent to eat. We love to eat and were keen to experience authentic Brazilian cuisine which we were convinced would not only be delicious but would be really imaginative, colourful and well presented too with lots of vegetables and fruits that we’d never tasted before. But almost everywhere we’d been (apart from Jay’s Bistro it has to be said), has been a disappointment. Now as I said before, the Brazilians love themselves a buffet and Lucila’s Bistro has done so well in the area that they have 3 establishments: a bakery, a restaurant next door to it and another recently opened larger restaurant which served buffet. We had already been to the bakery and liked it so decided to try out the restaurant.
We arrived at the restaurant around 8:30 pm to find that despite the fact that they have a menu outside indicating that it is a “proper” restaurant, we walked in to find people gorging themselves on a buffet spread. If we’d have wanted buffet we would have gone to the BUFFET RESTAURANT, especially since it was closer to our apartment!
Alas, it turned out that they were still serving from the menu thank goodness so after some deliberation (we were still struggling a little to read the Portuguese menu’s) we both ordered the seabass. We were very much looking forward to our meal, and after our experience at 300 Cosmos who fancied themselves something rotten but clearly couldn’t cook a risotto, we were keen to get some decent grub.
And what else should you order in Brazil other then beef? Well fish and seafood of course!
So, ordered we did, only to find when it turned up that the fish was DRY AS A BONE and not anything like the succulent, FRESH seabass that we were expecting. Now I have had many a seabass in my time but I can quite honestly say that this was perhaps the worst.
I was stunned into silence looking upon these 2 anemic looking slices of fish on my plate (which I couldn’t even identify as being seabass, a first for me), so devoid of moisture or even any accompanying sauce that it wasn’t funny. And as for the salad that came with it, not even a balsamic vinegar did it have. Not to mention the rice, which was basic beyond belief. How ON EARTH can anyone produce such an uninspiring meal? – if I was working in the kitchens just the mere embarrassment of presenting this dish would prevent me. But here they were putting down this dry, pale, basic, bland, tasteless, overcooked meal in front of me with the only decorative part of the meal being the tomato which they had cut up to resemble a flower. I was wondering why if they could spend all this time making a tomato pretty which they didn’t do the same with the main event: the fish, which is afterall what we paid for!
Honestly I am baffled. They don’t seem to use seasoning in their food, okay I’m just about coming to terms with that but these terrible food combinations must come to an immediate end: chips with rice and overcooked fish. The much decorated chef of Jay’s Bistro, which has billboard advertisements all over the island, trained in Europe. Now I know that as a nation, the Brits are not known for their local cuisine, however we have at least had the foresight to get people in from all over the world to provide their tasty foodstuffs and we have such cultural diversity that the sheer abundance and quality of cuisines on offer is impressive.
Restaurateurs hoping to get British business are made fully aware that producing uninspiring, bland food simply will not do and as such we have some of the best restaurants in the world. But here in Brazil, SURELY they have access to the raw ingredients?! They certainly have the diversity of people so why are they not coming up trumps in the food department??
I need to get to the bottom of this baffling issue before I leave here!
On the way home Josh and I rounded the corner to encounter something hideous: a sparse-haired, pig looking creature lurking in the shadows. Before either of us could get a proper look at it it ran away (or should I say trotted off) out of view and went into someone’s garden. The thing was a little bigger then a cat, about the size of a dog with a long tail like a rat and a snout like a pig, but not as hairy. Just as we were discussing what it might have been we saw another, smaller one! The smaller one ran into someone’s garden too but not before we saw that it was definitely VERY pig like! Though not actually a pig..
What the hell is this place about? What, they have feral pigs here now?! Goodness gracious me!
The following morning the nasty barratas that had crawled underneath our kitchen cabinet emerged out of the hole that he had crawled under (after being sprayed with a potent combination of chemicals), to die on our apartment floor. I felt very relieved to know that with the help of our apartment manager we had finally got him. Now I could relax (kind of).
Alas when we went back to our “safe” restaurant Pizza Express the following night we encountered another HUGE cockroach scurrying across the floor whilst we were eating our pizza!
Needless to say we shan’t be returning.
Beach Lovers 2.0
Florianopolis has over 42 beaches, but we won’t be visiting all of them. We have identified around10 beaches that we’d like to visit whilst we’re here in between waiting for the weather to be good enough to go (nothing worse then being rained on on a beach) and working, but finally today was the day we’d been waiting for: It was time to visit Campeche.
Campeche was about a 40 minute drive away, a beautiful, sprawling beach on the East coast of the island. We jumped in an Uber, took our towels, stereo, water and off we went for the day. We passed through the town of Barra Da Lagoa (another beach we plan to visit), and saw hints of Joaquina beach too (the one I’m supposed to be trying to surf on if I can muster up the courage!) before arriving at Campeche.
The first thing I noticed about this beach was how busy it was in comparison to Jurere, there was much more people on this beach with 2 large restaurants overlooking it, then the next thing I noticed was it’s size: It was much bigger then I was expecting, it was huge!
Wide, with a great expanse of warm, silky soft white sand, it meandered very gradually into wild aqua blue waves with great big white foamy tips. When I went to sample how cold the water was to touch I gasped: It was frightening cold! And the waves frighteningly high. This was no swimmers beach: the temperature of the water, coupled with the wild intensity of the waves dictated that, but oh was it beautiful. This water, and infact this entire beach was heart achingly, heart soaringly beautiful: the verdant green landscape in the distance, the fine white sand, the grassy dunes and the relentless, hypnotic motion of the icy cold water made me feel alive. This beach was simple raw beauty.
The sand at Campeche I can only describe as luxurious. So smooth it almost felt like a piece of fine silk, just slipping off your feet with ease, it was the colour of very light stone and at room temperature, which meant that I didn’t have to burn my feet walking on it (unlike in Bali where the sand is much darker and thus almost burnt the soles of my feet right off!). The huge beach was big enough to host all who would seek to discover her and was backed by incredibly soft sand dunes, which was magic to walk through and get lost in. Some sun lovers were atop of the dunes meditating and I couldn’t think of a better place to do so. Campeche is in a protected nature reserve which gives it it it’s natural and almost private feel.
We spent an easy day lunching, sunbathing, snoozing and gazing at this wonderful beach which I could not believe had not already been discovered many times over by curious tourists. Before going home we had an Acai bowl with strawberries, kiwi, coconut and granola on the beach. I’d like to keep this one a secret but I fear it’s too late now: the secrets already out!
Brexmas? What Brexmas?
We saw that horrible coarse haired piglet looking creature again! And this time I can confirm for definite that it was not a pig, nor a big rat, but infact a combination of the 2…a very weird looking creature who had a long tail AND a snout, looking very much little like big weasel with a snout. Bloody horrible! It isn’t scary, it’s just very very odd looking! And being so hideous looking it’s not something that I was particularly keen on encountering on my evening out dressed up in my fineries for dinner. After doing some research I can now confirm what I think it is: A Javelina or a Peccary, a mammal which is a sort of hog and although very pig like, is not actually related to the pig or according to our Brazilian friends it could be an Opussum (also known as a Gamba), which is a marsupial. Tbh I have no idea what the bloody thing is. I just know that i’ve never seen anything quite like it before and there seem to be a few in our area so we are very likely to see it again!
Is it a pig? Is it a rat?..
Fast running out of suitable dining options we decided to first do some research to try and identify the top restaurants on the island as we really did not wish to be tricked again.
Marisqueira Sintra was a seafood that not only ranked highly on TripAdvisor at #14 of almost 4 thousand restaurants on the island (with consistently excellent reviews), was located in Santo Antonio De Lisboa, the colourful little village by the sea that we’d been to a few nights ago and really liked and their website looked very professional too (always a bonus). So, we were excited to have found this restaurant, convinced that finally we had found somewhere that served great food, where we could dress up and go for the night.
The restaurant didn’t have any way of us making a reservation online so we realised that we’d have to call. We crossed our fingers and hoped that whoever answered the phone could speak English (as we were certainly not advanced enough to understand beyond them responding Sim or Nao) but when they answered, I asked if they could speak any English but the man said Nao so then I knew that we were in trouble. Convinced that we were out of options if we could not get a reservation at this place we contacted our apartment manager and told him of our dilemma (we could not communicate with the staff who worked at the restaurant and we wanted to make a reservation), and kindly he offered to call them for us and make the booking. He messaged us back confirming that we had a table booked there for 9:00 pm and we thanked him and started getting ready for our big night out!
I was sure that this place with it’s great location overlooking the marina and great restaurant reviews was going to be one of those places with the kind of smart casual diners who chose this restaurant as their regular haunt. We were really looking forward to it and to be on the safe side before we’d left we’d checked out the menu so that we both had a good idea of what we were going to eat as more likely then not the menu was going to be written all in Portuguese (as you’d imagine I guess!)
When we arrived we were swiftly taken through a busy restaurant to the conservatory which looked out over the beach and the surrounding old town which was charming even at this time of the evening. The waiters seemed to know that we were English (that pesky accent had outed us again!), and we were placed on a table with one of the best views in the restaurants and then they proceeded to set about trying their best to impress, producing 2 menus with an expert flourish.
It was warm and cosy in the restaurant, the decoration tasteful with the theme being Sintra, a place in Portugal for which the restaurant was fashioned. Our waiter came over to take our order and after nodding pleasingly and saying that I’d made a fantastic choice with my selection of grilled shrimps with a creamy sauce accompanied by rice and toasted almonds, he then moved onto take Josh’s order, pointing to a dish on the menu (the most expensive on the menu no less), of a seafood platter which included shrimps aswell as other types of “freshly caught” fish, but Josh wasn’t interested.
Unbeknownst to this guy Josh had decided on what he wanted before we’d even left our apartment, but for some reason this guy wouldn’t take no for an answer. He kept on pointing at the seafood platter and telling Josh that it was fantastic, great, delicious, and even when Josh told him “Nao Gracias”, repeated the name of the dish that he wanted and pointed to it on the menu again, this guy just wouldn’t let up. I was beginning to think that it was some kind of joke, or that we, the only English in the village, were being set up, perhaps the staff thought that being English meant that we were loaded?
All the same, Josh refused to be bullied into having a dish that he did not want so he declined a third time but then the waiter just suddenly turned on his heels and went over to another table to take their order.
We both looked at each other with confusion as if to ask what went on there? Did he take our order or not? – he had left the menu with us so we really weren’t sure – but neither of us could have been more clear – I wanted the shrimp and Josh wanted the cod! It really wasn’t rocket science.
After around 10 minutes or so, between which time another waiter had brought over our starter of Whitebait Fish Calamari making me think that he had taken our full order afterall, our waiter returned again to start pointing at this seafood platter thing that he seemed so excited to promote. I was shocked that this guy who had disappeared for such a long time had now come back with the same nonsense: trying to promote this bloody dish!
Do these people get paid commission on these things now or what??
Needless to say Josh declined for a FOURTH time and was now starting to become more then a little irritated by this charade (and infact when pushed is even more unlikely to go with someone’s “suggestion”). We found the whole ordeal very odd but we were by this time so hungry that we were happy to let that go by the wayside.
Anyway, at least we had our Calamari to eat. Now this place was a seafood restaurant, located on a marina of an island with over 42 beaches, so we were expecting big things with regards to the seafood here. I was expecting the fish to be one of the freshest and tastiest I’d ever had. Alas, if the Calamari was anything to go by, the rest of the meal was unlikely to be stand out. For starters, it was too salty. Neither of us had had Whitebait fish before but we thought we’d try it as it was a fish that was native to Brazil, but the fish itself tasted far too fishy for my liking, and the batter was too salty and wasn’t crispy enough. Not a great start!
When our mains arrived I initially had higher expectations in comparison to my starter but a few mouthfuls later I was regretting having even bothered. The shrimp, though reasonably big in size was certainly not as juicy and delicious as I’ve had it in other (less seafood-centric) places. It just simply wasn’t tasty enough.
The rice was plain but had been cooked well, and having the toasted almond flakes provided good texture though again the rice had been over salted. But the worst thing was the sauce. It had been described on the website as being a “creamy” sauce which I took as being a flavoursome, creamy sauce (perhaps with a bit of spice), to go with the accompanying shrimp but instead it was more akin to a hollandaise sauce, thin and buttery and certainly not flavoursome or spicy in any way. And worse, it was warm, not hot.
In short: It tasted of butter: greasy, fatty and bloody horrible. And Josh didn’t fare any better. His cod dish which was supposed to come with an almond breadcrumb (they sure do like using the same basic ingredients!), didn’t come with any kind of coating and after his initial impression of it being okay, soon turned into horror as he realised that the fish was UNCOOKED in the middle.
What is this place about??
We looked around and saw a full restaurant with Brazilians: couples, friends, and families alike tucking into their various seafood dishes with gusto and having themselves a good ole time. There was no doubt about it: these people were ENJOYING the food.
That’s when I realised the worst: that these people simply could not cook, end of story. Their cuisine basically consists of seafood (which in our experience has NOT been fresh or tasty), filet mignon (which is the French term for a particular cut of beef (tenderloin) but that they keep bandying about trying to sound accomplished without offering any other cuts so it’s clear that they don’t even know what it is), then they have alot of sushi, probably curtesy of the very large Japanese population in Brazil (the biggest outside of Japan) , and then there’s Italian, which is basically just pizza and pasta. Bread, tomato, cheese, pasta of varying shapes and ham. End of.
This is not a varied and exciting cuisine, and based on our experiences with what they are actually supposed to be good at cooking (FRESH FISH AND SEAFOOD), it has been an absolute disaster. We have had food overcooked as was the case with our seabass in another highly rated restaurant, and now with both our shrimp and most especially the cod which was UNDERCOOKED.
What on earth is going on?!
I’d love to say that they were trying to deliberately poison us because they hate Brits or something but they genuinely seemed eager to please us, were pleased as punch that we had chosen to dine there and had the audacity of being PROUD of their food. W.T.F!
Someone needs to introduce them to some creative food ideas, help them to cultivate their own cuisine (not Italian which is Italian), use FRESH ingredients, and learn how to cook food properly (not undercook or overcook it).
Well, after hearing this you probably will be surprised to learn that after all of that we went ahead and ordered dessert. But we needed something sweet to take the sour taste from our mouths. We ordered their Portuguese Custard Tart (which is harmless by anyone’s standards), and a traditional Portuguese dessert called Baba De Camelo. Sound intriguing? – well it’s not, as when it arrived we could both immediately identify what it was the waiter, standing there with his chest puffed out with pride, was trying to give to us: A bowl of condensed milk.
No joke: the dessert was a bowl of condensed milk (you know the one you buy in Sainsbury’s and put in a pan of boiling water for a couple of hours to turn into caramel), coupled with a few sprinklings of nuts on top. Not only is that not a dessert, my Mum and Aunts use that as a topping for a much more advanced dessert: Caramel Tart, but it is also far too sweet to be one. In addition: the Portuguese Tart wasn’t nice either. We’d had a better one in the Supermarket.
Our waiter even had the audacity to ask us if we had enjoyed our meal..
What is wrong with these people???
We officially give up. If we happen to come across some decent food then we will happily eat it but after that last experience at one of their supposedly top johnny restaurants, we are both resigning ourselves to the fact that these people can’t cook. It pains me to say but it is true.
Beach Body Ready?
So, do the Brazilians live up to the hype? Are they really as #beachbodyready as everyone says? – put shortly yes, they are.
Brazilians, though they certainly can be vain and there is alot more fake boobs and bums here then I was expecting, there’s no contest really in the looks department, they really are a very goodlooking nation of people. For starters, they’re tanned. Even the Brazilians with the more European features have tanned skin so they don’t look anemic or malnourished, they have a nice healthy glow.
Secondly, they have great bodies. Even the granny’s and grandad’s have a good physique, though not necessarily all slim, they are nonetheless curvaceous in all the right places most appropriately in the bum region where they fluent it with an ease that I’m most envious of (we sure are prudish in the UK!), and then lastly but not least, they are confident. They seem to have no body hangups and carry their confidence and sensuality around with them like a familiar coat. Most of the women strut around on the beach wearing a Brazilian bikini: women of all ages not just the younger ones, and they look far better then the women on any English beach I’ve ever seen.
If I can return to blighty looking even a percentage more Brazilian then I did when I arrived then I will be very happy!
Josh and I on Campeche Beach