Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Vila Velha

So on to the pictures from our holiday weekend! We spent some time in Vitória, Vila Velha, and Guardapari. I will devote one entry to each area. I'll start with all the good stuff and then explain my earlier comment about the challenges we faced, cases of just plain old bad luck, total screw ups on our part, and how dadgum unhelpful some of the Capixabas (people from the area) were.
We passed the majority of our four day weekend in Vila Velha which is just South of Vitória in the state of Espírito Santo. On our last trip in November, we got a room at Hotel Hostess right on Praia da Costa which we were happy with, but it was nothing special. This time we decided to try Pousada Itatiaia which is just a short walk south on Praia de Itapoã. It was simple, but very clean, comfortable, and in a great location. And we sure couldn't beat the price at R$75 (US$45) per night for a beachfront room with a view!

The view from our room's window

There are a series of rock outcroppings along the coast here.

Me + Sand + Sun + Fresh Coconut Water = Pure Bliss

A nice perk is that the chairs and umbrellas are free on Praia de Itapoã. They are supplied by different little food stands along the sidewalk who then send boys around to bring you any food or drink that your little heart desires. It's a pretty good marketing strategy since almost everyone on the beach congregated to the area for the chairs and umbrellas; the food stands were getting tons of business! (And it is always nice not to actually have to get off your behind when you need a nice cold coconut or skewer of grilled beef! Now, if only those boys would fan me with a palm leaf and feed me some grapes . . .)
We were once again reminded of the difference in tipping customs here too. When the left the beach the first day, we handed the kid (he was maybe 14 years old) who had been waiting on us a few Reais for his service. He had set up our chairs and umbrella for us, checked back on us regularly, and brought us drinks and food as we ordered it. As Eric was trying to hand the kid the tip money, we had to explain what it was for. The boy was really confused and kept asking what we wanted. We finally got him to realize that the money was just for him to keep as we thanked him for everything. Tipping is so rarely expected here (outside of restaurants anyway, but there it is 10% and is usually included as a separate line item on the bill) that we often catch people off guard when we try to tip them! More than once we've had to run down a bellhop after he carried our bags to our room for us, and the girls who do my nails always seem surprised when I give them a tip. In the US, people tend to stand around and wait for you to tip them before they leave.

We really like the beach in Vila Velha. There is a nice wide flat area and then there is a short, steep incline down to the water.

The waves are usually pretty nice too. The picture below was taken exactly 0.78 seconds before the kid on the bottom left was completely rolled by that crashing wave.

Since we had four full days this time, we did a lot more exploring in and around the city than we did on our last quick trip there. On Friday afternoon, we went over to Convento da Penha. It is a church and convent built back in 1558 on top of a large mountain in Vila Velha.
You can drive up to the top, pay R$2 for a ride if you come there by bus, or just walk. We chose to take the walking trail. (My hubby complained that I was walking too slow up the hill, but I think the blurry picture is a good indication that I was moving along just fine. And um, HELLO, he is behind me in the picture here!)

After a brisk uphill walk, we reached the parking lot and got our first good view of the convento. It is quite literally poured over the top of the bare stone peak!

Once we arrived at the top, the views were incredible!

I was excited to watch the sunset from our peak high above the city!

But just as it was getting good, we got kicked out. They were trying to lock up.

I was able to get one more picture before we were forced to descend down into the forested walkway.

One of our favorite things about Vila Velha is how well lit the beachfront is and how the locals all hang out there after dark. There are a lot of places in this country where it is considered not-so-safe to be on the beach after dark, but here that is when everything really comes to life! We enjoyed being able to go for night time walks in the sand and sit and watch the moonrise.


Justin said...

Great pics! I wish I had gotten to spend more time around Vitoria when I was in Espirito Santo. It was the cleanest and prettiest city that I went to down there. Beautiful setting with the hills right beside the beach!

Anathalia said...

Hi Emily! Once I came here because Rio Gringa talked about you in her blog and since then I come here regularly.
This time I had to post a comment! I'm from Vila Velha and your pictures just broke my heart! Saudaaaaades!!!
I can see you enjoyed your stay there. I wish I knew you were going there before. All my family is in Vila Velha. They could've helped you guys with whatever were your problems... So next time you already know you can count on them!
Um abraço!

Jeremy Sarber said...

Incredible photos!