Say you’re an editor at a travel magazine, and you’re getting married. Your friends and family are all so excited, and keep asking you about the details: The location, the food, the music, and yup, the honeymoon. I fortunately had all of those first details squared away for my recent nuptials fairly early on. But when it came time to find a honeymoon locale, I was overwhelmed to the point of near-paralysis with the decision-making process. Air fares to Europe were exorbitant, and it was the rainy season in most of Southeast Asia. Tim and I had already traveled in the Caribbean and Mexico, I’d been to Hawaii, and we both had just spent two weeks in Morocco late last year. We didn’t want to use up precious honeymoon time dealing with jet lag. And we wanted something different but not drastic, far-flung but fairly accessible, with beaches and cities and the opportunity to do a lot or nothing at all, depending on how we felt each day. I was flummoxed.
Enter Stefan Caiafa, our Brazilian-Danish art designer at Traveler, (who regrettably left us early this year when his green card expired.
Luckily, he has moved back to Europe, where in the course of his many exploits he has been sending me lovely postcards). Stefan is exceedingly well traveled, so when I was asking him for advice on where to honeymoon, and mentioned that I was contemplating Brazil, he put his finger on the map and said “Here. This is my favorite place on Earth.”
This is not a statement to be taken lightly, so I had him move his finger and noticed the name of a city on the coast halfway between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo: Paraty.
It kind of trickled off the tongue (it’s pronounced Para-chi in Portuguese) and sounded a bit like Paris and paradise. Both good things. We pulled up photos from his friend’s recent visit: Small Crayola-colored boats docked in a harbor. Grilled fish lunches eaten at tiny island restaurants out in the bay. Cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings with rainbow windowsills. Artists and poets in residence, and an annual literary festival. A colonial history that involved gold, pirates, and cachaça, a Brazilian blend of firewater. I was hooked. I booked our flight. I was honeymooning in Brazil.
I built my plans around Paraty, and am just back from a fabulous stay. So thanks to Stefan for his insight, and stay tuned for more posts from my trip. (I said I wouldn’t work during the honeymoon, but there’s far too much fun stuff not to share it.)
Photo: Janelle Nanos