Florianopolis is a medium sized city on the island of Santa Catarina. It is connected to the mainland by a bridge. We stayed about an hour drive from the main city in a small town called Barra de Lagoa. It had the feel of a surfing town, with many lovely beaches. However, there was no surf to be seen. We stayed at the Banana Beach Hostel. It was quite nice and the staff were really helpful. They also offered one free Caipirinha every night. Caipirinhas are an alcoholic drink made from sugar cane liquor, mixed with limes and ice. They are amazing! The hostel bar was open until midnight every night. Unfortunately our room was directly under the pool table and all night people kept dropping pool balls on the floor, which was similar to being jabbed with an electric prodder.
The Barra area consists of a few cobble stoned streets and a canal. The canal is tidal and fills a lake about 5kms away in Lagoa. We stayed on the far side of the river, which meant crossing a foot bridge and walking along the foot roads. No cars could reach this area. The houses were all quite close together and had the feel of a favela, without the associated problems.
We spent a lot of our time swimming at the various local beaches. Katie got stung by a jellyfish within a few hours of arriving at the main beach, so we avoided that beach for the rest of our time there. Luckily we had plenty of others to choose from. There was a small beach along the foot road by our hostel called Prainha. There we found a dog that could surf and made friends with a girl called Clara from Seattle. There was also some large rocks further along the path that you could jump off.
One of the days we took a boat trip to the small island of Ilha do Campeche that was also a nature reserve. As the island was protected there wasn’t much you could do without a guide, so we spent the day drinking cheap beer, swimming and lazing in the sun. The island also had the strangest animal; like a large racoon. We saw them as we were eating a delicious local fish and prawn dish.
We had to go to Lagoa as Barra had no ATM and we had run out of cash. The bus took ages due to traffic, so we decided not to return too quickly. It was one of the hottest days yet, maybe 35 degrees, and we spotted a dark English pub. It looked like a nice retreat from the heat, so we sat at the bar and ordered a bucket of beer. Needless to say we sat there merrily for the rest of the day.
One of the highlights of our time in Florianopolis was a trip to the Agua Show Park. This is a waterslide park. We were concerned that it was intended for children, but no one understood our questions when we asked about it, so we took a risk. It turned out to be great! There were all sorts of crazy slides, ranging from whirly ones to straight drops. Some were truly terrifying and even the bravest of us let out a scream or two. It took us most of the day to ride every slide at least once. By the end of the day we felt like drowned rats, but had heaps of fun!
Our final day was spent in the main city, as we waited for our bus. We explored the landmark Hercelio Luz suspension bridge, which was closed to the public for repairs. We also found a huge jsndal market. Thousands of them for sale in these tiny little stalls in long enclosed corridors. There were also some fake electronic equipment and other bits and bobs. We also saw the cathedral and had pastels and fancy beer at a cute little cafe.
We ventured back to the bus terminal to have showers before our 15 hour bus trip to Iguacu Falls. Our towels were all smelling pretty funky by now, so when the showers came with hire towels we were all pretty excited. The shower was amazing and was worth the 5 reals ($2.5 NZD) that it cost us.