Our time in August was split between Cuba and Brazil.
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We wrapped up our 3.5 week adventure around Cuba with a visit to the beautiful mountainous region of the Valley of Viñales. We loved the lush green scenery in Viñales and enjoyed exploring the valley on horseback and on foot, visiting a tobacco plantation, and taking in the scenic views.
From there (after one last stop in Havana), we made our way to Brazil! After being so secluded from the outside world for 3.5 weeks in Cuba, landing in Rio de Janeiro was a much-welcomed change of pace.
We arrived in Rio amidst the Olympics and loved being a part of the action for a week. We went to a few Olympic events, spent some time at the Olympic Boulevard and enjoyed bonding with some locals over beers while cheering for Brazil in various Olympic events.
From Rio, we traveled south to check out one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders of the world – the Iguazu Falls, and then made our way north visiting the cities of Salvador, Recife, and Olinda before finishing off the month on the island of Fernando de Noronha.
Cuba: Viñales, Havana
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Foz du Iguazu, Salvador, Recife, Olinda, Fernando de Noronha
Modes of Transportation
8 flights, 1 overnight bus ride, and lots of Uber rides (we love Uber!)
After one incredibly uncomfortable overnight bus from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, we decided that to make the most of our month in Brazil it was well with it to get around this massive country by plane rather than by more overnight bus trips.
Our monthly total came to $2,878, or roughly $93/ day. While we’d love to celebrate our accomplishment of staying on budget this month, the truth is we couldn’t have done it on our own.
The truth is that Max’s mom has recently joined us on our travels and has been covering our accommodation and treating us to meals for the last week or so. She met up with us on our last day in Rio and will be with us for the remainder of our time in Brazil.
Visiting the Valley of Viñales was definitely the highlight of our time in Cuba, but we can’t think of many other experiences that would beat our visit to Iguazu Falls.
The falls were by far the most memorable and amazing destination not just of this month but of all of our travels in 2016 thus far. Visiting the falls from the Brazilian side was great, but the views and our experience of going under the falls on the Argentinian side were absolutely incredible. It’s really is a magical place and a bucket list item that we recommend that everyone adds to their list.
While there were a couple of little annoyances throughout the month (like that time we got stung with a hefty bill at the Argentinian border on route to the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls when we realised that Canadians required to pay $80 fee to enter into Argentina ) but the biggest lowlight of the month happened just a few days ago during our time on Fernando de Noronha in Brazil.
We signed up for a long 5-6 hour trek around the island without realizing that the trek would take us along 3.5 kms the rocky shoreline without any trails. The hike was labeled as difficult but we had failed to inquire about the extent of its difficulty and realized (albeit too late) that hopping from rock to rock for 3.5 kms was going to be an incredibly difficult task for me given my recent injury.
Combine the challenge of unstable rocks with a storm that hit us along the way, a rising tide, and huge waves that were crashing into the rocks just a few feet from where we were “walking” and you might start to understand why that trek turned out to be one of the scariest experiences we’ve had while traveling. Max held my hand the entire time, comforted me through my numerous breakdowns, and was the sole reason why we made it through without any injuries. It reminded us of how lucky we are to have each other and to be able to rely on each other in good times and in bad.
The title of our favourite accommodation in the month of August goes to the little apartment we rented in Havana for the last few days in Cuba. But it wasn’t the room itself that made an impact on us during the 3 days we spent there, it was the brilliant location right near Obispo Street that allowed us to discover a whole new part of Old Havana we didn’t get a chance to see during our visit stop in Havana at the beginning of our trip.
We were close to lots of shops, restaurants, and to the beautiful Plaza Vieja – our favourite spot in all of Havana. It also helped that our Airbnb host, the lovely Gladys, was by far the most helpful and insightful host we had throughout our time in Cuba.
If you are planning a trip to Cuba, we highly recommend that you stay with Gladys in Havana.
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When it comes to food, Cuba was good, but it was nothing compared to the culinary experiences we’ve been having in Brazil. We have discovered lots of new dishes and flavours to add our list of favourites in Brazil and have actually struggled to narrow down our list of favourite to just one meal. We agreed on 2.
For Max, it was Ceviche con Maracuja (Ceviche with Passion Fruit) that we had at the O Pico restaurant in Fernando de Noronha, and for me, it was the Grilled Salmon with cheese and sesame seeds that we had at the xx restaurant in the town of Olinda. If there is one thing we have learned about Brazil over the last few weeks, it’s that the northeast coast offers some amazing seafood choices!
Here are the most popular posts from the blog published in August:
- The Ultimate Europe Itinerary for First Time Visitors – in which we share our suggestions for the best cities to visit on a 3+ week trip to Europe.
- 8 Destinations to Include in Your Morocco Trip Itinerary – in which we break down 8 destinations in Morocco that we visited in 2015 and share our reasons for why each one is worth a spot on your Morocco trip itinerary.
- Why Now is the Time to Travel to Cuba – in which we share our reasons for why we think you should add Cuba to your Travel Bucket List.
- Cuba Travel Tips: What You Need to Know Before Traveling to Cuba– in which we share our best tips for those planning a trip to Cuba!
Here are the new vlogs posted on our YouTube Channel this month:
- Episode 6: Havana, Cuba – This is the first vlog from our time in Cuba. In this Episode, we arrive in Havana and spend a few days exploring the city’s colonial architecture, its beautiful seafront (Malecon), and ride around in an old American convertible checking out Havana’s biggest historical attractions
- Episode 7: Cuba – Cienfuegos to Santiago de Cuba – In this Episode, we check out the town of Cienfuegos, a small but beautiful city just 3 hours south of Havana, drink lots of delicious cocktails, and endure a loooong and painful journey to Santiago de Cuba, just in time for the biggest Carnaval in the Caribbean.
- Episode 8: Cuba – Baracoa & East Havana – In this Episode, we spend our time exploring a small town of Baracoa, checking out a few local beaches, and exploring the Alejandro Humboldt National Park. To cap off the week, we booked ourselves into an all-inclusive hotel in East Havana for a few days of pool fun, beach, and sun…
- Episode 9: Viñales Valley, Cuba – In this Episode, we travel west to the Valley of Viñales, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Fidel Castro’s favorite place in Cuba. We explore the valley on a horseback riding tour, check our underground caves, visit a tobacco plantation, smoke some cigars, and enjoy lots of hiking and time outdoors in a beautiful karst mountain setting.
We’ve got another week left here in Brazil. We are making our way further north hoping to visit the city of Fortaleza, a small beach town of Jericoacoara, and the incredible Lençóis Maranhenses National Park before we switch gears and head to Eastern Europe. We’ve got exciting to spend 3 weeks in Croatia, 2 of those on sailing along the Dalmatian Coast (think Yacht week, but on our own terms 😉 ) and another week exploring Croatia by car. We still don’t have a return flight back from Europe, so you never know where our travels might take us after Croatia!
As always you can follow our adventures in real time on Facebook, Instagram, and now on Snapchat (@drinkteatravel)!