Guys I am going to shock you here. Like really blow your mind. Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan.
Yeah, I know. Hard to believe when you’re a Tracy Flick loving, organizational spreadsheet making, perpetually over-planning-yet-somehow-still-a-scattered-helpless-hot-mess like I am. But every once in a while those plans just really go off the rails. Sometimes the weather is relentlessly terrible, sometimes your professional life crumbles at very inconvenient times, sometimes a dream trip you’ve been planning since you were thirteen is peppered with daily disasters.
Some of you may have picked up that yeah — I’m talking about my trip to Brazil. And yup, it really boiled over when we got to Buzios. The day that we returned from diving, Heather and I went to check in for our flights to the final leg of our trip, a crazy whirlwind three days and two nights at Iguaçu Falls. I was stressed out from trying to decide what to do with my last week of travel after Heather left and exhausted from weeks of already being on the road. When I looked at the forecast and saw nothing but relentless thunderstorms for the next week in Iguaçu, I almost burst into tears.
We had had crazy downpour in Paraty. We had had rain in Rio. We had had drizzly days in Buzios. We couldn’t handle any more rain at a freakin’ waterfall, of all places.
So I did something crazy, something this type-A planner is not likely to do.
We skipped our flight.
And DAMN, did it feel good. I am not one to throw money down the drain no matter how small the sum, and I am not one to veer from the plan, no matter how awful a plan it seems when it comes time to execute. So this was a very big deal.
We traded an insanely ambitious 72 hours of non-stop travel and sightseeing for an extra night in Buzios and an extra night in Rio before our flights, an absolute luxurious bliss of near nothing-ness. I swear, it was the best decision I made in all of Brazil — as we booked an extra night in our hostel and headed out to a celebratory dinner, I was actually giddy.
I was free of the terrible professional situation that had been haunting me. I was free of the bad weather. I was free of the questionable itinerary I’d created for us. I was so flippin’ free.
And I was thrilled to have another night in Buzios, which I’d been stressed out feeling like we were short-changing. Between the work awkward-ness of our first few days and the bad weather that had delayed our diving and put cancelled two straight days of our plans, we’d hardly gotten to explore this highly-anticipated destination.
Can you even imagine a cuter place to enjoy our newfound liberation than the waterfront Nomad Hostel?
At 210R ($67US) per night, our room wasn’t exactly the cheapest room I’ve ever booked. But for a private bathroom, a nice included breakfast, an oceanfront balcony, and the most central location a backpacker could ask for, it represented pretty good value for bougie Buzios. And dorms are available for those who have a little tighter of a budget.
With our newfound day and night by the sea, we strolled the waterfront at sunset, more relaxed than we’d felt in ages. While I’m not much of a shopper, even I couldn’t resist the adorable boutiques of Buzios, and ended up with a new dress — and an adorably endearing hug from the salesgirl at check-out.
We had a celebratory dinner at Salt, where we ordered Thai curries and toasted to our new plans.
No longer shackled to a before-sunrise wake up call to get back to Rio for our flights, we finally got the chance to experience Buzios’s wild nightlife and danced the hours away at Privilege, an overpriced, high society nightclub along the waterfront.
The next morning, we braced our hangovers for to check one last thing off our Buzios bucket lists — renting a buggy and exploring the peninsula’s dozens of beaches. This is pretty much the thing to do in Buzios, and it was bordering on criminal that we hadn’t gotten the chances to do so yet.
Confession: we got a pretty late start on the day. Considering the cost of buggies — our rental was $20US each for the day and we also spent $7US each on gas and $5US each on parking — I’d recommend snagging one the second the rental companies open, or even better blocking off two or more full days to play. We were leaving the next morning for Rio but didn’t waste a moment lamenting our lack of buggy hours — after all, it already felt like we were on gifted time.
Our first stop was the beautiful rumored tide pools of Praia de Ferradurinha.
Perhaps the tide was really high or perhaps we went the wrong way, but we didn’t actually find a beach. We couldn’t have cared less though, captivated as we were by the gorgeous local scenery. The place was pretty much deserted aside from a local fisherman who enthusiastically showed us his catches and told us a long, dramatic story with so much passion that it didn’t matter to any of us that we didn’t understand a single word.
On the way back to the main road, we stopped briefly at popular Praia de Geriba so I could photograph some colorful buggies and swan floats that reminded me of a Gray Malin photograph.
The next few hours were a blur of beaches, viewpoints, and colorful vignettes we pulled over on the side of the road to photograph. Buzios had such a different climate and feel from anywhere else we’d been in Brazil; it was as if we’d somehow driven our buggy all the way to Aruba.
The sun setting at around 5:30 meant that we often ate lunch only a few hours before sunset. Such was the case on this lazy day, when we drove along Praia de Tartaruga until we stumbled on the adorable Restaurante Tartaruga, where we watched beach-goers start to pack up for the day and head to their sunset spots.
Eventually, we did the same, working our way towards the pier at Praia Manguinhos, Buzios’s most famed location for sending off the sun. The busy beachfront here was packed with chic boutiques and bars, a world away from the remote stretches of sand we’d spent the day exploring.
We decided to forgo the hustle and bustle — we were late to snag a prime seat, anyway — and walked to the end of the pier to dangle our feet over the edge and wait for the sky to catch on fire.
After, it was a mad rush to return our buggy by the inconvenient hour of 6 (it would be nice if they gave you an hour post-sunset), reconfirming my suspicious that it’s best to take the buggy for at least two days.
The second half of our time in Buzios was a really happy high point for me in Brazil. With its close proximity to Rio, it’s amazing beaches, the great diving nearby, the indulgent nightlife and all the rest of the hedonistic fun on offer, I can’t imagine leaving it off any itinerary.
Am I sad I didn’t get to see Iguaçu Falls? Kind of… but I also kind of know it will still be there when I eventually boomerang my way back to South America. And so why make myself miserable trying to fit it into this one trip? I’ll always be grateful to Buzios for reminding me that sometimes an impulsive decision is the best one, and that sometimes plans really are made to be broken.
Next up, back to Rio!
We were full-paying guests at Nomad Hostel and all other businesses mentioned in this post.
i’d love to travel with you, it looks so fun!
Aw, thanks Kirsten! That’s a great compliment 🙂
As much as I love to plan and look forward to a trip, spontaneity it necessary! Good for you for slowing down and enjoying Brazil fully. Buzios looks like a great place to chill out, awesome hostel!
Probably our favorite hostel we stayed at in Brazil, actually! Not super social but we didn’t find many that were 🙂 At least it was gorgeous!
We faced a similar situation when we traveled to Panama. It was pouring in Bocas del Toro, so we skipped that part of our trip. I tried to pretend like we will be back one day, but we won’t. There are too many other countries we want to see.
I saw “oh I’ll do that when I come back” to myself all the time as a comfort! Though I have to say, I have a track record of going to the same countries over and over (and over!) again, so in my case I actually might at some point, ha ha.
“A blur of beaches, viewpoints and colourful vignettes.”
Sounds absolutely beautiful Alex 🙂
Thanks Janice! Buzios was blissful!
It looks like the sudden change of plans really worked out for you guys! Rain can really sometimes be the last straw when it comes to travelling!
Indeed! I don’t mind a day of it every once in a while — sometimes it’s a good excuse to stay in, enjoy my accommodation and get some work done! — but when it starts becoming the norm, I definitely start stressing. And when it comes to an outdoor world wonder… nope, there’s no point going if there aren’t going to be blue skies.
I have a sort-of similar travel story that actually occurred today. After traveling by non-luxurious Russian train for 22 hours, I searched for my hostel for 20 minutes. I looked like such a fool asking every fifth person for directions and walking past the McDonald’s mentioned in the hostel’s directions 30 times. I even called the hostel, and the receptionist hung up on me. Finally, I found the (wrong) hostel. Guests were walking around with ice cream and there’s a free sauna for guests. Needless to say, I booked my stay and never found the other hostel. 650 roubles wasted and another 1300 roubles spent, but I’m enjoying my FaceTime sessions with well-working wifi, smell of homemade ice cream, and thoughts of a sauna tomorrow. Sometimes, plans are made to be broken!
Girl, it sounds like you MADE OUT in this situation! What’s a few roubles when we’re talking wifi and homemade ice cream?! I’d have done the same 🙂
oh, that view!! That hostel looks awesome!
Right?! Might have been a little pricey for a backpacker budget, but where else can you get a view that amazing for that price…
Sometimes the best plans are cancelled plans!
Normally I wouldn’t always agree, but after this experience, I certainly do 😉
All these photos made me wish I was there, that hotel room was pretty cheap by Aussie standards here you pay around $80-150 for a hotel room
Oh yeah, it’s definitely cheap by American standards too! I guess I should be more specific… it only seems a bit pricey compared to other South American countries I’ve traveled to (and compared to Thailand of course, ha ha!) Especially considering it wasn’t high season. But for an oceanfront room, I can’t complain!
It honestly hurts my heart in a good way (kind of) to read these posts and see these pictures. I’m sure you have picked up on my love affair with Brazil.
Anyways I am very happy you got to stick around an extra day in Buzios.
Love love love the pictures if only they didn’t make me want to book flights immediately
Oh man, just wait till I get to Jericoacoara… that’s where MY love affair began!
Ah the giddy rush of a last-minute plan change. I love it!
I admit I don’t do it very often. This might have changed my mind — we were euphoric!
Glad to hear you finally had a decent time in Brazil by spontaneously adding an extra day to your time in Buzios! I did the same thing in Panama this January and dropped Santa Catalina off my itinerary entirely to spend two extra days in Boquete and an extra night in Panama City before my flight back home. I realize now that three nights in Boquete followed by three nights in Santa Catalina was a little overambitious, so it was definitely a good decision!
Don’t get me wrong, we definitely had great times in Brazil before this 🙂 They were all just somewhat overshadowed by this big professional blunder I was suffering through, as well as some other issues. This was just when I finally felt free! And it was so glorious!
And yes, Santa Catalina is so remote, sounds like you made the right call!
I overplan everything, but I do admit that my absolute favorite travel moments are the times where it didn’t quite go according to plan, or maybe the plan got thrown out the window entirely! Buzios sounds like a cool place to chill for a few days, looks like you made the right choice to stay there a bit longer
Right?! In a perfect world we would have had even one more (or just sun the first few days we were there!)
You truly have such awesome adventures! I’m glad you were able to let go when your plans changed – it can be freeing, like you said.
It just had to happen 🙂 While the falls would have been wonderful — they’ll always be there for a future trip!
I have googles dune buggies in Buzios and nothing comes up except blogs. Is it easy to rent them? Where are they located? Is there a website where we could book in advance.
We are only there for one day as it’s a stop on a cruise.
Hi Ellen! I think a lot of things are tough to plan ahead for in Brazil especially if you don’t speak Portuguese. We just walked in and rented day of. Good luck!