Discovering Brazil’s historic northeast

Refreshed by the natural wonders of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, travel specialists took a three-hour drive to the historic city of São Luís, before heading back to Fortaleza for some pre-flight ‘R&R’.

Occupying a position on north-west edge of the Ilha de São Luís (Saint Louis’ Island) overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and St Mark’s Bay, São Luís has a special history as the only Brazilian state capital to be founded by France – until the French were ousted by the Portuguese.

The travel specialists have spent a week exploring northeast Brazil
The travel specialists have spent a week exploring northeast Brazil

Walking the streets of the UNESCO-listed historic centre as their guide told stories of colonial conquests and foreign ships being caught out and marooned by the curious tidal shifts of St Mark’s Bay, the team of travel specialists enjoyed an afternoon floating along cobblestone streets lined with centuries-old pastel-painted buildings and beautiful tiled façades. There is much to admire in this network of streets, not least the sheer abundance of fine historic buildings – both the crumbling derelict structures and the wonderfully restored properties.

Although the revived beauty of the renovated buildings is certainly pleasing, it is the ambience of faded grandeur created by the copious derelict residences that really give this place a special character: crumbling paint and unruly plant-life reclaiming empty window frames – the imagination-provoking power of vacancy and romance of dereliction is strong in this Centro Histórico de São Luís. With some two thousand-odd properties waiting to be renovated it looks set to retain its magic for some time yet. Continued on P3…

The historic centre of Sao Luis
The historic centre of Sao Luis

Having traversed the Route of Emotions over the course of an action-packed, and incredibly rewarding, week, the team of travel specialists were flown approximately one hour, 40 minutes from São Luís to Fortaleza (which allowed for a fascinating aerial view of the vast sands and dunes of the Lençóis Maranhenses) for a day at the resort hotel of Dom Pedro Laguna Hotel as they awaited their evening flight back to Europe. This edge-city beach resort boasts 200 metres of seafront and is a place for pure relaxation when one is tired of exploring – although the 18-hole golf course does provide for some leisurely activity.

At the culmination of a busy and action-packed trip, Sarah Frankish of Rainbow Tours told Travel Daily about her experiences; “Northeast Brazil is a remote region – a magical, natural paradise. This tour is perfect for adventure lovers who want to experience natural beauty at its best and seek less trodden paths; whether travelling by jeep along windswept beaches and even crossing rivers on log rafts. The accommodation along the way is simple and lovingly created in harmony with the environment.”

The group on a layover in Lisbon
The group on a layover in Lisbon

This correspondent flew TAP to Fortaleza via Lisbon and enjoyed a decadent Portuguese business class menu, which included such refined highlights as pumpkin soup with a sublime beetroot mousse. Further gastronomic treats included the stone bass main course with zucchini cream and broad beans, followed by a glorious Monte Da Vinha cheese washed down with a glass of Graham’s 10-year-old tawny port. Expectations are always raised when flying with airlines from wine producing countries, with the potential for serious treats from the terroir and, aside from the guaranteed excellence of the Douros, the Alentejo whites that were served onboard were certainly memorable.

With a five-hour layover in Lisbon on the return to London, the team took the opportunity for one final excursion with a spontaneous jaunt into central Lisbon. A mere half-hour ride in a taxi and one is sat admiring the decorative tile work of Lisbon’s lanes and walls, whilst sipping coffee and biting into the famous Portuguese custard tart: nata.

TAP flights allow for a layover in Lisbon of up to 72 hours on the same ticket – a fine way to end a continent-crossing adventure.

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The TAP / Del Bianco fam trip took place March 23rd – 30th 2017, with 8 UK-based product managers, product executives and sales consultants visiting Fortaleza, Jericoacoara, Delta das Américas, Lençóis and São Luís.

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