Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Serra Negra

So there was a holiday here in Brazil not long ago, and though we'd been talking about going somewhere, we never actually made plans to do so.

"Hey, ya wanna go somewhere for Tiradentes?"
"Sure, where ya wanna go?"
"I dunno ... where do you wanna go ..."
"Well, the Amazons would be nice ...."
"You can't fly so close to the due date."
"Oh, yeah ..."
"So where ya wanna go ...."
"I dunno .... where do you wanna go? ..."

You know those vultures from Disney's The Jungle Book? Yeah, that's us every holiday and weekend.

So the DAY OF the holiday (which happened to fall on a Thursday) we woke up miraculously motivated and decided to get proactive about it. Using our faithful google.com.br, we hunted. And called. About a million hotels. Everything booked. We did find one hotel with space, but they wanted R$2000 for three nights. Good one!

I keep forgetting that while a small percentage of Brazil is rich enough to afford vacations, there are SO MANY DANG PEOPLE HERE THAT THAT SMALL PERCENTAGE IS STILL ENORMOUS! And there's only so many places within driving distance. Most concierages just laughed at us.

But we FINALLY discovered what's supposed to be a 'charming little tourist trap' about two hours away, called Serra Negra. We were wary - the hotel was Dang Cheap, available, and came with all meals included. Hmmmmm. I packed the suitcase thinking that "at least the kids will have fun in the heated pool." I even packed my scrapbook stuff to guard against boredom.


Here's the hotel: Nathan called it Our Castle.

They provided a full-day "program" for all kids ages 4 to 12. There were four "monitors," who were college-age kids running around with underwear on their heads and entertaining dozens of children. (Prototypes for EFY counselors.) They were .... good! They had tons of activities every day, field trips, arts and crafts, etc. Our kids didn't actually participate in anything, but they did bum off some balloons ....

There was even a kids' room. I couldn't squeeze in everything in one shot, but there were tricycles, a little house, toy kitchen, doll house, etc. We stayed there one afternoon for almost two hours. Steve and I each brought books and chilled on the couch while Da Boyz played - it was heaven!

The hotel had extensive grounds, and the gardens were breathtaking. We tried to get a good family shot, but .....

So even though the hotel was made so that you didn't have to leave at ALL (more of a resort, really), we decided to check out the little town. And dude! It was a holiday! There was all kinds of stuff to do on the village square ... (I even did some shopping and got The Cutest Clothes ...)

We randomly found a ski lift and a Cristo Redentor statue (shamelessly copying Rio de Janeiro).

At the bottom of the ski lift there was a little train ... Nathan got to sit up front and toot the horn. Repeatedly.

One of the stops on the hour-long ride was an (okay, rather pathetic) little petting zoo, but was still the highlight of Nathan's LIFE. He got to feed a sheep ....

And there were pony rides, too ....

So Steve and I are highly critical of hotel breakfasts. But this one blew everyone else out of the water. They even had scrambled eggs and cereal for us weird Americans. (But truly, with everything else they had there, who wants Corn Flakes?!)

Their fruit table was amazing, but it was the astonishing collection of pastries and cakes that gave my eyes a toothache. Let's get a close-up, shall we?

They even had live entertainment for lunch and dinner. (Nathan was a fan of the 'rock star.')

Which just goes to show you that sometimes the most spontaneous, unplanned vacations are THE BEST!!!!

Or we just got lucky ...


Floyd said...

Reva, My Mom and I took a trip just days before our baby was born. Since it was only 45mins from us it was an afternoon trip, not a weekend. We drove our poor little car up that hill to see the Cristo Redentor fake. It was such a beautiful place. Good to know the hotel has such great stuff for kids. If we ever come back we'll have to stay there.

Lisa Fox said...

WOW, that sounds so great! What a fun trip. Brett and I love doing stuff like that. Here in DC there is always tons of last minute stuff to do and now that it's warm again the town is hopping again. In fact this weekend a train festival which Jillian can't wait for. Yeah and it's free.

Rocketgirl said...

Okay, Floyd is totally wrong. We went to PEDREIRA with his mom, which also has one of those tacky statues at the top of a hill. We did Serra Negra a few months later with a newborn, went up the mountain, tooka picture (http://neverdrinkthewater.blogspot.com/2006/12/more-visual-proof-that-we-make.html) - even got Solei to nurse up there (she never did it in public, remember?) and then hecaded back home. Those hotels did look fabulous though - I want to go back now!!

Elizabeth said...

Dude, that sounds awesome. *mutter* should look into airfare to Brazil *mutter*

... (I'd go just for the breakfast. Dude.)