Where We Be
Manaus, Brazil
When we first started planning our one-month
trip to Brazil, it quickly became apparent that
driving between destinations was not a good
option: the distances were simply too great and
the terrain in places virtually impassable. As
the fifth largest country in the world, Brazil is
slightly bigger than the contiguous U.S. (slightly
smaller if you throw in Alaska). So for this trip
we booked a series of one-way domestic flights
starting in Manaus in the north and working our
way south towards Rio. This approach worked
well and let us start our trip off with a bang with
some fun adventures in the Amazon.

We planned one week in the Amazon and that
was just about right. It let us cruise up the
world's largest river, get a small taste of the
world's biggest rainforest, visit an indigenous
village, see plenty of wildlife, and stay in a
remote jungle ecolodge. Manaus itself is worth
a visit if for no other reason than it's a city of 2
million people plopped down in the middle of
the jungle! At its historic heart is the Teatro
Amazonas, an opera house you'd swear came
straight out of Paris. Manaus was even called
the "Paris of the Tropics" back in its heydey in
the late 1800s when the rubber barons were
king. So let's take a quick spin through the city
before we venture out into the rainforest.
We stayed at the Go Inn Manaus which we'd recommend for its terrific location just a block or two away from
the Teatro, its air-conditioned rooms, reasonable prices (about $45 per night), and full breakfast (included)
At night the Teatro is lit up and the place is
hopping with locals enjoying the cool evening
People watching on the square is fun both day and night
The Church of San Sebastian (Igreja Sao Sebastiao) is
adjacent to the Teatro and helps anchor the main square
The inside is every bit as opulent as the outside
We took a tour in English and enjoyed the ornate curving balconies and plush
interior. Performances are held in the evenings throughout most of the year.
Speaking of which, if you like fish, be sure to
visit Tambaqui de Banda just off the square
The specialty of the house is the namesake tambaqui de banda. They cut the tambaqui in half and
grill it. The fish is uber-tender and boneless except for a few unmissable rib bones. It costs R$ 55 (~$14)
for a medium tambaqui which is plenty for two. Wash it down with a Caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail.
Rubber was so prized in the late 1800's that fortunes were made here. The rubber barons
spared no expense in building their Paris of the Tropics, including this grand opera house.
The central square outside the theater is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists
alike. Here's where to come for gelato, popcorn, impromptu concerts, and fine meals.
Here's the theater -- the Teatro Amazonas -- and would you ever guess
this beautiful building was located deep in the heart of the Amazon?
Seeing all of Brazil in one trip is about as hard as seeing all of the U.S. in one trip. For this visit
we focused on the Amazon, Brasilia (the capital), the Pantanal, Iguassu Falls, two colonial
towns, and of course Rio. The beaches of Brazil's northeast will have to wait until next time.
We loved the sinuous cobblestone
design on the main plaza
The streets surrounding the plaza
are lovely and feel quite safe
The Church of San Sebastian (Igreja Sao Sebastiao) is
adjacent to the Teatro and helps anchor the main square