This piece was written by Funbi.S. Two Christmases ago, she opted to visit Brazil for two weeks. Sounds like a distance and a whole lot of money travelling from Nigeria. However, she had a cost saving tip. Brazil is second home to her (having lived there for 6 months) and she opted to stay with her friends and family. This is why she chose Brazil in the first place. Her entire trip set her back less than $2000. Not bad for 2 weeks in Brazil.
Airlines: South African Airways, Turkish Airlines.
Visas: Required for Nigerian passport holder. Tourist visas takes an average of 3 weeks to process. See embassy website here.
I opted for a place where I had friends who could house me and help a sister save some money. So all I needed was ticket money and small pocket money, the solution was Brazil, because second home.
I got in touch with one of my good friends Stephanie and she was all too glad to host me and plan a fantastic 2 weeks stay in a region that I had lived in for a couple of months and no it was not Rio or Floripa or Bahia but Porto Alegre in Rio Grande Do Sul (The Serra- Gaucha region). As I am now getting old I was not looking for a club hopping holiday experience but a chilled and also a bit of adventure holiday.
I have Fibromyalgia (which is a chronic pain condition that sucks) so the goal was to have fun but at a reasonable pace. I did not want to wear myself out and end up in bed all through. I spoke to my doctor and read a lot of stuff about travelling as a Fibro patient. (Short for Fibromyalgia). I packed my bikinis and meds and was ready for 2 weeks of fun.
I was very excited because it was my first time going to Brazil for relaxation purpose! The journey was a long one; my body needed two days to recover. I started with a day at the city centre, visited the arts and culture museum. We also went to the Guaiba and took a boat ride that gave a nice view of Porto Alegre. The boat ride ended in a town that kind of reminded me of Lagos Island.
Though my host lives in POA, she planned activities that involved us visiting other parts of the region. The Serra- Gaucha region is known for the beautiful valleys, hills and scenery. The region also experiences very cold winters but December is summer time there so it was bikini season!
CHRISTMAS IN GRAMADO
First was a road trip to Gramado. This city is like mini Disneyland, the buildings look like something from a storybook. The city loves chocolates and Christmas. According to them, they have the best Christmas in the world. The “Natal Luz” (Christmas lights) is a big theme there and one is welcomed into the city entrance with big Natal Luz signs that light up at night. We walked round the city during the day; it was beautiful with Christmas décor everywhere. We went to the love fountain near the beautiful Catholic Church in the city center. (Yes I made a wish and threw a coin in the fountain).
RELAXING IN LAGOA NEGRO
Next stop was the Lagoa Negro (The black lake) very beautiful and relaxing. We wanted to see the city at night with the lights so we made reservations at a Fondue restaurant for dinner. After dinner we walked round the city one more time before heading to our home for the night, which was an amazing cabin a little bit out of the city.
P.S Snowland is also another place to visit in Gramado, we did not visit because we had all been there. It’s a very nice place with ice skate ring and other artificial snow games activities.
After the exciting time at Gramado, we headed to Carlos Barbosa for Christmas day, plus all the excitement from the visit had left me a bit exhausted. Spent Christmas eve having dinner with my Brazilian family and took some time to recover. My friends planned another road trip on Boxing Day. We went to Torres, a place known for their balloon festivals and beautiful beaches. I was too scared to try any activity that involved me in the skies flying over the ocean. So I chilled by the beach, drank beer, walked around, read a book. It was super relaxing just what I wanted. We had the best seafood lunch in a cheap restaurant and then we had to walk over a bridge to get to the restaurant but hunger made me conquer my fear!
We spent the night in the city of Tramandai, where my friend’s dad had an apartment just by the beach. It was an amazing way to end our “beach day”.
CHILLING BY THE COUNTRYSIDE
The final days of my 2 weeks vacation was spent at the “Sitou” (Countryside/farmhouse) with a bunch of friends, away from wifi and the city. There was a pool, and a lake and the scenery was breathtaking! (The Serra- Gaucha region will make you forget Lagos traffic and wahala). The others camped near the lake at night but I chose to sleep in the house throughout our stay. In the mornings, we would play in the lake in our bikinis and then just listen to music and drink the rest of the day.
I have had stressful holidays but this one was a “chill-cation” no unnecessary stress and headache. I loved every bit of it and was glad that despite the economy I was able to manage a little getaway. Thanks to my friends and family who totally took away my accommodation and feeding costs!
Saving on accommodation and staying with friends and family is the reason why most Nigerians will opt for longer holidays in countries like the U.S and the U.K. You end up paying nothing on accommodation and you can have a fantastic holiday (if you want to). We have used this tip one too many times. We never pay for accommodation when visiting the U.K, the U.S or Canada. We are hoping to add more countries to that pile. What other cost saving tips (saving on accommodation) have you explored? We would love to read from ya!