By Andrea Bailey
I watch unperturbed as my husband of nine years wraps his arms around Brigitte Bardot in a tender embrace, blissfully unaware of passers-by.
Ms. Bardot doesn’t seem to mind a bit as she sits gazing out at the turquoise ocean. It could be that she has grown accustomed to the attention, sitting there unblinking and completely motionless.
Welcome to Ms. Bardot’s getaway of Buzios in Brazil where the sun is mellow and each moment is measured in the echo of the waves.
Playground for the Rich and Famous
Buzios is a chic beach resort town perched on the eastern edge of Brazil looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Rio de Janeiro.
Buzios lies just over the Tropic of Capricorn and is called the St. Tropez of Brazil. It is now a playground for the rich and famous with celebrity-owned properties dotting the beachside landscape.
At the outset, the Portuguese ruled throughout Brazil, but in 1550 French pirates brought slaves into the Buzios coves and smuggled Pau-Brazil or Brazilwood back to France with the help of local Tamoio Indians.
It wasn’t until 65 years later in 1615 that the French were finally driven away by the Portuguese and the Tamoio Indians massacred by the newly elected Governor of Rio de Janeiro.
A Foolproof Plan
In 1964, three centuries after the French first arrived on Brazilian shores they paid another visit to Buzios, this time in the form of actress and screen siren Brigitte Bardot.
Hounded by the paparazzi, Brigitte and her boyfriend Bob Zagury escaped to Buzios. A foolproof plan was hatched. A photographer friend would capture their Brazilian holiday and share the photos with the press on the condition that they would not pursue her anymore.
The plan worked like a charm and a love story between a woman and a tropical paradise began. The buzz about this sleepy fishing village grew and it became known as Ms. Bardot’s secret hideaway.
It is in her honor that a bronze sculpture now sits on Orla Bardot or Bardot Boulevard, a delightful cove lined with boutiques, restaurants and pousadas (family run hotels).
Room with a View
Our cozy room in Hotel Abracadabra has a stunning view of the bay. Overlooking the harbour where small fishing boats gently bob over shimmering waters and jade green trees fan the coastline for as far as the eye can see, we settle down on deck chairs listening to the sound of the waves.
Somewhere on the street below soft samba rhythms drift on the breeze. Numerous hotels and pousadas dot the peninsula and rooms are available for budget travelers as well as for those wishing to ‘do the grand’.
Right next door to our hotel is the fancy and immaculately charming Casa Brancas Boutique Hotel and Spa, one of Brazil’s leading Boutique Hotels.
Rua das Pedras or Stone Street is where you would go for some Samba action in the evening. Stylish boutiques, bars, restaurants and cafés line either side of the street.
Visitors are spoiled for choice food wise and music is ever pervasive creating a lively buzzing atmosphere that continues into the wee hours. Local restaurants and fancy eateries offer anything from Italian pizzas, Moroccan and Thai cuisines to local delicacies.
As we meander down the coast towards Praia dos Ossos (Beach of Bones), another sculpture stops us in our tracks, three sun-tanned fishermen up to their ankles in the sand are pulling in their nets, their feet drenched from the ceaseless tides.
After walking for what seems like ages, we are famished. Lunch we decide should be Brazilian style seafood, freshly caught and grilled to perfection.
On our second day for a bit of local orientation, we hop onto a mini tour bus ‘Buzios Trolley’ which comes along complete with a friendly English speaking Carioca (Rio born) guide.
We barely begin our ride when the driver announces that we have a flat tire. This means a wait of at least twenty minutes and a change of buses – a blessing in disguise.
The breathtaking view, the call of the seagulls hovering above and frothy white surf breaking over blue water… we couldn’t have found a better spot for our breakdown.
Soon we are on our way, stopping at various points to admire more incredible beaches, coves and hilltops. It is not uncommon to see whales and even penguins pass these waters we are told.
Catching a Schooner
Being in the mood for some more adventure later in the day, we catch a schooner ride. Alongside several Argentinian tourists, our skipper and crew raise anchor and set the schooner on her way.
Lively samba music truly sets the tempo and soon Caipirinhas (a lemon-based Brazilian drink) and snacks are doing the rounds.
While some choose to snorkel in clear blue-green waters, others laze about sunbathing on the deck. The water turns increasingly choppy on our way back to the bay and our schooner dips and rolls as waves heave and swell around us.
Making the most of what time is left to us in this paradise, we squeeze in a spot of kayaking in a tranquil cove the following morning.
There is something for every visitor here in Buzios. A bounty of secluded beaches means water sports junkies can get their fix of sailing, surfing, windsurfing, diving, kiteboarding, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba, and of course swimming.
Not unlike oysters hiding precious pearls, Buzios is a spectacular cape with emerald mountains enveloping alluring beaches.
Some of the more popular beaches here are Praia Azeda and Praia Azedinha, Praia Ferradura, Praia Tartaruga, Praia João Fernandes and Praia Geribá. Praia dos Ossos.
On our last evening here, we sit at the pier looking out at the schooners and fishing boats as the crimson sun sets on the horizon.
As we stroll back from our last supper there, we bid adieu to the three tireless fishermen and the exquisite Ms. Bardot, who waits for yet another golden Buzios daybreak.
Andrea Bailey is a freelance travel writer based in Dubai.
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