I actually love quick stop overs and there are a few reasons for it. One reason is you feel obliged to get off your ass and actually see a few sights and get some things done as you know it’s a quick visit to a city you may never be in again and your travel clock is ticking. Another reason is that you seem to always leave with a good impression as you don’t linger long enough to see the negatives! This was the case recently when my globetrotting boots hit up Belo Horizonte when backpacking in Brazil. The tenth Brazilian town or city from my travels.
Firstly, I was always intrigued by the name of this city. It rolls eloquently off the tongue and sounds great – Bey-low Hora-zon-tay. Translate that into English and you get “Beautiful Horizon”. Too right – the sun rose over this city as we arrived and sank as we left leaving behind a sublime tropical skyline pierced by skyscrapers.
I have no idea if I will ever return to Belo Horizonte or not, but what I saw of it I liked. We had exactly 26 hours here on what was our final stop on this particular visit to South America.
The madness of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 had disappeared, I had said goodbye to my parents who came to visit us in Brazil and we boarded a night bus in Rio de Janeiro bound for Belo Horizonte.
As for the hostel and hotel scene in Belo Horizonte, I don’t know as we stayed with a friend – there are lots of cool hotels to choose from though including the Hotel Classic and the Royal Golden. Having connections around the world often brings up chance encounters and meetings where you can stay with friends along the way and indeed in Brazil I stayed with my friend Rodrigo in Sao Paulo and my friend Niall Doherty in Belo Horizonte. Also in Belo Horizonte I got a chance to meet up with Turner Barr, an inspiring world traveller who runs the website “Around the World in 80 Jobs.”
You should check out Niall’s awesome book by the way and his website Disrupting the Rabblement. I enjoyed a chat to Turner as well – he travels around the world and takes on completely random jobs along the way including pizza cooking and tequila harvesting.
After arriving early at 7am, we arranged to meet around 8am in the square Praca da Savassi before walking back to Niall’s flat for a nap and then headed out to see the city. Rather than compile the usual “top 10, top 6 etc.” here are the things we did in Belo Horizonte in a day – by no means is this a travel guide to the city of course 😉
1. Local Bakery – Vianney
On the street we stayed with Niall is a cool local bakery, called Vianney. The smell wafted out as we walked past and we found out it is one of the best bakeries in the city. We bought some tasty local snacks and tried some free samples of bread and cheese in here. It’s on the street Rua dos Aimores.
2. Praca Da Liberdade (Liberty Square)
Praca da Liberdade translates as Liberty Square. Leafy gardens, tropical trees and colonial buildings make this a pleasant and relaxing place. They also have free Wi-Fi here and the tourist information centre is nearby.
3. Praca Tiradentes
The Praca Tiradentes is another square in Belo Horizonte. You can check out the statue here of Tiradentes. He was a revolutionary who was hanged back in 1792.
4. Mercado Central
The Mercado Central (Central Market) was arguably the highlight of our day walking round Belo Horizonte. This is a really cool market.
It has a pineapple square (odd!) which also has watermelons for just 2 Reals.
It has a shop that sells tropical birds.
It has bars inside.
It has lots of cheese!!
And some spice!! So the market is completely worth a look!
Belo Horizonte has a few decent churches and a Cathedral. We didn’t go inside but caught a few on our walks and bus trips.
6. Beer and a Bite
Belo Horizonte was also where I had my last glass of Chopp (Brazilian tap beer) and a bite to eat with Niall on our last night in Brazil on this trip.
And with that, we had a sleep and boarded a city bus out to the airport and it was goodnight Brazil again as my travel dreams were to add another country – Mexico!
Some videos from Belo Horizonte: