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• Paraty

If one wants to escape for a few days to another world, try the small, quiet, enchanting world of Parati. Parati is a colonial town, 250 km south of Rio and about 3-½ hr. out of Rio down the Rio - Santos road, which has been splendidly preserved in its original state by the National Trust. Heavy iron chains block off all motor traffic from the narrow cobble-stoned streets of the old town (hotels provide parking facilities outside), where visitors may enjoy 18th Century charm combined with 20th Century comfort in charming hotels. The town covers an area of roughly six-by-six blocks, perched on the edge of the bay - a crisscross of tiny streets lined with whitewashed colonial houses, doors and window frames painted bright blue, yellow or rust, flowers and vines spilling over the high garden walls. There is an old fort, several churches, a crafts museum and a beach. Down by the water's edge the pier is lined with dozens of boats available for anything from an hour's ride to an all-day cruise around the island-dotted bay, with a stop for picnicking and swimming off a deserted beach. At the height of its glory, Parati was a fort and a busy tobacco port. Cut off from the mainland by impassable highlands and forest, it communicated directly with Europe and imported its colonial style straight from Portugal. Roads and railroads gradually reduced its importance. But no road was ever build into Parati, so, like those villages in legends and fairy tales which sleep for 200 years, Parati slumbered on, forgotten and frozen in time.

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