My name is Vonetta and I have lived in Fortaleza, Ceara – Brazil since 2010. Though it is true that “Brazil is not for beginners”, I must admit that the place had me hooked from day one. This blog is my attempt at making sense of “The City of Light”. Here are a few fun facts to help get you started:
LOCATION: Northeastern region of Brazil
CAPITAL: FORTALEZA (the 5th largest city in Brazil!)
POPULATION (FORTALEZA): About 2.6 million (2016)
SIZE: 313.8 km sq
CLAIM TO FAME: BEACHES! TONS OF THEM! (* because the beaches have been documented so heavily, I don’t feel there is anything more I could possibly say about them!)
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE BEACHES (original text in Portuguese, so hit the translate button!)
HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS AND FUN FACTS:
- The earliest inhabitants were natives from several different tribes.
- The earliest colonizers were French, Dutch, and Portuguese.
- The region was ultimately settled by the Portuguese in 1661.
- Fortaleza was founded April 13, 1726.
- Ceará state had a strong abolition movement and was the first state to abolish slavery on March 25, 1884. This was four years before the rest of the country abolished slavery in 1888.
- Ceará is known for its three distinct climates, which include: beaches, serras (mountainous regions), and sertão (dry, semi-arid interior countryside).
- Fortaleza is the textile capital of Brazil.
- Ceará’s exports include: leather goods, woven cotton and textiles, seafood, and caju. It is one of only three Brazilian states that produces the world’s supply of carnauba wax.
- Fortaleza’s neighboring Cumbuco Beach is known as one of the best places in the world for kitesurfing, due to the strong winds there.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Buses and limited Metro Availability
WEATHER: HOT all the time and rainy the first 3-4 months of the year! Think of it as perpetual summer. In fact, the summer is so perpetual that there is no daylight savings time here! Temperature usually ranges from 25-30 degrees, and it can get very humid here.
GOOD FOOD: YES!
GOOD MUSIC: YES!
HOTELS, HOSTELS, & POUSADAS : My favorite ones are in the AVENIDA BEIRA MAR / MEIRELES / PRAIA DA IRACEMA / ALDEOTA neighborhoods (near Beira Mar beach). They are also more likely to have English-speaking staff. Other nice areas for tourists and none natives is the PRAIA DO FUTURO area, and CUMBUCO BEACH (about 45 minutes outside the city). Beira Mar is more “touristic” and Praia Do Futuro is more rustic and local.
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: PORTUGUESE ( Definitely come with your Google Translator on hand, to help you navigate the city! If you don’t want to remain in the “tourist” areas, it is highly likely that no English will be spoken.
CURRENCY: Brazilian Real (BRL) . Automatic Teller Machines (ATM machines called “BANCO 24 HORAS”) are plentiful in most supermarkets and are usually well stocked. Just be sure to get plenty of money early if you are here during any major holidays, as they tend to run out of money on those days.
AIRPORT: PINTO MARTINS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – As of 2018, there are direct flights to Miami, Orlando, and some parts of Europe! That means no more 6-10 hour layovers in Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro!
SAFETY: As of this writing, I have never been robbed or been the victim of any crime in the 8 years that I’ve lived here. However, one must never forget that Fortaleza is a major city in Brazil. The most prevalent type of crime is armed or unarmed robbery of money and cellular phones. It is best to keep a bit of money in your pocket or a dummy cell phone to hand over to a robber if you are approached by one. Other tips to follow:
- Don’t wear watches or expensive jewelry when sightseeing.
- Don’t walk around actively using your cell phone. If you need to use it for any reason, step into a store or restaurant first.
- Use designated taxis, rather than UBER if you are not familiar with Fortaleza. As of 2018, taxis can be hailed using an app called SINDITAXI PASSAGEIROS, which can be downloaded from Google Store. Otherwise, catch one on the street.
- If approached by a robber, stay calm and immediately give them money or your cell phone. Get them away from you as soon as possible.
- If possible keep cash and a spare debit card in your hotel or hostel room.
- Keep cash in your pockets or purse, but keep important documents in your hotel room or invest in a document/money bag that can be hidden under your shirt.
- Remember that, while being robbed is not pleasant, the vast majority of victims are left unharmed when they comply.
- I discuss this in more detail here:
TOURISM: The various beaches and Beach Park water park are the most common attractions in Fortaleza. However, the city is FULL of other attractions, such as theatre, museums, art galleries, and parks! Explore my blog and check out the other attractions of the city!
GETTING AROUND: Taxi; UBER; Metro (limited reach)