Enchanted by Paraty, Brazil - United Hub
Employee Travel Blog

Enchanted by Paraty, Brazil

By The Hub team, June 09, 2017

Each week we will profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location for every employee's story. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.

By Employee Operations Staff Representative Frankie Pagan

I have always said that I would rather have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuff, and my passion for travel has brought me to more than 62 countries. People always ask me, "What's your favorite destination?" and I always answer, "The one that I'm going to next." However, Brazil is definitely at the top of my favorites list. In fact, it is the country I return to the most.

View of the town of Paraty from the sea.

One of my favorite cities in Brazil is Rio de Janeiro, but just 4.5 hours south of the Marvelous City, as Rio is known, lies a beautiful hidden gem: Paraty - a colonial work of art, where Brazilians and tourists alike share in this beautiful city's old charm and flavor. A visit to this enchanting town will transport you back to the Portuguese colonial era.

Named after a local fish, Paraty sits on Brazil's stunning southeastern Costa Verde coast and is set amid jutting peninsulas and secluded beaches with a backdrop of steep, lush, jungle mountains plunging into an island-studded turquoise bay.

The small colonial town's center is a national historic monument with very well-preserved Portuguese colonial buildings on its pedestrian-only cobblestone streets. Cars are not allowed to enter the town.

Donkey pulls a cart along cobblestone streets in Paraty

Elegant white buildings adorned with fanciful multicolored borders and latticed windows blend harmoniously with the natural beauty that envelops this charming town. Among its architectural landmarks is the waterfront Capela de Santa Rita, a whitewashed church built in 1722. Since 1966, the Brazilian government has recognized Paraty as a National Historic Site.

The town's cosmopolitan flavor is further enhanced by the large number of artists, writers and chefs -- both Brazilian and foreign -- who have settled here and opened shops, galleries and fantastic restaurants. The food options are endless, from international to local beach eats, but be sure to try the local seafood. Bars can be hard to find, so just follow the music. They usually aren't jumping until late.

Outdoor restaurant in Paraty, Brazil.

Paraty has a wide range of accommodations. I recommend that you stay at a pousada, or country inn, near the historical center of town. We stayed at Pousada Literaria de Paraty, a small elegant pousada owned by a Brazilian actress.

The town is very walkable. The vibe is relaxed and carefree. Everyone wears Havaianas, Brazilian flip flops. The locals are warm, friendly and genuinely nice. They are very proud of their delightful town and are always happy to help tourists. Keep an eye out for the monkeys that roam the streets. They are quite amusing and may be waiting for a treat.

A very interesting and unique characteristic of the town is that it floods regularly and intentionally — I heard from the locals that it has an old street-cleaning strategy. It dates back to colonial times, when the city was planned. Since Paraty is below sea level, sidewalks are elevated about a foot above the cobblestones, and, at high tides, ocean waters flood the streets in a timeless ebb and flow. It's best to carry a pair of flip-flops to wear so that you don't ruin your shoes. Some hotels and pousadas offer flip-flops to their guests, but I recommend you by yourself a pair of Havaianas.

In the town's main square, you can watch a capoeira performance, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of fight, acrobatics, music and dance in a very magnetic way. Check with your hotel for times because it is something you won't want to miss.

For approximately $125, you can rent a boat for the day and head out into the bay to the small islands and coves nearby. Along the way, you can snorkel in the crystal-clear, emerald-green sea and swim in the many secluded beaches. Our boat stopped on one of the islands, where we had a tasty lunch of freshly caught fish, garlicky white rice and Brazilian-style bean stew. Wash it all down with Brazil's national drink, the rum-tastic caipirinha or a refreshing local beer. Then sit back, relax in a beach chair and take it all in.

Tourists swimming at one of the many secluded beaches in Paraty.

It's very easy to reach Paraty once in Brazil. From the U.S., Untied flies nonstop from multiple of our hubs to São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. Air-conditioned buses leave from both Rio and São Paulo for Paraty. Buses from Rio depart 12+ times a day from the Rodoviaria Novo Rio bus station. The price of one-way a ticket is approximately $25, and the trip takes about 4.5 hours. The trip from São Paulo's Rodoviaria Tiete bus station takes about 6.5 hours and costs about the same. From São Paulo, try Reunidas Paulista bus company and, from Rio de Janeiro, Costa Verde Transportes.

Useful information and tips:

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By The Hub team, October 28, 2020

We're proud to launch a redesigned version of our United app to make it easier for customers with visual disabilities to manage all aspects of day-of travel, including check-in, viewing reservation details and flight status, bag tracking and more.

This latest version of our app is now available to both Android and iOS users, and it offers increased color contrast and more space between graphics. Furthermore, we have reorganized how information is displayed and announced to better integrate with screen reader technologies like VoiceOver and TalkBack, which are built into most handheld devices. By restructuring the way the information is organized on the app, screen readers are better able to convert text to audio in the proper, logical sequence, allowing customers to better understand and navigate the app.

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Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.

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By Ryan Wilks, October 19, 2020

Earlier this summer, we shone a light on our flagship partnership with Special Olympics and our commitment to the Inclusion Revolution. In that same story, we introduced you to our four Special Olympics Service Ambassadors, Daniel, Kyle, Lauren and Zinyra (Z), who, this month, celebrate one year working at Chicago O'Hare International Airport as part of the United family.

This groundbreaking, inclusive employment program took off as a part of our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics, a community relationship that employees across the company hold close to heart. The original 'UA4' (as they call themselves) have become an integral part of the United team serving customers at O'Hare Airport. Even from behind their masks, their wide smiles and effervescent spirit exude and bring life to the service culture of excellence we strive towards every day.

"The UA4 are more than just customer service ambassadors. They are shining examples of how inclusion, accessibility and equity can have monumental impacts on the culture and service of a business and community," said Customer Service Managing Director Jonna McGrath. "They have forever changed who we are as a company. While they often talk about how United and this opportunity has changed their lives, they have changed ours in more ways than we can count."

In the two years of partnership with Special Olympics, United employees have volunteered over 10,500 hours of service at events around the world and donated over $1.2 million worth of travel to the organization.

"This inclusive employment program is what community partnerships, like ours with Special Olympics, are all about: collaborating to identify areas where the needs of the community intersect with the cultural and business opportunity, then creating the infrastructure and programming to bring the two together," said Global Community Engagement Managing Director Suzi Cabo. "Through this program, our goal is to show other companies that when you put a committed effort and focus towards inclusion and breaking down barriers, you transform lives. I challenge other business around the world to follow our lead in joining the Inclusion Revolution."

Check out the video below to hear from our Special Olympics Service Ambassadors firsthand.

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