I’ve not been to Portugal so far, but I’ve already seen a traditional Portuguese city: Paraty (sometimes written Parati). When the Portuguese wanted to get gold from Minas Gerais they anchored in the bay of Paraty close to the village of a native tribe. They followed an already existing trail into the mountains to find the good they were searching for.
But everyone doing such a many day long hike needed food, cloth and equipment – and that was why traders settled in Paraty and the typical Portuguese town with its quadratic shape was founded. When the Portuguese left, the town fell asleep, but only until the new gold was planted: coffee. Again Paraty became an important habour for bringing the coffee beans to Rio de Janeiro.
One day it was decided to build a railway track throughout the mountains north of the city and the town was not needed any more – until it was rediscovered as a tourist hotspot for people coming from São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Today you can enjoy the well repaired and protected town, go on an escuna tour through the bays or simply discover the secrets of this living memorial.
The town itself has been built mainly by freemasons and has a unique feature: mostly one time a day it is flooded with sea water by the tide and in this way naturally cleaned. If you look at the right places you can see that crabs are living under the streets and come out of their holes when the streets are flooded.
It is best to discover Paraty with a walking tour in the city center. There are many agencies that offer these small tour walks. If you want to go on an escuna tour you should do a wise selection: many boots are very touristic and crowded. These tours are sold mostly at the main road (Avenida Roberto Silveira) leading to the old city center. Next to the river mouth and the main church you’ll find a small agency offering less crowded tours.