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Welcome to Fortaleza!

Why Fortaleza?

Beaches and celebrations everywhere

In Ceará's capital city, there are no Mondays!

The first thing that happens to you when you get to Fortaleza's airport, capital city of the state of Ceará, is that you receive a little gift: a charming straw hat, the region's symbol. Afterwards, on your way to the hotel, you'll have glimpses of a large, beatiful and modern city - quite different from what you've imagined! Then you arrive, changes your clothes and you're off to the sea and - yet another surprise! - you discover that Fortaleza doesn't have one beach but the entire state's coastline to offer. This is because the capital is located exactly in the middle of the state's coast with beaches on both sides. The coastline, dotted by palm trees, deserted sand and followed by warm green sea, exceeds 500 kilometers in extension. You can either choose between staying at a central bustling beach, with stalls that look more like restaurants right on the sand, such as Futuro Beach, right in the heart of Fortaleza, or escape to a little deserted beach where there are only fishermen such as Iguape Beach, less than an hour's drive from there. And it makes no difference if you go off to one side of the city or the other. In other words, you're not confined to just one place. Those who travel to Fortaleza get an entire state of enjoy!

The secret is to use the capital city as your headquarters and then explore that place in both directions, going here an there. One can perfectly see more than a dozen beaches in a day's walk to the closer ones, or go further and experience other of the more than 70 beaches that from Ceará's coastline. For instance, there's Ponta Grossa Beach, at the tip of the eastern coastline (or "of the sunrise" as the road leading there that advances up close to the sea is romantically referred to) or the charming Jericoacoara, on the opposite side, on the west coastline - or "of the sunset", as locals like to say, Alas Jericoacoara, can be translated as "a place far away but that is worth visiting".

But those who prefers to stay just in Fortaleza will not regret it either. The city is one of the largest in Brazil and one of the liveliest in the world, with a permament penchant for fun. From Sunday to Sunday, never a day goes by without some form of the celebration in city, regardless of the month you're in or whether it's a holiday or not. Beginning with Monday, the only day of the week in which the most famous dance house in the city, the Pirata (or Pirate), is open. It is a mixture of the bar and disco lounge and fills up with more than five thousand people every Monday and makes everyone dance the night away, nonstop, up to three in the morning - that's when someone remembers it's necessary to get up early next morning to work! Inside, Brazilian rhythms take over, such as the "forró" ("fou-ró"), a type of energetic dance that is reminiscent of the "lambada", and that owes its name to balls that were held there long ago by the military personnel from North American army bases in the Northeast, during Second World War, and that were intended for locals, or "for all" people, this would eventually be pronounced "forró" by Brazilians who took a fashion to the name. Nights at the Pirata are so sought after that they have already been classified as the best Mondays in the world! The calendar of parties in the city continues on the other days of the week, with dancing Tuesday at a place called Arre Égua (a popular contryside expression akin to "Whoa!" in English), another bar and disco lounge mix; Wednesdays belong to the little bars at the Centro Cultural Dragão do Mar (or Sea Dragon Cultural Center), that also has museums and movie theaters; Fridays take you to the dance floors of the Mucuripe megacomplex with its several disco clubs in one place, and so forth. All this goes on until Monday when it all starts again at the Pirata, of course.

According to the city's tradition, Thursday nights for instance, is a time to enjoy eating crab at the stands at Futuro Beach. But crabs are just pretext to join in on the gaiety of the night open air party with music and dance that continue well into the night. In Fortaleza the party never ends. In July, there's even enormous off-season carnival called the Fortal.

Those who manage to resist the lure of the parties and the appeal of the sunny beaches, however, can enjoy the other pleasures the city has to offer, such as the Beach Park, the largest water park in Brazil that even has a 14-storey high tower from where one can fall within an almost vertical tube at almost 100km/h! Or the rich regional handicraft fair that takes place every late afternoon on the broad sidewalks of the main beach, offering the widest variety of hammocks, embroideries and the little bottles with colored sceneries from Brazil depicted with sand and at such low prices that it might make you laugh. Or even, to just watch the ballet of the rustic rafts of the region's fishermen, the very same that in the past inspired a movie from the famed film director Orson Welles. Or, finally, to do what everybody does: jump into the dune buggy and take a ride to enjoy the nearby beaches. After all, as it has been already said, Fortaleza ir not just a city but a portal to all the beaches of the entire state.

EnjoyBrazil Magazine - Year 1 #2

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