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Gareth Leonard

Beating the Heat in Fortaleza

I touched down in Fortaleza with no set plans or agenda for my first day in town. I was new to the Northeastern region of Brazil and had little knowledge of the city and surrounding area.

With a few big side trips arranged for the following days, I took full advantage of my free time to go explore the Capital of Ceará.


Immediately upon exiting the airport my plans for the day shifted from “self-guided walking tour” to “finding the best places in town with air conditioning.”

It was hot, very hot.

Equipped with a bag full of ice water and spare t-shirts, I wasn’t going to let a little humidity stop me from seeing the city. I dropped my stuff off at a hostel downtown and set out to get sweaty and lost in Fortaleza.

The first stop on this aimless exploration was the Metropolitan Cathedral, simply because I ran into it while trying to find the public market.

It’s an incredible structure that looks like something straight out of the Middle Ages. Rising from a modest side street in the city center, the church took 40 years to complete and can hold more than 5,000 people.


After a brief water break at the church, I wiped my brow, checked my GPS and made my way over to Fortaleza’s central market.

Floor after floor of linens, dresses, cashews, and all things typical of the region, the central market was a multi-level shopping oasis with more shops than I knew what to do with.


I walked around and asked vendors random questions about the things they were selling as well as for advice on what else I should see and do while in town.

One nice old lady selling leather purses said I should go over to Dragao do Mar, Center of Art and Culture.

I complied and thanked her with a high-five before heading back out into the sun.

The campus of Dragao do Mar, in downtown Fortaleza was impressive. I was not expecting such a sophisticated and modern setup.

They had art galleries, theaters, museum, and even a planetarium. Do you know what the best thing on a hot day is? A cool, dark planetarium!


I grabbed a seat towards the back and watched the star show overhead like I was on a middle school field trip all over again.

By the time the lights turned on, I was ready for some lunch. I asked the ticket checker where I should go and he gave me two great options for trying local cuisine; crab or tapioca.

I told him it was too hot for crab at the moment so he directed me to a little shop on the corner outside Dragao do Mar.

I walked over and ordered up Tapioca with Carne de Sol and a Guarana soda that hit the spot. I took my time enjoying the airport car service lax and local programing on their small, box TV before asking the waitress where I should go next.


Cooled off and fueled up, I made my down to the city’s beachfront like I was told. The breeze coming off the Atlantic was a perfect match for the late afternoon sun.


Beira Mar Avenue has house cleaning services in baton rouge la and served as my guide as I checked out all the artisanal markets and waterfront attractions until the sun began to set.

I found a quiet spot in the sand with a good view and just sat there watching the colors change.

This moment, like the day, was simple, unplanned and perfect. I love having the freedom to explore a new place with no set agenda or obligation.

I went where locals told me I should go and managed to beat the heat along the way.


Today was a good first day in Fortaleza.

Have you ever had interesting experiences traveling around Brazil? Share your stories

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