A day around Rio

After another delicious breakfast we headed out for some touristy sites: The Theater Tour, a free museum visit at the Central Bank of Brazil, and finally the famous staircase in Rio, Escadaria Selaron.  Here's some photos so you can feel like you joined us for the day!

The Municipal Theater was opened in 1909, replicated off the Opera house in Paris.  In was completely restored in 2008 and reopened in 2010.  What a beautiful building!  We'll have to return next time for a concert.

Next we went to the Central Bank of Brazil's museum.  They have a beautiful building and free exhibits.  We actually went here our first night in Rio and watched an 80's Disco Movie - Xanadu.  It was a hoot and worth the $2 admission fee!  We returned today for the admission to the Ludwig Collection which includes Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, and the list goes on.  Here are some of our favorites (and some I've included because they are so Brazil and representative of what we have seen on the beach!).

And finally we went to Escadaria Selaron to see the famous stairs that were made by a Chilean artist Selaron.  Since 2009 he covered 215 steps with over 2000 tiles from 120 countries in a mosaic fashion.  It was amazing and so inspiring!

Soccer and Maracana

To most of the world, soccer is the currency.  It's the love of their life and present everywhere: the kids playing on the streets, the jerseys worn, the games on every TV, and soccer dominates all conversations.  Having the World Cup in Brazil only heightens this frenzy over the game. 

Part of our conversations with our AirBnB host in Rio have revolved around the games being held here in a months time.  He expressed how hard it has been for Brazilians to have the games here as soccer is the love of their life.  However, with all the corruption, so much has gone into the stadiums while robbing other social necessities of funding.  He said the people are confused at how something they love so much can be bringing pain.  The world will be watching Brazil and it will be interesting how it all comes together and what the media shows of the protests.  We really enjoyed hearing his point of view and hope everything will go smoothly but also that the protests will continue to be a starting point for conversations that will hopefully lead to change.

We went to see the stadium as the next best (and cheapest!) way to be involved in the World Cup since we will be leaving (purposely) before the games begin.  Here are some photos of us from the stadium. 

Oh, and after all that walking, we did engaged in another thing that Brazilians love: COLD beer.  One of ours even had ice in it!  They have these liter holders to keep their beer cold but have never seen the koozie that we have - so we have fit right in showing them that Americans also love cold beer :)

Santa Teresa, Rio de Janerio

Wow.  Rio is living up to it's reputation!  So much so that we have been here since Monday and have yet to put up a post as we are just out experiencing this city.

Here are photos from our first day here in our little neighborhood of Santa Teresa.  We are staying in a fantastic AirBnB and so far have spent no fewer than 2 hours over delicious breakfasts with our hosts talking.  The people and city are fantastic!

Santa Teresa is a bit like Capitol Hill.  Gorgeous old mansions and quite a bit of graffiti!  Some of the graffiti is beautiful and I tried to capture a few photos below.

Next we headed to a free park called Park Ruinas.  It's an old house that has been updated to be a public park.  They have restored just enough that you can climb to the top for gorgeous views of the city and see the old structure of the house.  It was hard to leave!

Passion Fruit Mousse

You all know how much I love to cook and unfortunately one of the hardest parts of this trip is the lack of availability of kitchens (or quality of kitchens!) where we are staying.  Our amazing AirBnB host in Iguazu just shared her Passion Fruit Mousse recipe with me so I thought I'd share it with you all in hopes you can make it at home and think of us! 

From Simone:
-1 can of leite condensado - (condensed milk)
-1 can of creme de leite (I don't think you have in the US, try it here and see if you can find something similar or a Brazilian market in Seattle)
-The same measurement of maracuja juice (Maguary is the brand)
-The same measurement of milk.

Mix everything in a blender and pour into small containers, leave for 6-8 hours in the fridge and enjoy!

Ilha Grande Final

Our time was coming to a close in Ilha Grande but we had time for one more hike and the boat trip - with camera in hand - before heading to Rio!  We headed on a shorter day hike for the waterfall on the island.  This weekend being equivalent to their Labor Day weekend everything was crowded and the waterfall was no different.  Not quite finding the serenity we were searching for we headed for yet another beach.

We found another gorgeous beach to read our books and to engage in more people watching. 

Our final full day on the Island we set off on the boat (this time triple checking for our camera!).  We were with a few other girls staying at our wacky AirBnb and we had a good time with them as we visited the Blue Lagoon and other pretty beaches on the Island.  All told it was more enjoyable to just be out on the water than the beaches were beautiful but we enjoyed ourselves and our self-made vodka punch drinks.

We loved our time on Ilha Grande.  Our AirBnB wasn't the best with her 10 dogs and damp jungle setting but it pushed us each day to spend all of our time outside.  It was fun to watch the Island swell with all of the tourists enjoying their holiday weekend and just as fun when they left!  Next up Rio! 

More Ilha Grande

Thursday we were all set for a boat trip around the island until we realized we forgot our camera!  We jumped off the boat just before leaving and unfortunately had to postpone the boat trip.  With my tendencies to take photos - it's not possible to go to beautiful places without the camera!  We instead spent the day with these guys:

We were on the black sanded beach and they wanted some of our lunch!  Luckily they weren't that aggressive and we finished our lunch without incident! 

This was the view we enjoyed for the day (along with all the hot Brazilians):

Praia Preta (black beach)

Today we headed off for another hike, this time to Dos Rios (two rivers).  It was a stunning 2 hour hike there and we met a nice German, Tom, to pass the time with.  We arrived to a deserted beach with a few stands selling delicious fruit flavored popsicles (our new favorite) and drinks.  We set ourselves up for the afternoon in the shade to enjoy our lunch and some swimming. 

Stay tuned for more from Ilha Grande!  With the holiday it's proving harder to leave than we thought...  So will likely be here until we leave for Rio on Monday.

Ilha Grande

How could we compete with Paraty?  We were so sad to go and tried to delay our departure except for their holiday (seems to be similar to Labor Day) so off we went to Ilha Grande (the big Island).  Wow.  Driving here was spectacular:

And once we arrived we were even more impressed.  It's like a tropical setting for the San Juan Islands.  Luscious green jungle darts right into the green ocean. Spectacular islands and mountains draw the eye in every direction.  Our AirBnB host took us on a tour of the park at one end of the beach.  It was our first time seeing a black sand beach and so cool! 

We took a hike today to the beach of Lopes Mendes, voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world.  I have to say we agree - it is a stunning beach that is even more beautiful considering there is no development nearby.  We hiked from Abraao (the small city on Ilha Grande) to the beach, a stunning 2 hour hike through the jungle and then incredible beaches would appear.  It was a hard hike that was worth the views! 

We are so happy to be here!  The town has two roads and no cars or motorbikes.  The only noise is the waves and dogs barking.  We have extended our stay here... so stay tuned for more photos!

Paraty

We have yet to find a place as beautiful as the San Juan's... until now.  Paraty, a small colonial town in-between Sao Paulo and Rio is stunning for it's location to the water and the beauty of the nearby islands.  We took a cruise through the islands on our first day and I literally could not stop taking photos. 

The next day we headed to the nearby town of Trindade.  We met a really nice woman from Brazil who now lives in New York and she showed us the good spots to hike to along the beach.  What a day!

Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo is a monster of a city.  The largest in South America and 7th largest in the world, it houses some 20 million people.  Crisscrossing the city yesterday we would come out of each subway still immersed in sky skyscrapers. 

Throughout this trip we have found ourselves more drawn to small cities than large metropolises and thus only planned one full day in this city.  Honestly, I'm glad we only had a day to see the sights and then get on our way.  We left our hostel at 8:30 and didn't return until after 7p, exhausted and dirty. 

We first visited the Japanese community, Liberdade in Sao Paulo.  It's the largest Japanese community outside of Japan and signs were a mix between Portuguese and Japanese.  Unfortunately we'd just had breakfast or would have tried some of the amazing looking food! 

Next we headed to the Marcado Central where I took way too photos!  The assortment of foods was amazing and it was the cleanest market we have been in to date.  We had the most well-known lunches - Eric a sandwich filled with an assortment of meats and I had the cod filled pastry.  It was a delicious feast!  Afterwards we enjoyed all the samples of fruits we have never seen before.  Deciding to buy two, we were astonished by the price of $25USD!  We could hardly explain in Portuguese how expensive this was and stumbled away, leaving two upset men in our wake! 

Next we headed to the largest park that Sao Paulo has.  To be honest it wasn't that impressive - so much so we didn't take any photos.  It was a haul to get there and we splurged on a taxi to get back to the metro after walking around the park for a bit.

Next on the list we headed to Edificio Italia to see views of Sao Paulo from above.  The view was astounding and one of my favorite parts of the day.  Sky scrappers filled the landscape from every direction! 

Next we walked up Ave Agosto but I think we were a few hours too early for the activity on the street!  We made our way through to the metro station stopping for beers and bites to eat along the way until we found ourselves back at our hostel.  Here are some views I managed from the subway rides we took:

Today we are actually excited to sit for a 5 hour bus ride after all the walking we did yesterday!  We are off to the beaches and small city of Paraty!

Florianopolis

The beaches of Florianopolis did not disappoint.  We stayed in an adorable AirBnB that was so small and well organized that we could practically make our eggs from bed.  However, the placement of this great AirBnB was a bit out of the way and we spent most of our time on the Island waiting for the bus.  I'd highly recommend the Island for future travels but definitely with your own car or scooter!  There are lots of beaches (42 on the Island alone!) we wished to visit but couldn't visit via public transportation. 

Here are some photos from our time on the Island.  Click on any to enlarge. 

Easter

Celebrating the holidays away from home always gives me a pang of homesickness.  We usually have a brunch with the Rose family and then dinner with the Potts and Roth families and being with our families is the best part of every holiday. 

This year we were stayed at an amazing AirBnB in Foz de Iguazu and were lucky to be included in their Easter lunch celebration on Saturday.  Simone, our host, made us amazing caipirinhas (again!) and we enjoyed learning about their traditions.  Simone's mom and aunt don't speak English or Spanish so there was a lot of hand signals and smiling.  I was trying to signal to Simone's aunt that the bbq'd fish looked amazing by giving her an "ok" signal with a big smile.  Simone had to correct me later saying that that's a vulgar signal in Brazil!  Thumbs up is the way to go here - good to know!  We all laughed over my mistake!

In the evening we boarded our most expensive bus to date, $250 for service from Iguazu to Florianopolis.  We were in the leito service, which is essentially a bed - the way to go for Eric!  We were the only suckers to pay this much and had the how lower part of the bus to ourselves!  Sleeping pills got us through the 14 hour bus ride and we arrived to navigate a few more buses and bad directions to our next AirBnB on Easter Sunday.

Beers on the beach and caipirinhas turned the day around and we got to talk to both of our families as they celebrated together.

We had the beach to ourselves!

We had the beach to ourselves!

The day ended with Eric making us a delicious pasta dinner and watching Downton Abbey. 

Iguazu falls from Argentina

After seeing the panoramic views of the falls from Brazil we headed off on an adventure to Argentina to see the falls from up close.  We forgot that Good Friday was a large holiday here so we had a bit harder time with the buses and schedules and when we arrived to the falls we got in line with the rest of Argentina to see the sites.  For the train ride up to the main viewing platform we had to wait for over an hour!  Luckily we had met a nice couple from Luxembourg and Germany so spent our time learning more about them.  When we finally made it to the falls (right across from Brazil - we could see where we had been the day before) it was sensational.  The crazy Argentinians had built a walkway right to the edge of the waterfall, allowing us to look over the side as the water fell in all directions. 

All the black specs in the photo above?  Those were BIRDS!  They were having the best time of all, flying in and out of the water, and what we could only assume to be fishing. 

As we waited our turn in long lines we snuck in many more photos while working on our patience.  The views were worth the wait!

At nightfall, we retraced our steps and entered back into Brazil.  Our amazing AirBnB host, Simone, had caipirinahs waiting for us when we got back and we spent the evening learning more about her and her past travels, including living in Qatar and New York.  It was one my favorite days of the trip so far.  Amazing nature and meeting new friends - without sounding corny - what could be better?