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08 February 2013
Photo Friday: beautiful shiny Carnaval

It's Carnaval time! Zoinks, it took me forever to get all the pics posted from our Feb 2012 trip, partly because there were soooooooo many of them, and partly because... well, life gets in the way...

samba ball

Now seems like a great time to look back on this epic trip, which was primarily a celebration of my 40th birthday. (Mark tried getting them to move the party back to November, but alas it didn't work.) And why not ease the pain of this big milestone by hitting the biggest party on the planet? Brazilians know how to do it right, that's for sure.

Mangueira Samba School performs at Rio Scala Ball
Mangueira Samba School performs at Rio Scala Ball


In addition to attending a traditional samba ball, we splashed out on some fabulous front-row seats to the parades in the Sambadrome. Unreal. Gigantic floats, elaborate costumes, and nonstop smiling-singing-dancing from every single person in the parades and in the stands. For like eight hours straight.

warrior tigers
warrior tigers

are we having fun or what?
are we having fun or what?

sing it, sister!
sing it, sister


My siblings contributed to the birthday celebration by booking us a scuba junket in Arraial do Cabo. While it wasn't the most fabulous diving we've ever done, it was nice to get out of the city for a bit, and the scenery was divine.

and life is good
and life is good


We also managed to fit in a few standard touristy things, like...

the Big J
taking a trip up Corcovado to see The Big J

Sugarloaf at golden hour
checking out the jaw-dropping views from Sugarloaf (Pão de Açúcar)

Ipanema
and loving life on Ipanema Beach


Choosing just a handful of "best of" pics was almost painful! There were just so many beautiful shiny things as far as the eye could see. (See below for links to the rest of the photos, as well as all the blog posts from that trip.) Someday it'd be great to go back and see Rio in its natural state -- y'know, without a troupe of singing and dancing M&Ms crammed onto the subway at all hours of the day and night -- but it sure was fun to experience it in all its partyrific glory.


For more fabulous travel snaps, check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all Brazil pics
* browse all parade pics
* browse all Arraial do Cabo pics
* browse all Corcovado pics
* browse all Pão de Açúcar pics
* read all Brazil posts

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments


01 June 2012
PhotoFriday: smiles everyone, smiles!

happy dude

You didn't seriously think I was done posting samba parade pics, did you? Oh heavens no!

Bahia smiles

I'm talkin to YOU

hello!

This week's theme is the ridiculously good mood everyone seemed to be in while marching through the Sambódromo.

are we having fun yet?

oh you betcha

stripetastic

shazam!

oh yeah!

Part of what made our front-row seats so much fun was the ability to interact with the paraders, who lit up a little bit extra when they caught someone's eye in the audience.

shout it out

double-smiley

smiley snoof

much love

Even the folks who'd been waiting all night for their parade to start were chipper and fresh and fulla spunk. Which was more than I could say, 'round about 6am. But their enthusiasm was certainly infectious!

spunk

fresh

It's uncanny how your gaze is drawn to a smiling face, even in a sea of snoof and fuzzle.

fuzzle

oh we definitely having fun

woot!

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday.


RELATED POSTS/LINKS:
*
Top of the Loaf, Ma!
* From Rio with love
* Holy Floats, Batman (part two)
* Holy Floats, Batman (part one)
* Snoof and fuzzles, tringlers and trappings
* browse all Brazil pics posted so far
* browse all Brazil blog posts


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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments


10 May 2012
Top of the Loaf, Ma!

Our last afternoon and evening in Rio was nothing short of magical. In a town where every other view is extraordinary, where you get tired of saying "wow," this took it to a whole new level.

Don't get me wrong, we had our fair share of frustrations too. Say it with me: This country needs an easy button! Brazil has the power to take you to the absolute edge of annoyance, and just as you're about to throw in the towel it delivers the goods, and you're so dazzled you forget what all the fuss was about. Our journey up Sugarloaf Mountain was just that.


no lines!
no lines

We arrived at the ground level ticketing area with high hopes. Sweeeeet, no lines! It was like finding a secret ride at Disney World while all the other suckers waited in line for something obvious like Space Mountain. As we wound our way around the outside of the serpentine and bought our tickets, a huge busload of Asian tourists with fanny packs unloaded. Hah, we smirked, too bad for them!

ohhhhh, buzzkill!
ohhhhh, buzzkill!

And then, major buzzkillington. That was just the line to get the tickets! Now we'd have to wait in the really really long line to board the actual cablecar. Yes, that line. The one with all those fannypackers who just got off the tourbus, shiny tickets already in hand. Cue the sad trumpets, wah-wah-wah-wahhhhhhhhhh.


cablecar locked and loaded  to the Loaf!

The view was actually kinda cool, watching the two sets of cablecars come and go. One set connects the ground with Morro da Urca, the midway point. The second set takes visitors the rest of the way up Pão de Açúcar, aka Sugarloaf. However, standing in the merciless sun for over an hour, and then having a bunch of British asshats cut in front of us as we started getting closer to the front, was kinda not cool. By the time we got in our first cablecar, I was hella crabby.


helicopter rides
helicopter rides

Morro da Urca houses some historical exhibits and a lovely visitor's center that shows a film about the history and construction of the Pão de Açúcar cablecar system. The film even features a clip from the James Bond movie Moonraker where nasty henchman Jaws attempts to bite through the cable and send Bond plummeting to his death. Morro da Urca is also where you can catch a ubiquitous helicopter ride around Rio, although the price was a bit out of our range. Thankfully there was just enough shade to cop a quick respite and get a snack. Which, due to our limited Portuguese, turned out to not be a tasty milkshake but instead some vile noxious medicinal swill. Ewwww! Have I mentioned that This Country Needs an Easy Button?


final stretch
final stretch between the Morro & the Pão

Nevermind, onward and upward! My crankipants attitude finally abated once we reached our final destination, and breathtaking views of Rio unfolded across 360 splendid degrees. The view from the Pão is the bomb. Not only did we see some fabulous beaches:

Praia Vermelha & Copacabana
Praia Vermelha & Copacabana

Botafogo
Botafogo

great day for a sail
great day for a sail

...and of course, The Big J off in the distance:

ever present
ever present


...but also some impressive flora and fauna:

lounge lizards
lounge lizards

cheeky monkey
cheeky monkey

floralicious
floralicious



And then the sun began to set.

wowee
golden hour

All frustrations melted away in a glossy mist of pinks and purples and gold.

oh
Oh.

Em.
Em.

Gee.
Gee.


Worth a little crabbypatty 'tude earlier in the day? Absofrickinlutely.

nummers

And then darkness fell, and the view continued to get impossibly more beautiful.

bark at the moon
bark at the moon


All at once we realized we didn't want to go! Not down the mountain, not back home, not to reality. Who needs reality when you have this view???

sighhhhhh
sighhhhhhhh


Oh yeah, that's right, someone's gotta replenish the coffers for the next adventure. Back to reality it is. Beijos until next time, Rio.


RELATED POSTS/LINKS:
* browse all pics from Pão de Açúcar
* browse all Brazil pics posted so far

* Sugarloaf smooches
* Holy Floats, Batman (part two)
* Holy Floats, Batman (part one)

* browse all posts in Brazil category


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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 2 comments


04 May 2012
Photo Friday: from Rio with love

night falls on Rio
night falls on Rio

There's a reason everyone who's been to Rio ranks it among their favorite cities. It's gawjeous! For Photo Friday this week, here's another snap from our trip up Pão de Açúcar/Sugarloaf. If you want a sneak peek, all Sugarloaf pics have been posted. And the full story is coming soon. Really. Soon. (What can I say? Spring is in the air, and real life has gotten in the way this week!)

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday.


RELATED POSTS/LINKS:
*
Holy Floats, Batman (part two)
* Holy Floats, Batman (part one)
* Snoof and fuzzles, tringlers and trappings
* We had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew
*
Fried, fried, pink stuff, fried
* Impersonal Jesus
* The sun sets on another epic trip
* Sambódromo favorites
* Dois Gringos em Dois Irmãos
* Samba till you drop
*
In a Rio state of mind
* browse all pics from Pão de Açúcar
* browse all Brazil pics posted so far


If you enjoyed this post, please share it!

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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
24 April 2012
Sugarloaf smooches

Sugarloaf smooches

I haven't forgotten about you, I swear I haven't. I'm working on a post that does NOT involve a million parade pics, about our fabulous last day in Rio, spent atop Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain). Hang tight, it's coming!

Meanwhile, now is a great time to catch up on these Carnavalrific posts:

* Holy Floats, Batman (part two)
* Holy Floats, Batman (part one)
* Snoof and fuzzles, tringlers and trappings
* We had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew
*
Fried, fried, pink stuff, fried
* Impersonal Jesus
* The sun sets on another epic trip
* Sambódromo favorites
* Dois Gringos em Dois Irmãos
* Samba till you drop
*
In a Rio state of mind

Which is your favorite and why?

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 2 comments
13 April 2012
Photo Friday: Holy Floats, Batman! (part two)

pure energy

shiny objects

Last week we explored some of the splendiforous parade floats that make their way through Rio's Sambódromo during Carnaval. Believe it or not, I only got halfway through. For this week's Photo Friday post, here's a few more.

rams

moo too

c'mon fish


Most floats were preceded by a group on the ground in matching costumes. Sometimes the theme was easier to detect, sometimes it was more about coordinated colors.

scarecrow

scarecrow

color coordinated

yogurt?

slave ship

zombielicioius


A common float element was a spectacular giant face.

trumpets

harvest

artist

spears

angels

ram

greek?

gold

monster

dragon

ya mon!

is that Wonder Woman?

dude

safari

tribesman

lion


And then there were some outlandish themes:

The Porto da Pedra school decided to celebrate calcium this year...

cheese

yogurt

strawberry yogurt

moo again

moo some more

super-moo


Of course I totally love this Mocidade colored pencil float...

pencils
pencilrific
always hold on

 

The people at top of the floats tended to sport the skimpiest costumes, but always-always had something to hold onto.

hold on!

grab the rainbow

greek grab

wobbly at the top

hold tight

And some floats just blew me away...

tiger

jungle face

white

goat

more goat


Are you experiencing parade overkill yet? Try sitting and watching these in-person for 9 hours straight! Ay samba-caramba!

I'll leave you with a few interesting characters found aboard floats:

boy or girl, whaddaya think?

I want this outfit

master of ceremonies

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday.

RELATED POSTS:
* Photo Friday: Holy Floats, Batman (part one)
* Photo Friday: snoof and fuzzles, tringlers and trappings

* We had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew
* Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites
* browse all Brazil posts

 If you enjoyed this post, please share it!
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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
06 April 2012
Photo Friday: Holy Floats, Batman! (part one)

shiny

Rio's samba parade costumes are brilliant, but the floats are works of mad genius.

turtlerific

love the suit

how does she not fall off?

Several stories high, often with a dozen or more people aboard, and of course covered in all manner of snoof and fuzzle, parade floats are nothing short of mind-boggling.

tropical

One or two of these floatstravaganzas would be flabbergasting to behold. But each samba school has half a dozen, and we watched seven or eight schools over the course of the night. As I've said before, after a while we just got tired of saying "wow."

swingset

indigenous

sing it, sister

there's the snoof

Ranging from the opulent to the absurd, each float has its own share of theatricality.

fountain

whaaaaa?

oy vey

sparkly

And this is just the first half. More to come!

swirly

golden

heavenly


Meanwhile, check out the other great travel snaps at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED POSTS:
* Photo Friday: snoof and fuzzles, tringlers and trappings

* We had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew
* Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites
* browse all Brazil posts


If you enjoyed this post, please share it!
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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
23 March 2012
Photo Friday: snoof and fuzzles, tringlers and trappings

floof

In keeping with this week's Seussian theme, I thought I'd feature some more samba parade photos, focusing on the floof and flounce and utter whimsy of the costumes.

nice hats

sparkly

colorful doesn't even begin to describe


All the Whos down in Whoville might've had panpoolers, pantookers, and bisslebigs, but they couldn't hold a candle to these creations. And there's the added effect of about a hundred people marching and dancing and singing together, all identically dressed with giant birds on their heads, like it was no big deal. Just when we got used to it, the next group came marching by in something even wackier.

bird headdresses

giraffes

mick jagger?


Parade costumes are full of feathers and spangles, and that's par for the course. But a surprising number of them also incorporated frilly fabrics with froufrou ornamentation.

flounce

more flounce

the flounce never ends


And strange, unexpected accents.

yogurt?

ehm... 

whoa

more yogurt


The amount of work that must go into sewing all these costumes simply boggles the mind.

spangly 

blingy

shiny


After a while, we gave up saying "wow!" and "what the..." and just stared in slack-jawed astonishment.

what the

wow

zoinks


This just scratches the surface of all the amazing things we saw in the Sambódromo. Over the coming weeks I'll continue to curate parade photos, attempting to put them into some logical themes rather than bludgeon you with a gigantic batch of Wow! Next week: Holy floats, Batman!

Meanwhile, check out the other great travel snaps at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* We had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew
* Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites
* browse all Brazil posts


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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
20 March 2012
We had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew
the best of times and the worst of times in Arraial do Cabo

Scuba. In a quiet beach town. And accommodations at a swank hotel. After all the hustle and bustle of Rio during Carnaval, this quick side trip seemed just what the doctor ordered.

decktastic
decktastic

So we set off for Arraial do Cabo -- where they never have troubles, at least very few -- in our crappy little rental car. Which may as well have been a One Wheel Wubble drawn by a camel, as what should have been a 2-hour journey took us almost four. We got out of Rio with surprisingly little fanfare, but then proceeded to take a wrong turn at Niteroi, hit lots of random traffic on the 106, and almost missed the big turnoff at Araruama. Hey, at least we didn't have to face the Perilous Poozer of Pomplemoose Pass. Considering we were armed with only a handful of Google Maps screenshots, I think we did pretty well.


Arraial do Cabo beach
Arraial do Cabo beach


As we arrived in Arraial, things began to look up. The beaches shone, the breezes blew, and our hotel was indeed a big step up from the sketchy motel we'd been staying at in Rio. For this I have to thank my siblings, who booked this scuba excursion for me as a birthday present. They did their homework! Pousada Caminho do Sol is a beautiful guesthouse just a block from the beach, with a stunning tropical garden and an award-winning restaurant.


penthouse suite  Pousada Caminho do Sol  poolside view

After checking into our lovely penthouse room, complete with jacuzzi and beach view, we took a quick snooze before meeting with our divemaster Marcelo. The fact that he came to our hotel was a promising sign. We've had mostly excellent dive experiences, but a hard-learned lesson has taught me to trust my instincts when it comes to choice of divemaster and shop. Here again, the sibs did their homework and managed to select an affable guy who genuinely seemed concerned for our comfort and safety. He answered all our questions, gave us clear instructions for the next day, and left us feeling confident about the whole endeavor.

We had a strange encounter with pink stuff for dinner and then called it an early night, getting a pretty decent sleep despite the increasingly windy conditions outside.


to the harbor!
to the harbor!

In all fairness, the scuba debacle that ensued wasn't entirely Marcelo's fault. That week's unusually windy weather made for water temps even colder than usual, necessitating thick wetsuits. Sausage time! Plus the visibility was terrible. We're spoiled, having done over 50 dives in mostly warm, clear, beautiful conditions. I much prefer to dive in just a bathing suit, and hate the feel of being stuffed into a full wetsuit. Maybe if we had our own gear it wouldn't be so bad, but since we don't, it's akin to wearing someone else's bowling shoes. All over your entire body. Bleh. Add in the fact that we got sent off with another divemaster who (a) didn't speak English, and (b) was more concerned with maneuvering his fancy underwater camera than monitoring our safety, and you've got two more strikes. When I had a bit of an equipment malfunction and started surfacing uncontrollably, that was almost the final straw. I wasn't that deep, and managed to ascend fairly slowly, so I didn't get the bends or anything. But I was still pretty freaked out. I almost didn't do the second dive. But since we'd come so far and this outing was so meticulously planned, I decided to go for it. The second dive with Marcelo was a much better experience, until we began to surface and both Mark & I got really nauseous. We're still not entirely sure what caused that bizarre reaction -- tainted air? ill-fitting wetsuits? -- but it's never happened to either of us before. Admittedly not our finest hour.


epic sunset
cheese on a steek

That night we celebrated our adventures with the best sunset we'd seen in a while, and cheese on a stick. The wind continued to rage.

Rather than come back for a second day of diving, we relaxed on the beach. A wise choice! Not a Quilligan Quail nor a Key Slapping Slippard in sight.


RELATED LINKS:
* browse
all Arraial do Cabo pics
* browse all Brazil posts
* WanderFood Wednesday: fried, fried, pink stuff, fried
* Impersonal Jesus
* The sun sets on another epic trip


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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
14 March 2012
WanderFood Wednesday: fried, fried, pink stuff, fried
you win some, you lose some... culinary adventures in Arraial do Cabo

crack in a can
crack in a can

There were several times during this trip where we bumped headlong into the realization that we really should have learned more Portuguese. Getting a handle on the local language is typically something we enjoy doing as part of our trip prep. For whatever reason, it didn't happen this time around. We got by with charades and a phrasebook and just plain ol' winging it. For the most part, this worked OK, but it backfired a few notable times.


scary clownsscary clowns
the scary clowns shoulda clued us in

One such time was our first evening in Arraial do Cabo, a beach town outside Rio where we'd arrived for a scuba junket (more on that in a few days). We weren't in much of an exploratory mood after a long battle with our crappy rental car, so we found a brightly-adorned place near our hotel for a quick bite. The menu listed something called "misto de frango," which purported to be an aggregation of three different types of chicken. Sounds harmless enough, one please!

The waitress proceeded to launch into a lengthy discussion in Portuguese that made absolutely no sense to us, but she seemed trustworthy so we stuck with our order. And this is what showed up:

frango mixto, or just mixed up?
misto de frango, or just mixed up?

Let's ignore the fact that the third item is french fries, and not chicken of any sort. What in the world is that pink stuff in the middle? Our best guess was some awful mashup of ketchup and mayonnaise. Ew. We dumped plenty of hot sauce in there, plus some "African" sauce Mark found on top of the buffet table, and that did improve the pink goo a bit. We were hungry, so we ate it, what more can I say? All in all, not a total debacle, but hardly a wildly satisfying repast.


On the other hand, we did have some great meals in Arraial do Cabo. One of my favorite things to do in a new city or country is browse the grocery store aisles for unusual local treats. (Side note: This is particularly fun in places with non-Western alphabets where you may have no idea what's inside the package but are still seduced by bright colors and shiny happy graphics.) By far our best Brazilian find was Cheese on a Stick, known locally as queijo de coalho.

on a steek
on a steek

Normally this would be grilled -- common fare at street stalls -- but since we were sans hibachi at our hotel, we just ate the cheese straight from the package, with crackers and some excellent Chilean wine. Ensconced in snugly hotel robes and enjoying the nighttime views of town, this was the perfect way to unwind after our scuba adventures.

life is good
life is good
(and photogeeks, check out that bokeh!)


The other stellar meal in Arraial was, unsurprisingly, at our hotel's restaurant. We thought about giving the clowncar restaurant a second chance, but instead went with the swankier option. A wise choice, rewarded by a lovely view of the pool and gardens, a nice cold bottle of wine, and some delicious fresh seafood dishes. Redemption!

swanktastic lunch
swanktastic lunch at Pousada Caminho do Sol


Be sure to check out Wanderlust & Lipstick's WanderFood Wednesday for more mouth-watering travel foodie posts.


RELATED LINKS:
* Impersonal Jesus
* The sun sets on another epic trip
*
Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites
*
Dois Gringos em Dois Irmãos


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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
06 March 2012
Impersonal Jesus
a trip up Corcovado to see O Cristo Redentor

pick up the receiver, I'll make you a believer
pick up the receiver, I'll make you a believer

Need to expunge the sins and excesses of Carnaval? Climb the mount and visit O Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). The Big J can be seen from nearly all areas of Rio, and is supposedly one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World." Whatever that means. As with most tourist attractions, it's popular for a reason, and was one of the first non-Carnaval items we decided to visit.

at the foot of The Big Jesus
at the foot of The Big Jesus

The enormous Jesus statue is perched atop Corcovado mountain, at an elevation of 2300 feet, amid the Tijuca Forest National Park. So the first big decision is how to get up there. We were hoping to catch the train, supposedly a marvel of engineering itself as it goes nearly straight up the mountain. But when we hopped off the bus, there was a 3+ hourlong wait for the next train due to the crush of tourists. So we grabbed a van, which was nearly the same price, and up we went.

journey up Corcovado mountain
journey up Corcovado mountain

oktapodi has a Come-to-Jesus moment
oktapodi has a Come-to-Jesus moment

In typical Brazilian fashion (something else to file away under "This Country Needs an Easy Button"), it was explained in broken English that we'd need to pick up another van partway up, but we'd purchased a roundtrip ticket and could come back at any time. What this actually meant was that the "hired car" shuttles only take you to a certain point -- which you could also drive up to yourself, theoretically -- and then you have to get out and buy a ticket for entrance into the park. From there the park shuttles bring you up to the summit. This involves a good bit of standing in perhaps-pointless lines and not being entirely sure what the heck is going on. But you will eventually get there. And so we did. Along with several hundred camera-clicking visitors.

hundreds seeking the perfect shot
hundreds seeking the perfect shot

just a leeeeetle bit creeeeepy
just a leeeeetle bit creeeeepy

I found The Big Jesus statue pretty creepy up close. Unless you go for a helicopter tour, it's not possible to enjoy the iconic view over the shoulder of Cristo beaming benevolently down on the city. So we ended up circling the base, looking up at the vacuous blank eyes, searching for the "perfect" photo op. Along with several hundred other tourists doing exactly the same thing.

for the record, I did NOT do this!
for the record, I did NOT do this!

your own Impersonal Jesus
your own Impersonal Jesus

There's not really much else to do atop the mountain with Our Lord and Savior, but we'd shelled out the bucks and waited in lines and crammed ourselves in with our fellow man, so we hung out for a while, trying to appreciate the overcast view. The breeze was delightful. And we were able to spot a few familiar landmarks. But after a while all the shoving and jostling for space got to be a bit much. Did I mention there were several hundred people up there at the same time? Whew. We stretched it out a bit by having an overpriced beer at the cafe, but it was eventually time to call it a day and queue up for the ear-popping ride back down.

Jesus in the cafe, serving beer
Jesus in the cafe, serving beer

Worth it? Definitely. Frustrating? A tad. Completely Brazilian? You bet. Stay tuned for our counterpoint experience at Pão de Açúcar.

Big Jesus seen from Botafogo beach
Big Jesus seen from Botafogo beach


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all photos from Corcovado

* browse all Brazil posts
* The sun sets on another epic trip
* Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites
* Dois Gringos em Dois Irmãos


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26 February 2012
The sun sets on another epic trip

sunset at Pão de Açúcar
sunset at Pão de Açúcar

Say it with me, kids: WOW! Couldn't have asked for a sweeter ending to our epic trip. This is one of many incredible views of the sun setting over Rio, as seen from Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar), where we spent a good chunk of our last afternoon/evening. Yum!

RELATED POSTS:
* Photo Friday:
Sambódromo favorites
* Dois Gringos em Dois Irmãos
* Samba till you drop
* browse
all Brazil posts


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24 February 2012
Photo Friday: Sambódromo favorites

the Portela crew, workin' it
the Portela crew, workin' it

shiny objects
shiny objects


Our Sunday evening trip to the Sambodromo to watch over seven hours of samba parades was epic, to say the least. We had incredible seats, right on the ground level in the sector next to the judges.


this little dude had charazzzzzzma
this little dude had charazzzzzzma

confetti canon!
confetti cannon!

Mocidade's batteria was definitely tops
Mocidade's batteria was definitely tops


As you can imagine, there are myriad photos to curate. These are just a scant few of my first-run faves.


love the energy
love the energy

colored pencil float! ('nuff said)
colored pencil float! ('nuff said)

zombierific
zombierific

even the cleanup crews got down with their badselves
even the cleanup crews got down with their badselves

one of Beija Flor's incredible floats
one of Beija Flor's incredible floats

I gotta get me one of these hats!
I gotta get me one of these hats!


One of the best parts of being right down in the action was the opportunity to interact with the paraders. Despite marching for 90 minutes straight, in some cases in a parade that didn't even start till the wee hours of the morning, these folks had amazing energy.


still cheerful at 5am
still cheerful at 5am

front row seats to the sambaliciousness
front row seats to the sambaliciousness

partying till the sun comes up
partying till the sun comes up


Watch for more Carnaval and parade pics to come in the next days and weeks! And check out the other great travel snaps at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED POSTS:
*
Dois Gringos em Dois Irmãos
* Samba till you drop
* browse
all Brazil posts

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20 February 2012
Dois gringos em Dois Irmãos

We're still recovering from seven straight hours of parades in the Sambódromo on Sunday night (and well into Monday morning). I haven't even looked through all the photos yet. In the meantime, here's a nice quiet shot of us on Leblon beach in front of the iconic Dois Irmãos mountains. From this neighborhood we picked up the shuttle to the parades.

the calm before the storm
the calm before the storm

 

RELATED POSTS:
* Samba till you drop
* In a Rio state of mind
* browse all Brazil posts


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18 February 2012
Samba till you drop

Today was a big day. Somehow we managed to go from this:

wall-to-wall crazies in the street at Cinelândia
wall-to-wall crazies in the street at Cinelândia
wall-to-wall crazies in the street at Cinelândia


to this:

chilling out at a neighborhood lanchonete
chilling out at a neighborhood lanchonete


to this:

chilling out at a neighborhood lanchonete
Mangueira Samba School performs at Rio Scala Ball

high-voltage old-school samba, into the wee hours
high-voltage old-school samba, into the wee hours

this dude loves his job
this dude loves his job


We made some new friends along the way...

new friends from Sri Lanka
...like this delightful couple from Sri Lanka
(seated next to The Guy Who Had a Bit Too Much Day)

saucy cariocas
...and these saucy cariocas who taught us to samba till the sun came up


Not bad for a day that began by sleeping well past noon. Tomorrow, the Sambodromo parades!


RELATED POSTS:
* In a Rio state of mind
* The caipirinha countdown continues!
* browse all Brazil posts


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17 February 2012
In a Rio state of mind

oktapodi and friend at the Carnival Tourism Office
oktapodi and friend at the Rio Carnival Tourism Office

The last two days have been pretty stressful, but, as always, oktapodi has managed to make new friends and maintain a cheerful disposition. Mark and I are just happy we haven't yet killed ourselves (or anyone else) after driving around Rio for two days. Operating a motorized vehicle here is a psychotic experience on a good day, but during Carnival, fugetaboutit. (Surprisingly, my daily Beltway training seems to be paying off! We've decided me driving + Mark navigating is the best way to preserve what little sanity we have left.) Nonetheless, samba ball & parade tickets are now in hand, the car is back in the garage where it belongs, and once we get a nice shower and a nap we'll be ready to explore the city the right way: on foot and via public transport!

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 2 comments
13 February 2012
The caipirinha countdown continues!
less than 48 hours to go

oktapodi is ready to samba
oktapodi is ready to samba

It's official. We're in that pre-trip zone of chaos where piles of random items litter the living room and to-do lists rule the day. On Wednesday we're heading down to Brazil for 11 days of samba, sun, and carnivaliciousness.

We'll spend the bulk of our time in Rio, soaking up the Carnival vibe. Number one question so far: are you staying at a Marriott? Hah, no. It's notoriously hard to get the associate rate at the JW (the only Marriott hotel in town) and even moreso during the most popular week of the year. So we have a room at one of Brazil's "motels," which seem somewhat akin to Japan's love hotels, normally booked by the hour but surprisingly affordable if you stay overnight or for a week at a time. And of course we love the cheese factor... mirrors on the ceilings? Bring it! The location can't be beat, there's free parking and free wifi, and the price was right. We don't intend to spend much time in the hotel anyway.


Mangueira Samba School, photo by RCS Travel & Tourism
Mangueira Samba School, photo by RCS Travel & Tourism

We decided to get tickets to one of the more traditional Carnival balls, the Mangueira Ball at Rio Scala. Mangueira is one of the oldest samba schools in Rio, and this ball is a chance to party the night away with its drummers, principal samba dancers and the flag bearer and her escort. As the CVB site says, "It is a true and real samba night; you can dance all night or just watch and enjoy the crowd." Count me in!

Sunday night we have tickets to watch some of the main parades in the Sambodromo. Figuring out which seats to book was by far the most complicated part of our itinerary! Ticket prices range from very affordable grandstand free seating to luxury VIP box seats. We opted for something in the middle, reserved seats on the floor. But even that was a complicated choice, as some sectors are more desirable than others because the judges are in a certain area and that's where the dancers do their best to impress. We made what we thought was a reasonable choice, but really it was more like a best guess. I have a feeling we're going to have fun no matter what.


diving in Arraial do Cabo, photo by Keidy Beranger
diving in Arraial do Cabo, photo by Keidy Beranger

Besides the Carnival festivities, the other highlight of the trip will be a scuba excursion to Arraial do Cabo, a site that boasts the best diving on the southern coast of Brazil. This part is a gift from my siblings, who were in cahoots with Mark on the whole birthday surprise. (Have I mentioned lately that I have the best family in the world?) They found us a really cool hotel and an awesome dive shop. The beachy goodness should be a nice respite from the insanity of the city.

There are plenty of other options in the mix -- I'm dying to go tandem hang gliding! -- that we'll figure out when we're there. We're renting a car, which gives us some flexibility on day trips. But the main idea is to live it up carioca-style in one of the most beautiful cities in the world during one of the biggest parties on the planet. Follow along with our posts in the "Brazil" category! 


RELATED POSTS:
* WanderFood Wednesday:
Brazilian Füdism
*
We're going to Rio!

Posted by sonia at 9:30 PM | Link | 1 comment
01 February 2012
WanderFood Wednesday: Brazilian Füdism

In honor of the two-week countdown to our Brazilian junket (can I get a woot-woot?) I decided to post a recap of our last Füdism, a monthly foodie gathering where we throw down the food-geek gauntlet with a group of friends. In January the theme was Brazilian food, and as usual everyone brought their A-game.


"just" a potato salad
"just" a potato salad

feijoada!
feijoada!


Our contribution, besides hosting, was two dishes: codfish balls, and pork empanadas. Om-nom-nom, if I do say so myself.

codfish balls
codfish balls... easy to make and fun to say!

balls in the oven
balls in the oven

mmmm, crispy balls!
mmmm, crispy balls!

Mark chops the meat
Mark chops the meat

empanada filling
empanada filling

empanada-rific
empanada-rific


Part of the fun of these events is poring over cookbooks and internet recipes for just the right dish. It's even better to get an authentic recipe from an expat friend.

arrumadinho
arrumadinho

authentic recipe
authentic recipe, quaintly quoted straight from the source


These photos capture only about half of the total feast, but at some point I stopped snapping and started chowing down. The caipirinhas flowed, the gorgeous dishes kept coming, and we had plenty of meaty goodness.

meaty goodness
no Brazilian meal would be complete without a big hunk of meat


I'm a bit chagrined to note that I focused solely on the "food porn" shots, and neglected to take a single picture of the delightful people who not only prepped these dishes but also made the gathering extra-festive. My bad! Brazilians are legendary for their hospitality... I think this group of gringos made a good run at it. Saúde, fudistas!


Be sure to check out Wanderlust & Lipstick's WanderFood Wednesday for more mouth-watering travel foodie posts.


RELATED LINKS:
* We're going to Rio!
* browse all WanderFood Wednesday posts


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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
16 November 2011
We're going to Rio!

Sambodromo! image courtesy RCS Travel & Tourism

It's been in the works for over a decade.

For Mark's 30th birthday, I took him to Mardi Gras to celebrate. Unbeknownst to me, he's been scheming ever since about how to top that for my 40th. (This kind of competition is what I call a win-win!) And for my birthday this year, he announced that we're going to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival. Woot!

samba competition

In 2012, Carnival starts on February 18... closer to Mark's birthday than mine, but who's complaining? We have our flights booked, but not our accommodations, so that's definitely the next order of business. We'll be there for about 10 days, so we probably won't have time to see much outside the city. But recommendations for daytrips and things to do in Rio are welcome. Should we get tickets for the Sambodromo? What about the balls? What are some other (and perhaps less-obvious) ways to experience Carnival? Let the crowdsourcing begin!

In the meantime, we'll be practicing our Portuguese and maybe even learning to samba. Should be an epic adventure.

And if anyone has any ideas for how I'm possibly going to trump this for Mark's 50th birthday, lemme know!

all images courtesy RCS Travel & Tourism

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 2 comments