Category Archives: Brazil

Chinese Graffiti

On December 30, 2012, we had the free breakfast at the apartment. 

Ivan’s dong a half marathon soon, so he decided to go running.  He came back awhile later and ran some, but it was too hot and humid to do the full length he wanted to do.

Later on, we went to Feira Hippie de Ipanema which is the Hippie Market of Ipanema which occurs on Sundays.  I bought a few souvenirs.

Ivan and I shared an acai (the superfood that is from the Brazilian Amazon) with bananas and granola at Amazônia Soul. 

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It was cold and tasty.

We got a taxi to Parque Lage. 

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I noticed a cool sign outside of the café.  Ivan wanted to check out their café. 

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There was interesting art inside.

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Ivan found a great self guided graffiti tour which is around the area of Parque Lage and Jardim Botanico (Botanic Gardens). 

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We walked around for awhile checking out the cool graffiti and street art.

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If you want to see all the graffiti we saw, go here.

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Ivan and I jumped into a taxi and headed back to Copacabana Beach.  Ivan and I each had a caiprinha for R$6 each which was cheaper than the one we had on Ipanema Beach. 

We walked back to the apartment and used the internet.  I also worked on the blog.

The natural buffet place was already closed.  Ivan found a Chinese restaurant called Chon Kou.  Lil Dave got the mu shu banana.  Ivan and I got a bean curd for a starter which had a great sauce.  Then, we shared a fish in a hot sauce and a fish with mushrooms and onions.  It was a really tasty meal.

Ivan and I watched the movie Turistas before going to bed. 

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Copacabana Bars

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up at 9:45 am on December 29, 2012.  We had the free breakfast and chatted with Mauricio and Stuart. 

It was great staying at their lovely home Casa Verde with the friendly Mauricio and Stuart and their cute dogs. 

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The only downside is that the location is far from the beach.  It’s a 45 minute drive by bus (plus wait time for the bus) to the beach.  We said good-bye to Mauricio and Stuart.

We waited a few minutes for the bus to Copacabana.  It was another hot day out.  I fell asleep on the bus even though it was hot and humid.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I arrived at the new apartment at 1:20 pm.  The apartment is in a great location – about a block away from Copacabana Beach.  We met Elizabeth and her husband who were really nice.  Ivan asked about restaurants nearby and she told us about a few per kilo buffet places.  She mentioned a natural one and Ivan said yes that sounds good.  He asked where it was and she said she could show us.

About 15 minutes later, we left the apartment with Elizabeth to Restaurante Natural Beterraba.  Ivan and I picked food from the buffet selection which did have chicken, salmon and lots of vegetarian foods.  It’s priced R$3.49 per kilogram.  We filled up our plates and then sat down to eat.  The food was pretty good.

We back to the apartment and used the internet. 

At 4:45 pm, we walked to Copacabana Beach.  It was now overcast and not as humid.  The tide went out far onto the beach, so we got wet.. some areas my shorts would get wet.  The water was really cold since the sun had gone in. 

We walked for a long time.  Loud music was playing from a big stage, but then it stopped when we came closer to it.  Near the stage, we saw HUGE waves that would break by the beach.  The waves could really knock you out. 

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Ivan noticed sand art with Santa Claus and girls in bikinis.  It was really quite good.

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We walked further and saw more sand art.  Then, we started walking back to the apartment.

Ivan nipped out to grab sorbet popsicles at Delicias do Cerrado across the street – we had these passion fruit popsicles at the bird park and thought they were delicious.  Ivan got two banana popsicles for him and Lil Dave and an avocado one for me.  They have a big selection of fruit popsicles.  I want to try mango next.

Ivan and I took showers before heading out at 7:15 pm.

We walked to General Osorio’s Square which is outside General Osorio Metro Station for the Rio Walks’ Bar to Bar tour.  We met our tour guide Beatrice and the two older Brazilian ladies who were also doing the tour.  There was supposed to be 7 Spanish people joining us, but they never showed up.  It was nice that it was only four of us since it feels like a personalized tour.

Beatrice was going to take us around bars in the South Zone of Rio.

Our first stop was at the bar Belmonte.  Beatrice recommended the empada which is a pie, sounds similar to en empanada but it’s not even close to one.  Ivan and I got a camarao (shrimp) fechada empada and a bacalhau (cod) aberta empada.  The cod empada looked more like a fish ball. 

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The shrimp empada was my favorite which looked like a muffin, but they both tasted good.  Ivan and I also shared a strawberry caipirinha.  Caipirinha is the Brazilian cocktail made from sugar, rum and lime.  The caiprinha was strong and had lots of strawberries in it. 

We started walking by the beach.  Bea told us that there are certain posts (areas) on Ipanema Beach where different personalities hang out.  Post 9 is where the young hip crowd hangs out.  Between Posts 8 and 9 is the gay spot and Post 10 is for the wealthy people.  Post 11 is where you go to see celebrities and Post 12 is where families with young kids hang out.  Find out more about the posts here.

Beatrice told us how one part of Brazil didn’t want to become independent from Portuguese rule.  One man helped Brazil become independent by playing the trumpet to cheer on the soldiers to keep fighting.  We saw the statue of this man in the street.

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The group went to Garota de Impanema bar which means Girl of Impanema.  The Girl of Impanema lived down the street from this bar.  The song was written at this bar.  Beatrice was planning on taking us here, but it was so busy at the bar that there weren’t any seats available  She told us that the shrimps with marinara and herbs and the crab served in a shell were great dishes at this bar.

Ivan wanted to find a place for espresso.  We went into one café, but it was already closed.  Beatrice knew of a place, so we walked on.

Bea told us that the best ice cream place was Italia.  Ivan thought we should stop and get some.  Ivan and I shared a delicious Belgian chocolate ice cream in a cup.

It was off to our next bar at the bar Devassa.  Devassa means naughty girl.  Devassa is known for the beer that they brew. 

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Ivan and I ordered a caipirante (a special caipirinha) which was supposed to have strawberries, bananas and a touch of cinnamon.. but it came with bananas and mangoes instead.  We also shared the casquinha de siri which is like the crab in Garota de Impanema bar, but it’s not served in a shell. 

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The crab was really tasty.  It came with farofa which is toasted manioc flour mixture.  I thought the farofa tasted like what I think sawdust would taste like – not good at all.  We also drank an espresso to wake up a bit.

The group started walking to the Leblon neighorhood which is the wealthiest neighborhood in Rio. 

I asked Beatrice why people wore white for New Year’s Eve. She said that white means peace. People wear the clothing to represent what they want in the New Year. Pink and Red means you want love and Yellow means you want money. Lingerie stores like Loungerie sell packages that include underwear for what you want in the new year like all red or pink lingerie.

The next bar was Bracarense which was voted the best bar in Brazil in 2001.  I’m not really sure why it won since it wasn’t anything special.  The bar is known for the draft beer which is Brahma.  Ivan and I each got a beer – mine was mini sized. 

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Ivan and I shared a cod ball and enjoyed it with the bar’s own pepper sauce.  The sauce was a little spicy.

The group walked to Jobi Bar which is a bar that’s open very late til 5 am.  It’s a bar where lots of people flirt.  It wasn’t anything special and Ivan and I shared a beer.

The next bar was Chico & Alaíde

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Ivan and I shared a tasty passion fruit caipirinha here.

Our last bar was Hipódromo which is located in Gávea.  Ivan and I decided just to get a sparkling water. 

This walking bar tour was fantastic.  Beatrice is so friendly and she’s always smiling.  I highly recommend taking this tour to try some new foods and check out the bars in Rio.  The bars weren’t the fanciest bars, but it’s nice to see the bar culture, try the caipirinha and beer and learn some Rio history.

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Favela Tour

Ivan and I left the house at 1 pm on December 28, 2012.  Lil Dave went to meet up with his long lost monkey cousin who’s a gangster – he’s going to show him around his favela. 

Ivan and I grabbed some snacks at the Hotel Marina Palace.  We were picked up for the Favela Tour at 2 pm.  Our guide was a man named Everaldo.  The bus was filled with English, American and Dutch people. 

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The first favela we went to was Rochina (pronounced ho-sin-ya).  This is Rio’s largest favela with a population of 250,000 people.  It has the good and the bad with the most expensive street in a Rio favela and poor sewage which means unsanitary conditions where lots of people get tuberculosis.  Everaldo introduced us to some of the artists and shops owners in the favela. 

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There was a great view of the Rio from this spot.  We had ten minutes to browse the shops.

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The group went back on the van and went to a house in the favela.  On the balcony, we had a great view of the colorful buildings of Rochina which is situated in the hillside. 

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The group piled back on the van.  Everaldo knew a lot about the favelas.  There are 950 favelas in Rio.  20% of the population in Rio de Janeiro live there – not all the residents are poor with doctors and lawyers living here.  Communities are formed in the favelas to build associations to get services like sewer, garbage disposal, water and electricity.  That’s why you see lots of trash on the streets.  There are gangs and drugs in the favela, but for the most part the favelas are a safer place to live probably since there’s no police here.  Police visit once a year and they will announce the time and date of their visit.  I still noticed two policemen who patrol the area with big machine guns. 

Our next stop was Para Ti community school.  A percentage of the money raised from the Favela Tour is donated to this school.  We didn’t get to see any students since it’s Christmas break.  Kids ages 5 to 15 attend this school.  From the second floor, we saw a nice view of the Villa Canoas favela which was the next place the group was headed to.

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The group got back in the van and we drove to Villa Canoas.  We stopped at a bar where we could buy drinks or a caipirinha.  Everaldo asked that we don’t take any pictures for privacy reasons since we were walking right in the alleys of the homes.  This favela is a lot smaller with 2,500 residents. We walked through the narrow alleyways.  Villa Canoas is a lot nicer than Rochina with a better sewage system. 

Everaldo told us that in the 1800’s, 20,000 veteran soldiers were brought back from a war against the Canudos and had no place to live.  They decided to build houses in the hillside.  Somebody found favela beans in the hills and that’s how the name was coined.  Although, I was looking at favela on Wikipedia and it says differently.. it says that it had to do with Canudos’s Favela Hill — a name referring to favela, a skin-irritating tree in the spurge family indigenous to Bahia.

The Favela Tour was great to learn more about the favelas and actually be able to walk around two of the them.

Afterwards, everybody was taken back to their hotel.  We got dropped off at Ipanema beach and we walked to a square. 

Ivan and I went to a grocery store and picked up toothpaste and razors.  I got some lozenges for my sore throat at a pharamacy.

Ivan was hungry since we didn’t have a proper lunch, so we stopped at Koni Store for a snack.  Ivan and I shared a shrimp yakisoba and a salmon sushi.

We wanted to try a caipirinha, so we walked to the beach and found a stall selling the drink for R$10.  Ivan and I each got one and sat on plastic chairs on the beach. 

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My caipirinha was salty and sweet at first, but then the salty flavor went away.  It was quite strong and tasty.

Ivan and I got the 354 bus back to the house and we arrived shortly before 8:30 pm.

Later that night, we went to the Italian restaurant Cozzi Restaurante for dinner.  It’s a mile away from the house.  Ivan and I shared a white fish with shrimp on top and a penne with shrimp and a great arrabiata sauce.  The dishes were pricey (about $20 USD each), but they were a decent portion and tasted great.

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Rio Birds

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up at 9 am on December 27, 2012.  The power went out in the hostel.  Ivan went to get the free breakfast of cereal.  I went back to sleep. 

We took showers and then packed everything up.

A guy at Hostel Inn told Ivan that we should cross the street and wait for the bus headed to Iguazú Falls on the Brazilian side. 

We walked across the street to wait for the bus.  Two girls were waiting as well.  A taxi driver stopped and asked if we wanted to go in the taxi for the same price as the bus.  Ivan went over and said that was good.  So, we started going, but Ivan recognized the sign that we saw yesterday.  We were actually heading to the Iguazú Falls on the Argentina side.  The guy at the hostel gave Ivan the wrong information.   The driver took the two American girls to the Falls.  He told us that it would be 200 pesos to the Brazilian side.  To get there by bus, it would cost 160 pesos and we would have to transfer twice.  Ivan thought we should avoid the hassle and take the taxi.

The taxi took us to the Argentina Immigration where we didn’t even have to get out.  Our passports were stamped and off we went to the Brazilian Immigration. 

We got out of the car.  Ivan and I had to fill out forms.  The Immigration guy looked at my Brazilian visa and I got a stamp and our entry/exit form was stamped as well.  You have to keep the exit form and give it to Immigration when you exit.

It was great that both Immigration didn’t have a wait and it was very simple.

The taxi arrived at the Iguazú Falls entrance and we noticed two long lines.  Ivan put down his stuff and went in search of an ATM.  Ivan found out that the two lines are for buying tickets and one for waiting for the bus that takes you to the falls. 

We placed our bags in two lockers at the Iguazú Falls entrance.  Ivan and I thought we should try the falls later if the line was A LOT shorter.

We walked across the street to the bird park Parque Das Aves.  Ivan asked the lady at the entrance if the restaurant in the park was better than the restaurant across the street.  She said yes.  In Brazil, most people speak Portuguese.

The menu didn’t have many vegetarian or fish items.  Ivan and I ordered fish croquettes to share and an egg and cheese sandwich for each of us.  Lil Dave got a banana and peanut butter sandwich. 

Ivan read that people spend 3 to 4 hours at the bird park. 

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We spent 50 minutes walking around and saw many types of birds, a few snakes, crocodiles, turtles, flamingos and a variety of butterflies. 

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It’s too bad that there’s not an area where you can feed the birds.. Ivan loves doing that. 

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There wasn’t that much to see so I’m not sure how people spend so long at this park.  The best bird park we’ve been to is the KL Bird Park in Kuala Lumpur in 2009.

Walked back across the street to the Iguazú Falls entrance, but the line was still long.  It would probably be an hour to get on the bus.  Ivan read that most people thought the Brazilian side was boring compared to the Argentine side.  I thought that it would be best if we just left it and went to the airport early.

We got a taxi for 20 pesos to the Foz do Iguaçu Airport which was only 5 minutes away.  Our flight was at 7 pm.  Ivan noticed an earlier flight to Rio de Janeiro at 4 pm.  Since it was 2 pm, he asked the lady at the counter if we could change the flight and she said yes.  There wasn’t even a charge for changing the flight. 

Ivan used the internet while I worked on the blog.

Our plane took off at 4:05 pm.  Ivan and I watched the Christmas episode of Miranda and episodes of Balls of Steel Australia.  The plane landed at 6:09 pm in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

We got our backpacks and got a taxi to the house Ivan booked through Booking.com.  We were staying for two nights with a gay couple named Stuart and Mauricio at Casa Verde.  The English and Brazilian men were so very friendly.  They own two adorable Schnauzers.  The dogs are so cute, I want to take them home with me.

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Their house is beautiful with lovely artwork done by Stuart and a great pool outside.

Later on, we walked to dinner at Pizzaria Plano B with Stuart and Mauricio.  Ivan and I ordered a pizza with one half with tuna and the other half was mushroom. 

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Lil Dave got a banana pizza.  The pizzas were cut in a checkerboard pattern and we were given little wooden forks to eat it with.  We chatted awhile about traveling, Rio and hypnosis.

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