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A Garf From Impanema

Brigitte Bardot News

A Garf From Impanema

A good article: BUZIOS So the trip started by flying into Rio and hopping on a bus to the town on Buzios- a beach resort area about two and a half hours away. They call it the Hamptons of Brazil but I beg to differ. While the town, water and beaches were perfectly nice, the class of people was a little to be desired. I mean there’s a street called Orla Bardot that leads into Rua des Pedras. (Bridgitte Bardot made the town famous in the 60’s- hence the street name and there’s even a statue of her along the water). These streets are lined with restaurants and boutiques- all a bit overpriced in my opinion. Basically couldn’t eat with a couple of glasses of wine for under $60. Anyway, these streets are wonderful to sit and people watch. And what a view it was- to quote my Facebook post from the Saturday night where there were hundreds of people strolling the street- I have seen more camel toe, and the male equivalent, in 36 hours in Buzios than my peeps did in 40 years of wandering around Egypt . I know, not the prettiest image. Now that said, my hotel was incredible- it was called the Abracadbra- it was on a hill overlooking the bay with incredible sunsets and some awesome Capirinihas. Basically it is a sister hotel of one of the nicest hotels (Vilaa Brancas) in the area- you get to use their facilities and even cut through for a shortcut to town. The rooms were full of charm and a little less cold than Brancas. It was a bit cloudy that first afternoon but made for a nice sunset. The next morning was bright as all can be so I set off into town to catch one of many boats that go around the north-side of the peninsula. The beaches and water were stunning- but the tiny bikinis and all the speedos- were a bit much on the eyes. This is a trip well worth the price- it included many water downed capirinihas and lots of stops to swim. One more image to paint for you… In a country that invented the Brazilian Wax, wouldn’t it be nice if the women shaved their legs and armpits? So on Sunday, my third and final day in Buzios, it was cloudy with spotty rain. Basically it was sun showers all morning long. I sat at the hotel pool- 15 minutes sun/cloud with 10 minutes of rain. Lots of reading was done. In the afternoon, rather than keep this routine going, I did the open air bus tour to see the Southern beaches of the peninsula. Lots of green, cactus lined hills overlooking sand and water. I probably would not have done this if it was raining- you actually wind up seeing most of the island on the busride in. Plus, if it was sunny, I would have spent the day at the hotel beach club which is supposed to be very nice. OH well, off to Rio for 3 days. RIO Well another bus ride into Rio de Janeiro- another cloudy afternoon to change my plans . See I was once again in a great hotel, the Ipanema Plaza, half a block from the Ipanema Beach (home of the song that is now going through your head!) My plans were to spend the afternoon at the beach but instead had to have a quick drink and snack to chase the clouds away. Headed to the beach next over, Leblon. This is a bit more chi-chi than Ipanema which is more casual but nice. Had a fantastic dinner and drinks with a group of 4 Scandinavian gentlemen (married so not much more to say). The next morning a booked a small group tour with a company I would highly recommend, Brazil Expeditions. For my regular readers, you know I don’t normally join a tour and prefer solo exploring. However, the crime rate is pretty high in Rio and the sites relatively far apart. Therefore, I thought this was a good option and much cheaper and smaller than the big tours . The company mainly caters to the hostel crowd- which was nice to hang out with for the day. We drove through Tijuca Park- lots of forest and a small waterfall. The highlight is Cristo Redenter- or Christ the Redeemer- the icon of Rio. Alas, we were unable to see him clearly as it was very much covered in clouds. In retrospect, I actually like the way you can really only see the shadow. After having a meal in the up and coming art area of St Theresa, we stopped in Lapa at the Escadaria Selaron. Basically this is a set of steps lined with bright color tiles. Supposedly, a famous Snoop Dog video was shot on these- I just thought they were pretty. And now a word about nightlife. When I thought of Brazil, I expected non-stop partying. And supposedly the Samba clubs of Lapa have some energy- however, traveling alone, I was a little uncomfortable heading through some less than quality neighborhoods. Therefore, I kind of stuck to the area right around my hotel which had some good casual restaurants- including one with some live music and casual beers. One of the other parties is to go to the Favellas or slums via an escorted party tour. This is something I personally find awful- while the Favellas are extremely dangerous and probably have lots of color, treating the residents like a zoo exhibit angers me. Go on, volunteer in a favella (not that I did) but gawking is not for me. Woke up to bright sunny skies on my third day which was good because I had three activities I wanted to enjoy. First, I took a nice walk along the beach between Ipanema and Leblon. Now they warn you not to bring anything of value to the beach, the walk was filled with people exercising- which explains everyone’s fantastic bodies. All along the beach were nets where people played soccer, volleyball, and something called footvolley (basically volleyball but with soccer moves). I was then picked up at the hotel for a very exciting activity- hang-gliding! Basically, you hook in with a guide, run off a cliff over 500 meters tall, and soar like an eagle- seeing the beautiful sights of Rio- the beaches, favella and mountains that rise right from the sea. This was a total rush- well worth the expense! My last stop of the day was taking the cable car ride up Sugar Loaf mountain- for view of the sea, town and even a distant Redeemer (ah what a difference the sunshine makes). Had the weather been nicer all of the days, I would have also gotten to the famed Copacabana beach- but unfortunately had to stuff basically the site-seeing into one day of sun. Oh well, they say the beaches are nicer in Ipanema as it is. And since I know you are still humming the tune to a Girl from Ipanema, there is a restaurant that is where the song was written as the author watched the girls walk by to the beach. It was one block from the hotel and I was going to go- I walked by and it had an overpriced, tourist menu and the night I went, the credit card machine was down. Since I had set out with little cash due to the warnings to not bring out much, decided not to indulge here- but still couldn’t stop humming the whole time I was there. Iguazu Falls An early morning flight to Iguazu Falls- falls that Niagra look like a shower- and not a very forceful one at that. The falls are in both Brazil and Argentina. I decided to stay in Argentina IN the actual park at the Sheraton. Why? Because there were more paths to see rather than just the one path that took about 4 hours to see in Brazil. And also because I can earn points and was a bit cheaper (significantly cheaper). Two nights here of total relaxing- plus hearing more English than I have in days. First the Brazil side- you basically take a path and see a full panoramic view of all the falls together. While it appears to be one giant fall, Iguazu is really made up of 275 individual falls. With the exception of the view of the falls (and the rainbow), not much else to see. Little wildlife on this side (much more on the Argentina side). However, there is a little excitement- you can stand practically in the middle of the Devils Throat- the main roaring center of the falls. There’s also a very exciting raft ride that pretty much takes you INTO the falls- you get soaking wet- which is refreshing as the sun was here to stay! However, I did the full circuit- which included a truck ride through the forest- not too exciting. Maybe for all who go in the future, only do the zodiac raft ride- that was a rush! Now for the Argentina side- the hotel overlooks the f
alls- and you can totally hear them even when you can’t see them. Spent the first evening drinking and laughing with a couple from Atlanta- let’s just say the bartender became a close friend of mine. There is absolutely nothing to do at night if you stay in the park but it is worth it as you can wake up and start the walk right away! First thing I saw, a toucan sitting in the first tree of the path- but I wound up deleting those pictures on purpose because that evening, right off my balcony, there were about 20 toucans- incredible. The birds were incredible- a whole slew of green parrots, a blue bird with bright yellow chest and also Pele- the stuffed parrot mascot! There are a series of lots of paths through the falls. While slightly less impressive than the Brazil side as a whole, I personally liked this side better because there were more paths to experience more to yourself- although very crowded still. The afternoon was spent hanging poolside. Early evening since I had to wake up at 3:30 (yes AM) for my flight to Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo Well, not much to see in this main city of town- it is a sprawled out metropolis that I probably would have skipped if it wasn’t for the U2 show! Those Brazilians went absolutely nuts when the boys came on. As always, Bono and co were very much on and entertaining. Highlights of the show? New video than the previous shows, into of the band as pizza, great rendition of Miss Sarajevo, Help leading into Streets, Hold Me/Thrill Me/Kiss Me/Kill Me, and before Moment of Surrender a beautiful tribute to the children killed in Rio earlier in the week. The stadium was a bit out of the center- and as with many stadiums the question of how to get 90,000 people out is a challenge. Luckily, I met 3 fantastic people- an Irish couple now living in SP and a woman from Sao Paulo. They adopted me and we were able to find and share a cab at a somewhat reasonable cost (only about 2.5 times what it cost to get there!) After we went for dinner and a cocktail- home at 3am. My adopted parents of the night invited me to their house the next day where we laughed, had some wine and a delicious pasta meal in their backyard- with 3 adorable dogs AND monkeys that lived in their backyard- just 30 minutes out of the city center. What a great way to end the trip. Had I had more time I would have enjoyed more time in the trendy restaurants, bars and shops but new friends are even better than the real thing ! Next up for Garf? Come Memorial Day weekend (and the week after) a west coast tour of Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco- and yes, there will be 2 more U2 shows in there! Good news, is that’s two new states for me- getting closer to the goal of 50 states/countries by the time I am 50- which is still very far away! Until then, CIAO- and speak with you as Amy. Remember: To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world. “ Freya Stark

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A Garf From Impanema

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