Monday, 20 July 2009

Hi - tops!





We had just one evening and a full day back in Buenos Aires which we spent catching up with Kirsty and her friends, and mostly SHOPPING!

It was decided in advance of our fleeting visit back to BA that Dave would cook for us, Kirsty and Kirsty's lovely friends Peggy and Rose. Dave cooked up a feast of eggplant with roast tomatoes and basil, stuffed peppers with risotto, and his famous meatballs and flatbread - it was delicious! And Rose was the perfect host in her gorgeous apartment. It was good to be back in BA and for Dave it was good to be back in the kitchen.

The following day we started slightly on the hungover side so we went back to our fav place in Palermo for breakfast and a lush coffee (coffee is very hit and miss in Argentina!) and then we started a rather crazy shopping spree which left us with extremely full backpacks - however the winter coats where much needed for heading to Chile and onto NZ. We also both brought some awesome hi-top trainers - check them out! We also brought 3 boxes of Havanna alfajores for us to enjoy with family and friends in Sydney - believe us they're worthing dragging around Argentina, Chile and NZ.

That night we caught the overnight bus to Mendoza and seeing as we're on our honeymoon it was only right that we booked the Royal Suite and enjoyed full beds with our own TV screens, wine and champers!

Mr and Mrs T xx

Iguazu falls...truly amazing!







We started our Iguazu falls trip on the brazilian side. We arrived into Foz do Iguazu at 8am and made our way to the Parque Iguazu for our first look at the falls. The view from the brazilian side is completely panoramic so you get a feel for the length and breadth of the falls, which are truly amazing.

You don`t need to spend much time at the parque there just a couple of hours so we decided we`d also go and visit the Itaipu dam before we crossed over to Argentina. Itaipu dam is the largest hydro electric plant in the world - 65 storeys high and 8km long, and enough water held for 4,000 litres per person on the earth! It produces 95% of electricity for Paraguay and 20% of electricity for Brazil. Its huge!

Later on that afternoon we crossed over into Argentina where we were full of excitement for seeing the falls again, as well as being back in Argentina for more good steaks, wine, and alfajores!!

We had a beautiful day to visit the falls from the Argentine side, which were really spectacular. From this side you are more, what can we say "in it" - you are literally right there on the edge of the falls, in particular seeing ´Devil´s Throat´was amazing, the power and volume of water is unbelievable! From the Agrentine side you get to do a number of different walks completely experiencing a number of the individual falls, either walking over them or in some cases very near under them - at least close enough to be covered in spray anyways! The size, power, and noise of the falls are magnificent, as was the bright rainbow shining through against the spray from the bottom of the gorge.

The falls are a truly amazing magnificent sight that if anybody gets the chance to visit really should go. Definitely one of our highlights.

Mr and Mrs T xx

More rain...this time in Florianopolis
















So after a long day travelling from Ilha do Mel to Florianopolis we finally arrived around 7pm to...you guessed it...pouring rain! The next day we awoke to some lovely sunshine (which soon after vanished) so we spent our first day in Florianopolis roaming around the old market and square, walking along the bay and mooching in and out of the shops.

We had big plans the following day to hit one of the beaches but this was sorely shattered by the grey and rainy day. Our day turned into a marathon of blog writing and ended with a gigantic pizza and wine.

So again we had big hopes for the beaches as this time we awoke to blue skies, however by the time we figured out how to get the buses to the beach and made it to Barra do Lagoa the blue sky had been completely covered by thick grey clouds. Our trip to the beach lasted all of 5 minutes as we quickly headed back into town to get away from the cold beaches. Barroa do Lagoa was a very long beach which looked like it would be a completely different place in the summer and with the sunshine. Dammit! To make our grey day better we headed for a late lunch at 11 Fiornaio which was truly amazing.

Yet another day was lost to bad weather - grey and wet so by this point cabin fever was starting to set in as we`d practically been living in our hotel room for the last 4 days. So with one day left we only hoped for some good weather and right on cue, the next morning, the day we left, we awoke to beautiful blue skies. So for our final day we made our way to Mole beach to watch the finals of a surf competition, good job there was a surf competition to watch because it was bloody freezing! We watched two aussies get knocked out in the semi finals and watched two brazilians compete for the title, which a 15 year old won. I don`t think the guy who came second, who was clearly twice his age, was too happy about that!

And so that was that for Florianopolis as we took an overnight bus to Foz do Iguacu, followed by our final day in Brazil.

Mr and Mrs T x

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Ilha do Mel





We woke to a very wet morning on Ilha do Mel, but as the day went on it began to clear up gradually, although most of the day it was very grey. We walked a bit of the island to see its a simple place with sandy tracks leading to little pousadas and to the other beaches. We saw the grotto and Dave risked the beautiful women putting a curse on him by entering it (as quoted on the signpost infront of the grotto). The curse obviously took effect as Dave lost all but one game of shithead that day and also lost pool to the champ Libby. As you can tell the grey day was mainly spent playing shithead and pool.
The day eventually cleared up just in time for sunset, so we managed to sit and watch a lovely sunset together - we were literally the only people on the island except for the people living there. Typically the weather cleared up just in time for our depature the following morning.
Sure enough clear blue skies arrived just in time for us to get the morning boat backto Paranagua. Also waiting for us was a super low tide so they had to drive the boat through the sand!
We had a long day travelling, a boat from Ilha do Mel, a bus to Curitiba, and then a bus to Florianopolis, to arrive into - you guessed it - pouring rain!
Mr and Mrs T xx

Curitiba and the train to Paranagua









So with fantastic hangovers we made our way on the bus to Curitiba. Curitiba itself is not much to speak of, the only highlight was the truly retro Hotel Cervantes we stayed at, complete with original 70s fittings. The best thing about it, is that it wasn´t trying to be retro it just had exactly the same furniture from when it was first built, obviously sometime in the 70s. After a long bus ride eating snacks and still with big hangovers we fancied a hearty dinner however we couldn´t find a single restaurant open in Curitiba, just these little Adegas selling the usual cheese and meat pastry things, fried stuff, and kibe etc which we didn´t want so after walking around for over an hour we opted for going to a shop and buying cheese and crackers!
We were up early for the 8.15am Serra Verde Express train to Paranagua (we had to time this trip right as the train only leaves on a Sunday to Parangua). The train ride winds through the forest high over gulleys and around cliffs, stunning scenery - there was something like 13 tunnels and 42 bridges and viaducts, if our terrible understanding of portugese serves us correctly! It took 9,000 workers to build the railway many of whom died from accidents and diseases whilst building it.
Unfortuately for us the day was quite cloudy so the views weren´t as good as we´ve seen in the pictures, but it was a great train ride all the same. The train stopped at Morrentes where most people got off to go and enjoy an afternoon lunch. We actually got off the train thinking we were at Paranagua, but luckily made it back on to the train just in time for it to continue to our stop.

We wondered around Paranagua for a couple of hours before boarding our boat to a small island called Ilha do Mel. Libby was very excited to have found mulled wine from a little street seller in Paranagua. It was very similar to the mulled wine back home except for the 8 spoonfuls of sugar they must put in each cup - quite typical of the Brazilians, like the Argentines, and Bolivians to sweeten things up. Late afternoon we eventually arrived on Ilha do Mel, arriving on yet another island where again it was raining.

Mr and Mrs T xx

Sao Paulo
















We arrived in Sao Paulo early evening and got some recommendations on hostels from the tourist info place at the bus terminal, however the recommended hostel was all booked up after we´d walked around Vila Madalena with our big bloody backpacks on for sometime to find it, luckily the hostel we tried called around the other hostels for us and found one four blocks away which was a blessing in disguise as this hostel was fab, as was the ubiquius Tulio - the owner, whom we decided was the Brazilian version of ¨Franz¨from Father of the Bride! We both loved this hostel as it was full of really awesome retro funiture we so wish we had.

In our usual excitement of arriving in a new place we decided to head out to a recommended bar by Tulio - Filial bar - for some drinks and a light dinner. As usual our light dinner turned into copious amounts of brazilian food washed down with a number of chopp´s. At the bar we watched the Corinthians win the Copa do Brasil sparking fireworks in the streets, as usual we wanted to party but our full bellies wanted us to sleep, alas we turned in for the night. Hopeless again!

We woke to a surprisingly wet morning, putting a dampner on our plans to see lots of the city. Instead we went to see the excellent Vik Muniz exhibition at the MASP (Museo de Arte de Sao Paulo), which was really fantastic. We spent the rest of the afternoon in an indoor shopping mall to escape the rain and then took the metro back to our hostel, on the way back we stopped and window shopped at these amazing vintage furniture shops. The evening was spent eating sushi and drinking in Cristoral bar.

Another grey day but we decided to go into the centre anyway to visit the Edificio Altino Arantes, once owned by the Banco do Estado de Sao Paulo, now owned by the Santander Bank - the 35th floor observatory gave us views of the city, slightly spoiled by the grey day! In the afternoon we headed to El Dorado shopping mall for some more window shopping and then we managed to refrain from eating out and we actually made ourselves a salad for dinner, a first for this trip! That night we went out late with some people from our hostel and ended up in a warehouse style club with a live funk samba band who were brilliant - quite like the Quantic Soul Orchestra. We actually partied until 5am, amazing for how hopeless we´ve been so far, especially given our 7am start to make our way to Curitiba.
Mr and Mrs T xx

Paraty





We made our way to Paraty from Ilha Grande, taking the ferry back to Angra dos Reis and then the local bus, with the mental bus driver, to Paraty.

Paraty is a beautiful colonial town with white washed buildings and very cobbled streets. We only had one day in Paraty, which was lucky timing as the following day the famous book festival - FLIP - was starting and every hostel was more than likely to be booked out for it. We walked through the old town wondering in and out of the little boutique shops and seeing everything getting set up for the festival.

That evening we decided to splash out and eat in the best restaurant in town, as recommended by our guide book, called Merlin o Mago. It was a really amazing dinner, perfect for our one night in Paraty.

Mr and Mrs T xx

Ilha Grande











We took the bus from Rio to Angra dos Reis where we took the ferry to Ilha Grande, along the way we met a lovely couple Thomas and Cecile from Toulouse, he had recently started working at a pousada called Pousada Naturalia on Ilha Grande, this was a stroke of luck for us as Thomas led us to his pousada of paradise, which we were particularly thankful for as it was tipping down with rain when we arrived on the island and we would of had no clue where to head. The pousada was gorgeous, with stunning views, lovely rooms, and amazing breakfast!


We awoke the first morning to grey cloudy weather following the night of torrential rain and decided to take one of the walks through the forest to the other beaches. At the start of our walk we were met by a dog who decided to be our guide for the walk, she walked with us through the evergreen rainforest terrain and up a very slippery slope to the waterfall and back down to the beach, she was even great at pointing out the monkeys for us in the trees by frantically barking at them. I think all up it was about a 3 hour trek so when we arrived at one of the other beaches we opted to take a boat back to Abraao where we were staying. That evening we went out for dinner and a few drinks and met up with Thomas and Cecile at a local barn dance in celebrationof Saint Pedro´s Day. The kids were all dressed up - the boys were wearing straw hats, checked shirts and had painted on moustaches and the girls in floral dresses and plaits in their hair and they all danced together in perfect barn dance routine. Brilliant - we love a good barn dance! We stayed there before dashing back to the pousada as a thunderstorm had broken out, which was good as it washed the clouds away.

The next day we walked to Abraaozinho beach where we befriended a crab for the day. In the afternoon we went back to the village to watch Brazil beat the U.S. 3-2 in the Confederation Cup final whilst drinking passionfruit caipirihna´s. Later that evening we had more caipirihna´s back at the Poussada with Laurent (the owner), Thomas, Cecile, and another honeymooning couple Sarah and Phil from Toronto.

On our final day on Ilha Grande we decided to take the 3 hour trek on foot to Lopez Mendes beach, which was spectacular, definitely worth the trek through the rainforest to get there. It was a long beach with snow soft sand, crystalline water, and pounding waves. After some sunbathing we opted to take the boat back. Overall a blissful island everyone should visit if they get the opportunity.
Mr and Mrs T x

Her name was Rio...


















Our week in Rio began with a cloudless sunny day so from our hostel at Copacabana beach we walked down the street and headed straight onto the beach. Copacabana beach was cleaner and much less cheesy than we had expected - we really enjoyed laying on the beach soaking up the sunshine (it was the first time Dave and I had made it to the beach together since Malta in August 2007!).

Our day of sunshine was followed by a debaucherous night with Andy Allen (he wouldn´t have it any other way, especially when we´d told him we hadn´t really been that drunk since being away on our trip, thus Andy proceeded to get us the drunkiest to date!). So we started off with a civil dinner in Copacabana beach and then Andy took us to the favela where he used to live and where he lives close to now, there we met up with his wife Liliana and carried on drinking. One tequila turned into 3, 3 tequilas turned into 5, then we drank some other spirit neat that we´d never heard of, then another tequila and then next thing we know it we´re in the local club trying to samba. Andy and Liliana were very impressive samba dancers, us on the other hand, with god knows how many tequilas inside us, were more like dancing elephants on tranquilizers. Poor Andy and Liliana were both trying to teach us to samba, luckily I was wearing flip flops otherwise I think I may have broken every toe on Andy´s foot!

It was a very hungover start to the following day so what better way to recover than lying in the sun on Copacabana beach. Later that afternoon we went back to the hostel to wait for our pick up to Maracana´Stadium to see Flamengo play Internacional from Porto Allegre. Flamengo smashed Internacional 4 - 0 so it was a very exciting game to watch, especially with Adriano scoring a hatrick. Good fun even with a half empty stadium - not suprising though, the stadiums massive!

So Monday we took a break from Copacabana beach and took a bus to the next beach, Impanema - this was quieter and less built up than Copacabana beach. Impanema had some lovely resaturants and cafes just off from the beach where we managed to eat probably the most calorific dessert to date - chocolate brownie, with cream, ice cream, and literally drenched in hot chocolate sauce. Later that evening we drank beer and ate tapas in one of the local Adegas. Our routine carried on the next day as we headed straight for Copacabana beach for another day of nothing but sun and reading.

On Wednesday after having done nothing but laying on the beach we decided to take the afternoon off from our usual spot and head into town to catch the yellow tram to Santa Teresa, the short tram ride was full of beautiful baroque style villas, artesenal homes and lovely views of the city. We spent the rest of the late afternoon and early evening trying out a few local bars/Adegas and gorging ourselves on northern Brazilian food at Bar do Arnauldo - steak do sol, queijo coehlo, farofa and feijho - we were so full we could hardly make it home!

Our last day in Rio was unfortunately met with clouds and rain so our plans to see Rio from Corcovado were washed out. So we bumbled around Copacabana for the day before heading into Lapa in the evening for drinks, where we mourned the passing of the King of Pop (R.I.P MJ). We downed Caipirihna´s and Brahma chopps before heading to a club with live samba music, this time we were actually able to stand up straight and dance!

Mr and Mrs T xx

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Cochabamba Cochabamba Cochabamba

We took the overnight bus from La Paz to Cochabamba arriving at a chilly 5.30am where we decided to camp out at the bus terminal until the sun came up. Once the sun was up we jumped in a cab and booked into a hotel and waited for a decent hour to head out for breakfast, we ate a yummy breakfast at Casablanca and walked around for a while, in a sleepy daze, before getting an amazing ice cream we then headed back for a siesta which actually turned into a 15 hour sleep to Tuesday morning, oop´s!

So Tuesday it is...we walked around in the sunshine before heading up to Palecio del Portales, a fine stately home built by Simon Patino; a tin baron whose family unfortunately never got to live in it due to altitude sickness impacting on his blood pressure when he was originally a miner, thus he spent much of his life living in Argentina and Europe. The home was beautiful and surrounded by lovely gardens. On the way home we decided to go to the movies and watch Angels and Demons...yes it was in English, our spanish isn´t that good!

Wednesday we visited the local markets, where you can even by puppies and rabbits (hopefully not to eat!). As usual we where taken back by the amazing cakes and had to get one for the way home. Cochabamba was a bit like Sucre for its good food, compared to the rest of Bolivia, so we spent a lot of time eating here, in particular filling our bellies with great ice cream.

We had an early start on Thursday morning for our 11 hour bus ride to Santa Cruz. In typical Bolivian style things left at ¨Bolivian time¨ (e.g. there is a bus advertised at 8.30am, so we ask to book on this bus, they tell us this bus doesn´t run anymore its now at 7.30am, so we booked on the 7.30am bus and we´re told to arrive at 7am to leave at 7.30am, we get there at 7am and the bus leaves at 8.45am - brilliant!). Sitting and waiting on the bus, as usual, we were bombarded with a rolling parade of Bolivians getting on and off the bus shouting and trying to sell us, and everyone else, chocolate, tea, empanadas, chewing gum, god knows what else. We finally get going and we sit back in the bliss of silence to be rudely interrupted by a man in a suit who gets up and plugs in his mic and talks for 45 minutes (YES 45 MINUTES!!) about the benefits of brushing teeth, I particularly liked the pictures of diseased gums, and all this just to sell toothbrushes and toothpaste - only in Bolivia!

We finally arrived in Santa Cruz at 7pm, where we didn´t spend much time as we had a 2.30am start for our flight to Sao Paulo. Brazil here we come!

Mr and Mrs T xx

Brazil

It was an early start for our cross over to Brazil, with our flight leaving Santa Cruz at 5am, so up at 2.30am to catch a cab to the airport, hardly worth going to sleep, but we did! So we got on our flight to Sao Paulo, via a stop in Campo Grande, and landed around 10am. We made our way to the bus terminal so we could catch a bus straight to Rio, and eventually arrived in Rio around 6pm. We then took a local bus to Copacabana to find our hostel. So all up about 2 days travelling to get from Cochabamba to Copacabana.

With all good intentions it was a Friday night and we had plans to party in Rio, so we dropped the bags off and grabbed some dinner. We then went back to the hostel to have a quick snooze before heading out, but similarly to Cochabamba a snooze turned into waking up in the wee hours of the morning, oop´s! Entirely Dave´s fault for setting his alarm clock for 10am instead of 10pm. Hopeless! At least we were feeling refreshed for our long day ahead of us on the beach.

Mr and Mrs T xx