Monthly Archives: July 2018
Rio blew me away. I was excited to go to Brazil, but I didn’t really care if we visited the big city. While I’m a big fan of the movie City of God, it, as well as articles and documentaries about street kids, favelas and drug gangs, made me think the city would be an overcrowded, filthy quagmire of pick pockets and violence.
It shines despite all that.
And, while we were warned by locals to watch our valuables and not stray into the bad areas (which we decided wasn’t meant for us to see), crime did not come our way. Vendors and passersby were fun, polite and busy with their own lives.
Rio is, by far, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever had the luck to visit.
We spent two days in Rio, so there’s plenty we didn’t get to see. We did get in some highlights: Ipanema Beach, drove by Copacabana beach, Christ the Redeemer, a colorful tiled stairway, and Sugarloaf — plus a few cafe restaurants.
I loved all of the street art. I could spend a day just walking the streets to admire all of the urban paintings.
On our last night in Brazil we took the cable car to the tippy top of Sugar Loaf and sipped bevies to toast our time here and just sip and stare at its glory. We will be back to tour this land again. Next time we’d also like to see more of other parts of the country. Until then Saude, Brasil!
We’re back in Mons after a whirlwind trip. While we were in Brazil, I usually woke earlier than most of our crew, climbed to the upstairs balcony of ‘our’ beach house, and either read or wrote. I didn’t have time to post any of it until now.
This is my view right this second. As will be the case with the rest of my photos it can’t possibly do Brazil justice. The magic of travel isn’t in the party snaps or our landscape shots; it’s the inhaling/exhaling life in another corner of the world. You just can’t post the layers, the sounds, the scents, the soul —- no matter how good you are with filters and angles.
We’re staying at a friend’s family home in Angra de Reis (Port of Kings), a famous beach town nestled among the mountains about a two-hour drive from Rio. So, once again we are blessed to vacation with people who actually live here —- as well as with a group of friends whose mantra has become, “this soooo doesn’t suck.”
Snaps of the nearby beach life. OMG that dog broke my heart. She decided we needed to be her people, and we so would’ve kept her had we been able to.
Yesterday Wilber’s mom graced us with Feijoada, a traditional Brazilian bean and meat stew. She and her husband cooked all day while we napped, read, and watched Brazilian families sing, dance, swim at the beach.
On Thursday we rode a party boat to four of the 300-plus islands that bud off the coast. We ate amazing seafood, drank bevies with freshly-squeezed juice, partied with locals (and other tourists), swam in the Blue Lagoon, strolled the beach of what-felt-like a deserted island, relaxed at an open-air restaurant (more seafood please), and rocked and lulled our way through sunset. Then we put on our sarongs, ripped off our wet bathing suits and ended the night at a beachside bar watching a guy sing Brazilian country music.
What a day this was!
Someone is practicing the flute while I type this. Booty-shaking music blasts from another house closer to shore. Children squeal while playing soccer. Birds gossip about whose laying whom’s eggs. Stray dogs shade themselves under tropical bushes, waiting for suckers like me to coo over them. Tourist (or those of the wealthy) helicopters hover above, until it’s their turn to land on the numerous helipads scattered among the islands. And, the annoying chihuha mix across the street is barking at all of us: there’s always that one guy that’s gotta mess up the rhythm!
We also spent a day in Rio, and we’re spending a night there next week, so I’ll do a separate Rio blog.
It rained throughout the night, so this morning is blessedly cool. While it may be winter in Brazil, it certainly isn’t cold. Mist devours surrounding mountains; birds circling above the trees disappear into its density. The Atlantic pounds the coast. A grandmother scolds the young while she begins the long process of cooking today’s Sunday meal. The clanking of her pots and pans adds to the disco (seriously!) music reverberating from a neighbouring house. Rooftop satellite dishes taunt the few remaining anorexic rooftop antennas. My cohorts are still snuggled in their beds since we exhausted ourselves touristing yesterday.
The plan was to end the night Sambaing in the streets of Angra, but all but one of us was done. It’s all good because as curvy and wild as the roads are, we unintentionally sambaed our asses in the car.
We spent the day at a beach near Paroty, which was surreal. You can either wade through a frigid canal (the water comes from a nearby waterfall) or pay 1 real for a boat to take you across to the beach (no brainer on which option we chose!). Then you have the choice to either lounge on the beach or take another boat (lol the Shrek) to a nearby island to do the same. This beach’s water is calm because it’s surrounded by islands that tame the feral waves, but there’s plenty of fun going on inland.
Behind the sea are mountains on top of mountains, and surrounding the beach is a small farm with chickens so tall they could be poultry runway models. There’s also a restaurant, so we got to gorge on more fish, sausage, acai (it’s served with bananas and nuts), beer and a freshly-squeezed pineapple juice drink.
After that we walked the large-cobblestone streets of Paroty. I’ll never bitch about navigating the streets of Mons again. Brazilians used boulders to cobble their streets. It’s a lovely town of artists, musicians, shops and restaurants. Sadly, one of our crew had to leave to continue her summer journey. Another one of us leaves tonight, and the rest of us leave on Wednesday. In too short a time we’ll be back to the rhythm of our routines —-maybe being envied by tourists visiting our corners of the world?
We fly out early tonight. The boys are packing up their suitcases; Joe is reading on his phone. It’s been an amazing trip. Our last night in Angra was spent whooping it up with Wilber’s family. Oh my God did they ever cook up a storm. Brazilian barbecues are the best. Basically, you sit around drinking beer or calparihnas, laughing and waiting for platters of meat to be passed around. There’s also salad, a Yucca condiment (basically yummy crumblies you put on top of stuff), spicy oil, rice, and this amazing garlic bread concoction —- it’s grilled and stuffed with sausage, butter, mayonnaise and other goodness (I’ll try to replicate it with my sandwich grill!).
I’ve already bored you with too many words on a trip that can’t be done justice with pics and words, so I’ll end this with a thank you to Wilber’s family and Brazil for welcoming us to this layered, complex-yet simple haven. Yes I know there is an incredible amount of awfulness here too, and, yes, we totally avoided the poverty-crime stricken areas, so our view is biased. It always saddens and surprises me that the most beautiful places in the world (with the most amazing people) are always partnered with corruption and violence. So, I’m even more grateful for the good we get to experience.
Woo wee did we ever have a fun time celebrating Jordan and Wilber’s nuptials in the Dominican Republic. If their wedding is any indication of their life together, it’s going to be a whirlwind of everything. Pool parties, boat party, beach parties, dinner parties, a surprise party, hell even acrobatic pirates, a burlesque show and an unexpected night in Columbia became part of all the fun.
The best was all the love and laughter from friends and family who traveled from around the world to take part in solidifying their union. Those two have the coolest people as friends, and the wedding was beautiful. I really enjoyed getting to know Jordan and Wilber’s family, and I’m honoured that we got to share in all of their glory. Love should be unabashedly celebrated and highlighted like it was on this trip. It’s the best of what we humans have to offer.
I also cherished getting to spend some time with some of Jordan’s and my UAE peeps who we haven’t seen in a year. We became each other’s support and family over there, and I so missed our time together. I’m a lucky gal to have so many wonderful people in my life.
Joe and I also had a few moments of couple time enjoying a spa day, and strolling through the resort’s tropical landscape, beach and shhhh, even sneaking in a night-time swim in its amazing pool.
Our anniversary was on the 16th, so it was a nice way to remind us of our own love bond and life together. The plan was to enjoy our anniversary in Brazil with Jordan and Wilber (since we’re spending 10 days there with them in an adorable beach house in a town called the Port of Kings), BUT we had to have some drama thrown in.
Long story short our flight was delayed, which caused us to miss our connecting flight, so the airline put us all up for a night in Bogota, Columbia. At first we were like shit yeah, another country to add to the list, but then we walked up to the gate and saw folk bundled up in fur-lined parkas. Um, it’s winter in Columbia, and we were in tank tops, shorts and sandals because hello? it’s flipping humid and hot in Dominican Republic. But, the Team Jordy-Wilber crew persevered and made our way to Bogota. Luckily a Bogota winter translates to rain and temps in the 50s and 60s, so while chilly it certainly wasn’t arctic.
By the time we got to our rooms we were all exhausted, so no tour of the city the next day, but we enjoyed watching the Policia and their bomb/drug sniffing dogs work their beats near the hotel. Joe and I walked to the nearby mall, so that I could buy a sweater, and I have never seen so many working dogs before (and I so badly wanted to scratch their necks!). It’s a little jarring, but everyone we met was so friendly and accommodating despite the fact that we knew very little Spanish and they very little English. I doubt I’ll get the chance to come back, but I would like to tour more of Columbia —- despite the uglies that facilitate the need for all that security.
And Joe and I got to celebrate our anniversary at the hotel bar (God Bless bartenders who aren’t stingy with their gin!) We’ve made it another year sipping, feasting, and laughing our way around this lovely little planet of ours. And, now we get to cheer on our friends as they do the same!
We’ve been having a grand old time whooping it up in Dublin. We decided to stop here for a few days to visit our friend Derek. An extra plus is we got to also meet his parents, who are lovely, fun people (and now whooping it up on their own vacation).
The weather is unusually warm and sunny, so we spent a lot of time walking around in St Stephens park, Temple Bar area, Trinity campus, etc.
We also got to visit The Irish Whiskey Museum on Grafton street (thanks to Derek’s suggestion) and loved it. I’m not a whiskey fan, but I do love a good story mixed in with some history. And, a few good laughs as well as some booze tasting (got to swirl some whiskey, sniff and attempt to like it) always work. It’s worth a stop if you find yourself in the area.
We also got to tour the area Derek grew up in and the lovely university he earned his drinking badges and degrees in.
And, today we got to take a Viking tour — something we wanted to do the last time we were here, but couldn’t fit it in. They restore WW2 amphibian vehicles and take you on a tour through Dublin streets and for a bit of a float on the Dublin bay — plus give you the chance to scare the shit out of pedestrians with the group Viking roar.
We also got to do a bit of this (imagine that!)…
So, it’s been a fun couple of days. We’ve got to stay sober and crash early tonight because tomorrow we take off in the wee hours of the morning for our big adventure in the Dominican Republic. I can’t wait to see the folk we’ll run into there — and get some quality pool and beach time.
God Bless summer vacay!
We had fun on our our mini vacation lol visiting Mini and her family in Bavaria. One of the highlights was our kind of workout: the Funf Seida Steig, a 10 km hike that includes five breweries in the Franconia area of Germany. Our hike turned into a much longer one when our guide got lost, but now that we’re no longer huffing and puffing and thinking we’re gonna die amongst the hills and fields it’s all good — we burned lots of calories and imbibed more.
Beer on a comfy lawn while earning our brewery stamps worked for us!
And who doesn’t love walking through fields, forests and hills on a sunny day!
Brewery hiking isn’t all that we did (although beer was a theme!). Joe got to spend a day in Nuremberg with Mini’s son while Mini, a friend of hers and I went pottery shopping in Poland. I now have a slew of Boleslawic cups, plates, bowls, you name it prettying up the innards of my kitchen cabinets! Plus, we got to spend the night in a quirky, burlesque art-like hotel, so of course a good time was had by all.
And yeah … more bevies and lots of Polish grub were also part of the journey.
Joe finally got to see Munich, but since it was a rainy day we pretty much just dried out (while wetting our insides) at The Brauhaus, and did more of this…
Another lovely day was spent strolling the streets of Regensburg (aargh those pics didn’t upload, but you get the idea: beautiful buildings, greenery, and, well, beer!)
We even got to cruise a bit on the Danube to, big surprise here, an Abby with monk-brewed beer.
But, most importantly, we got to spend quality time with friends, and that’s always a good thing!
I’m a bit rushed because we’re taking off again for our next adventure. Tomorrow we’ll be in Dublin, and then it’s off to our big trek to celebrate Jordan and Wilber’s upcoming nuptials! In between all of that is World Cup Fever (Belgium keep it coming!) and more quality time with old (lol not age-wise, but we’re getting on up there) friends.
May none of us end up this way!