Brasil – 2015 – August 16-18

Niteroi – Central do Rio – Samba da Trabalhodors – Petropolis – Santa Teresa

The morning of the 16th, Liana, Silvia and I drove back to the lagoon with the dogs to visit the dog park.  Our stay was cut short due to a hungry looking dog (more of a wolf) that kept eyeing Liana’s dog as a possible morning snack.  So we headed over to the local coconut water kiosk for a drink.  Liana’s dog loves coconut water.  Tonico spent the morning cooking up a “storm”; his famous “Bacalhau” (cod stew) dish.  After a fine meal we had a chance to share pictures; many from Christina’s holidays as well as my own trip ones.  We even got a chance to see a couple of movies that Silvia created.  She wrote both films and even recruited cousin Tatiana to produce one of them through her media school.  Both films were very funny and the production value was excellent.  I think they would do very well in film festivals.

On the 17th we hired Marcella to drive us to the area of Niteroi.   It lies across Guanabara Bay from the city of Rio de Janeiro and forms part of the Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Area.  This beautiful area has a very interesting gallery that looks over the coast line.  It kind of looks like a flying saucer.  The museum was closed unfortunately but Pa and I headed down the coast to take some interesting pictures of the Boa Viagem Island.  We then headed to the Escadaria Selarón.  I had seen it on the internet and thought that it would be interesting to go since neither of my relatives had been their either.  These stairs are covered in tiles from all over the world.  It was started by Chilean born artist Jorge Selarón in 1970.  It has subsequently grown to be quite the tourist attraction.  Our day tour ended with us heading to “central do Rio” to check out the financial district of downtown Rio.  

After a quick stop over at Louisa’s, we headed out for one of my favorite nights from this whole trip.  We were dropped off at the club for samba workers.  Once a month this “down to earth” night has samba musicians gathering for an informal “jam” session.  A long table sits in the middle of the dance floor, where musicians sit to practice and perform.  The samba music is fantastic, and the locals know all of the songs being performed so they all join in.  The energy in this place is fantastic.

It was what I think of when I think of the real “BRASIL”.  Beers are served in pails and there are plenty of caipirinhas to go around.  We had arrived early and being “foreigners” we met up with a women selling “Carioca” hats.  Pa and I each purchased one.  By eight o’clock the place was packed.  Later in the evening, the women with the hats took my parents and I aside to meet the club owner, who happens to be a very famous samba singer.  It was really kind of funny, and I thought is was sort of like meeting the “God Father”.

The 18th we headed up to Petropolis.  This city is known as the “imperial city” and is located some 70kms from Rio.  The royal family used to head to Petropolis in the summer months to escape the heat of Rio.  In the 1840s, many Germans immigrated to this region, so many buildings have a Bavarian style to them.  My grandmother had a home in this city which we did see.  I even have some vague memories of this place.  The Petropolis tour started with a quick stop at “Casa Do Alemao“.  This famous German delicatessen serves fantastic sausages and yummy cakes.  With our stomachs filled we headed to the Palácio Quitandinha.  This beautiful hotel was where my parents stayed on their honeymoon, (1958).  That year both my mother (Marucia) and my aunt (Louisa) were married.  This hotel was designed by an Italian and was built during the second world war.  The building features over 450 rooms and opened in 1944 as a hotel/casino.  I found it interesting that there was a large children’s play room where parents would drop off the kids so that they could go and gamble.  The hotel has been converted into condos with a museum on the bottom floor.

We then headed to the Royal summer palace.   This is now a museum which features many Royal art works and furnishings.  In this museum you have to turn in your camera, and shuffle around in slippers.  After a quick tour of the summer palace we walked into town for lunch and then over to the local brewery.  We missed the final brewery tour by 3 minutes so we decided to walk over and check out the crystal palace.  During our walk we happened to come across the home in which Alberto Santos-Dumont’s lived.  This Brazilian (who spent most of his time in France) was one of the world’s first aviation pioneers.  A full scale model of one of his planes can be found outside his home.

One the way back we stopped over at Taissa’s place.  She has a very beautiful condo which has some spectacular views of Rio.  Both Taissa and Lara were perfect hosts, and I wish we could have stayed and visited with them longer.


Brasil – 2015 – August 12-15

Sugar Loaf – Moqueca – Forro – Caipirinha – Mangada – Fort Copacabana – Favela – Two Brothers

The next four days where busy ones.  As a result this post is a long one and there are many photos.  Both Derek and Luisinha where leaving on the 15th, so we wanted to make the most of it.  On the morning of the 12th, we all headed to the bottom of “Pão de Açúcar” or Sugar Loaf mountain.  This is in the region of Urca.  We originally wanted to take a tour bus from this location that was supposed to include a tour around the Rio waterfront as the bus is amphibious.  We found out that because of the upcoming Olympics, the tour in the bay was not available.   We decided to check out the beach which was pretty.  After a coconut water drink we walked along the trail around the base of Urca hill, (the smaller of the two Sugar Loaf mountains).  Derek and I were in a hiking mood, so we decided to hike up to the top of the Urca mountain.  This heavily rooted trail had many marmoset monkeys, which are featured in Disney’s Rio movie.  The views were fantastic and brought back memories of when I was here back in ’76 with Derek and cousins Christina and Liana.  The cable car that goes from the bottom to the top of sugar loaf was built in 1912 and then renovated in 1973 and 2008.

For lunch we headed to Christina’s condo where she and Miguel served us a fantastic fish dish called “moqueca”.  This fish and coconut dish was excellent.  The rest of the meal, which included desert was also great.   After lunch, Christina showed us Luis Paulo’s place that Miguel has done a wonderful job of renovating.

For dinner we were invited to Ana Maria and Basilio’s place.  Ana had visited us with Aunts Luisa and Solange in 2002.  That year Brasil won the World Cup which was hosted by South Korea and Japan.  Along with Derek, Luisina, Ma and Pa, were Solange and her two daughters (Taissa and Tatiana) families.  It should be noted that during this evening I loaned my camera to Tatiana’s eleven year old daughter, Anais, who took some fantastic photos.  Tatiana runs a media school and has taught her daughter well.  Dessert featured mangada with a Brazilian cream cheese which was yummy.  Both Basilio and Ana Maria were perfect hosts.

On the 13th, Silvina was going to take us to a Forro.  After a morning walk with Silvina and Liana it was decided to do some shopping.  I headed out with Ana Carolina and Liana to a local mall to pick up items for Audrey, Pat, Kyle and myself!  Before shopping, Liana showed me how to make brigadeiro.  This is a doce de leite with chocolate creme (Audrey now wants instruction).  That evening we headed to a the club “Lapa 40 degrees” in the region of Lapa.  Forro (pronouced Fau Haw) is Brasil’s version of country music.  Some information on Forro is here.  We all danced (and some drinking) and both Silvina and Liana showed me how to dance Forro.  It is basically a version of bump and grind mixed with polka.

On the morning of the 14th, Liana, Derek, Luisinha and I headed to the open market in Ipanema, (Feira de Ianema).  We got to try some of the many local fruits which are the tastiest in the world. Then a quick stop at the local Zona Sul (supermarket) to stock up on bottles of cachacas and goiabada to take back home.   Luisa gave us a lunch that featured many Brasilian favorites.  Miguel and Christina joined us for lunch and Miguel made some great caipirinhas.   Having practiced Forro the previous night we headed to “Feira de Sao Cristouao”.  This venue reminds me of a fair.  There are many different restaurants and kiosks (which sell many tourist items).  There are many stage areas which have bands playing a variety of Brasilian and international music.  We had some dinner at one of the restaurants and then off to the dance floor.  If you are a woman, there is a chance that a “local” will ask you to dance.  Should that happen, you are required to accept.  Liana ended up dancing with a local.  A fun night all around and we went to four separate bands.

Saturday the 15th, both Derek and Luisina were heading back home.  We all decided to meet at the Rio Fort, (Fort Copacabana) for breakfast.  Because it was a Saturday, the line-up at this very popular site was very long.  Derek, Luisa, Tonico, Miguel and I decided to check out the fort.  This fort was set-up during the first world war to protect the Rio port.  Breakfast was great.

Derek and Luisa headed out to get ready to head back to home while Miguel, Ana Carolina and I headed towards the “two brothers”(Dois Irmãos).  This hike has a spectacular view, but starts its hike in a “favela” ( Brasilian slum).  In order to get through this potentially dangerous region, you need to hire a motorcycle driver to shuttle you up to the start of the trail.  For me this was one of the highlight of the trip.  I planned to video the ride through the favelas, but I quickly realized that I had to hold on for dear life.  The drivers are very aggressive as they wind there way up the hill.  Quite the ride!  The three of us then headed up the back side of the tallest of the two brothers.  The hike features many great views and the weather was perfect.  When we eventually headed back, the sun was starting to set and we found that motorcycles were not arriving at the drop off point.  With the sun setting and a risk of being left stranded, we decided to take a VW van down through the favelas, which gave me an opportunity to video the descent.  Once we got to Ipanema beach, Ana Carolina headed to an appointment and Miguel and I headed to a local bar for a beer.

But the day was not done yet…  Silvinia, Liana and I headed to Rota 66 along the Copacabana beach for margarita’s with entertainment by our male and female servers singing classic rock & roll songs. A great way to end a great day.

Brasil 2015 – Rio Trip – August 9-11

Market, Bikes, Gardens and Batidas!

The morning after the wedding, Liana needed to head to the open market, known as the “hippie fair”. Derek, Luisinha, Silva and I decided to tag along. We travelled by metro (subway) which which did not exist when I was last here. Along with usual fruits and vegetables, the market had many souvenirs. Derek purchased some items for Marketa and we got some of our first batch of goiabada, (a conserve made of guava and sugar). After we had done our shopping, Silvia got a call from Solange saying that she and my parents that they were also heading over to the market. We all returned to Luisa’s place for a fantastic lunch. In Brasil the tradition is to eat your big meals at lunchtime rather than in the evening. The next morning, after a lengthy walk with Liana and Silvia, Miguel met up with us to go on a little bicycle excursion. Luisanha, Derek, Pa, Miguel and I were all up for the challenge. Rio has bikes for rent at locations around the city. The system is supposed to work with an smart phone app. We found out that you need to register online (providing all sorts of information) before you can use it. After a long process of registering we headed to a nearby rental station to discover that it was not functioning that day. After a considerable walk to the next nearest station, we all finally got our bikes. I quickly discovered that my bike only had a low gear and decided to trade it for another at a third station. That process took another 40 minutes. We eventually got to the lagoon, which is located inland behind Ipanema and Leblon beaches. It really is a nice way to tour the area. After the ride we headed back to Luisa’s for another great meal. At around 5 pm, we walked to the lagoon to meet up with Christina and Miguel (and their two dogs, Cookie and Zelda) at a local eatery.  Liana, Ana Carolina, Silvinha and Tonico and my parents also came. We wanted to catch the sunset over the lagoon, which was very beautiful. We also had a chance to try some northern Brazilian foods. The next day, Derek and Luisinha did some more shopping while Solange, Luisa, my parents and I headed to the “Jardim Botanico do Rio de Janeiro” or Rio Botanical Gardens. The gardens were founded in 1808 by King John VI of Portugal, who had been chased out of Portugal by Napoleon. They are centrally located in Rio close to the lagoon. It is the largest botanical garden in the world which is entirely contained within the limits of a city. I headed on my own to take some pictures in the gardens and the rest took a mini-bus tour. After a nice drink at the “jockey” club, we stopped in Barrinha (the area just east of the Barra de Tujuca) at a famous bar, Oswaldo’s, established in the 1940s and, supposedly, the home of the “batida”. Batida is a fruit drink made with cachaca. Check out the recipe here. We purchased several litres of “batida” (coconut, passion fruit, peanut and pineapple-coconut) and took them home with us. On the way back we stopped at the Sheridan hotel in Gavea (just west of Leblon) to watch the parasailers and hang-gliders who jump off the Pedra da Gavea, one of the few of Rio’s mountains that has a flat top.

Brasil – Rio Trip 2015 – August 6-8

Returning to Rio after 39 years!

First of all; on this trip I did not write any notes as I traveled. Also the editing of these photos was done when I was back in Canada, not at the end of each day, which is my usual method of operation. Attached are also photos taken on a variety of phones. Both Derek, Liana, Christina, Miguel and Silvia all contributed pictures. The purpose of this trip was to get re-acquainted with my aunts and cousins in Brasil. It had been 39 years since I was last in Brasil. Some of my cousins had been born, grown up and had their own children, all in the time I was away. I flew down with my parents on Wednesday, August 5 and arrived early Thursday morning in Rio. Christina, Liana, Silvia, Luis Paulo and Ana Carolina were all waiting for us at the airport. It was great to see them. We all headed to my aunt Luisa’s place (to avoid confusion I will call my aunt Luisa; “Luisa” and my sister Luisa “Luisinha”. Luisa lives in an apartment her father-in-law built many years ago. Luisinha arrived from the States on the Friday and Derek from the Czech Republic on the Saturday (the morning of Luis Paulo’s wedding). Derek and I stayed at Luisa’s apartment, Luisinha stayed with Silvia and Tonico (their apartment is across the street from Luisa’s) and my parents stayed with Solange in Ipanema. We spent the early days before the wedding, walking the Copacabana and Ipanema beach fronts and getting caught up on things. I got re-introduced to many great Brasilian foods and drinks. These include brigadeiros (which Liana showed me how to make), pao de queijo (cheese bread), quindim (pronouced kin-jeeng), feijoada (black beans and rice) and of course cachaca (pronouced ka-sha’-sa). The fruit is fantastic here. There is nowhere on this earth I have tasted better fruit. One great “combination” that Tonico introduced us to was the feijoada sauce with pork rinds along with a shot of cachaca. The salty feijoada went very well with the Brazilian schnaps. The wedding was held at a beautiful church, Nossa Senhora do Monte Carmo da Antiga Sé. The music for the wedding was impressive, chorus and orchestra. The reception was held at the “jockey” club. It is the horse track you can see in many overall shots of Rio’s lagoon. Christina provided a van for transportation to and from the wedding, which was great. We did lots of dancing (and some drinking :). It was a late night, but we got through it with out any ill effects the next morning. Below are some pictures of the beach front as well as of the wedding of Luis Paulo and Fabiola.

Brasil 1976 – (Blast from the past series)

Brasil 1976

As a setup for my 2015 Brasil trip, I thought I would post some pictures from my 1976 family trip.  It was the last time I had been to Rio since the 2015 trip.  We went as a family and had a chance to tour the north of Brasil.  This included Brasilia, Salvador, Recife, Fortaleza and Manaus.  The pictures shown below are a mixture of pictures that I took with my Olympus OM-1 (new at the time) and pictures taken by my dad.  I got a real kick out of seeing the fashions of that time period.