Thursday, August 04, 2005

Rio de Janeiro

Last weekend I took my mom to Rio. It was my first time there and all I can say is this is the most beautiful city in the world.

First of all we left Sao Paulo's Congonhas Airport with a five hour delay on saturday because Santos Dumont airport in Rio was closed because of fog. We ended up flying at 12:30 to the Rio's Galeon Intl airport. The flight was a quick 40 minutes.

After arriving we immediately went to the Corcovado by cab and I took the opportunity to snap a few pictures... The view is amazing! Later we went for dinner at small restaurant facing Praia Ipanama called Azul Marino. Very nice setting with the sound of the waves in the background. The giant shrimps I ordered were huge!!

On sunday we headed to Praia Ipanema. Weekends is the time where locals and tourists mingle on the beach creating a massive sea of people. The Beaches of Ipanema, Leblon and Copacabana are covered with people. I *guess* there must be over 500,000 people beaching. At sun down we went to the Pao de Acucar to look at the city from another angle. The view is great but not as impressive as from the Corcovado.

Monday we went to the Jardim Botanico for a few hours. Very nice and quiet - probably because it was a week day. We then went for lunch to the Confeteiria Colombo for lunch. This is a retro coffee shop going back to the 19th century selling specialty candies, light lunches, cigars and liquors. Very chic and high class. After lunch we went once more to the Corcovado, by train this time, to view the sunset. I took a massive amount of pictures again. This was by far the best moment because there were far less people then on saturday and the sunset made it all the more magic. A young guy from Australia asked me to film him with his cam as he spread his father's ashes from the edge of the Corcovado with the bay and the Pao de Acucar in the background. Very touching and considering the view totally understandle why one would wish this. We ended the day with dinner at Botequim. Good food and not too expensive.

Finally on tuesday, my mom went to this museum in the morning (forgot the name - it's in Botafogo). Then we headed to Praia Ipanema for a few hours. We checked out of the hotel at 16:00 and had early dinner. We got at Santos Dumont at 19:52 and were allowed on the 20:00 departure to SP. Fastest boarding I've ever had!

I didn't have a chance to go try the chopp at Bracarense because it was too late saturday afternoon when we got back from Corcovado and we were both exhausted but no doubt I will get many opportunities to go again. :)

All in all, it was a great 4 days in the most beautiful city in the world with perfect weather. Now, what do I have to do to get an appartment with a view on Ipanema? ;)

I've posted my pictures on Pbase here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Lately

At last the winter is here. Last night was the coldest on record this year with a wooping 12C. In the day the temperature does get a little better, usually in the low 20s. It's really not that bad but the Brazilian have a hard time with it... perhaps they need to trade climate with Montreal to appreciate what cold really is.

Two weekends ago I went with Gaby to one of her friend's country house in Idaituba. We spent the weekend there with her friends, 4 dogs and a maid. It was quite chill, didn't have to worry about anything... aside from some fucking ripping dog allergies I've developed lately.

We did a bbq and played pool that saturday night and the losing teams had to take a shot of Pinga. For those who don't know what Pinga is, it is very potent liquor made from sugar cane. Similar to rum but up to 50% strong depending on the brand and with the ability to rip holes in your stomach and give you a terrible headache the day after. The lesson is, don't loose at pool.

My mom is coming this weekend. She is arriving sunday morning, so I guess I can't go out saturday night. I'll have to be good for two weeks. I guess I need a break anyways. I am planning to travel to Rio the weekend after this. It's about time I go! I've been in Brazil for almost 6 months and haven't visited Rio.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

It's been a while

Ok.

I have to admit I have been very lazy with this whole blog idea. Let's try to make it up today.

Needless to say that alot has happened since the last post more than 3 months ago. For one thing I have had the chance to travel outside of Sao Paulo a few times.

Belo Horizonte
I travelled to Belo Horizonte twice for work. It's a nice and quiet city in the state of Minas Gerais which is only a one hour flight time away from Sao Paulo. The legend has it that the ratio of women to men is 7 to 1. That very sounds good however I have yet to see it. Granted, I haven't had the chance to go out. Just work. :(

Carnabeirao
The next interesting trip was in April to the city of Ribeirao Preto. I went there by bus with some friends (4 hour journey). We were there for this weekend long party called Carnabeirao. I had no idea what I was in for. It turned out to be completely insane.

This party is like a mini Carnival with about 20,000 people packed in a large farm field. Large speakers and rolling platforms with bands playing on top. Everybody basically dances around, jumps, makes out! ALOT.

Oh and everybody is so fucking drunk.

This went on saturday night and sunday night after which we bused back to SP. Got home monday at 4am and went to work at 8am. I was dead.

Alot more stuff happened but you have to go there to find out. It's too unreal to describe.... and one piece of advise, don't miss the bus, otherwise you might have to take a moto-taxi... I'll save that story for later.

Day to day
Aside from all this excitement, I still haven't bought a car because I haven't been able to sell my car in Canada and that is a real pain in the ass. I need one to get around. Anyways I'll be taking the taxi until then. ANYBODY WANTS TO BUY A HONDA CIVIC 2003??

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Hot days

I need a car.
Last week was VERY hot. A pressing 34 C + humidity + smog kicked started allergies I never thought I had. The metro is the worst place to be in that weather. I get to work sneezing, with swealing under my eyes, etc... really not fun. Conclusion: I need a car with A/C.

I've been looking at a few models. Peugeot 206, Honda Civic and VW Polo. We'll see...

Living.
Aside from this little problem, the rest is still positive. I have been in the new loft for two weeks now. I even have a maid who comes every wednesday for cleaning, laundry, etc... All this for a big 30$ CAN. It makes my life so much easier....

Back in February, when I lived at the hotel I ate out every single night. It wasn't very expensive but now that I have my own place I have no excuse for these frivolous expenses. So I bought bread, ham and cheese and a few other items. I've been eating sandwiches... that's all I have the patience to prepare.

Speaking of food, Brazilians do enjoy their meat and so do I. I have never had so much red meat in my life. I think I have it every day! When I don't have steak, I feel something is wrong.... I do try to balance it with other food.... like ham sandwiches.

The Beach.
Well I finally went to the beach two weekends ago. Sao Paulo has beautiful beaches only two hours away surrounded by stunning mountains. I found it had alot of similarities with the Northeastern Queensland landscape.

I forgot the name of the beach I was at, but it was nice and quiet. The water was warm and the sun burning hot so you really need protection!


Note: I've uploaded some pictures: http://www.pbase.com/olivierb/livinginbrazil

Monday, February 28, 2005

28 Days Later

Things are good.

This first month has gone by rather quickly. My paper work is complete and I am finally moving out of the hotel to a nearby loft in the Paraiso burrow. The unit, located at the 4th floor is very modern and fully furnished (oh and it's 2 floors). It is a bit small it's more than enough for me. I picked up the key saturday morning after a lengthy and hardly intelligble discussion with the guard who spoke nothing but portuguese.

Aside from this, I had to chance to go jog at Ibirapuera park on saturday evening. It was a difficult run because of the heat and humidity... it felt like the rainforest. Afterwards I went to the graduation party of a friend of a friend. It was huge. There must have been at least 1000 people, a band, giant screens, fireworks, samba dancers, etc... It was quite intense.

As for last week, I spent it in a small city about one hour outside SP called Guararema. I was there to attend a work seminar. The location was very nice but the hotel/resort facilities were not so great. It was a very demanding week in terms of work but I learned alot.

Next weekend, the beach... :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Two weeks

I've been here for two weeks now and slowly getting on with the program.

Last week was Carnival....
Normally, this would be a good thing but unfortunately I made plans far too late and was unable to get airfare and accomodations to a coastal city.... preferably Rio. I ended up spending four days in Sao Paulo with no beach and a boring hotel room. There was barely anything fun to do in the city because when Carnival comes around, Paulistanos leave in large numbers and head to the beach. The streets looked like a sunday morning for four straight days. It sucked.

I guess the good thing in all this is that I had time to stroll around the City. I went to check out Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo's version of Central Park. It's a huge green area with lakes and gardens where people go walk, exercice or just simply relax. This is definitely incentive to go running and stay in shape.

Anyways, I've been taking the metro for a few days now and I like it. It's quick, very modern and relatively safe.... well I just don't take my laptop along :P .

I really need to start learning portugese as it i's quite difficult to communicate on the street. Knowing french really helps me catch some words and deduce meaning of sentences. I am starting private lessons in two weeks.

I haven't taken that many pictures yet but I plan to upload the ones I have soon. Don't ask me when....

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Made it

I knew I was there when I stepped out of the Boeing 767 and this wall of hot and humid air fell on my shoulders.

I arrived yesterday morning at 10:45 after a long and almost sleepless flight. Thankfully customs and luggage collection went by very quickly and in not time I was sitting in the back of a Sao Paulo taxi making my way to the hotel in a sea of speeding cars and motorcycles.

The Hotel is superbly located in the middle of Jardim Paulista, a lush green hillside neighborhood where tall appartement buildings are tightly packed in a forest of trees and small shops.

Last night, I had a chance to briefly explore the block around my hotel. I stopped by this little terrase where I had a nice steak dinner and enjoyed the sights and the warm evening. Sadly, I couldn't help but notice the two little girls stopping traffic at the nearby street corner hoping to get some spare change... Social inequities are very striking and this only the beginning.

On a plus side, I think I might have spotted a coffee shop that sells Acai... I have to check this out tomorrow morning before work which should be by metro for the very first time. Shit.