A Travellerspoint blog

Traffic, Wetlands & Water Falls

Sao Paulo, Pantanal & Iguazu Falls

sunny 95 °F
View A Rough Outline of our Trip on daveliz's travel map.

SAO PAULO

Sao Paulo is the world's fourth largest city, which is apparent by the endless streams of traffic. It is so bad that locals are not allowed to drive during rush hours one day a week. It is made up of several different neighborhoods, some very ritzy, others rundown. It is also a major international and domestic business hub for Brazil.

Ah, peace from cars! While Dave did some business in the city, I took a public bus to Ibirapuera Park, which is home to a contemporary art museum and Afro-Brazilian history and art museum.

Ah, peace from cars! While Dave did some business in the city, I took a public bus to Ibirapuera Park, which is home to a contemporary art museum and Afro-Brazilian history and art museum.


The best part about SP was having several local, personal tour guides.

My friend Alessadra, whom I cycled with at the gym in Brighton, moved back to SP to work. She took us to the chic Unique Hotel with an incredible roof top view of the city. Alessandra and her friend treated us to Sao Paulo contemporary pizzas (thin crust pizzas with interesting combos of veggies, fruits and meats on top) and caipirinhas, our favorite Brazilian drink made with cashaca. We owe them!

My friend Alessadra, whom I cycled with at the gym in Brighton, moved back to SP to work. She took us to the chic Unique Hotel with an incredible roof top view of the city. Alessandra and her friend treated us to Sao Paulo contemporary pizzas (thin crust pizzas with interesting combos of veggies, fruits and meats on top) and caipirinhas, our favorite Brazilian drink made with cashaca. We owe them!


My friend Karin, who did an abroad year in Brazil several years ago, set us up with the niece of her host family. Roberta and her husband Erik gave us a driving tour of SP and treated us to a fabulous traditional meat dinner at a local churrascaria. We owe them too!

The friendly staff gave us a tour of the oven facilities. Beef and pork are slow cooked in these brick ovens for four days before serving to guests.

The friendly staff gave us a tour of the oven facilities. Beef and pork are slow cooked in these brick ovens for four days before serving to guests.


Presentation isn't the best asset of the churrascaria, but the food was yummy! We didn't order anything, the wait staff just brings endless meat and side dishes to the table until you ask them to stop!

Presentation isn't the best asset of the churrascaria, but the food was yummy! We didn't order anything, the wait staff just brings endless meat and side dishes to the table until you ask them to stop!


Although there are some good low fair air carriers, traveling through South America is often easiest and cheapest by bus. Plus, most locals travel this way. We like it because it allows us to see the country side. We've taken several long distance buses (10-24 hour journeys) to get to our destination. Dave gets comfy on an overnight bus to the Pantanal!

Although there are some good low fair air carriers, traveling through South America is often easiest and cheapest by bus. Plus, most locals travel this way. We like it because it allows us to see the country side. We've taken several long distance buses (10-24 hour journeys) to get to our destination. Dave gets comfy on an overnight bus to the Pantanal!


PANTANAL

The Pantanal region of Brazil is the largest wetlands in the world, home to hundreds of species of tropical birds, caiman (small crocodiles), piranhas and anacondas to name just a few of the animals.

The Pantanal covers 54,000 sq. miles of Brazil to the south of the Amazon rain forest. The wetlands are submerged in water for most of the year, but we visited during the dry season in November so were able to drive around the territory.

The Pantanal covers 54,000 sq. miles of Brazil to the south of the Amazon rain forest. The wetlands are submerged in water for most of the year, but we visited during the dry season in November so were able to drive around the territory.


We took a four day 'Ecological Expedition' tour which was good, but a bit gimmicky and run by knife wielding cowboys out to make a quick penny from budget travelers.

We took a four day 'Ecological Expedition' tour which was good, but a bit gimmicky and run by knife wielding cowboys out to make a quick penny from budget travelers.


There are more caiman than people in the Pantanal. During the dry season there are piles of them lounging around pockets of water. Thankfully they are not aggressive towards humans like the crocodiles in Australia.

There are more caiman than people in the Pantanal. During the dry season there are piles of them lounging around pockets of water. Thankfully they are not aggressive towards humans like the crocodiles in Australia.


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A little too close for comfort!

A little too close for comfort!


Although we saw an array of birds, the best time to view them is in March during migratory season.

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And there were other creatures ...

The swamp rat or capybara is the largest rodent in the world.

The swamp rat or capybara is the largest rodent in the world.


Swamp deer.

Swamp deer.


Howler monkeys make a loud and spooky scream during sunrise and sunset.

Howler monkeys make a loud and spooky scream during sunrise and sunset.


We went horseback riding through the bush - an activity my ass and back rejected.

Three amigos, rather three inexperienced horse riders, including Sjoerd from the Netherlands. Sjoerd's horse did a spin every ten steps and our horses led us right into prickly trees. We have war wounds on our legs and arms to prove it : - )

Three amigos, rather three inexperienced horse riders, including Sjoerd from the Netherlands. Sjoerd's horse did a spin every ten steps and our horses led us right into prickly trees. We have war wounds on our legs and arms to prove it : - )


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We took an all-but-relaxing boat tour along the waterways of the Pantanal.

The river is lined with caiman and filled with flying fish. I got pummeled several times in the back and head by these powerful, little fish that landed in our boat. Not fun!

The river is lined with caiman and filled with flying fish. I got pummeled several times in the back and head by these powerful, little fish that landed in our boat. Not fun!


Pantanal women use the river to cook and clean.

Pantanal women use the river to cook and clean.


Most of the men in the Pantanal are cowboys, ranchers and fishermen.

Most of the men in the Pantanal are cowboys, ranchers and fishermen.


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We went fishing for pirhanas. They are native to this area, living in fresh water bodies in South America.

Check out these teeth. Piranha have quite a bite.

Check out these teeth. Piranha have quite a bite.


After two hours of trying, Dave finally caught one! (For the record, I caught one in about two minutes, but got so excited that I flung it off my fishing pole and hit the poor Dutch boy traveling with us. Then the fish returned to the water.)

After two hours of trying, Dave finally caught one! (For the record, I caught one in about two minutes, but got so excited that I flung it off my fishing pole and hit the poor Dutch boy traveling with us. Then the fish returned to the water.)


Dave gave the onlooking caiman his prize for lunch.

Dave gave the onlooking caiman his prize for lunch.


Accommodations were grim during this expedition, sleeping in a tent with no ventilation in 110 degree temps and high humidity. Playing futbol with the locals was the only way to bring a little bit of life back in us.

Accommodations were grim during this expedition, sleeping in a tent with no ventilation in 110 degree temps and high humidity. Playing futbol with the locals was the only way to bring a little bit of life back in us.


IGUAZU FALLS

Iguazu Falls is impressive from both the Brazil and Argentinian sides. With more than 275 falls, spanning 1.7 miles in length, and heights of 200-269 feet, we were in awe!

We visited the Brazilian side first on a rainy day. This area is called Devil's Throat which marks the border between the two countries. It was more intense, powerful and bigger than Niagara and Victoria Falls.

We visited the Brazilian side first on a rainy day. This area is called Devil's Throat which marks the border between the two countries. It was more intense, powerful and bigger than Niagara and Victoria Falls.


We didn't think the Argentinian side would be much better, but it was. From this side you could see the variety of falls along the river.

We didn't think the Argentinian side would be much better, but it was. From this side you could see the variety of falls along the river.


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The falls are surrounded by a forest filled with colorful, exotic butterflies and birds.

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Dave makes a friend. This butterfly sat on his hat for hours as we toured the falls.

Dave makes a friend. This butterfly sat on his hat for hours as we toured the falls.


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The tucans were pretty cool!

The tucans were pretty cool!


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I give most South American attractions credit for putting signage in English, but PLEASE have a native speaker check out the grammar and spelling before printing and posting one hundred signs like this....  </p><p>This absolutely happens everywhere around the world, giving us a good laugh.

I give most South American attractions credit for putting signage in English, but PLEASE have a native speaker check out the grammar and spelling before printing and posting one hundred signs like this....

This absolutely happens everywhere around the world, giving us a good laugh.


After nearly a month, we were sad to leave Brazil, but excited to enter Argentina. With a five year visa in place we know we will return to Brazil. The country is so large there are endless opportunities to see more and meet new incredibly warm and friendly people.

And a random note, which our hygienist Joe who is Brazilian would be proud, unlike any other country we have visited, the Brazilians are noticeably into dental hygiene. Many people have perfect teeth, with people in their 20-30s wearing braces, and people brushing their teeth frequently in cafe bathrooms at bus stations, etc.

We've actually been in Argentina for almost two weeks now. Email has been slow at best, so we are rapidly working to keep you up to date on our adventures through Salta, Cafayate, Cordoba and Mendoza.

More soon,
- Elizabeth

Posted by daveliz 16:22 Archived in Brazil Comments (3)

Bahia Beat

Exploring the Bahia, Brazil state

sunny 90 °F
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The percussion band Olodum performing in the Pelourinho neighborhood of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

The percussion band Olodum performing in the Pelourinho neighborhood of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.


SALVADOR

We arrived in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil after some Amazing Race training. We caught a six hour bus from Parati to Sao Paulo, arriving four hours late due to traffic (Sao Paulo is known as the worst traffic city in the world), sprinted to a taxi to take us to the airport, finally catching our 11:50 p.m. flight to Salvador as the doors were closing.

Arriving in the Pelourihno neighborhood of Salvador at 4 a.m. in the morning was not the best way to introduce ourselves to the city. As with most cities and towns in Brazil there is a Favela (very poor neighborhood, although a step up from the “townships” of South Africa) and lots of homeless people wandering or sleeping on the streets. We were constantly warned not to cross into the Favelas or go out after 1 a.m. once things close down and the many police occupying the streets end their shift. It’s not so different from big cities in the states, but the crime rate is worse here and our newness to the area made us more cautious.

Never-the-less, we woke up the next morning, had some delicious Brazilian tropical fruits and bread for breakfast, ventured out into the neighborhood, and immediately fell in love with Salvador. The city is lively and brimming with character.

From it's colorful old buildings and cobblestone streets...

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The R$.05 elevator commutes people from Pelourihno down a cliff to the bus and ferry stations.

The R$.05 elevator commutes people from Pelourihno down a cliff to the bus and ferry stations.


To it's blooming arts and crafts community... The Bahia region is largely Afro-Brazilian, with descendants of Africans brought over from the slave trade. Most of the arts and crafts we saw in the city were very similar to those we saw in Africa.

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And especially it's music... The narrow streets echo with music every night. Tuesday nights are especially vibrant as music festivities take place throughout Pelourinho. Percussion bands parade through the street as they gather large followings of dancing people. Various artists perform on old church steps and on the cobblestoned streets.

We went to see Olodum in concert. Olodum is the original percussion band that plays a style of samba/reggae music unique to Salvador. Olodum also has community programs and contributes profits from the band back into the community. Be sure to watch the Michael Jackson video that Olodum performs in

We went to see Olodum in concert. Olodum is the original percussion band that plays a style of samba/reggae music unique to Salvador. Olodum also has community programs and contributes profits from the band back into the community. Be sure to watch the Michael Jackson video that Olodum performs in

They Don't Care About Us. Also, one of my favorite songs, Paul Simon's Obvious Child is what brought Olodum to fame.

One of the younger percussion bands marching through the street on Tuesday night.

One of the younger percussion bands marching through the street on Tuesday night.


Another percussion band marching through the street, gathering a big following of dancing people.

Another percussion band marching through the street, gathering a big following of dancing people.


Geronimo is a popular performer on Tuesday nights. A big crowd gathers to watch for free on the church stairs.

Geronimo is a popular performer on Tuesday nights. A big crowd gathers to watch for free on the church stairs.


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Another samba band performing.

Another samba band performing.


We took the local bus up to the lively Rebeira neighborhood to wander the enormous Sunday block party along the beach.

There's not much space left on the beach!

There's not much space left on the beach!


We seemed to be the only non-locals.

We seemed to be the only non-locals.


Rebeira has a famous ice cream parlor that draws big crowds.

Rebeira has a famous ice cream parlor that draws big crowds.


Cars with enormous boom boxes and speakers park along the beach blaring tunes giving this area a 'night club' vibe!

Cars with enormous boom boxes and speakers park along the beach blaring tunes giving this area a 'night club' vibe!


Groups of kids row from other neighborhoods along the bay to join the party.

Groups of kids row from other neighborhoods along the bay to join the party.


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There are plenty of people selling water, beer, and local fried fish to make a buck or two. This is one of the fancier vendor setups.

There are plenty of people selling water, beer, and local fried fish to make a buck or two. This is one of the fancier vendor setups.


MORRO DO SOA PAULO

Morro do Soa Paulo is an island south of Salvador where locals and foreigners go to bask on it’s beautiful beaches and party at the many bars. Unfortunately, we found it way too touristy and were bombarded by constant soliciting.

Beach #2 on Morro do Sao Paulo.

Beach #2 on Morro do Sao Paulo.


We continued to feel at home in Brazil because of the kindness and warmth of Brazilians. Two locals we met, Luciano and Vivian, helped us by making calls and browsing the internet to figure out how to get to our next destination since there was little information on ferries and buses to Itacare.

Not your typical ferry ride! It was raining so hard our driver had to look above the roof of the boat to see where he was going.

Not your typical ferry ride! It was raining so hard our driver had to look above the roof of the boat to see where he was going.


ITACARE

The ferry and following bus trip landed us in the fun little town of Itacare. Itacare is known for it’s beautiful beaches and rich Capoeira culture.

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There's a big surfing culture in Itacare as well.

There's a big surfing culture in Itacare as well.


We hired a guide, Leo, to do a hike through the Mangroves to a more secluded beach.

Hiking through the mangrove mud was a sticking point for Elizabeth.

Hiking through the mangrove mud was a sticking point for Elizabeth.


The destination was well worth it though.

The destination was well worth it though.


Vendor on the beach grills some cheese for us.

Vendor on the beach grills some cheese for us.


A local kid brought us some jack fruit for a delicious snack.

A local kid brought us some jack fruit for a delicious snack.


Leo also happened to be one of the top Capoeira artists in town. Capoeira is a combination of martial arts, music, and dance created by slaves brought over from Africa, mainly Angola. Leo invited us to a performance that night.

We got a sneak preview of capoeira as Leo practiced on the beach.

We got a sneak preview of capoeira as Leo practiced on the beach.


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Capoeira is much more than an art form in Itacare. It is a way of life and a way of building a  stronger community. The young adults are mentors for the younger kids. A lot of trust is built given the near proximity of the simulated fighting moves.

Capoeira is much more than an art form in Itacare. It is a way of life and a way of building a stronger community. The young adults are mentors for the younger kids. A lot of trust is built given the near proximity of the simulated fighting moves.


The strength and agility of these guys is phenomenal! Take a look!

Kids of all ages do capoeira. We saw people between two years and fifty years old perform! The square in the town center is full every night with kids doing capoeira.

Kids of all ages do capoeira. We saw people between two years and fifty years old perform! The square in the town center is full every night with kids doing capoeira.


Elizabeth gets a lesson on the Berimbaus from Leo. On the hike we saw the biribá tree that the instrument is made from.

Elizabeth gets a lesson on the Berimbaus from Leo. On the hike we saw the biribá tree that the instrument is made from.


We've left the beaches of Brazil and are heading inland across the continent. Some very long bus rides await! More soon,

- Dave

Posted by daveliz 03:54 Archived in Brazil Comments (5)

Oi Brasil!

Rio de Janerio, Buzios, Angra dos Reis, Ilha Grande and Paraty

sunny 95 °F
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Rio is excited to be the home of the 2016 summer Olympic games, the first games to be held in South America. Yet, some locals are skeptical of corruption in the planning and building process.

Rio is excited to be the home of the 2016 summer Olympic games, the first games to be held in South America. Yet, some locals are skeptical of corruption in the planning and building process.


While planning our trip around the world more than a year ago, Brazil did not make the cut, but when our budget and schedule allowed us to return to South America for a final seven weeks, we took the advice of several friends to go to Brazil first. We've only been here for two weeks, but already know it would have been a huge mistake to skip this beautiful country.

Praia Palmas, Ilha Grande.

Praia Palmas, Ilha Grande.


The coastline and countryside are amazing, but more importantly the people are incredibly friendly and welcoming. Perhaps it is the sunshine, but everyone seems to be happy here. We've started a collection of phone numbers from people we met on buses, on boats, on the street and in cafes. With the number comes a sincere, "If you need absoutely anything, just call me. Don't hesitate!"

Due to a holiday the ferry boat we planned to take to Ilha Grande was not running. This family took us under their wing and brought us on a much smaller schooner to go from Angra dos Reis to Ilha Grande. They didn't speak a word of English, so found us amusing, but they seemed like a trustworthy bunch to follow.

Due to a holiday the ferry boat we planned to take to Ilha Grande was not running. This family took us under their wing and brought us on a much smaller schooner to go from Angra dos Reis to Ilha Grande. They didn't speak a word of English, so found us amusing, but they seemed like a trustworthy bunch to follow.


Brazilians seem to have a real zest for life. They like to party. They love their music, futbol and beer! They also love women with curves, and from beachwear to work cloths there is no shortage of hiding those curves.

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Brazil is the largest country in South America bordering every other South American country except Chile and Equador. Politically the country has had its ups and downs and currently battles with high poverty levels and violence, much related to drugs. The poor often live in favelas, which are similar to the townships we visited in South Africa. However, it seems the government is making an effort to create jobs which is boosting wealth. We have not felt unsafe traveling around.

We've noticed that on some levels people are environmentally minded with many filling their cars up with locally made alcohol from sugar cane. On the other hand, like most of South America, trash lines many streets.

Our attempts at Portuguese, the official language, are bleak. It looks like Spanish, but sounds drastically different. Fortunately Dave's Spanish and my charades seem to get us by.

RIO DE JANEIRO

Famous Copacabana Beach was empty on the cloudy few days we were in Rio. We hear it is quite a scene on a sunny day, with chairs lining the beach, thongs galore, games of futbol and parties. We were surprised that given all the glitz we hear about Rio, the buildings seemed a bit old and drab, and there was not a posh restaurant, bar and cafe scene.

Famous Copacabana Beach was empty on the cloudy few days we were in Rio. We hear it is quite a scene on a sunny day, with chairs lining the beach, thongs galore, games of futbol and parties. We were surprised that given all the glitz we hear about Rio, the buildings seemed a bit old and drab, and there was not a posh restaurant, bar and cafe scene.


During our walk on this cloudy day we couldn't even find a girl from Ipanema on the Ipanema beach.

During our walk on this cloudy day we couldn't even find a girl from Ipanema on the Ipanema beach.


Christ the Redeemer overlooks Rio. He (an immense statue) appeared briefly through the clouds.

Christ the Redeemer overlooks Rio. He (an immense statue) appeared briefly through the clouds.


BUZIOS

Buzios is a peninsula north of Rio. It is known for attracting wealth, but we found the area quite grounded compared to a place like St. Tropez, France. The quaint downtown is lined with typical tourist shops, hotels, restaurants and bars.

Buzios is a peninsula north of Rio. It is known for attracting wealth, but we found the area quite grounded compared to a place like St. Tropez, France. The quaint downtown is lined with typical tourist shops, hotels, restaurants and bars.


Fish is always fresh.

Fish is always fresh.


Buzios has dozens of beaches. Motorized buggies are the most popular way to get around. We opted to walk to a few, especially enjoying Praia Ferradura and its coastline.

Buzios has dozens of beaches. Motorized buggies are the most popular way to get around. We opted to walk to a few, especially enjoying Praia Ferradura and its coastline.


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There is always a game of beach futbol going on in Brazil.

There is always a game of beach futbol going on in Brazil.


ANGRA DOS REIS

Angra dos Reis is built up with homes on the hills and resorts by the ocean. It is the port for boats heading to Ilha Grande.

Angra dos Reis is built up with homes on the hills and resorts by the ocean. It is the port for boats heading to Ilha Grande.


ILHA GRANDE

View of Ilha Grande from the boat.

View of Ilha Grande from the boat.


Entering Ilha Grande.

Entering Ilha Grande.


Fishermen passing time.

Fishermen passing time.


There are no cars on Ilha Grande. Stores, pousadas (small hotels), restaurants and churches line the dirt roads around the ferry pier.

There are no cars on Ilha Grande. Stores, pousadas (small hotels), restaurants and churches line the dirt roads around the ferry pier.


At night men set up mobile carts with a selection of cakes and sweets. I think the local church goers make the sweets and profits help the community.

At night men set up mobile carts with a selection of cakes and sweets. I think the local church goers make the sweets and profits help the community.


Ilha Grande has dozens of beaches. Most people take shuttle boats. We opted to do a two and a half hour hike over the hills to get to Praia Lopez Mendes.

Ilha Grande has dozens of beaches. Most people take shuttle boats. We opted to do a two and a half hour hike over the hills to get to Praia Lopez Mendes.


On the way we passed Praia Palmas.

On the way we passed Praia Palmas.


Praia Lopez Mendes.

Praia Lopez Mendes.


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PARATY

Colorful old town of Paraty. The colonial town on cobbled stone streets is made up of homes, restaurants, hotels and craft shops.

Colorful old town of Paraty. The colonial town on cobbled stone streets is made up of homes, restaurants, hotels and craft shops.


I particularly liked this toilet paper holder in one of the art stores.

I particularly liked this toilet paper holder in one of the art stores.


With a beautiful and peaceful bay of islands and beaches, boating is a way of life in Paraty. Taxi boats line up to take you to a destination.

With a beautiful and peaceful bay of islands and beaches, boating is a way of life in Paraty. Taxi boats line up to take you to a destination.


View of Paraty's old town from the water.

View of Paraty's old town from the water.


We did a day kayaking trip around Paraty's islands. After seven hours on the water with Maluca Kayaks our arms were dead.

We did a day kayaking trip around Paraty's islands. After seven hours on the water with Maluca Kayaks our arms were dead.


Most people take a schooner around the islands.

Most people take a schooner around the islands.


Most of Paraty's islands remain peaceful and vacant, although some do have hotels, restaurants and homes on them.

Most of Paraty's islands remain peaceful and vacant, although some do have hotels, restaurants and homes on them.


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The trip also took us through some mangroves.

The trip also took us through some mangroves.


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TRINIDADE

Dave enjoying some munchies at Praia do Meio in Trinidade, just south of Paraty. Brazilian beaches are lined with plastic chairs and tables. Just buy a drink and the table is yours for the day! It is rare to see people sitting in their own chairs or on beach towels.

Dave enjoying some munchies at Praia do Meio in Trinidade, just south of Paraty. Brazilian beaches are lined with plastic chairs and tables. Just buy a drink and the table is yours for the day! It is rare to see people sitting in their own chairs or on beach towels.


At the end of one of the beaches in Trinidade there is a natural swimming pool of calm, warm water.

At the end of one of the beaches in Trinidade there is a natural swimming pool of calm, warm water.


There are lots of colorful fish in La Piscina.

There are lots of colorful fish in La Piscina.


Although we've hit some rain clouds, Brazil has been hot, hot, hot. The sun is intense, so for those traveling here, bring super high uvb/uva sun protection.

We are now exploring the Bahai region in the northeast of Brazil. Salvador is the cultural capital. We will also explore the many beaches and rain forest along this coastline.

Hasta pronto....
Abrigada,
- Elizabeth

Posted by daveliz 10:18 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

New York Minute

A brief intermission to our world trip for an important family celebration

semi-overcast 50 °F
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When Dave and I packed our bags for the year we knew our plans would have to be flexible for 'life' things that popped up. What better reason than a family wedding. Dave's sister Karen married Charlie on October 11 at a picturesque chateau in rural New York.

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The family: Charlie, Karen, Dave, Elizabeth and Jessica (Dave's other sister.)

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Before the wedding, we hiked with Jessica and Dave's cousins Pat and Ellen to the Sterling Forest fire tower. We were all staying with Dave's mom Edie who was busy with wedding preps while we walked, but that didn't stop her from running a well oiled hostel. The bed was so comfy I had trouble getting used to it and the daily bagels were very much appreciated!

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After an early snowfall in the Sterling Forest area, Dave and I went to chilly Manhattan. We strolled through Times Square as it seemed like the touristy thing to do.

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We also took the opportunity to hang with friends. The college gals from left to right: Andrea, Rebecca, Wendy, Taal and good high school friend Joanne with me. A special thanks to Wendy and Joanne who gave up beds and mucho food for us nomads. You were great hosts!

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Dave and I both spent some time after the wedding with family. I met my second cousin Shayna for the first time. Long story! We also hung with Dave's cousin Shaina, but unfortunately we forgot to take a photo. Oops!

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While we were in Australia, my good friend Rocco left RNEWS in Rochester for a job with NY1 in Queens. After working the crazy morning shift, he was kind enough to stay up past his bed time for a late lunch with us. He is doing fantastic, so tune in!

By being back in the States, Dave and I both felt the reality of coming out of early retirement. We could feel the stress in the air in New York. Everything seemed so fast and busy. I must say I felt unproductive and guilty for not working. On the flip side, it acted as a strong reminder that when I return to work I must do something I feel passionate about, and we must continue to keep doing the things we love outside the office.

We're now in Rio de Janiero, our first stop on the final leg of our trip. More to come . . .
- Elizabeth

Posted by daveliz 18:19 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Catalunya Spain by Bike

Indulging in the food and architecture of Barcelona and the Costa Brava.

sunny 75 °F
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View of Llafranc, Catalunya, Spain, from San Sebastian.

View of Llafranc, Catalunya, Spain, from San Sebastian.


We left the delicious bakeries and cafes of France for, well, more delicious bakeries, cafes and tapas bars in Spain. This was our last stop before returning to New York for my sister Karen's marriage to Charlie, who happens to be of Catalan heritage as well as an amazing professional chef. Good food is definitely in his blood!

During our first week in Barcelona, Elizabeth's parents Ken and Cheryl joined us. Together we explored the city's alley ways and highlights, including the Picasso museum, the Olympic village and many of Antoni Gaudi's masterpieces. We happened to be in Barcelona during the city's annual week long La Merce Festival, which features local music, dance and crafts. Little did we know the music ranging from salsa to techno would be playing below our hotel room windows until 3 a.m. each night!

Enjoying gelato with Cheryl and Ken.

Enjoying gelato with Cheryl and Ken.


La Boqueria on Las Ramblas sells delicious fruits and veggies.

La Boqueria on Las Ramblas sells delicious fruits and veggies.


Our first dinner in Barcelona at the tapas restaurant and wine bar "Astrolabi-Tinto i co" owned by friends of our Spanish biking friends Isi and Zaida who we met in South Africa. You can check out Isi and Zaida's blog at:

Our first dinner in Barcelona at the tapas restaurant and wine bar "Astrolabi-Tinto i co" owned by friends of our Spanish biking friends Isi and Zaida who we met in South Africa. You can check out Isi and Zaida's blog at:

http://www.getjealous.com/isidro

I turned 36 in Barcelona! Elizabeth took me to a dance studio for flamenco lessons, but we got stood up by the teacher. As a consolation, I pleasantly found a unique, new wedding ring made by a local artist. I topped the day off with some profiteroles. Yum!

I turned 36 in Barcelona! Elizabeth took me to a dance studio for flamenco lessons, but we got stood up by the teacher. As a consolation, I pleasantly found a unique, new wedding ring made by a local artist. I topped the day off with some profiteroles. Yum!


Ken and Cheryl got me a bike tour of Barcelona for my birthday.

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We saw traditional dancing in one of Barcelona's many plazas as part of the festival.

We saw traditional dancing in one of Barcelona's many plazas as part of the festival.


Charming ally ways of downtown.

Charming ally ways of downtown.


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Interesting railing on Gaudi's Casa Milà.

Interesting railing on Gaudi's Casa Milà.


Gaudi's Casa Batllo.

Gaudi's Casa Batllo.


Gaudi's masterpiece Sagrada Familia. Construction started in 1883 and is expected to be finished in 2026. The construction has been interrupted by war and money woes, ultimately being passed on to various famous architects. The size and detail of the church is magnificent.

Gaudi's masterpiece Sagrada Familia. Construction started in 1883 and is expected to be finished in 2026. The construction has been interrupted by war and money woes, ultimately being passed on to various famous architects. The size and detail of the church is magnificent.


Sagrada Familia ceiling.

Sagrada Familia ceiling.


One of many stained glass windows.

One of many stained glass windows.


Steeples from a window inside Sagrada Familia.

Steeples from a window inside Sagrada Familia.


Men at work throughout the church.

Men at work throughout the church.


Stairway inside one of the church steeples.

Stairway inside one of the church steeples.


Gaudi's Park de Guell.

Gaudi's Park de Guell.


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The Chernacks love Olympic villages. Elizabeth and Ken went swimming in the Barcelona Olympic pool on the hill of Montjuic overlooking the city.

Ken representing team USA.

Ken representing team USA.


From Barcelona, Elizabeth and I decided to visit the Costa Brava region in northern Catalunya. Inspired by cousins Pat and Ellen and our Spanish friends Isi and Zaida, we left most of our luggage in the city, rented bikes and rode through the area from the ocean up into the foot hills of the Pyrenees for six days.

The first few kilometers were straight up San Sebastian. The view was well worth it, but we began to worry about the difficulty of the rest of the ride! Luckily this turned out to be the most difficult hill.

The first few kilometers were straight up San Sebastian. The view was well worth it, but we began to worry about the difficulty of the rest of the ride! Luckily this turned out to be the most difficult hill.


Getting our bearings, beachside.

Getting our bearings, beachside.


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Each town we passed has an old district built in the middle ages.

Each town we passed has an old district built in the middle ages.


The Catalunya region has embraced biking. An old railway trail has been converted into a bike trail called the Vie Verda. The old stations along the route have been preserved and converted into information centers and bathrooms. The region has well marked bike routes on the roads, as well, where we saw many wannabe Alberto Contadors!

The Catalunya region has embraced biking. An old railway trail has been converted into a bike trail called the Vie Verda. The old stations along the route have been preserved and converted into information centers and bathrooms. The region has well marked bike routes on the roads, as well, where we saw many wannabe Alberto Contadors!


We turned away from the coast and headed toward the historical cities Girona and Olot on the Vie Verda.

The old town of Amer on the way to Girona.

The old town of Amer on the way to Girona.


Old train station sign.

Old train station sign.


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Girona is a small city with a charming old Jewish quarter built in the middle ages.

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We then headed for the volcanic landscape of Olot, climbing the Coll de Bas and descending into the picturesque Bas valley.

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Nothing like a little help from a stranger.

Nothing like a little help from a stranger.


Finally, we headed back the way we came and did some relaxing in Sant Feliu de Guixols!

Relaxing on the beach after six days of biking. And for the record, we aren't naked.

Relaxing on the beach after six days of biking. And for the record, we aren't naked.


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We arrived in San Feliu de Guixols to another kind of biker convention.

We arrived in San Feliu de Guixols to another kind of biker convention.


We returned to Barcelona for one day before flying back to the states for my sister's wedding. A brief intermission to our travels before returning to South America for a final seven weeks.

We capped off our stay in Barcelona with, what else, churros y chocolate y suizo, a delicious donut stick dunked in pure hot chocolate with whipped cream. Mmmm!!!

We capped off our stay in Barcelona with, what else, churros y chocolate y suizo, a delicious donut stick dunked in pure hot chocolate with whipped cream. Mmmm!!!


- Dave

Posted by daveliz 04:30 Archived in Spain Comments (4)

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