September 2019
  • Day13

    Time to head home

    September 14, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ☁️ 24 °C

    We had one last walk on Copacabana beach, time in the fitness center😄, a visit to the Museum of Modern Art, and a stroll around the WWII monument and the yacht club, with a cloud-covered Sugar Loaf in the background.

    Almost 300 Brazilians died in WWII, fighting alongside US troops in and around Naples. In 1960, their bodies were returned to Rio and the monument constructed. The military commander explained why he was pushing for the new monument— I was the one who took them over to their sacrifice, so it’s up to me to bring them home. So sad.

    At the airport getting ready for what will be a LONG travel day— home in about 24 hours from now! Joe is happy and has just checked his “to do” list to see that there is nothing left on it. A good nostalgic visit for him.

    P.s. only in Brazil would they name an airline GOL
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  • Day12

    Feijoada Flop

    September 13, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    Joe kept insisting he had to have a feijoada. It’s the “typical” Brazilian meal, a pot filled with all kinds of meats, surrounded by plates of mantioc flour, collard greens, orange slices, beans, rice, etc. The place he remembered, the restaurant in the modernist Copacabana Palace Hotel, no longer serves feijoada. But we persisted.

    After a visit to the Copacabana Fort, built by the Portuguese to fend off the French, British, and Dutch (and maybe a few more), we took a long walk on two other iconic Brazilian beaches — Arpoador (named after the Harpoon Stone, from which harpooners supposedly used to hunt whales) and Ipanema. Now that I can compare all the beaches, I would say for sure that Copacabana is the prettiest — longest stretches of sand, widest beaches. But all of them have side lanes of traffic whizzing by and endless high rise apartment buildings.

    And then, having worked up an appetite, came the feijoada. Let’s just say it’s one of those experiences that should have been left in the memory and not repeated. I am glad I chose a salad. Now Joe is sleeping it off, and I am feeling superior for having been able to hop on the elliptical without feeling like I had a rock in my stomach. And now I am on the hotel terrace looking out as dark clouds move ini. All very dramatic.

    Home tomorrow!!!
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  • Day11

    Folklore and Presidents

    September 12, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ☁️ 29 °C

    We had a really nice combination of things to do today. First to the folklore museum — nice artifacts, but for me the highlight was the cute groups of school kids. Then a short walk to the former Presidential Palace now a museum, and the place where the dictator Getúlio Vargas committed suicide. The gun he used and his bloody nightshirt are on display, kind of grotesque, I thought. All of our day’s locations were within a km or so of each other, so we walked around downtown a lot. That is one of my favorite activities when in a big city.

    Lunch in another restaurant Joe remembered — another white tablecloth place, I am getting the idea that he was usually living high on the hog down here. From there we went to the Institute where lots of research was done. And since Joe has never met an academic bookstore he didn’t love, he was in hog heaven. We got inside the institute and walked around his old haunts, even though the archives where he spent the most time have been moved.

    Dinner tonight in a Lebanese restaurant — after a week in Sao Paulo with its excellent Lebanese restaurants, this one has a pretty high standard to live up to, we will see!
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  • Day10

    Downtown Rio

    September 11, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    We had a vague plan when we left this morning. First stop, the Museu do Arte do Rio, in an old train station, Interesting collection, fun to visit, and with a great view from the sixth floor rooftop! Across the praça is the futuristic waterfront Museu de Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow). We didn’t visit it but really enjoyed walking around and getting the views of the port, Niteroi across the bay, etc.

    Joe remembered good lunches in the Cafe do Colombo, where we headed for lunch, getting lost and ultimately hopping in a cab. Belle Epoque, this place used to be for the upper crust, but is very democratic nowadays. Really lovely, with three different floors of different kinds of service. We took the top floor — better food and nicer surroundings.

    From there we walked to the National Library where Joe spent many many hours doing research way back when. It was a nice trip down memory lane. Across the street is the over the top Municipal Theater, built in the early 1900s in four years of non-stop building and cost overruns. The total price, ten times the projected cost, constituted 2% of the GNP for one year. But it is gorgeous — nothing built in Brazil, evry single thing was imported from Europe in pieces and then assembled on site. Stained glass from Germany, marble from Italy, etc etc.

    Time is flying — we have only two more full days and then a long haul back to the midwest.
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  • Day9

    Back in full tourist mode

    September 10, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Last night I was once again mistaken for the women’s soccer coach. I looked her up and see that she was a very controversial hire and has not done anything good for the Brazilian team. Currently ranked number 10, that is their lowest ranking ever. Not a great doppleganger to have!

    Joe felt much better this morning, so we decided to head for Corcovado. The weather shows clouds and possible showers later in the week, so decided that though the morning was a bit hazy, we should carpe diem. Probably everyone has seen the statue of Christ the Redeemer way up on the top of a huge rock. The cog railway took more than a half hour to get up there, through jungle type forest. We spent about an hour up there looking around, walking through some paths from one view to the other, really a highlight of any trip to Rio.

    Unfortunately the Primitive Art museum we thought was right up the hill has closed, so on to Plan B. The Botanical Gardens. As is usually our experience, especially in small tourist venues, the café/restaurante in these places tend to be just fine. And this was no exception, a really nice, cool spot with decent food. Lots of orchids, 150 year old palm trees, jacarandá trees, you get the picture. Very pleasant, good recommendation Katy!

    Tomorrow we will probably head downtown to some more serious touristic visits — palaces, churches, monasteries and stuff like that.
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  • Day8

    Sugar Loaf and being a beach bum

    September 9, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ☁️ 27 °C

    Joe’s rich pasta dish last night must have not been the best choice, or maybe the tap water did it, but for whatever reason, we had a very late morning start. I took advantage and walked a few miles up and down the beach, and by 11 or so we were on our way to the “bondinho” (cable car) up to Sugar Loaf Mountain. It is a big piece of rock jutting out of the water, with amazing views. Getting there involves a stop on an intermediary rock, about half as high as Sugar Loaf itself. The views at every turn were pretty amazing, but I have to say I was left wishing I could have seen the bays and coves and mountains before all the high rise building.

    After a lunch in a beach café, I was once again left to entertain myself for a few hours, and this time I spent a good chunk of post-elliptical time sitting on the roof of our hotel in a beach chair next to the pool with views over the ocean below. Yes, very uncharacteristic of me to sit and do nothing, but it was relaxing, I will admit. Not sure about dinner tonight, that will depend on Joe’s stomach.
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  • Day7

    On to Rio

    September 8, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    We sadly said goodbye to dear daughter, who is staying another day in Sao Paulo to see friends, and hopped on a short flight to Rio. At the airport, a group of about 5 was obviously talking about me, and 2 took my picture. I guess this is as close to famous as I will ever be — my son told me I should put on a Brazil selection shirt or jacket and then see how I get the royal treatment. :-)

    Uber has flooded the Rio airport. There are special signs pointing you down the Uber path, and a meeting point with about 20 parking spots. Three Uber employees direct traffic, announce arrivals of drivers, and call for passengers. The fare into town was about $10, compared to $50 in a cab. As you might imagine, there was nothing going on at the taxi stands.

    Our hotel is right on the beach named Leme, the so-called “quiet family zone.” We’re on the 15th floor with a pretty decent side view (I guess you pay more for a beach-facing view, but at least we are not in the back!). We have eaten, walked, and worked out (LifeFitness elliptical, woo hoo!), and it is night. The roof-top pool has a restaurant with great views. I assume the food is bad and overpriced, but we may just go ahead and splurge tonight.

    Since we have lost our tour guide, we will have to start reading up on the sights and planning a few days’ worth of activities. The one thing I was sure to do was book a feijoada in the Copacabana Palace for Saturday. Feijoada on Saturday is a Brazilian tradition and the one we had there 30 years ago was pretty good!
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  • Day6

    Parks and Markets

    September 7, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Well, last night someone came up to me in a restaurant and asked if he could take a picture with me. He thought I was the Brazilian women’s soccer team coach. My kids think we are dopplegangers, I think it’s just two old ladies with white hair.

    We spent a lot of the day in Ibirapuera Park, just walking and watching all the people. It’s huge and on weekends just busting with all kinds of people. A few minutes in the Modern Art Museum, and then off to a food/antiques/crafts market. And since the big Avenida Paulista (two blocks from our hotel) was closed to car traffic all day, Katy and I spent a couple more hours walking up and down.

    Our last Sao Paulo meal together is tonight, and then Joe and I head alone to Rio in the morning. I am going to really miss having Katy with us, we have had such a great time.
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  • Day5

    USP and MASP (oospee and maspee)

    September 6, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Today was the trip to the university. That’s where Katy’s school, Joe’s department, and my institute was. We made it to the first two (my choice).

    After all the visits we headed to the main art museum. Paintings are displayed in rows of “glass easels.” Kind of disconcerting at first because all the info about the painting is stuck on the back of it. Goya, Velazquez , Bosch, and Van Gogh were just some of the many masters displayed.

    Since last night we had a pizza that we could never hope to beat (unless it were S-I-L Ben’s) at a really lovely restaurant named Veridiana (think Buñuel), we are going to scout for something different tonight.
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  • Day4

    All over town

    September 5, 2019 in Brazil ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    Another cloudy drizzly day. We decided to go to the Oscar Americano Foundation, the estate of a business magnate who donated his modernist home to the city for preservation as a garden and museum. We had been there years ago when my mom visited us in Sao Paulo. I remember an elaborate British tea, which we didn’t have today because we had our eyes set on a traditional Sao Paulo “lanchonete.”

    After a couple of hours walking around the garden and museum, we did stop in the café for some pao de queijo. If you’ve never had it, you are missing out!

    Our trip to the lanchonete took us to a burger joint, so we opted for the Dib Lebanese restaurant next door. Delicious, once again.

    Final stop of the day, the Afro-Brazilian museum, a slightly confusing collection but lots of really intresting historical and artistic material.

    Dinner is likely to be pizza, maybe back to our neighborhood and the now very trendy Pizzaria Margherita.
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