A Travellerspoint blog

Buenos fu#k#ng Aires

Spanish classes, Tango shows and amazing food.

Well week one of BA was full of fine dining, breaking rest and site seeing as Harsh mentioned. It was also primarily spent in Palermo. In fact this should have been our final days of the trip. However as we had relaxed for an extra week in Ipanema before we decided to extend the trip by a week in BA to do the city justice before we left.

Staying in the City Centre

We thought it would be nice to see a different aspect to living in BA and moved hostels a few times to experience different suburbs. Immediately after Palermo we moved into the town centre in week two and stayed at millhouse ave. A hip hostel that came recommended from a few friends along the way. Whilst the lay out of this place was grand, clean interior, large common areas and nightly events, the place lacked the warmth of tango backpackers in Palermo. It did not help that when we first moved into the room which was a 6 bed dorm, the top bunks that we had been assigned was detached from the wall. I did not fancy myself staying safely horizontal after a night on the piss so we decided to invest in a private room instead. I think this was a good decision as it was an amazing room and we did not have to contend with noisy twenteens. Speaking of noisy, we did manage to satisfy our curiosity of attending the hostels self promoted Monday night jam sessions. Whilst this displayed the singing prowess of fellow travelers we quickly realised we felt far more at home at a hostel that appreciated full bodied Malbecs over Heinekens.

Apart from checking out the hostel Jam Session we also attended one of BA's Monday night institutions. Konex, an outdoor venue that was filled with travelers and local students whom were entranced to the pulsating percussion rhythms of drum group lo Bomba. We bumped into friends we had met in Palermo, Dejan a Serbian born Swiss resident and his friend Milan whom we refer to as "The chef" as we had once seen him cook up a storm on the hostel rooftop BBQ. These two were also trying out some basic Spanish whilst in Ba and thoroughly recommended "Native tuition" to the both us. We had been meaning to try Spanish classes all trip and whilst the final week of our trip seemed an odd time to start we could not resist having on our CV -Studied Spanish in Argentina.

Spanish Lessons

So on the Tuesday Morning after checking out of Milhouse we made our way to Moreno street and were greeted by a tall sultry, long haired Latin beauty, Julia who introduce herself in espanol. I was quickly beginning to realise why the Chef and Dejan had thoroughly recommended this school. " Miss I did not do my homework I deserve to be spanked". Ok let me stop day dreaming and tell you more about our lessons. We were lead up by Julia to room 1c where we were introduced to Mariella the school's owner, who was going to be our teacher-Damn I thought to my self "we don’t get Julia- Faked out again. Jokes aside Mariella was great, spoke fluent English and was really patient with our poor command of the Spanish dialect and our initial penny crunching hard ball negotiation tactics to get a two for one deal. In week two of BA with attended about five classes totally twelve hours. We still struggle to speak with any confidence but we have definitely become more confident understanding the numbers and basic verbs. The great thing about our package is we secured 30 hours which the remaining hours are to be completed via Skype on-line when we get back to Oz with the online specialist teacher Noelia.

San Telmo

As mentioned before we wanted to try out a few different locations whilst in BA. Immediately after Milhouse we decided to give San Telmo, the inner city suburb famous for it strong Tango roots. We stayed at the hostel Inn which was affiliated with Tango Backpackers in Palermo and was more our chilled out style than Millhouse. We were lucky to be placed into an unoccupied four bed dorm for three of our four nights we stayed here. This meant we basically got a private room for the price of dorm. San Telmo as I said was famous for its Tango and also its Antique market which we missed last Sunday. To be honest we expected to walk down to the town square and be bombarded with Tango dancers but the town was pretty dead during the weekdays and even nights. I think it was due to low season. This was a bit disappointing at first but the hostel was in a good spot to commute to our Spanish lessons and explore the city centre during the day. We did manage to see the place liven up when we attended the Sunday craft market though. This was good but hey we are in BA where is the Tango? I here you say.

Tango

We did manage to attend two very different Tango experiences when we stayed at San telmo; a non tourist underground tango venue and a tasteful but upscale show.

The non touristy show was very low key, only a handful of couples and a four piece orchestra. We were told in now uncertain terms by the Local bar owner that this place had know one like us and it was where the portenos went to enjoy tango. What the place lacked in quantity it made up for in quality as we saw some amazing exponents of the dance of love here whilst we sipped on a Malbec and hammered a pizza. After seeing this no frills venue we were ready to see a more elaborate tango experience and got this the next night at a venue called Complejo tango.

This was not in San Telmo but we were picked up from our hotel and taken to a place about 5 minutes from Congresso station. The evening started with a 45 minute tango lesson for the group of 8. We learnt some basic steps and were unexpectedly granted a certificate at the end of the session when we were escorted to the dinner venue upstairs. Much to our liking the place was very intimate each table was close to the stage much like a cabaret venue. We were treated to amazing Malbec Wine all night and the meal included entre, Main and dessert. To our surprise the food was extremely tasty, fish for Shetty and the old faithful steak for me. At exactly 10pm the show began just as our white chocolate mousse and warm chocolate cake was being served. Talk about intimate, the dancers and singers performed literally on our laps. After two bottles of Malbec even my usually reserved self could not help jumping out of my seat and attempting to tame the lead female tango dancer, Shetty not to be outdone followed suit and was eager to put into practice her recently acquired "ocho's" with the handsome male lead. The entire show was spectacular, from the pick up and lessons to the meals, choreography and offcourse the never ending bottles of Malbec.

Whilst in San Telmo we also managed visit nearby La Boca famous for its coloured art houses, street markets and Soccer team Boca juniors.

La Boca

We made it to La Boca twice and were met with a very touristy vibe packed with touts trying to pull us in to their restaurants which had mediocre tango displays. The touts were well versed in the clientele’s culture and referred to us as Shuruk and Kajol when we approached. Despite the usual tourist trappings the place did have a festive atmosphere and was filled with a good vibe and great souvenirs. We even finally managed to purchase the "Buenos Fu$king Aires" top that had alluded us the whole trip. Unfortunately we chose the wrong restaurant due to an attractive tango display and got the worst meal of our stay at BA and maybe even SA. A salt infested smoked deer, who the touts stressed was in the sheep family when harsh expressed she did not eat beef.

Back at Palermo and enjoying the asado's

After our stint in the Centro and San telmo we were ready to end our trip in the Place we most liked in BA, Palermo. So we lugged the backpacks for one last time through the subway and checked back into Tango Backpackers. It felt like home seeing dejan, The Chef and our non stop talking French friend Igor in the reception. We even managed to get our old room back.

These final four days were spent simply doing the things we loved and wanted to do in BA. This included attended more Spanish classes, visiting the recolleta cemetery and offcourse enjoying the nightlife and eating till we burst.

The cemetery had to be seen to be believed, BA's elite from artists to filthy rich and famous politicians were laid to rest here in marble and granted monuments as large as mini chapels. The highlight was seeing Eva Peron(evita's grave) judging by the loads of bouquets and well wishes in front of grave it seemed the whole of Argentina had avoided advice and definitely cried for her. Okay enough of the morbid setting back to some more lively action.

I have to mention one night spent going out with Harsh and Dejan our Serbian friend. Dejan invited us to girl’s place that he had met on couch surfing for some drinks with friends, thinking it would be a mixed crowd we attended. Much to mine and Dejan delight and Harsh's dismay we were greeted at the posh apartment by no fewer than 13 Argentine female college students. As Arnie would say "Imagine the pleasure"

Speaking of Pleasure we just had to revisit La Cabrera our favourite steakhouse again and gauge on the amazing grilled meats, Bife de Ojo for me and Juicy pork for shetty. Offcourse washed done with our favorite drop and an encore performance of the warm chocolate lava cake. This time shetty was quick to pounce on the cream. As our British friend faizal would say in his eloquent accent "it was absolutely beautiful".

We also got to try BA's all you can eat venues tenedor libre like the one we experienced in Mendoza. We had two very deferent experiences. The First was a very cheap $8aud PP venue which was tasteless and not worth another line. The second one we were in gastronomical heaven. A herd of succulent cattle erected alongside each other on a coal filled asado, a separate cooking station for the following; Ocean catches, wok fried Asian specialties, authentic pasta and wood fire pizza, freshly prepared sushi, made to order French Crepes, along with a buffet of salads and Desserts. All these for only $18AUD PP, luckily we had to walk about 7 blocks back to the hostel to get us back to a more normal digestive state. The feeling of bloatedness did not prevent us from trying this place on our last night here again, the juicy lamb, pork and beef was just too hard to resist. Damn we have to go back to OZ tomorrow and would have to pay about $75Aud for an equivalent buffet in Melbourne

Our final day here in BA is fittingly pouring with rain; I guess it will put us in readiness for Cold Melbourne. We spent it doing some last minute shopping, sipping on yet another beautifully presented layered cappuccino. Then making a rushed run to the international terminal.

As I write this both of us have mixed feelings of sadness and excitement. Three life changing months and it has finally come to and end, Good Bye South America. Next stop Melbourne. Can’t wait for a chicken curry at Browns Rd.

Posted by HonestAnth 14:00 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Buenos Aires week 1

Palermo

We flew from rio to B.A., we could have taken a bus to save some money but, travelling in a bus for 48 hours was something we both werent looking forward to. So we flew with Pluna. This plane has been the smallest plane I have ever been in, I reckon. These people didnt have any food included in the flight and I had not had lunch after a pretty hectic day so I was ready to buy a 20 Real Sandwich which Anthony wasnt happy about. It was a very uncomfortable flight and we had decided to live in dorms in B.A to save up on some cash as the flights were pretty expensive so not a great start. We got to B.A., just before 8pm. The view of the city from high up was absolutely amazing, lights as far as the eye can see. It reminded me how Dubai looked in the night but B.A. offcourse is a bigger city.Thanks to Anthony who left the camera in the bag we couldnt tape the landing, our only night landing (we have taped landing in every other country).

Anyway we had not booked accomodation so it was hostel hunting again from the airport. We knew where we wanted to go though. We just had to decide which part of the city we wanted to go to as Palermo and San Telmo were our two choices and in two different directions.We made our way to Tango backpackers in Palermo. The reception and the common area looked pretty cool. The private room had bunk beds and was double the price of the dorm so we obviously chose the 4 bed dorm. There was another couple there before us and had captured both top beds so Anthony and I happily settled in the bottom beds. Unlike Mendoza this time Anthony was going to give a show to the people on the top. Lol !!

From the second day in Palermo we again got into a routine of late mornings, visiting a couple of sites, a bite and then a massive dinner. And oh did I mention lots of nice wine.. and offcourse clubbing.
If I write about every place we have been to and eaten at, I will never finish. Each place has been great but I am writing down the ones worth a mention.

SIGHT SEEING

B. A. is such a big city and just like other countries in S.A full of plazas and avenues in the centre. Gosh and the subways are so far spread. Thinking of 4 stop city loop in melbourne as subway is a joke.

To get anywhere around the city we had to come to Plaza Italia which is a very between Ave Santa Fe and Jorge L Borges. This is a very busy commercial area which has a lot of public transport available in the form of bus, rail and subways and joins Sociedad Rural, the Zoo and the Botanical Garden through its square. Loads of shops too...

The things strongly suggessted by the locals was to visit the zoo, the Botanical Gardens and walk around the parks apart from trying the argentinian steaks. Anyway so we made our way to the zoo, the entrance fees was about 15 Pesos per person so we decided to go to the Botanical gardens first as it was free. This garden, located in Palermo, near Santa fe and was designed by French landscaper Carlos Thays and was inaugurated in 1908. It has numerous statues, fountains, and thousands of species of plants and trees from all over the world (a lot of which we took notice had boards saying they were from OZ ). Inside the garden there is a museum, a library, a greenhouse and a gardening school. But after visiting the Melbourne´s botanical garden and Peradinia Gardens in Kandy this garden in B.A. was like cchiicckkeen burger!! So we got out of there and made our to the parks. They do have a lot of Parks here. I think the parks looked better than the Botanical garden. There was a massive Rose garden in one of the parks which was a highlight for me. It was pretty relaxing in the parks, on our way out we saw some Kushmakundi going on behind a tree.

We visited Plaza de Mayo is the country´s political centre and one of the important plazas.

Florida Street -This street is one of the most famous pedestrian streets of the city
It is also a part of the longest street of shops which scatter around the city centre. Imagine the bourke street mall but much much bigger and spread out in 10 directions. (literally) !!

Av Correintes- It is an important commercial area which is full of Cambio´s (money exchange offices) and all most every bank´s branch of Argentina.

Lavalle Street - This street has a large number of movie theaters as well as restaurants and cafes. Its a shame that the subway service shuts down at 10.30pm or this would be great place to eat and walk around.

Palermo Sunday market

This market was one of the 3 popular markets in B.A. The things offered in this market were mainly clothing, leather, lots of accessories and more accessories. This market is a great place for any age group. I really had to remind myself that I had to keep a budget so all I did here mainly was window shopping. I think I bought two things from here, Anthony was very proud of me for not blowing cash as he was very anxious about me walking around in the market by myself. I think what helped was this Argentinian guy who was chasing me for about 20minutes and I had to run back to the hostel.. Lol !!

Recolota Sunday market-
This was like the hippie market in Ipanema. There is a park surrounding the Recoleta cemetery which has hundreds of stalls lined up all around the park. The market offers a lots of paintings and real life portraits, sculptures, hand made jewellery, winter wear , and tonnes of different soveinger options. The quality of the things looked good, so things were expensive. I was in heaven as it was still cheaper than the market in Ipanema so that meant I could afford to buy a couple of things, Anthony had to stop me from going crazy and buy everything possible. It was funny that we were thinking about tango and we got to see some street Tango while walking around. They werent the best Tango dancers but it was the first time we had actually seen someone dance Tango so it was pretty exciting.
While we were in the market we also were able to visit a church and the cultural centre.

Recoleta cultural centre - We visited this centre when we went to the Sunday market in Recolota. The building was built in 1732 and exhibits sculptures, paintings, and photographs with 25 auditoriums.

The Evita Museum-
We went to visit The Evita Museum dedicated to a remarkable woman (popularly known as Eva Peron) in Argetinian history. The museum was inaugurated in 2002 which was the 50th anniversary of Eva´s death and is located in a petit hotel which was built in the first decade of 20th century. The museum exhibits the life of Evita from her childhood, her youth as an actress, her life as the First Lady next to Argentinian president Juan Peron, her struggle for outlaying laws for women´s civil rights, rights of the aged and workers rights in Argentina and finally a procession after her death. It was wierd that no where in the museum did they mention the reason of her death. It was cancer said one of the salesperson in the soveigner shop. After a great experience in the museum we went to the restaurant of the hotel. It was so cute and petit, just like the rest of the place. We had an amazing crepe and coffee. It was late afternoon so we only got a cafe menu but had seen that there was a seperate lunch menu and we could not stop thinking about it.
This cafe/ restaurant I think was one one of the cutest places we ate at in Buenos Aires. After the first visit we could not stop thinking of the lunch menu which had even a bigger variety of savoury and dessert crepes. So we went back and I had the best mushroom crepe ever and Anthony had a good old salmon crepe. It was ssoooooooo good and offcourse the best capuchino with the 3 layers. I reckon we have had the best coffees in Argentina as the presentation adds so much to the experience.

DINING

On our first night in B.A we had dinner at this Parrilla ( grilled / barabeques ) close to the hostel suggessted by the guy at the reception. After a decent meal we went to check this place out which was about 6 blocks down from our hostel which was supposed to have lots restaurants and stuff around. There was a good cluster different eateries, pubs and retaurants in this plaza. It looked pretty impressive almost every place was packed for dinner at 12.30 am. Like Mendoza even here people eat pretty late. We had a craving for a choclate mousse but didnt really find it, as we had already eaten we walked backed. On our way back we stumbled onto this really cute restaurant. OMG the place was so cute and inviting we almost got hungry again. Before we leave we will definitely eat here atleast once. I must say this area of Palermo definitely has some cute restaurants and amazing wine lists. Len and Them will definitely love this place. I will be definitely drinking a lot of Malbec while I am here (Ok mum not a lot may be a little) .

La Cabrera
We made our way back to the hostel just before dark and were pretty hungry so left for dinner. We wanted to go to this place called La Cabrera a Parrilla ( grilled / barabeques )which was highly recommended by everyone we had spoken to, about Bunes Aires and also the Lonely Planet had a great review of it. So we got there and there was a 45 mins wait. We were like great, it looked pretty happening as the restaurant was absolutely packed and there were about 25 people waiting. So we made reservations and then went for a walk looking around at different places to eat, not for the night but for later, we had to kill time anyway. When we got back we saw free wine and champagne was being served for the people waiting, we were like F&"·&%$. We were so bummed that we missed out on the free drinks. But it wasnt too bad, we got our table as we got there. So offcourse the first order was a bottle of Malbec. I didnt really have too much of a choice apart from 1/4 chicken and something else which was a chicken dish. Anthony on the other hand was in paradise. He had so much choice but he went with the waiter´s recommendation which I think was smart or else he would have taken atleast an hour with his spanish and decision making. He got a massive steak ( De Chorizo) with 13 sides which was amazing. He was very happy.Will upload a pic. After a great meal and bottle of wine, we so were full. Then the waiter brings the dessert menu with two glasses of dessert champagne. We werent really sure if was free so we were hesistant to drink at first, but once tasted it we skulled it. We didnt care. They didnt have a choclate mousse and nothing else really caught our eye so we asked for the bill but the waiter was there to save us from missing out one of the best cakes we were about to have. He suggessted to have this warm choclate cake with cream, strawberry and ice cream. Anthony could not resist the offer and ordered it. To our surprise their was a serve the best blue berries I have ever had accompanying the above mentioned goodies. We had already finished the amazing champagne, I just asked what was it called as I really liked it. The waiter not only told me the name but brought out the bottle to show me and poured another glass and was like dont worry "its on me." SO we were like ok go on and instead of half a glass champers like the first time he poured a full glass for me. VERY HAPPY !! Amazing experience. I must say the food could have been tastier by itself but what made it a great experience was a great spot,great ambience, good food, a great waiter and his service, great wine and great dessert. Offcourse a great massive bill in the end. We blew the daily budget with authority, I think we wont eat for the next 3 days. But it was so worth it. All in all a great night and I think Anthony was really happy that he hammered a steak in the place he looking forward to go to.


CLUBBING

Just like its fine dining and amazing wine B.A. is also famous for its night life. In melbourne we would go out and the clubs are packed by midnight. Here people are still thinking where to go at 1 am and apparently most clubs start getting crowd at 2am in the morning.

CLUB NICETO
We went to this place called Club Niceto, got in at about 3.00 am and it was absolutely jam packed. The dance floor could hold about 500 people and still there was no way we were able to even step our foot on the dance floor. Electronic music seems to be very popular here. Its not our kinda music so I think after the first few tracks we had had it but we still stayed as the place was a buzz. There was a balcony on the second level which gave a pretty awesome view of the floor. We couldnt really bear the music anymore and Anthony was falling asleep so I think we left just before 5 am and while we were leaving we could see there were atleast a 100 people trying to get in. And the floor looked even more packed than before. And all of this on a Wednesday night. I can only imagine the place during the weekend.

COMMUNITY TANGO

Our friend Faisal suggessted of a place he had been which was like a community hall where the Locals came to show off their Tango techniques, learn tango or just simply have fun. Ha had already told us not to expect any younger crowd as the place was more appealing to people over 40. Apparently its the younger crowd here think that only nerds like Tango. We thoght we had not really seen the Tango dancing as such, we were going to go to a Tango show but that would be professionals, but this place would be good as it had only locals. And so after dinner 3 of us headed to the hall. Faisal was right, no tourists in sight apart from us. There was a Tango lesson which was in Spanish. Anthony and I tried but with his balance and my inability to let him lead, all we ended up doing was step on eachother´s foot and get frustrated and move away. But then Faisal could see that we both wanted to give it a shot. He had done a couple of Tango classes so he tried to teach the steps but it didnt help much. In the end when the music started we just ended up doing our own thing. We could not believe how bad we were as normally its not the case at all. But it was great fun, watching the other couples dance, they made it look so easy. They had such an elegance and flawles control of step and they seem to know the steps on every track. I reckon Tango dancers are like a good wine the older they get the better. Like every other dance I hope Uncle knows how to Tango so I can practice with him when I get back.
Like I said before people go out and stay out really late. We got back to the hostel at 3.30am and people looked at us as we were some sort of losers. As they were still thinking where to go. Next morning, offcourse we got up late. I think I went to he bathroom at about 12 in the afternoon and I saw 3 girls strugling to make their way to the bathroom in their going gear from last night. They said they went to this place which was open till 10am in the morning and they had just got back. I think Anthony and even me are a bit too old for nightouts like these.

ZOUK CLUB
Sunday night we went to a Zouk club, never heard of it in OZ. The music was pretty cool. It also had 3 guys (one of them reminded me of CHADWICK) performed on some zouk music,i think. For the first time I have seen a all boy group perform in club so it was different. I think people who cant get their command on one style of dance have created this dancing. It looks like bits of so many different dance styles like slow samba, tango, a bit of J.LO´s version of Salsa, had a touch of the caribbean. It is pretty good, much better than electronic or trance music for us.

So this was our first week in Palermo. We are going to a different hostel tommorrow in the city called the Millhouse (famously known as the party hostel) and then off to San Telmo (one of the older suburbs) of B.A. Hopefully they treat us well like Palermo. I think we will definitely would love to finish our trip in Palermo. This is has definitely been one of the places where we got really comforatble like Cuzco and Ipanema..

Posted by Harshu 19:34 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Birds Eye View of Rio

The feeling was none other than we have experienced, total freedom like a bird, carefree and exhilarating.

After a combined total of over three weeks in Rio you would think we had seen the city from every different angle. Well that was not entirely true even though we had been on top of Sugar Loaf, Corcovoda and the Favela´s. There was still one vantage point we had not been to. This destination was apparent when lying on the beach in Ipanema and gazing up into the sky each day and seeing the many bird like creatures navigating the skies just above tujuca national park and the near by ´PRAIA´.

One day we were approached by walter a local tout pushing the various tours and activities in Rio. We declined most of them as we had virtually been there done that, however one of them was on the back of both of mind for the entire trip. Finance and Fear were the only obsticals in our way todate, well actually I think it was mainly the latter. Despite the sound reasoning we both had on our second last day in Rio we decided to take the plunge literally. So we tentatively called up Walter who had left us his calling card and booked ourselves a date in the clouds.

The couple of hours before the event was spent anxiously killing time on the sands of Ipanema and having a light snack and drink. Then 3.30 Pm approached and we were picked up by Marcello our Hip-Hop Loving taxi driver and dropped off at the Praia(Beach) where would be touching down. Our certified instructor´s Marcio and Popo greeted us here where we signed off our disclaimer and then swiftly drove us up the Tujuca forest to the take off point. During this trip we were briefed in safety procedures for take off and landing by the aid of a portable DVD. With the music in the background the production depicted a smooth flight and our nerves were slightly calmed.

When we reached the take off pad, which was in excess of 560 meters above the ground those same calm nerves started to increase, it did not help that Rio´s usually clear skies had started to fog up rapidly by the time we reached the top. There was a line of about 15 Tandoms already in front of us nervously waiting to depart the solid wooden base of the platform but due to the lack of visabilty had been waiting for over 2hours. This was all we needed more anxious moments of uncertainty to add to the drama. Our Instuctors explained to us that the skies usually cleared quickly and we had to be ready to jump and any time. However in the same breath they mentioned if it was not clear by 5.45pm we would have to attempt take off the next day. We did not know what was worse plunging into the unknown abyss or waiting for another 24hours in Limbo.

The platform was crowded with atleast 80-100 people which included participants,instructors, bystanders and alot of local experts it seemed. The platform was caotic, especially when the weather seemed to clear momentarily and the place became like wall street at the close of business. The experts would yell PRAIA! PRAIA ! PRAIA! PRAIA ! at the remote sign of the beach. The Instructor and participant first in Line would get set then pull out as the visability would change in an instant. We had not seen anything like it. Adrellin seemed to be pumping through everyone yet no one had seen a jump in hours.

The time ticked over to a few minutes past 5pm and we had pretty much circumed to the fact we would have to shut up shop and repeat the preparation tommorrow. All of sudden the wind experts yelled out PRAIA once again even though to the naked eye there was no sign of sand and water anywhere. The tentative next jumper in line who had been waiting for over three hours had no time to think as his instructor whisked both and him off the mountain into the unknown abyss beneath them after about a five step run up. The onlookers which included our previous roomates Danny and Adam who co-incidently happened to be plunging that day also looked in disbelief as the unpowered device with the passenger and instructor suspended beneath it dramatically sunk into the thick clouds. The preparation DVD we had seen in the trip up the mountain depicted a fairly small decent followed by rapid ascent, however all we saw on this inaugaral flight of the afternoon was plummiting. This did not do much for the nerves and we were hoping our instructor would call it a day.

For another 25 minutes it was yet another gridlock with no one taking off after that first guinea pig whom no one knew what happened to. However as Marcio had advised before the wheather was unpredicatable here and all of a sudden we were blessed with a bit of sunshine. Once again the wall street buzz was back in the mountain. Tandoms took off rapidly one by one like the airtraffic at Heathrow. Marcio and Popo quickly took harsh and myself through a training run through and strapped us into our harness. Marcio unfortunately advised Harsh she could not take her personal camera with her and promoted his on board cam which came at an additional cost. Popo on the other hand let me zip up my cam into the chest pocket of the harness. Oh there is slight bit of incorrect info there it was not my camera it was Mum´s. We were just about to take off when nature called for me, Popo was not happy at all when I asked politely like kindergarden kid ´may i go to the toilet´. I did not really take to well to his tone and went anyway. It did not help that there was a queue for the toilet, Popo in my absence was grilling Harsh about what was taking me so long. I had to make a quick decision should I wait for this queue, go back and plunge on a full bladder or use the natural toilet. I correctly opted for door no 3. Then rushed back to Popo who by now had a smile on his face and told me he was abrupt because he was worried the weather would not hold. By now Harsh was first in line, I tried to take a few take off shots of her but Popo was signalling me to get in line to test my harness, which took only about 10 secs. A quick clip on then a test dangle a foot off the ground. Apparently that was all that was needed to ensure we would not plummet away from the instructor when we were half a kilometer up in the air.

Well no time to think about it anymore as quick as the safety test was we were whisked on to the launch pad, which was a ten meter by ten meter wooden platform on a slight decline. The instructions were to simply hold on to the are respective intructors and just run, Dont stop!! Dont! Jump!! and try and run in sync. Easier said than done when you are running off a perfectly safe mountain for no apparent reason. Our minds began to fill with anticipation,anxiousness,excitement and uncertainty. The heart pounded rapidly, and the body was filled with butterflies as if we were just about to step on stage. Firstly Harsh began here 10 step run up followed by myself a minute after. Both of us put our trust in Marcio and Popo and simply ran straight as directed. The initial leap was amazing, just like the video quick drop of about 2 seconds then a instant ascent when the wind caught the hanglider, like a paper plane you throw downwards which picks up flight immediately. Both of us looked at our intructor´s straight after the take off and felt like louise lane when she asked superman ´You have got me, but who has got you?´. The feeling was none other than we have experienced, total freedom Like a bird, carefree and exhilarating.

Harsh looked like a natural Legs slightly crossed even before Marcio had to instruct her, myself on the other hand took a little long to get comfortable but once the wind picked up it felt quite safe and secure. Rio was an excellent backdrop to do your maiden voyage. The beautiful view of the beach, with the back drop of the forest. The favela´s in the distance, unfortanetly Cristo was not visible due to the weather today but you could see Corcovoda Mountain. All the hours of waiting was worth it. Both Popo and Marceo made us feel safe whislt they navigated the device with precision,sometimes toying with us and pretending to flying head first in to the mountains.

Harsh who usually loves a photo opportunity was so engrossed in the AWE of the scenery that even she forgot Marcio was remotely taking photo´s whilst fyling, resulting in only a couple of camera facing photo´s. Myself on the other hand was aware of Popo´s camera, however got caught up in trying to take Mum´s camera out during the flight. This was a bit harder than expected as only my right hand was able to reach the pocket. This meant I had to unzipp the chest pocket and remove the camera and strap the camera on to my wrist with my non preferred hand. There was a few anxious moments where I felt Mums cam would end up floating off the coast of Rio.

The Flight itself took between 8-10 Minutes I think. It would have gone for a bit longer if there was more wind. But despite being a bit shorter in duration than anticipated it felt enough. We got to fly over the forest and then hover over the beach. I never though when we were laying on the beach last week looking at those bird like creatures that we would be those creatures one day. Well this day we were.

The landing was smooth both instuctors seemlessly unstrapped our legs about 200 meters before the beach and we descended rapidly yet safely just like a bird of prey approached it´s captive. The mixed feelings of relief, happiness and ´Ohh I did not want this to end´ crossed our minds as set foot on the sand. Harsh reached first and was eagerly waiting my arrival. It was a good opportnity for her to capture my landing, it was not hard to spot which glider was me. No it was not the buldging biceps that gave it a way or Popo´s name on the glider, it was those unmistakable Sri Lankan Ankles.

Wooww what a trip I think we have done Rio Justice. It was very hard to say good bye to Ipanema our home for the last 2 and a half weeks.
Next stop Buenos F&cking Aires!!!!

Posted by HonestAnth 17:55 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

Garota De Ipanema

Embracing the Carioca lifestyle

It is safe to say that Rio during Carnaval gives you a distorted view of the city. You tend to think that Rio is out of control, Unhygenic and every one is ripped and wants to grab you. Well some of those points may be true but as we have found out over the last two weeks, the city does have its moments of sanity and sense of normality and routine. Thats right as we did in Cusco we have simply set up camp in Ipanema to get to know the city more intimately, less from a gringo perspective.

We have been lucky enough to have been staying at the Garota De Ipanema Hostel´s Annex as Harsh mentioned before for the first week. It has been a god send, sometimes despite the fact it was a four bedroom apartment we were the only ones staying in it. We then moved to Collinas Residencia near by for the second week as the hostel had to give up the Annex due to a wild party that took place before we got there. Collinas was equally as nice but was a little further from the action.

It has been great getting all the tourist sights out of the way and simply embracing the Carioca lifestyle, it has allowed us to get into a lovely routine here. Waking up around 10ish walking to the open air Gym, sipping on a coconut on the way back. Then eating breaky at our favourite little cafe Beach sucos or grab a yogurt at yogoberry whilst people watching, in the afternoon we usually hit the beach, post 9 where all the beautiful people hangout, off course we fit in well, atleast Harsh does. Later on we grab a late lunch at a Per kilo buffet. We then grab a late nap ready for the night. Eat dinner at beach sucos or an more upmarket BBQ depending on the days expenditure. Finally,hang out at the Corner cafe,with the locals and gringos, enjoying a few Brahma´s and caipirinha´s depending on the mood. After Midnight hit one of Rio´s abundunt night spots( Samba,Hip-Hop,Baila funk depending on the night). Sometimes we would alter the afternoon activity slighty and catch the action of the futbol finals outside popeye bar or stroll through the Markets in Ipanema or Copa. You can safely say it is hard to stay Ripped here with all that Drinking and Eating and breaking rest. Hey you are only young once. In the next few paragraphs I will eloborate on a few of those few activities.

Beach Sucos

This little cafe got a mention last time we were here but gets another this time as we ate here every day without fail. Usually we would grab a chicken sandwich for brunch with a mango juice but After about a week into our stay we finally discovered how to order scrambled eggs(Doje Ovo then we would hand gesture ¨Scrambled¨). Toast was bit harder as our first attemt yeilded us a bread roll instead. Eventually they got it right though when we found a photo in the menu. This place had it all, crepes,executive lunch,juice the works. It even had the best Acai-a Purple slurpy looking mixture of and amazonian fruit that all the buffed guys walked around with. I had a bad experience with my first one back in feb but was totally converted when I bought one here. My only beef with this guys pardon the Pun, was they would always run out of Pichanha at lunch time.

Yogo Berry
If we wanted something lite we would simply stop off here to order some lovely natural yogurt with three delicious fresh toppings. It was very fashionable to walk around with a yogo berry. Especially if you were one of those fit woman walking around in 3/4 tights and long white socks. Damn I forgot to buy harsh a pair.

Posto 9

Well about 50 meters to the right of the gay section of the beach was posto 9. It was famous for beautiful Garota´s and Buffed guys. I believe when the famous song was written ´Garota de Ipanema¨the writers were in a bar close by speaking of the girls from this section of the beach. To be honest though most parts of Ipanema beach housed beautiful people. We would stroll there often, grab an umbrella,a Beve and sit and gawk at the hot bods. The beach was far less packed this time, however it was still a buzz as we were there during the holiday period. It was much better this time, gone was the loads of tourist, you could just enjoy the decent size waves and appreciate the skills of the beach volleyball,futvolley and futball players. Off course there was an abundance of wonderfully curvacious woman but Two guys have to get a mention, we refer to them simply as Arse1 and 2. Think of the poster in a doctors surgery displaying the muscular skeletal system of a human. All the different parts, defined to the smallest muscle group. These guys must have posed for it. And they had an Arse that even I had to take a second and third look at. Ok may be more. The other character that´s gets a special mention is the beach Vendor that sold ACAI you know the fruit I ate at beach sucos. This guy would walk up to unsuspecting people with a loud speaker like the captain in Police Academy and shout "ACAI " then turn around and smile at the other people on the beach and then whisper acaiiii softly. If you hear both of us greet you with ACAI instead of Hello it is because of this guy. I think you had to be there as it does not sound that funny writing it. It was great to witness all these characters who seemed to be in the same spot each day,I dont think anyone works here. It was also good to walk to the beach peacefully in 3 minutes unlike the 20 minutes it took in Carnaval avading the loads of people.

Churrascaria
Although we at many different restaurents in the evening in Ipanema the main ones included our favourite per kilo place mentioned in our previous visit here and a new churrascaria which we just over induldged at. This BBQ was amazing all you can eat salads, sushi,seafood and Meat Meat and more meat. I am salvating just thinking of the Picanha as I write this. The concept was similar to the Copacabanna restaurent in Melbourne only these guys had much more variaty of meat and a great range of salads and was far cheaper. We went here on two seperate occasions as once was just not enough. If this place was a per kilo we would be broke as I consumed atleast half a cow and harsh had a farm full of chicken and lamb.

BBQ at the corner cafe
During our second week at Ipanema we noticed that at the corner cafe near our hostel there was always a gathering of locals and foreigners around a small BBQ. One day when we walked by the locals kept on gesturing to us to join in and grab a bite of freshly cooked meat and sausages. I did not know quite how to respond and was not aware if this was free or was I going to get a bill at the end after I ate. However, I soon found out that this guy who went by the nickname of King had being having his own little BBQ on this corner for the last 17 years to bring the people together. Apparently this corner was quite a rough place a while back but due to Kings hostpitality the locals and foreiners got together and shared a few yarns over a Barbie and Cervejas and brought harmony to the place. Apparently even the local business owners and supermarkets assisted king in providing this service a few times weekly and during large public holidays. Each patron chipped in few reals aswell to assist in the finances. It was a great meeting point before we went out and was even more lively when Kings mates which included a guy we referred to as the fisherman (as we saw him there in a wet suit and a rod once) rolled up in their vehicles with a trunk full of baile funk-Creauuuuuuuuuuu. Whilst for the most part the corner had a friendly atmosphere going it did change quickly once when an retired old Aussie Bloke insulted one of the local ladies by questioning her sexuality. This girl who had a bigger set of guns than my legs did not take to well to this remark and responded by demanding some "Fu#king RESPECT" and smashing a bottle like Ohara in enter the dragon was ready to glass this guy. Even the usually calm King and the fisherman were offended and exclaimed that if this bloke was any younger he would have been sliced with the same set of blades that was used to carve this friendly meal.


Rio by night

After a few Caipirinhas at the corner we would head off sometimes alone sometimes with fellow travellers to various areas of rio for some dancing.
Some of the notable spots we hit was;

Lapa-
A inner city suburb that was amazingly busy on weekends,packed with a cluster of clubs ranging from Samba,Hip-Hop to trance and funk. It seemed that every one in Rio was there on a friday. You did not even need to go into the clubs as there was music blaring from all corners as we got off the local bus. You could also purchase any type of alcohol and a meat skewer from the countless street vendors. We sampled a Hip-Hop,Baile funk and Samba club here. The Samba club called the Rio Scenarium was amazing, great band,atmosphere, three levels and played some of the carnival school themes and offcourse Mas Que nada(Oba Oba Oba)

Zero Zero-
This place was an upmarket club in Gavea. It was the in the Rio Planetarium. We went there with an english guy named Mickey who we met at Kings Corner BBQ. Even though we got there early at 11 there was a queue of 150 meters long. I dont think I have lined up for 1 and half hours since the warehouse and carousel but hey we were only in rio for a short time so we hung in there, sipping a few drinks from the vendors in the line. It was worth the wait, Pitty Mickey did not wait with us to enjoy the night as he had to find a husband on the beach the next day. The club was really pretty inside. A sitting area with a tree inside equipped with nice benches. Excellent music to go with the picturesque surroundings and reasonably priced drinks. The place also had its fair share of aggressive blokes, one who had the audacity to speak to me for 5 minutes then in the same breath turn around to Harsh and ask her whether she would like to kiss her first Brazillian guy(Okay we are one all from Sao Paulo Now).

Melt-
This place prounounced Melch by the locals and myself was in Posh Leblon. We went there after that eventful night at the corner. It had a good vibe inside, great baile funk but unlike the favela no shooting and some extremely beautiful model like fair skinned locals getting down like their darker countryman. Melch was also more reasonably priced than Barronotti in Ipanema were us blokes had to coff up 100reals minimum at the bar just to enter.

Markets-
There were two markets which we frequented whilst here. The Copa night Market and the Sunday Hippie fair in Ipanema. The Copamarket was wear we got the most value out of as its prices were considerably cheaper than neighbouring ipanema. We managed to pick up many bargain here including a Brazil Jersey for Prashu and Harsh even managed to find a prospective husband from the states, atleast thats what she will tell you. The truth is this extremely good looking hunk of man simply looked at her in passing and she already had the invitations prepared.
Jokes aside we also enjoyed strolling through the Ipanema Hippie fair which had more quality stuff on offer but was only on Sundays and was at a higher price. Infact one sunday we saw the same vendor later at copa who offered the same top to us for 10real cheaper due to the venue he was selling at.

The world game
As mentioned before on the weekends there was always a Futball game on. We were lucky enough to be here during the finals. Flamengo V Botafogo, two local teams. The area we were staying in had a large Flamengo following. Especially at this small non discript bar call Popeye. The locals would pack this place that had small flat screen and a few bites like fried sardines and empanadas. People even had T-shirts of this joint ala hard rock cafe. The atmosphere was great outside especially during a flamengo goooaaaaaaaaaal. It was great to see how Brazillians embraced soccer, we did not see this last time due to the euphoria of Carnaval. It is not hard to see why they are the world´s No.1 especially when you walk on the beaches at night and see the kids as little as 5 playing organsied games and immulating the greats.

So that has been our activity during the last two weeks, we have loved being in Ipanema and embracing the Carioca lifestyle. It will be sad to leave but I think we have pretty much done all that we could here. All accept one as you will see in the next blog.

Posted by HonestAnth 13:35 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Easter in The City of God

Living in Favella like conditions, Resurrection at Christo & The Favella Funkparty

So after being nearly attacked by a drugee.. We had had it. We had to make a decision what to do next either Salvodor, Rio or B.A. Buenos Aires is going to be our final destination anyway so either Salvodor or Rio. We had been to Rio during the carnival and were curious to see the city in its daily buzz. So we decided to come to Rio. Also it was the easter weekend and we thought what better way to celebrate Easter than going to Christo himself.

The guy at the information place in Sao Paulo was like the Lonely Planet book. Exact directions and information about the bus terminal, bus companies and tickets. It was wierd coming back to the Sao Paulo bus terminal, as the last time we were here, we were with our big GAP group.

The bus ride was pretty smooth, got to Rio at about 8.00pm. The decision of leaving to Rio was pretty quick so we had not booked any accomodation. So at 8.30 in the night we were calling all these hostels from the Lonely Planet. Called about 4 places, all full. Finally the wave hostel had 2 spots left in a dorm. It was the busy easter weekend so everything was full getting a double room was out of question. We arrived on the same street where we stayed the last time. It was difficult driving past the street as the place we stayed at was absolutely perfect. Anyway we arrive to this hostel. I realised that we had walked past this place a lot of times during our first visit. There was cluster of different hostels; CLUSTER Anthony was happy. Lol !!

Worse Than Favella like conditions (we have seen the favella its up market) -

On arrival a girl from a different place to what we had booked hostel called¨ The Girl from Ipanema¨ greeted us and asked us if wanted a room. We asked if they had a private room which we would prefer over the dorms. She said as it is a busy weekend all their regular doubles are full but they had a private room which she would do it for a cheap price for that night. The other room was going to be available the next day ie Easter Sunday. OMG the room was ssoooo SHOCKING!! I couldnt believe that we had to pay them money to stay in that room. It should have been the other way around.I have never seen over 20 socket holes drilled in not even a 10 by 10 room. It had 3 beds, one double and 2 singles.The beds looked like they were from the junkyard from the Favella or a donation from the Favella to the hostel. We told the girl that we will check our initially reserved place first and then tell her. So we walked next door to the Wave Hostel thinking we will defintely prefer to stay in the dorm instead of that shocking room.
This other place had a nice and clean social area, so we thought ah thats a good start. Walked into this dorm OOOOHH MY GOD ! it was the dirtiest room I have ever seen (Yes worse than our room. it just has clothes and ear-rings everywhere !!). The walls were painted marroon with cob webs nearly touching the top bunk bed. The room had no ventilation of any sort, so you would have to leave the main door open and a cieling fan (another donation from the Favella). We have stayed in a dorm in Mendoza for a night. So its not the only exposure to dorms but all of a sudden the Hole we saw before in the other hostel was like a 3* hotel. So we checked in there and tried to stay out for as long as we could. We were going to Christo the next day that excitment took over us and slept on the dodgey beds praying that we dont get bitten by the bed bugs.Hopefully the other room in the apartment that she was talking about be a better room or else we are calling Sonia getting in Ipanema Palace.

Resurrection at Christo

Next day we were up pretty early and took a 7.30 bus to get to Christo. We thought we had got there pretty early as we were there before the first train left but nnnoooooooo! There were about 100 people already there.What a noble idea - celebrate easter at Christo as if no one else thought of that. lol !
We had to wait ages to get a good shot. After about a good hour and a half I think we got the shot we wanted. Surprisingly, there was a Preist there this time blessing people who I think missed the morning mass. So that was special.Unlike in India this guy didnt ask me what religion I am nothing, just the language we spoke and where we were from and then blessed us in English. The day looked pretty cloudy on the way there but surprisingly it was very clear near Christo. I think this time around we could appreciate the statue even more. This time around I didnt get the magical feeling when I caught a glimpse of the statue from the stairs but I was still in an awe !! It is just a magnificent structure I think everyone should visit it once in the lifetime Christian or non Christian. It got really busy by now so we went ot have to breakfast at the same place as last time where I still think they serve the best Mango and strawberry mixed juice ever. After the breakfast we went back near the statue and enjoyed the views of the Rio. It was simply a divine moment celebrating easter sunday in this wonderfully spiritual site.

We left at about 12 from Corcovado mountain and made our way back anxious about this other room. As mentioned before we were staying in a shocker of a room in the Girl from Ipanema hostel on Holy saturday, I think Jesus´Tomb would have had more light and comfort. Luckily for us though, Sofia the owner had another double room for us a few houses down from the main hostel in a shared unit. We Jumped at the chance to move on sight. The apartment was clean, spacious. It brought back sanity to us after staying in a bad location in Sao Paulo and the shocker the night before. After taking nice warm shower and coming back to sanity we were ready to socialise with the people in the hostel so went to the reception and check what can be done.

Benny´s Favella Funkparty

The girl at the reception told us about this Favella Funk party as a popular thing to do for the night. The list of people going to this party looked pretty big as well. Anthony met this guy Faisal (not Oliver) who was also going and said that it was the place to be. All we could think about is Bené/Benny´s going away party from the movie The City of God. The receptionist also said that we would get access to the VIP level which is the upper level and you could see the dance floor(I could imagine the scene from the movie).So we got pretty hyped. We didnt really do too much during the day just relaxed and took a nap as we were told we will come back at 4.30 in the morning from the party. After dinner we met the rest of the group at 10 pm at the hostel reception where we going to be collected from to go to this Party. Anthony was speaking to Faisal, it was Faisal´s last night there he was going to B.A. the next day, he seems like a nice guy we will definitely catch up with him in B.A. I was a bit anxious as I didnt see any girl names on the list and I didnt want to be the only girl there. But luckily there were 3 more girls there and I kinda got friendly with Inquin and Karen. Inquin was with her B.f and it was there last night there aswell.

We left the hostel at about 10.30 pm and drove to this favella which was about 40-45 mins away from Ipanema. When we drove past the parking lot we saw atleast 350 people just in the parking lot. Everyone got really excited thinking of the number inside as it looked like a big concert like area. Just outside the entrance there was small vendor selling Caipirinhas for 2 Reals. We were told that drinks inside would be expensive so everyone decided to have some drinks outside and then go in. The scene outside was pretty happening. Everyone was dressed in this Favella Funk promotional T- Shirts with a Johnny Bravo print. I sooo wanted that T- Shirt (I so love Johnny bravo- Anthony doesnt know who he is and most of you wouldnt either). I must say people were a bit agressive with their advances; we had 2 Scottish guys who actually got scared of the 2 girls making advances and begged me and this other girl to stand with us so the girls would go away. But we had our own issues, one specific mention was this guy standing not even a meter away from us salvating and staring right at me. It wasnt very comfortable.

It was just before 1am and our tour guy who was Brsilian told us that we could get in. Everyone bought a drink and got ready to walk in. By now we couldnt see the people outside so we thought they have all gone in. We were about 15 people we walked in together and everyone single one of us had the same reaction. WHAT THE F$@K ?? Where are all the people?? This place inside did look like Benny´s party but instead of 1000 people in his party there were not even 50 people here (and the place could hold about 1000 people ). We just didnt understand where did the over 350 people go who were waiting outside. When we went to the toilets they all were flooded and the dance floor corner were full of piss. We couldnt contemplate that 50 people could do that.
The girl I was talking to Inquin was telling me how much fun these parties are as they had been to one before. It looked like it could be a great spot but where were all the people ? I must the say the music was great, cheap drinks, and we were on the upper level which was supposed to be the VIP level. The VIP level was totally empty apart from the 15 of us. After I finished my massive Caipirinha I didnt really care and I was getting it on with the Baila Funk music that was playing. Anthony was disappointed though as there was no crowd.
Everyone enjoyed but I think missed the crowd. There were dance comps with people being pulled out from the crowd, the moves were far more aggressively primal than any where else in south america. There also was also strippers both male and female picking people from the crowd and giving them massive shots of Casacha straight from the bottles and shaking there heads worse than a Indian massuer. If that was me I would have puked right on the stripper man.

We got out at about 3.30 am as I think, everyone wanted to leave but for some reason we stayed another hour outside. When we finally left our driver apolozised to us saying sorry about the empty place and told us that there was a shooting inside just about 30 minutes before we got there. Thats is why when we arrived everyone was outside or already gone or leaving. And thats why the place was empty. Now it all made sense the flooded toilets, piss puddles on the near the dance floors, empty cups and beer bottles lying everywhere. In the movie after Benny was shot, people start running everywhere but they dont show how the club looked later. I think we saw how it would have looked. I cant believe there was someone killed in there and we werent told. Finally we left at 4.30 am and got to the hostel just before 5.30 in the morning.

Anthony and a couple of others didnt get over the fact that there was no crowd, but I think it made sense to them after the shooting story. All in all a very wierd experience, I had a great night until I heard about the shooting.
Hey one good thing atleast I got the Johnny Bravo print T-Shirt thanks to Faisal.

Looking forward to just lying on the beach at posto 9 now.

Chao

Posted by Harshu 07:27 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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