A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: HonestAnth

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)

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)

Scary Sao Paulo

In Search of the New York like Club Scene

Thanks to some frequent flyer points we decided to fly directly to Sao Paulo from Lima instead of bussing it. We arrived here at Sao Paulo on the 7th April in the early evening. As we did not really pu much planning into this we had to organsise accomodation on the fly. So after a quick bite at the Sao paulo airport we took the executive bus into Praca de Republico which is in the City Centre. Luckily we had the lonely planet on hand to aid us in finding a hotel. Hotel joamar was the spot we decided on. So we started the walk from the bus stop to the Hotel armed with Backpacks and the increasing number of accessory bags Harsh has managed to accumulate ove time. The Hotel seemed clean and hospitable but the area around it was a little bit nervy. Well we had been i tourist friendly Cusco and Mirafores in the last few weeks and the initial view in sao paulo was that we seemed the only tourists in the city centre.

Later that night we took a walk around our surrounding streets to get a quick bite to eat. Despite being a weeknight the street we were on seemed to have a party vibe with little after work Sandwhich bars housing samba musicians and street vendors armed with big boom boxes. We decided to sit at one of the more crowed cafes at the end our street and were delighted when the musician started to play and acustic version of our favourite song of the trip "Minha mia" I think thats what its called. By the tm we had dinner it was a around 10.30ish and the busy street we had walked up to get the cafe had by now began to get a lot less crowded and far more dodgey. In fact it was a pedestrian only street so you could not even get a cab if you wanted. So we rushed back to the hotel hoping not to encounter any dramas. Luckily no issues.

The next few days in sao paulo we spent exploring this vast city with the help of the friendly tourist information guys and the massive city map we had in hand. By day Sao Paulo city was a lot less scary. The Metro train system was amazingly effecient. The longest we ever had to wait for connection was 3minutes and that was on a public holiday. The only real difficulty we had with the metro was buying tickets on the first day and that was mainly due to our poor portuguese.

The first area we visited was the extremely clean and wonderfully diverse Fruit Market and Veg Market. This place was reknowned for being the best in Brazil. I think you would be hard pressed to beat it. Every thing frm Rumbutangs and Mango Steens to Unheard of Amazonian fruits. The best thing about it was each vendor would insists on you trying the produce. I think I speak fo both Harsh and myself when Saying we tasted the best Mango we had ever had here and probably the biggest. The size of a grideon I reckon. Once again my lack of Portuguese got us into problems when eating lunch here. I saw this fantastic photo of a ricota filled pastry which I thought I ordered with the help of the waitress but much to my dismay I got this monsterouse ham sandwhich instead which the locals were starring at and even a begger refused to take off me when I could not finish it.

In the progressive days we explored Jardims Paulista an wealthy area, bellavista an italian area and liberdade the Asian area of Sao Paulo. It was amazing to see how diverse the respective neighbourhoods were. Jardims Paulista was extremely safe and well lit Infact walking around at night was not an Issue. We had Dinner one night here at a beautifuly atmospheric restauran filled with a glamurous young crowd, Innovative cocktails and the most decitent Chocolate mouse. Ohh i forgot to mention it came at an equall exorbertant price bu hey it was well worth it. We also visited a fantastic Art Museom here, where we viewed a few picasso´s, rembraints, van goff´s and Renoir´s to name a few along with a lovely exibit of Brazillian photography.

Bellavista, the italian eighborhood which was only a stones throw away from the city had a completely different air about it from the houses to the people. The Restaurents were Uniquel italian too from th Pasta´s and vines right down to the Old men seating out the front, Capiche, forget about it!

Liberdade, the asian area was also a five minut stroll from the city center. We had a very filling oreintle per kilo buffet there and ejoyed walkin through the tows main street which even had the oriental lantons for street lights and a string of chinese shops. I must say i was more orderly than most asian areas I have visited.

Our nights in Sao Paulo was mainly spent persuing the city´s club scene which we had read rivalved New yorks. We spent many minutes riding the subways and many dollars in cab fares venturing into many neighbourhoods such as vila olympia and vila madelana and Jardms Paulista. However struck out most times. I think i would have been better if we went with local knowledge. It was hard to find places we liked as the nightlife was wide spread. We eventually went to one club named vegas where we spent about $20 for entry but i was all trance music. The only thing excitng was a 70+ Man dancing around trying to be 25 I think he was Brazil´s equavilan to "the Legend". The other stand out of the night was a guy who I thought was chatting up Harsh but it turned out in their conversation he mentioned to her " Your boyfriend is beautiful twice". Hey What Can I say, maybe next time Harshu.

As mentioned before we were staying on a pedestrian only street, it seemed the street and Sao Paulo City in general had an abundance of sex shops and adult cinemas(good choice of hotel Harsh), each time we came back home we had a scary stretch of about 250 meters to our hostel. Many a night we found ourselves evading drunks and druggies to get back to the safety of our hotel. I think the city center of sao paulo has been the most nervous we have been on the trip to date. One night there was a dodgey Druggie who approached yelling what sounded like Heeyyy heey heeyy in a deep voice. It seemed like he was running to us from a distance but when he came close it was like he was running in super slow motion,never the less it was scary, I wish I had my heartrate monitor on as I think it would have been higher than when we did the Inca trail. Normally Harsh complains about my lack of speed when walking, but we both discovered I walk quite fast when shit scared. Luckily we simply walked away unscaved as we were only 50 meters away from the hotel thank god or else Harsh was ready to assault him with her heels(Definition of Assualt-throw them at him and run away). I think if we had our time in sao paulo again we would have stayed in the prettier suburb of Jardims Paulista.

Well we are off to Rio next by bus, a 6 hour ride. No plan on accomodation yet but we will work that out on arrival. We are looking forward to seeing Rio away from the crowd of Carnaval and spending Easter in the City of God.

Posted by HonestAnth 06:58 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

CUUUUZZZZCCCCCCCO

Massages,mushrooms and mythology

You would have probably noticed we had not added an entry for awhile. This was mainly due to doing the Inka trail, where we had no access to write for 4 days. The other reason is we simply got settled into a routine in Cusco which has become one of our favourite cities in the entire trip.

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To fast forward a bit and let you catchup we arrived back from aguas cliente and the trail on the 25th march. Initially we were supposed to check back into our previous hostel where our baggage had been stored-Hostel Rojes. It actually should be called Hostel Rogues. These guys were a disgrace to the rest of Cusco who were largely extremely hostpitable. To sum up we requested the same room on our return and were promised if this was not available we would be given a smaller room at a lower cost. However Nino the arrogant owner refused to honour his promise and abruptly told us that we could look eslewhere even though he had promised this. If this was a once off it would have not been so bad, however the same thing had happenned to us when we were here last time when his daughter promised us breaky included but he went back on that word. Anyway after a heated exchange we stormed off with all our luggage in pursuit of a new hostel. Luckily Ursula the sales rep from our trekking company(all trek)was nearby so we managed store the luggage there whilst we searched. Whilst I am on the subject of feedback, let me tell anyone reading this that ALLTREK CUSCO are an excellent company to go with for the inka trail, excellent customer service. Even when we had a miscommunication with what was included in our trek, they simply listened and resolved the inquiry immediately.

Well leaving Hostel Rojes turned out to be a blessing in disquise as we ended up stumbling on hotel Calicanto, which was in good central location and had the best staff imaginable. Miguelle and our friend Johnny were fantastic. And the room was spacious and homely. Infact we even celebrated Shetty´s birthday at Calicanto. Miguelle helped me purchase a cake and we surprised her early after breaky on the 31st March. Bubba was so happy, well until she gauged two massive pieces down in 5 minutes after our usual eggs for breaky and then vomited it all back out straight afterwards. (should I have mentioned this in the blog?)

Okay I will let you chuckle on that last sentence a few more minutes.

Okay Done

As i stated before we got into a bit of a routine in Cusco. The following paragraphes will expand on these essential parts of our time in Cusco. In a nutshell we would get up after breakfast and complete a siteseeing activity, walk around the majestic Plaza de Armes and simply soak in its beauty, be stalked by countless woman canvasing cheap Inka Massages, Contemplate whether we eat at a 15 soles set menu cafe or Mcdonalds, at night we would invariably have cocktails at our favourite pre-party venue Mushrooms and afterwards party at mythology then stumble home to Calicanto and knock on the door to be let in at 3 in the morning. You can see why it was tough to update the blog during these ten days we spent in Cusco.

Site Seeing in Cusco

The following our some of the sites we took in during the day

Religous sites

The Cathedaral

Before we went to the Inca trail we purchased a tourist ticket that allowed us to check out four religous sites in Cusco. We had already visited the Jesuit church La Compinia, when we returned we Visited the Magnificant Catholic Cathederal. This was the iconic building in Cusco´s Plaza De Armes. It stood out like no other building and consisted of three seperate buildings, two smaller chapels along side the main church. Apparently some of its stone work was brought from nearby Inca sites. What stood out was its solide silver alter, its amazing wooden crafted choir area and its abundance of cuscan artwork which included the last supper with a Guinea pig on the main plate, and its signature barroque front alter piece that blocks the view of the main alter on entrance. This allows late comers like myself to sneak in to mass without the priest knowing. Unfortunately like all the religouse site in cusco we were not able to take pictures. Apart from the wonderful architecture and artwork another highlight of the cathederal tour was bumping in randomly to Sarah our friend from the GAP tour who informed us that herself and the rest of the group had just arrived in cusco that day.

ARCHIEPISCOPAL PALACE MUSEUM OF RELIGIOUS ART

This place was a great exibition of all the Cuscan religious artwork. It displayed a combination of similar work we had seen in the catheredal and La Compinia along with many other classics. Around this building was many small art schools where you could purchase replica works. It building base also housed the famouse 12 angled INCA stone.

Church of Sanblas
This church was the first church built in Cusco and was much smaller than the other churches we had seen but was not outdone in character. The pulpit was excusuite in the church and worth a mention. It had a scull at its summit which was said to be that of its scuplturer. I was not able to take pics but here is a image I found in google.
http://www.enjoyperu.com/multimediagallery/photos/img/3-30.jpg

INKA SITES

Coricancha
The temple of the Sun as it is transleted is situated next to the Church of Santa Domingo. It is now a site where the dominican monks reside however it was once a great Inka temple. Like most other important INKA sites the spanish built over it with a religouse building of themselves to sho dominance. Our guide named "lady" told us that when cusco suffered a mighty earthquake the INKA walls survived yet the spnaish colonial structured crumbled. We enjoyed this tour as it was Lady's first english tour which was a bit of a laugh.

The INKA Musuem.
This was a great tour and very informative. Having done the INKA trail this really filled in a lot of gaps for us about the INKA teritory, progress in ceremics,gold,stone and silver work. This Musuem is a must see in Cusco.

Set Menu or Mcdonalds
After all the site seeing we used to get pretty hungry. The biggest problem was the number of choice we had to pick from. At every street corner around the plaza that would be touts pulling us in all directions. Invariable most of the set menu´s where similar. A Soup, a main(trout,steak,or Chicken) and a dessert/drink oh and offcourse a miniscule shot of Pisco sour to tempt us in. I think we at about 15 different restaurents whilst there some where a bit dodge but luckily most where really good despite the skeptically low prices. We even met up with Walter and Isa from the trail twice at one of the better cafes. Well actually all in all I did quite well in my food selection but shetty was not quite so lucky especially as she kept getting tricked into choosing this mustardy sauce each time thinking it was a chilli dish, you know these "curries" must have spice in every dish. This sparked her to go for the safe option, Macca´s a few times. This however was no ordrinary Macca´s, it was beautifully built to match the decor of the Plaza, no gordy golden arches just tasteful wooden ones. No colouful feature walls, Inca Like brickwork instead. It was by far the prettiest Macca´s we had eaten in and it had the finest selection of sauces which we savour.

Massages
Usually after a hard days site seeing and a full stomach we would eather take a nap or wonder down to the Plaza to where would be hounded by tribes of local girls waiting to massage our arching bodies for a small fee. I do mean small, Infact $10 Aussie for a fullbody 1hour massage. $7.50 if we bargained hard. It was like we were in bangkok unfortunately minus the happy ending, however I dont think you get hounded as much for a massage in bangkok as you did here. Eventually after trying out a few we settle on two girls named Sonia and Claire. I offcourse chose the prettier one(louey you would know that). I must say for the price they were the best value massages you could get. You would pay over $100 buck in melbourne for the same treatment. However, I am not sure back in Melbourne they would jump on the table and straddle your head to do your lower back as they did here.

Nightlife in Cusco

After our packed daily schedule we would embark on our nightly ritual. Which consists of pre drinks and partying.

Mushrooms
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As mentioned Mushrooms was our standard pre party venue. This place was a laid back loungebar that featured comfy sofas plus lazy beanbags, tasty bites, chilled out music with a DJ spinning from the bar and Vuluptious barmaids(at least I thought so harsh thinks it was all in the push up bra). Most of all though it was our favourite place because of it´s Zany bartenders and the crazy large monster cocktails. Mango and Strawberry Daquiris and piscuirri´s were amongst our favourite. The presentation was intriquette and the preparation of Cusco´s unique cocktail the machu picchu was done with a surgeon´s precision. We had many a good night here and even managed to drag in the GAP group and Walter and Isa here too.

Mythology
This place deserves a mention as it was the first dance club we visited in Cusco. Infact it was one of the first times we actually got down and danced properly on our trip. Mainly as in rio it was so packed it was hard to move during carnival and the rest of the time we have been on the move. Mythology was one of many clubs we would visit on a nightly basis whislt in cusco. We would do so just after Mushrooms. We would walk towards the cluster of clubs and be acosted by touts with free drink offers. I think the reason we went to Mythology was the music was the loudest from outside the club. Before 11pm the place was a salsa club and afterwards a full on dance club with hip-hop to techno and dancing tourist on the bar. It was also a special place as we met the "latin usher" the same guy we saw dancing up a storm in Bolivia. It turned out he was peruvian and he was a salsa teacher, he aslo had a new friend we refered to as "stiffler" due to his uptight upright technique. Usher still had the same stand out salsa moves and even asked shetty for a dance who politely refused as she did not want to be shown up on the floor. However the funny thing was when the tables turned and the music switched to panjabi, Shetty was quick to return the offer and asked him to dance, this time it was the "Latin usher" that got stage fright and went missing from the floor when he realised Shetty was well versed in this format of sub continent salsa.

Other notable nights out in cusco was when we saw the entired GAP group from the balcony of Mama africa´s (another night spot). This was the same day we saw sarah at the catheredaral so it was not as big a surprise to see them but it was exciting all the same to catch up with the guys. We actually ended up partying with them twice doing the rounds at mythology, Mama africa´s and roots another joint close by where the promoter guy kept on calling me OBAMA. It is worth a mention that Shetty was so hyper one night that she declined my request to leave at 4am and ended up stumbling home with the rest of the group at 5ish. Now I know how my mother felt waiting up for me back in the day.

Well That was our fantastic 10 days in Cusco after the INCA trail. We probably waisted a few days figuring out whether we were going to fly to Cuba or the amazon as it turned out we decided on neither due to cost. However that said we loved here in Cusco and are sad to leave. Hopefully Lima will be just as nice.
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Posted by HonestAnth 15:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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