Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A little Sweater

Well I finally finished the ribbon-edged cardigan by Debbie Bliss. Now I just need to find a baby to model it. My neighbour said I could borrow her little boy. I better get my act together before he is too big! It went together quite easily, and I was actually suprised at how much wool was left over. I was a little nervous because I was using some very special wool that Kelsey brought me from Vancouver, and the woman that dyes the yarn is going on sabatical, so no more will be avaialable, (It's Sweet Georgia Yarn). I might even have enough left over for a little hat or booties. Maybe one of these days I'll get busy making the baby to go in them, but not for a couple of years!

The only problem that I had, was that I modified the gauge, and now, I'm not sure if any buttons will actually fit through the button holes! Oh well.

Without further adieu, the cardi!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Brazil - Rio and Iguassu

Our Honeymoon

We planned a 2 week trip travelling around Brazil (Rio, Iguassu Falls and Buzios) and Argentina (Buenos Aires) to celebrate our wedded bliss (only 9 months late). The trip was wonderful. We arrived in Rio after an overnight flight from Atlanta and started looking for our shuttle bus to take us to the hotel. We met a guy who flashed us his tourist badge and told us that the buses were dangerous and to take a cab. If we followed him, he would show us to the cabs. We stupidly followed him down to the parking garage, but when he showed us his regular car, and we realized that he was going to take us, we said no thank you, and he left us and ran back up to try to find some more unsuspecting tourists. I'm happy to say that that is the worst of our stories form Rio, though we did hear some doosies from our fellow travellers we met along the way.

We found the bus that was quite safe and headed down to our hotel. The trip took about 2 hours due to rush hour, but let us see an overview of the city from the comfort of the bus. We got to our hotel, but our room wouldn't be ready for another 2 hours so we dropped off our bags and headed out for a walk around the neighbourhood. First thing was to head down to Impanema Beach...

Our first day was a bit low key, as we were suffering from our overnight flight, we just wondered around the Impanema neighbourhood and spent a bit of time on the beach.

Day 2 Rio
We decided that we had to go and discover sugar loaf. A mountain which provides an amazing lookout over Rio. We left our hotel and walked over to Sugarloaf passing Copacabana beach along the way

It took us about 3 hours to walk down to sugar loaf. When we got there a nice cab driver informed us that we really should go and see Coracorado (the Christ Statue) now (and he could take us) as it closes at 6 pm, and then come back to sugar loaf to see the sunset. Maybe so, but we had just walked 3 hours to see Sugarloaf, we weren’t taking a cab from Sugar loaf to go to the other end of the city (closer to our hotel actually). We thanked him kindly and proceeded to head up Sugar loaf mountain.

Heading up sugar loaf

And finally the view from Sugar Loaf :
You can just make out the Christ Statue in the background.

That evening after returning to our hotel we headed out for dinner at a Churrascara (sp?) a Brazilian BBQ, where they bring around more meat then you could possibly imagine eating in a month, and a samba show.

It was definitely Carnival!!! Trust me those girls aren't wearing much under those feathers!

Day 3 – RIO

Today we headed out to see the Christ Statue that overlooks the town. It is over 30 m high, and very impressive. We were looking for a taxi to take us to the train station, but ended up with a limo from our hotel that took us straight to the top. I was thinking as we got a little closer, perhaps we should have asked how much this is going to cost us, as I don’t think this is what we had requested. We were then taken up to the top of the statue and our driver said that he would wait while we went to the look out. Then I knew, yep… exploited once again because we can’t speak Portuguese. Oh well it was nice to have the first class treatment, and didn’t end up costing more than if we had gone in a regular taxi and took the train.

Our self portrait on top of the Corvarado Mountain, and below Martin posing with the statue. Unfortunatly, you can't really see how tall this thing really is! It's over 30 m high, that is like 10 stories!

The bump off in the distance is sugar loaf and the rest is obviously beautiful Rio and the gorgeous beaches!

The rest of the day we spent lounging around the beach and shopping in Impanema.

The next day we were off to Iguassu to go and see the magnificent waterfalls. Day one was spent wandering around the town, then on Day two we went and check out Itapu damn, the world’s largest hydroelectric damn, and got a bit of a propaganda presentation on how wonderful the damn is, how many job it created, how much energy produced, and how well the environment is protected. It was an impressive amount of concrete.

We then got back on the public bus (yes we took public transit in Brazil and lived to tell about it, it’s not that bad really, though I think we were the only tourists on the bus. We then caught another bus and headed to the national park and the falls.

This was just the beginning. There are over 273 individual waterfalls! It is truely one of the most spectacular places on earth!
Take note of that little boat heading towards the falls. That is what we did the following day! So much fun!

Got to have your cute couple shot in front of the falls right!?!

And finally a few more pics of beauty.

The last full day we had in Iguassu we headed to the bird sanctuary and had fun looking at all the exotic birds
I have now formaly met Tucan Sam, he is very nice, though a tad anti-social

We got to see a cocodile attack some poor helpless turtles that were just enjoying a bit of sun (note: no one was actually injured in the taking of this photo)

I swear this parrot was trying to attack me. He had an evil glint in his beedy little eyes.

And then we went and took a boat ride up to the falls, and proceeded to get completely soaked as our zodiac driver drove right up into the falls. That was probably the highlight of the trip roaring along in a little boat. No photos of that adventure yet, have to get the waterproof camera developed first!

Next stop was Buenos Aires, We headed to the airport bright and early but were delayed 2 hours due to fog, and then missed our connection. We ended up arriving about 6 hours later than planned. On the flight over we met a nice couple from town and they invited us out for dinner the following night to show us around town. We agreed and the date was set.

Buenos Aires is such a beautiful city. I fell instantly in love. I guess it didn’t hurt staying in a 5 star hotel. We were living the life of luxury in B.A. The city is quite cheap! Finally a place where the exchange rate is really in our favour. That doesn’t happen that often.

The first night we spent wondering a bit around the shops on Calle Florida, A big pedestrian shopping street

And caught a few tango street performers.

Day 2 was spent wandering the streets around our hotel, doing a bit of shopping and enjoying some of the beautiful buildings

We then headed out to meet our new friends for dinner. Hernande met us at the subway station and took us to their favourite local restaurant where Marianus joined us after he finished work. We had the specialty which was a breaded meat patty serving as the base with various pizza toppings on top. It was really good.

Then we went out for ice cream. Did you know that Buenos Aires is famous for its ice cream? It definitely should be. It has to be the best ice cream that I have ever had!!

The next day we headed down to the Boca, the tango epicentre of B.A. and famous for its brightly coloured buildings. We walked along the docks and came across a naval ship, and of course I had to board.

There was a bit of a situation on board, but I think Martin and I saved the day

We continued down to the end of the wharfs and realized that we would not be able to cross the highway easily to get to la Boca so we caught a cab. The neighbourhood is still quite poor, and full of lots of artists, but has become quite touristy, well the area we stayed in. In general I felt really safe in B.A. But once I saw what it was like around the couple of tourist streets in La Boca, I didn’t really want to venture too far off the beaten track.

We watched a bit of tango and did a bit of tango

That night we went out for dinner at the Plaza Marriot, which was supposed to have an amazing grill. Well it turned out to be a fancy hotel restaurant, much like the one we were staying in, just a bit more expensive. The service wasn’t great, and I was surprised to get French fries with my filet mignon in a 5 star restaurant! Still can’t complain too much, because the meal with wine for the both of us, was still under $50, though very expensive by B.A standards!

For our last day we walked over to the graveyard where Evita is buried. I was blown away by the cemetery. The tombs are like little churches with amazing statues everywhere! Evita’s was one of the plainer graves.

Ok, that is enough photos of that but it is crazy how all of the tombs are like that. You can enter into the tomb and pray for your loved one often at the alter your family has had built for them. Many famous statesmen and generals are buried here.

That evening, we went out for dinner and had the typical Argentinean grill platter. It was shall we say interesting. The ribs and chicken was not bad (a little dry) and I let Martin taste the “unknown” items, which as I suspected turned out to be Kidneys, and tripe (I did not get that one, nor eat any of it).

To finish off the evening, we headed out to a tango show, that was a lot of fun.

The next day was lost in transit, and we arrived back at the Rio airport at 11pm where we spent the night. I was really glad that we booked the hotel there rather than trying to get a taxi into town and back to the airport the next morning. Though it was a little disheartening that the most expensive room we had didn’t even have a window!

There was a bit of a miscommunication about what time our ride was coming to pick us up and take us to Buzios. Initially they had told me in 15 minutes, so we checked out of the hotel and headed to the lobby, however once there, we found out that it would actually be 2 hours more, which ended up being closer to 3. Time doesn’t really mean the same thing in South America as in North America.

We made it to Buzios in the late afternoon, and were immediately blown away by its beauty.

The first full day there we headed out on a schooner trip around the peninsula. I was a little disappointed that there were no sails, but what can you do. We had a lot of fun swimming in the clear water and jumping off the ship.

On the ship we met a lovely couple, Wendy and Pete, from England that were at the end of their 4 ½ month trip around the world.

After the schooner ride we headed back to the hotel for a nap and then met up with Wendy and Pete for another Brazilian BBQ. Definitely Martin’s favourite meal choice in Brazil.

Buzios was very relaxing and a lovely way to end our dream honeymoon!