Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rio de Janeiro, part 2

 Rio was the last city in our tour.  We stayed at the Sheraton, right on Ipanema Beach (as in the famous song).

This was the view from our hotel room.

And if you looked across the road there were some of the infamous favelas, getting the same fabulous views as the luxury hotels. 

'We took a cable car ride to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain.

And were rewarded with this panoramic view of the city and beaches.

On our seventeen day trip we only had one day of rain and that was the day that we took a cog train up to the top of Corovado Peak to see Christ the Redeemer.  We were literally in the rain clouds, up that high and I didn't even attempt a picture.  This was taken from Sugar Loaf Mountain, zooming in as much as I could.  It was very impressive.  The figure has an arm span of 98 feet and is 130 feet tall, including the pedestal.  Go here to see some fabulous pictures.

This is inside the Cathedral of San Sebastian, so beautiful and so unusual.  These magnificent stained glass panels were on the four sides of the church and met at the top in a cross. 

The outside of the building looked more like an Aztec temple than a cathedral.  You couldn't get far enough away to get a good view, but this mirrored skyscraper across the street gave a pretty good reflection,

I must confess that I scanned a postcard to get this view.

I said I would tell you about the Samba.  We went to a show one night, very hard to get pictures, but suffice it to say that the tall statuesque women wore very little on their bodies, and a lot on their heads.

Near the end of the show, several costumes from Carnival were paraded around.  They were spectacular.  We only saw a few, but at the real Carnival there are supposedly thousands.

So my very succinct overview of my trip comes to an end.  I'm sure you realize that I only gave you a tiny glimpse at only some of the many things we saw and experienced.  It was a great trip and now we're thinking about "where next?".  Maybe South Africa, maybe.....

But for now I have to get back to my studio and Christmas preparations.

Be sure to click on any picture for a bigger view of all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rio de Janeiro

The last city on our tour of South America was Rio de Janeiro and one of the fascinating things we did while in Rio was to visit the Favelas. These are shanty towns built up the hills of the city. They have quite a history and you can read all about them here.

Our tour guide, Marcelo, was very knowledgeable and sported this neat badge made for him by a local artist.

The favelas have a reputation for being home to drug lords and gangs and while it is still true to some degree it is much safer to visit them due to the large police presence, as seen here.  They are always in groups.

While shoddily built in most cases, they do have electricity, plumbing, mail delivery, TV dishes, schools, shops, etc. Look at that tangle of wires!

They are home to many poor working class people.  About 20% of the Rio population live in the favelas. We went up and down some of these twisty, turny, steps and alleyways. Notice the bright colors they paint their homes to bring some cheer to their lives.

Looking down on the favelas from a balcony.  What a view they have!  And at night when they are all lit up they give a wonderful sparkly view to the people below. 

Favela art sold at a street vendor.

 We visited a school where this charming beauty willingly struck a pose.  A future Samba dancer perhaps?  More about the Samba tomorrow.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Iguazo Falls

From Buenos Aires we flew to the Argentina side of Iguaso Falls. My pictures got mixed up so I'm not sure which are on the Argentina side and which are on the Brazil side.  Just be assured that it is awesome, not a phrase I use very often. It is considered one of the modern natural Wonders of the World.

The bird on the sign is a swift, which flies in and out of the mist created by the falls 

 The border line of Argentina and Brazil is right in the middle of the bridge. After touring on the Argentina side we entered Brazil, went through immigration and headed for our hotel. The next day we toured the Brazilian side.

The Coati, a member a the raccoon family were in abundance.  They have grown used to people food and are always foraging for food in the trash bins around the dining areas.  They were quite comical the way they would dive into the bins, with their striped tails sticking out.  This one was on his way down.
Too fast for my slow camera.

There were beautiful butterflies everywhere and they would often land on a head, shoulder or proffered hand.

 Since we were in subtropical territory we saw a lot of lizards and some snakes, but they stayed far away from people.

Friday, November 23, 2012


 Yesterday for Thanksgiving my sister and I went to her daughter's about a two hours drive my my house.  She is in a new cottage house this year, but she had it decorated as usual with her wonderful flair and panache.  She is also a gourmet cook and the meal was scrumptious!

Table set with pumpkins and turkey feathers.


We got to see my sister's great grandchildren.  Charlie, 16 months old, came all the way from Cleveland with his mom and dad.  He is such an adorable and happy baby.  His dad loves to dress him in preppy attire.  Hard to see here, but he has on jeans, a V-neck sweater over a button-down shirt and tie. He likes to get dressed up and didn't fuss with that tie all day.

In this age of technology, even the kids know how to make everything work.  Here's Owen, Ruthie's other great-grandchild, at 4 1/2 showing her how to get a video for Charlie on the iPhone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Buenos Aires

From Montevideo we took a high speed ferry across the Plato River to Buenos Aries.

Buenos Aries is such a beautiful city, with stunning French and Italian architecture and modern skyscrapers, too.  It reminded me of Paris with its wide avenues and beautiful parks.

The Jacaranda trees were in full bloom with billows of purple blossoms, lining the avenues.  They will bloom again in February, but then they will also have leaves and the flowers are not as noticeable. 

We saw so many dog walkers in the city.  It always amazes me how they all stay together and seem to get along.  Some walkers had all dogs of a similar size and breed, but this one was all mixed up with two little poodles squished in the middle.

We went to visit the Eva Peron Museum. As with most things in life the Argentineans are passionate about her, they either love her or hate her.  We learned a lot at the museum, which was a big fan and then got a different slant by our local tour guide. She certainly was a fascinating person and now I really want to see "Evita" on Broadway.

  She was a beautiful woman and very well dressed.  The black dress was worn at her interview with the Pope in Rome.

We visited the cemetery to see her mausoleum, which was rather nondescript, but others there were spectacular, with angels galore.

On one night we were treated to private tango lessons, a dinner and then an incredible tango show.  None of my pictures of the tango show came out.  My camera is just too slow. But here are some of us at the dinner (more meat!).  The elderly gent to my sister's left is 88 and was widowed 2 1/2 years ago.  Since his wife's demise he has taken eight long trips, such as this one.  He was traveling alone and able to do most of the itinerary.  I give him a lot of credit.

Our group of twenty-five was seated at one long table and the restaurant was quite full.  All of a sudden, from two tables over came this spontaneous and beautiful singing.  The two tables held a group of touring a capella singers from Portugal.  They gifted us with two songs and they were the highlight of the evening.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I will be traveling with my sister to her daughter's house.  That will most likely set me back on my blogging, but please come back for more.  In the meantime I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving, however you choose to spend it.  I know that I have much for which to be grateful.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Before I start on Uruguay I want to show you the Intercontinental Hotel we stayed at in Santiago, Chile, affectionally know as the "Green Building" Two sides were cover in live green plants.  I'm not sure how they did it, but there was wire grid and maybe moss and then the plants.  Inside the hotel there was a large curving wall covered in ferns and ivy.  Stunning!

You may remember how fond I am of building reflections.  Here's the green hotel reflected in the building across the street.

I really knew nothing about Uruguay, this very small country. We flew to and stayed in Montevideo, but toured around the area.  We visited Colonia Sacramento, one of the oldest colonial settlements.  It had killer cobblestones on those streets going down to the water. Apparently they just used any old leftover stones to construct it and boy, was it hard to walk on!

A typical open air restaurant in Colonia.

One of the highlights of the tour was a visit to an estancia ranch. It was owned by a charming  young couple, he from South Africa and she from France.  They had vineyards and were making their own wine, which we got to taste at lunch.
They had several ostriches, lots of ducks and these capybara, the largest living rodents. I had never seen one in person. 

They also raised sheep for meat and wool.

 If you were so inclined (I was not) your got to tour the ranch on horseback. The rest of us got a wagon ride. Lunch was included which included huge platters of barbecued meat.......beef, lamb, chicken and sausage.  We ate a lot of meat on this trip, more that I probably ate in the last two years, not that I'm a vegetarian, but I hardly ever cook meat at home anymore.

This is a picture of a typical barbeque restaurant, not the one at the ranch.  Notice all the meat grilling behind the counter.