Saturday, April 21, 2012

Salvador--Old Town

On Friday, our last full day in Brazil, we hired a tour guide to take us into Old Town Salvador.  We drove all through the city and parked very close to the Old Town Center of Salvador.  We walked all around and learned some of the local history.  At the edge of the Upper City at a bluff that overlooks the harbor (and right next to the square with government administrative buildings) is the Elevador Lacerda, which is a huge elevator that connects the Upper Town to the Lower Town, and was the first elevator installed in Brazil.  In the Lower Town, we hit the local handicraft market to pick up a few small gifts for the kids and Grammy Joan.  Just outside the market, there was a fruit stand selling mangoes, grapes, cherries and guava.  The smell was A.Mazing!  Our tour guide bought some mangoes to take home to his family and for he rest of the day, we got to smell fresh mango.

One of the best parts about Old Town was the colorful buildings.  Each individual building section had its own color scheme and it made for a delightful view down the city side streets.  I took this picture at an intersection looking down towards the edge of the Upper Town.

The last stop of the day was the highlight...a visit to Sao Francisco Church and Convent.  (This picture was taken inside the courtyard looking at the backside of the facade of the cathedral.)  Despite the rather austere exterior, the inside was extremely Baroque.  The walls were covered in blue tile images depicting says of the Roman poet Horace and the interior was entirely decorated in gold leaf.  Beautiful!

The day was so much fun...I loved Salvador!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Salvador-Day 2

The resort where we stayed in Salvador had an inclusive breakfast each morning of our stay. Ho.Ly. COW! This was not some run of the mill complimentary breakfast! They had every imaginable exotic fresh fruit, traditional Brazilian breakfast breads, manioc cakes with coconut milk, pastries, and even some local breads from Bahia (the state where Salvador is located). We loaded up our plates and ate outside on the veranda overlooking the lagoon and the pool. Just as I was sitting down at he table, Tony pointed out an iguana that I walked right by (obviously focused on my breakfast) and I nearly screeched. We saw 6 huge iguanas (and too many geckos to count) walking around the grounds and in the trees during breakfast.

After breakfast, we changed into swimsuits and cover-ups and walked the 2 blocks to Itapua beach. What a beautiful beach! The sand was completely different than in Rio because of all the darker rock, but so beautiful. We saw tons of tide pools with little fish, snails, clams and even a crab who alternated between hiding in a hole so I couldn't get a picture and running at me like he was intent on eating me for breakfast.
At one point of the beach, there was this cute lighthouse. I don't think it is used anymore, but it made for some really pretty photo ops against the blue sky. Along the side of the lighthouse were these two white stone arches and when we got closer, they framed the view of downtown Salvador beautifully. In Bahia, some still practice a sort of a hybrid polytheism and we found lots of candles and popcorn in the surf as the tide went out...obvious offerings to the goddess of the sea.
We stopped at a shop and bought some water, Guarnana and walked through the local neighbor-hood back to the hotel. We went out to the pool, and then took a long nap. Read, ordered room service, watched futbal, and played Angry Birds. Great day!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sassy Boy

We're sitting at piano lessons and Josh has been playing Angry Birds on my phone. I just asked him if I could have a turn and he let me. I tried a level and failed miserably. He kinda laughed and I told him I wanted to watch HIM do it. He took the phone from me and said,

Josh: "Watch and learn, Momma. Watch and learn."


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Salvador-Day 1

The last morning in Rio, we had sweet bread and milk (in a bag...I've never seen this before, but I guess it is common) for breakfast in our hotel room, finished packing up, checked out of the hotel and headed to the airport. We got there plenty early because we weren't sure about security and had to recheck our bag...well it turns out that Brazil's a little more relaxed in their domestic terminal. I kept trying to take my shoes off and put my phone and laptop in the plastic tubs and the screeners looked at me like I was a crazy woman and told me in broken English to "keep my shoes on."

Our driver, Carlos, met us at the airport and drove us to our gorgeous hotel. We got there right about dinnertime and the sun was setting over downtown Salvador across the bay. Gorgeous. The hotel was lovely...about 2 blocks from the beach (they don't allow any real urban development on the beachfront in Salvador), it had a big pool, swim up bar, hammocks, and outdoor restaurant, AND it's very own futbal field.

Not the most exciting day of our trip, but it was in Salvador that I finally started to really relax. I loved our time in Rio and I'm glad we went, but when we go back to Brazil it will be to Salvador.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rio-Day 3 Beach Day!

We had intended to ride the tram up to Sugar Loaf on our third day in Rio, but it was overcast so we decided to skip it and enjoy the beaches instead (I'm including a map for easy reference...aren't I a thoughtful blogger?). Our hotel was at the far end of Copacabana Beach, almost to Leme, which is on the right side of the map. We walked the entire length of Copacabana, cut across the peninsula, and then walked about halfway down Ipanema. Pretty far!

I've already posted some photos of Copa-
cabana, but I wanted to include a picture of the mosaic cobblestone sidewalk along the beach. I fell in love with these mosaics...especially after seeing the wave of the pattern from our hotel room window. Later, our tour guide in Salvador told me that this is an influence from Portugal.

Here are some photos of Ipanema Beach. Also very gorgeous. But the fun thing is that Ipanema has their own mosaic pattern that runs along it's sidewalk. Cool-60's-Retro-Portuguese-Brazilian (I just made that up, but I think it might catch on!).

About halfway down the beach, we stopped to get a coconut and some Guanana and sat down at one of the little cafes along the beach. Ipanema is quite a bit narrower than Copacabana so we were right up there in the action when a bunch of old guys in tight swimsuits and a lovely young Brazilian lady decided to play volleyball right in front of us so we sat down to watch. They were actually playing FUTBAL volleyball! They only used their feet and bodies (NO HANDS) and we were so impressed!

When we got cooled down a bit, we started the walk back to the hotel. Right at the tip where the two beaches meet, I spied a cupcake shop! We stopped just long enough to pick up a doce de leite cupcake and had it packaged to take back with us to the hotel. Yummers.

When we got back to he hotel, we were hot and tired. So we got cleaned up, took a nap, ordered room service for dinner and watched the sun set. We also got packed up for the plane trip up to Salvador the next morning...

I have always thought that the best place to people watch was at the airport. False. The best place to people watch is on the beach in Rio!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Castle's Bucket List

We're sitting in the Charlotte airport's USO waiting for our last flight home from Brazil. Tony's sleeping, but I'm too excited to see the kids so I'm just clicking around online. And I found Richard Castle's "Bucket List" on his blog. Here is the preview. The link to the entire list is here. Make sure you look at the things he has already crossed off...

And if you are STILL not watching one of the best shows on television, for heaven's's on tomorrow night. You'll fall in love. With the show AND with Castle.