Monday, April 22, 2013

Week 2: São Paulo & Iguazu Falls on both sides (Brazil & Argentina)

Our second week in Brazil started off with our first of many long bus rides that will occur in the upcoming weeks. However, contrary to popular belief, the bus rides so far been have been extremely enjoyable. It allows us to do nothing for an extended amount of time, research our next destination, sleep, see the country side ( in Brazil's case the hours among hours of incredibly beautiful coast line) and at night listen to music as you watch the stars and moon follow you along. Most seats recline pretty far back, known as semi-cama, and in some cases you pay a bit more for what is called cama which can sometimes include a meal, some drinks and tons of movies, though sometimes those movies consist of girls wearing barely anything frolicking around playing a make believe game of soccer with awesome beats (*sarcasm), strange to say the least. We have had the privilege to do both types of accommodations and the cama options are pretty luxurious, just as good if not better than first class flying. There is even a suite option, we shall see.

We arrived in São Paulo which is home to 19 million people, a massive and sprawling city. We only stayed two nights as we had heard that though its the cultural hub of Brazil, it can lack some charm and be difficult to navigate..not to mention the expense of being in a huge city. Our first night we walked around our area and ate at the famous pizzeria called "Speranza" which is known for its margherita pizza and is housed in a former brothel. It was beautiful and the pizza was fantastic and different all at the same time. The next day we visited a few museums which were free to get in, the Meseu de Arte de São Paulo, and the Santander Building which offed a birds-eye-view of the city at 161 meters We took a walk to the famous 25 de Marzo street that housed tons of costume shops and all the knickknacks you can imagine and later that night hit Villa Madelena for dinner which is supposed to be equivalent to Soho in NYC, but neither Nate or I felt it was worth the train ride out there. We felt that we got a good sense of the city and though we didn't love it, we could see, if and once you figured out the layout of the city, that the art and culture could make it a worthwhile place to live. But we moved on and we are glad we did because the waterfalls of Iguazu where some of the most incredible nature views we have ever seen. 

19 million people!

Municipal Theater

Sao Paulo

I won't say much about the falls and let the pictures talk for themselves, but here is the description of what we did. We spent two days at the falls, one day on the Brazil side for the panoramic view and one day on the Argentinean for a more up close and personal view of the falls, specifically La Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat). To our surprise the X-Games finals were occurring at the falls on the Brazil side and we were able to see them practice before the events later that evening. We heard Tony Hawk was walking around, but we didn't get a glimpse of him.

X-Games participants practicing


Brazil panoramic view

Brazil view of Devils Throat
It's hard to say which side was better, but if we had to choose I would have to say it was the Argentinean side as there was so many different trails one could walk through and get up close to multiple falls and even bath in some of them and have a "Life Shower" as Nate's brother Alex has so accurately coined the term. Unfortunately, starting in February Americans and Canadians have to pay a reciprocity fee of $160 USD to get into Argentina, which was unexpected. Oh well, once again totally worth it. 

Devils Throat from the Argentinean side

Can you count how many butterflies are on me at once?

Once on the Argentinean side we felt instantly more at ease as we could communicate way easier and also because the food was much cheaper and up our alley. Wine, cheese, olives, prosciutto and bread, yup you guessed it, we found another Panaderia and gorged ourselves on baked goods. We are looking forward to two weeks of this diet.

One of the millions of gorgeous butterflies flying around the falls
Brazil was an intensely interesting place, with a lot of natural beauty and culture. Brazilians are very proud people who love their country: fútbol, beef buffets by the kilo, itty-bitty bathing suits (both men and women), and pilsner beer by the liter. We loved getting to know a new place and definitely feel like we are finally in a groove of knowing how buses work in most places, how to pick places to stay, and what to see to get the most out of our time in our destinations. We are still working on trying to find the best meals for a deal and exchanging currency to get the best rates, we have absolutely kissed a few frogs to find our prince when it comes to these things, but hey I guess that's what makes a good dinner story.

Till next time.

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