Thursday, February 28, 2013

On to Ushuaia

Mario picked us up at the condo at 0345 for the thirty minute drive to the airport in Rio. The two three hour flights went as planned. During the five hour layover in Buenos Aires we had a little fun at the Ruta 40 promotional booth.

Ushuaia (pop. 70000) bills itself as the southern most city in the world and is a very unique place. We spent about ten days here in 2010 prior to our trip to Antarctica. It is a port of call for most of the ships heading to the Falklands and the White Continent as well others just rounding Cape Horn heading elsewhere.

We booked a comfortable hotel near the harbor and have been enjoying the restaurants and meeting other travelers. We hiked up the hill and had a nice visit with the folks who run the B&B that we stayed at in 2010.

Enjoy the photos!


Our hotel--El Viejo Lobo de Mar
Post Offic
Protest on the main street--Avenida San Martin
Lunch at Maria Lola Restó
All gone!
View from restauran
Street art
View from our hotel window
Adrien de Gerlach--leader of the first expedition to overnight on Antarctica
Our ship, Le Boréal, docking at sunset. It is dwarfed by the Veendam and the Carnival Splendor


Our route through the Chilean fjords


Rio Ramblings

When we were not day tripping around Rio, we walked around our neighborhood near both Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches. We watched a mediocre sunset one night from Punta Arpoador on the north end of Ipanema and had a caipirinha (Brazil's national cocktail made from sugar cane hard liquor, sugar, and lime) on Copacabana. It was fun watching the beach volleyball. Teams of two (usually men, but also coed) play volleyball,but it is played like soccer--no hands allowed. The serve is made by kicking the ball off a mound of sand that each player carefully sculpts. One can see that fútbol is king in Brazil!

Early morning beach yoga on Ipanema
Cloudy sunset on Ipanema
Lifeguard post/toilets on Ipanema
Is it that girl?
Delivering rental bikes to Copacabana
Sugar Loaf from Copacabana
Early morning produce delivery at our favorite restaurant, Felice Kaffe

One interesting note: we bought a box of cornflakes for breakfast in the condo and it had some writing in Braille on the back of the package. Anyone ever seen that before?


Wednesday, February 27, 2013


We decided to escape the heat and humidity the coast by taking a day trip to The Imperial City of Petrópolis. This mountain city of 300,000 about 40 miles north of Rio sits about 2500' higher than the huge metropolis that is Rio de Janeiro. The City of Peter was a cool retreat for the Brazilian royalty and aristocrats of the early 19th century. Today it is a lovely mountain town with plenty to do and see and home of some of the best English language schools in Brazil, the National Laboratory for Scientific Computing, and the Cervejaria Bohemia. A return to Brazil would warrant a stay for a few days in Petrópolis.

Mario picked us up at the condo at 0800 and we headed out of town. It was a pleasant drive up into the Sierra dos Órgãos on a twisty four lane highway. We stopped jsut outside the city at a nice viewpoint to look towards the coast.

It is a busy road!
A tuxedo cat encounter!

Our next stop was the Palácio Quitandinha, an old casino now converted into a luxury hotel and conference center. Very impressive inside and out!

We then visited the Imperial Museum and its impressive gardens where watched little kids feed the tiny striped monkeys. The palace has beautiful wooden floors and we were required to wear over-sized "slippers" that we put on over our shoes. I think it was just a ploy to get us to help them polish the floors as it was a bit slippery and everyone just sort of shuffled along! We had to check all bags, cameras, purses etc, but were given a small plastic bag for our wallets in case we wanted to buy something in the gift shop.


We walked a few blocks from the palace to visit the beautiful gothic cathedral where Emperor Dom Pedro II, his wife, and daughter are buried .

On the walk to the cathedral I took a few photos.......


Majórica Churrascaria (a barbeque restaurant--that means grilled meat down here, not some slow cookied beef or pork slathered with sauce) provided us with a very tasty meal. The meal started with a each of us receving a hot grilled sausage--tasty. A basket of bread and freshly prepared onion and tomato salsa preceded the main course. The beef was grilled to perfection and the garnishments (white asparagus, rice, manioc flour mixed with eggs, and puffy papas fritas) were more than enough to sate our appetites. It was all washed down with that excllent Brazilian Bohemia beer.

The House of Seven Mistakes had us comparing notes after lunch--can you find the seven differences?

The Crystal Palace was built in France for the emperor's daughter and brought to Bazil in 1884. It houses a small collection of tropical plants including many species of orchids.


The Cervejaria Boemia was founded in the mid-1850s and the brewery in Petrópolis was eventually shut down. It is now open again with a reduced capacacity, but has something no other place in Brazil has: a museum/"beer experience"! This attracion has been open for less than a year and literally took us by surprise. You work your way up a "river" of beer through the history of beer with many interactive stations. You then take an elevator up three floors and work your way down to the tasting room. As you pass from one exhibit to another you are met by well informed young guides who explain what you are seeing. It was all very well done and left us very, very impressed and saturated with information after our two hour visit.

1926 Chrysler truck

Albero Sanos-Dumont was a Brazilian of French descent who was an aviation pioneer. He spent most of his adult living in France where he flew dirigibles and airplanes. Some credit him with flying the first airplane because it took off and landed on its own wheels (the Wright Brothers first used a rail to launch and skids to land). He eventually returned to Brazil and lived in Petrópolis until his death in 1932. We visited his very small and spartan house built on the side of a steep hill. One of the oddities of the place are the steep stairs with each step half cut away to make room for your leg as you climbed or descended.


A quick stop at the chocolate factory to purchase some chocolate covered Brazil nuts (!) and we were on our way back to Rio. It was a long and busy day and a nice break from the heat and bustle of the big city.