A Travellerspoint blog

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro

all seasons in one day 90 °F

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Rio de Janeiro is a stunning city that enchants the visitor with its physical beauty. Arriving in Rio, one is struck by the way the city nestles among the steep hills, lagoons and beaches. While it is a beautiful place, we are warned that we should not wander from the streets close to our hotel and the Carioca pride in the city appears to be diminishing.

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The beach, though, seems to be where the carefree life of Rio can flourish. The center of this is the beachfront of Ipanema and Copacabana where thousands of people gather whenever possible to enjoy the sun, water and sand.

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We have arrived here on Good Friday and the beach in front of our hotel is alive with people on the sand as well as on the wide sidewalks that adjoin it.

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The sidewalks of Ipanema and Copacabana are this city´s urban core, with the distinctive patterns that define each neighborhood. Roberto Burle Marx´Copacabana waves are the classic icon of this very urban beach.

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The beach and pavement are a marketplace for whatever one needs here, from food and drink to Brazilian swimwear. All of this adds to the color and movement.

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Good Friday in Rio is good.

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Posted by RobandAmy 13:51 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

North to Floripa

semi-overcast 85 °F

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From Buenos Aires, we fly north to Santa Catarina Island in the south of Brazil. Our first stop is at the resort of Costão do Santinho, where we can just relax at the beach or drive around this very beautiful island. The white sand beaches are set against the lush hills, the weather is warm and humid and the water is tropical.

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The beach in Brazil has everything - food, drink, and lots of people enjoying its pleasures. There are many surfers as this appears to be a very popular surf break; we met a Californian in Uruguay who was on his way to surf here.

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At the center of Sant Catarina is the large city of Florianopolis with a population of close to one million. We have time to explore its wonderful public market as well as visit the outlying areas of the island and its small fishing villages.

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A highlight of our visit is being invited to dinner by former Field Paoli intern Marina Horta and her husband Rodrigo in their Florianopolis apartment. We join the whole family (Marina´s dad is in the photo) and have a delicious and enjoyable evening.

Posted by RobandAmy 13:24 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Returning to Buenos Aires, Tigre and Colonia, Uruguay

sunny

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After our amazing two months in Argentina and Chile, we have returned to Buenos Aires on our way north to Brazil. We enjoy some quiet days at a hotel in the Palermo Soho neighborhood where there are lots of cafés on beautiful treelined streets.

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Amy has quickly returned to form and you can see how delighted she is to discover the neighborhood origami store. Palermo Soho is where creative Buenos Aires retail shops appear, so Rob is professionally obligated to take note of a few of these.

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We spend one of our days on the Paraná River delta where residents of Buenos Aires spend their leisure time at river houses that can be reached only by boat.

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The Paraná River empties into the Rio de la Plata, separating Argentina from Uruguay. Enormous quantities of water flow south from Brazil into this fresh water river that is so wide you cannot see across its width.

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Continuing with our theme of visiting by boat, we catch a ferry to Colonia, a small city across the Rio de la Plata in Uruguay. Colonia was built during the colonial era and is now preserved as a World Heritage Site.

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Posted by RobandAmy 13:55 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

New Friends in Santiago, Valparaiso and Viña del Mar

sunny 80 °F

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After a spectacular bus ride over the Andes, we arrived in Santiago, Chile where we met Pablo Fernandez, a former exchange student with Amy´s relatives in Arkansas. An unanticipated doctor´s appointment led to a quick hospital stay for Amy and a very new travel experience for both of us.

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Fortunately all was routine and while Amy wasn´t happy about the change of accomodations, she had fabulous care by Doctor Daniel Sfeir and caring treatment by the nurses. The Clinica Las Condes was exceptionally luxurious and Pablo and family were extremely attentive to us while we were there.

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After the ordeal was over, we returned to travelling form over dinner at the Fernandez home (above, from left, Daniel Sfeir, Amy, Rob, Pablo and wife Francisca). We are so lucky to have made friends like these!

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The delay in our trip and at the suggestion of the doctor, we were forced to abandon our intended stay in the mountains of Peru in favor of a more gentle visit to the coast of central Chile.

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After enjoying Santiago for two more days, we went to the beach town of Viña del Mar which adjoins Valparaiso, Santiago´s historic port. The Sfeir family was also going here for the day and so graciously offered to drive us and give us a tour as well!

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While we stayed at the beach, we were able to tour the fascinating old town of Valparaiso by day. The hillside residential neighborhoods can be reached by (very old) inclined elevators, though once up, the streets are by no means flat.

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The older buildings are still occupied by families as well as by what seems to be an increasing number of artists and artisans, restaurants and inns. We have a relaxing visit to catch our breath and regain strength.

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Posted by RobandAmy 15:11 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Mendoza, Argentina - The Wine Country

semi-overcast 85 °F

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Mendoza, the fourth largest city in Argentina is the country's center of wine production and is also known for its food and art culture. Located just below the Andes, the views and weather make a dramatic settling for the vineyards surrounding the city. We could spend a week visiting all of the wineries here, but we have to limit our visits to three.

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The highlight of our visit is our lunch at Ruca Malen where the chef serves us by far the best meal we have had in South America. This meal, the view of the Andes and the Malbec make for a near perfect afternoon.

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Our visit to Mendoza also includes time to visit the studios of some local artists who graciously show us their work and some horseback riding in the foothills of the Andes.

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The history of Mendoza is fascinating. Located in a desert, the city is irrigated by an extensive grid of canals that line both sides of virtually every street. This system was originated by the indigenous populations and expanded by the Spanish beginning in the 16th century. This results in a very lush environment of many parks and plazas and beautiful treelined streets.

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This week in Mendoza is the grape harvest festival and the local regions each have nominated a candidate for queen. This generates incredible excitement and the city is filled with advertisements for each of the candidates and there are fireworks at night. Unfortunately, we have to move on before hearing the results of the elections.

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Posted by RobandAmy 18:05 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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