Brazil, The Beginning

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I admit it.  I have been a completely lax travel blogger over my last couple months or so of travel.  I am quite prolific at procrastination.  I have several stories to share from New Zealand and all along the Banana Pancake Trail in Southeast Asia, but got really far behind with my blogging while on the road.  Now that I am planning on being slightly more settled, mostly staying in one spot in Brazil, I will be able to catch up on my posts and share them with you.  I’ll also try and make more current posts, hopefully weekly at least, from here in Brazil.

I am now in a phase of my trip that should take on some new excitement for me both personally and professionally.  This is the chapter where I have gone to Brazil for a somewhat undetermined amount of time to develop fluency in Portuguese and hopefully find a new career for myself that involves an international aspect.

I have to admit that I felt really intimidated coming here to Brazil yesterday even though I have been to this country before.  Last year, four friends of mine and I visited São Paulo, Florianopolis and Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval.  I think some of my fears were worrying about how my story will unfold, lots of questions running through my mind: Will I be able to find my way around the monster of a city that is São Paulo; Will I inadvertently find myself in some dangerous neighborhood/situation? Will I be able to get by with the limited amount of Portuguese that I know?  My first day of travel here has given me some confidence though.  I found it really easy to walk around and it was great seeing some of the familiar places I saw with my friends last year.  I’m staying one night in the Bela Vista neighborhood at an inexperience yet wonderful pousada which is walking distance to frenetic Avendia Paulista, the MASP Museum, Trianon Park, the Jardins neighborhood and posh Oscar Freire.  The area is really upscale and safe and I enjoyed simply walking around.  Bela Vista is a beautiful neighborhood situated on a hill rising above Avenida Paulista.  It retains some charming older row homes that have not yet been torn down to build skyscrapers, which are simply unavoidable in highrise-heaven (or hell) São Paulo.  Bela Vista was traditionally an Italian neighborhood, so of course it has some excellent restaurants.  I had lunch at Cantina Mamma Celeste and enjoyed a mouth watering risotto with gorgonzola and hazelnuts.

I spent the rest of the day wandering around the area near Avenida Paulista.

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Exploring New Zealand’s Waitomo Glow-Worm Caves

“We are all worms.  But I believe that I am a glow-worm.” — Winston Churchill The Waitomo Caves (at least two of them) are home to a special fungus gnat known as Arachnocampa luminosa or the New Zealand Glow-Worm, found only in New Zealand.  The luminescence takes place in the bugs’ larval or imago stage, in which the glow-worms spend the better part of their very short … Continue reading Exploring New Zealand’s Waitomo Glow-Worm Caves

Auckland: Introducing Aotearoa

Auckland was my introduction to the incredible country of New Zealand.  Fortuitously, right before I took off from the Brisbane Airport, a friend of mine in Atlanta Facebook-messaged me and introduced me (via Facebook) to some friends of his, a Kiwi/American couple, who live in Auckland.  They provided me with a ride from the airport to my hotel (Abaco on Jervois), a home cooked meal of … Continue reading Auckland: Introducing Aotearoa

Rolling on the River in Brisbane

Brisbane was my final stop in month-long adventure in Australia.  It’s the third largest city in Australia and the capital of Queensland.  It’s a sophisticated and lively city, full of culture and adventure activities to satisfy any traveler, even if it may often get overshadowed by Sydney and Melbourne.   American law school friend.  She married an Australian and moved there right after law school.  Aside … Continue reading Rolling on the River in Brisbane

Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands

After touring the desert heart of Central Australia, I flew to Brisbane for a night and then caught another flight the next day to Prosperine for a few days in Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands, a beautiful spot along Australia’s Queensland Coast.  The contrast between the dry red landscape that I had been traveling through during the last week could not have been more … Continue reading Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands

Day 24: Clare Valley, Flinders Ranges

Leaving Adelaide, we drove up through rolling yellow hills to Clare where we sampled some wines at the Sevenhill Cellars, a winery that had been established in 1851 by Austrian Jesuits.  Before our tasting, we explored the St. Aloysius church, a Gothic Revival structure built from local stone, including the crypt underneath the church.  Our wine tasting then got underway.  We tried several different varieties … Continue reading Day 24: Clare Valley, Flinders Ranges

Day 23: Adelaide

South Australia prides itself on the fact that, unlike some of the other Australian colonies such as New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, it was not initially settled by convicts.  Instead, it was settled by free, mostly middle-class merchants and farmers from England as well as other countries.  South Australia is probably one of the more unsung regions of Australia for tourism, although its praises … Continue reading Day 23: Adelaide

Day 22: The Grampians to Mount Gambier

On this day, our group went to the Brambuk Cultural Centre in Halls Gap that told one of the dreamtime stories or creation stories by the local aboriginal population.  Dreamtime stories are Aboriginal legends that explain how various land formations such as the Grampians came to be.  Sadly, due to the decimation of the Aboriginal people and their culture, the story told at the center, which … Continue reading Day 22: The Grampians to Mount Gambier

Day 21: The Great Ocean Road to the Grampians

As previously noted, the towering rock stacks along the Great Ocean Road are in the constant process of being shaped by the waves.  In the morning, we visited London Bridge, which had formerly been a double arch.  In 1990, two journalists, a man and a woman, were out on the rock formation exploring, when one of the arches collapsed into the sea requiring a rescue … Continue reading Day 21: The Great Ocean Road to the Grampians