Brazil Kicks Off the World Cup: As Seen Through the Eyes of a Gringo in São Paulo

Brazil commands the world’s attention now that the FIFA World Cup is finally underway, an event that is one of the most watched sporting events in the world.  ESPN had record ratings during the inaugural game yesterday evening between Brazil and Croatia, which was held at Corinthians Stadium here in São Paulo.  Brazil defeated Croatia, 3 to 1. As is obvious through the news stories … Continue reading Brazil Kicks Off the World Cup: As Seen Through the Eyes of a Gringo in São Paulo

Brazilian “Bleak House”: São Paulo Mansion Will Receive Colorful Makeover

Avenida Paulista is an energetic, commercial center of São Paulo, where a lot of the high-powered business in Brazil takes place. Office buildings, shopping centers, apartment buildings and museums, some with innovative architecture, line the busy, wide avenue. Most of the buildings are modern, but walking down São Paulo’s busy Avenida Paulista one day, I noticed a somewhat weathered, old mansion standing near a copse … Continue reading Brazilian “Bleak House”: São Paulo Mansion Will Receive Colorful Makeover

Why I Decided to Spend Six Months in Brazil

One of the frequently asked questions I receive from people I meet here in Brazil is why I decided to come to Brazil and spend six months. The answer to this question is somewhat complicated and not something I can express in 140 characters with a couple of hashtags, so I am devoting this post to answering this question, a question I am not sure … Continue reading Why I Decided to Spend Six Months in Brazil

Gramado: A Stop Along Rio Grande Do Sul’s Romantic Road

Gramado is located in the verdant, mountainous Serra Gaúcha region of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s most southern state, an area settled predominantly by German and Italian immigrants in the nineteenth century.  Gramado was actually founded by Portuguese immigrants in 1875, but later received German and Italian residents, from the nearby city of Caxias do Sul.  By the 1920s, it became a summer holiday resort … Continue reading Gramado: A Stop Along Rio Grande Do Sul’s Romantic Road

Bangkok: My First Stop on the Banana Pancake Trail

If you’ve never been to Bangkok before, you probably come with lots of preconceived ideas like I did, both positive and negative, about what Bangkok is like: golden temples, raucous nightlife, drunk Aussie backpackers sporting cheap Chang beer t-shirts that they bought on Khaosan Road, shady tuk tuk drivers who try to take you to get fitted for an overpriced tailored suit that will fall … Continue reading Bangkok: My First Stop on the Banana Pancake Trail

Morretes and Paranaguá: Day Tripping into Paraná’s Past

One Saturday while I staying in Curitiba, a couple friends and I decided to take a day trip out to the coastal region of Paraná to explore some of the colonial towns there.  We first took a bus ride to Morretes, which is about 68 kilometers from Curitiba.  The highway passes through a verdant mountain range near the coast including a high waterfall.  You can … Continue reading Morretes and Paranaguá: Day Tripping into Paraná’s Past

Napier, New Zealand: Adventures in Art Deco

Napier is a charming city situated on the shores of Hawkes Bay, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.  The main attraction in Napier is its impressive collection of Art Deco architecture. On February 3, 1931, a 7.9 on the Richter scale earthquake destroyed the town, killing hundreds. The residents decided to rebuild and did so predominantly in the Art Deco style, … Continue reading Napier, New Zealand: Adventures in Art Deco

Curitiba: One of Brazil’s Most Impressive Cities

After spending a week in Florianópolis, I boarded a Caterinense bus and headed north through the verdant, mountainous landscapes and Germanic towns of Santa Catarina and into the state of Parana.  My destination: the city of Curitiba. Most gringoes have probably never heard of Curitiba, a major city in southern Brazil, the capital city of the state of Paraná and home to nearly 1.8 million … Continue reading Curitiba: One of Brazil’s Most Impressive Cities

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.

Continue reading “Brazil, The Beginning”