Things That I Want To Do In Brazil This Time

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Things That I Want To Do In  Brazil This Time

“Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”    Kurt Vonnegut

Eat At Mocoto In Sao Paulo again.

Wander around Pelourinho.  It is the old city in Salvador. Bahia, with colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. Salvador is filled with music, dance, capoeira schools, restaurants and bars.

Experience a Candobie ceremony in Salvador. Candobie is a religion that melds together the traditions, customs and deities of African religions, Catholicism and even some indigenous beliefs. An opportunity to experience a candomblé service or ceremony is a fantastic way to see the Afro-Brazilian culture come alive, and the ceremonies often involve music and dancing and are held throughout the year.

See the art in Bahia – street, galleries, museums. 

Spend the day on a boat going to different beaches near Salvador.

 Stay at a lodge in the Pantanal. The best place in South America to see wildlife is not the Amazon but the Pantanal, a Florida-size wetland on the far western edge of Brazil that bursts with animals — capybaras, caimans, jaguars, anacondas, giant otters, colorful hyacinth macaws, kites, hawks, and flocks of storks and herons .

Do a jaguar tracking tour in the Pantanal. Ii is not a guarantee as it is late in the season but there might be  smaller cats such as the ocelot, as well as other animals such as foxes, howler monkeys, and caiman. Tapirs, giant anteaters, capybara, and peccaries, all rare in most of their remaining habitats, are seen here.

Take a boat down the river and see all the birds and fish.

Go Piranha fishing and eating.

Fly safe,

JAZ.

Ten Things That I Want To Do In Uruguay

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 Ten Things I Want To Do In Uruguay

“When you’re traveling, ask the traveler for advice, not someone whose lameness keeps him in one place.” Rumi

Punta De Este is the “Hamptons Of South America.” Relax at a beautiful hotel and visit the beaches.

See Casapueblo. It is an art museum in a nine story white washed hillside  building owned by artist Carlos Paez Vilaro, in Punta Del Este.  

Eat at La Huella in the trendy fishing village of Jose Ignacio with its interesting shops, lighthouse and beautiful beaches.

Take a street art tour in Montevideo. 

Since I won’t be there for Carnaval, there is a Carnaval Museum in Montevideo. 

Visit the Mercado de los Artesanos, packed with local handicrafts, or Sunday’s sprawling Feria de Tristán Narvaja in  Montevideo.

Walk La Rambla in Montevideo which is the longest sidewalk in the world that runs the full length of Montevide’s coastline (13.5 miles – so maybe half and uber back) Stop at the Mercado Del Puerto.

Have some good asado ( barbecued meats), yerba mate and dulce de leche (similar to Argentina).

Visit a vineyard and do some wine tasting. Uruguay is known for the red Tannat.

Drive along the coast and stop and different fishing villages and beaches.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Travel Bathrooms

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Travel Bathrooms 

“bathroom: (n.) where Americans go to argue about gender while the country goes down the toilet.” Sol Luckman

I have many looking for a bathroom around the world stories.  They go from pantomiming the activity in Budapest to walking into the wrong one because I couldn’t read the sign in Russian, Japanese, Cambodian….The list goes on once you leave the tourist areas in many countries. The  door drawings were confusing in Parety, Brazil and Bogota, Colombia. The hallway was dark in Santorini Greece and Lisbon, Portugal. I am often in the wrong one. 

There are squat toilets in Asla, buckets in the jungle, holes  in the ground  in places you wouldn’t expect, but that is probably a different blog. i have strong legs for this reason.

I thought bathroom was a universal word like taxi until I started traveling.  My rule of thumb is if it’s a single unit bathroom, I can use either.  I prefer the women’s only because I’m not a fan of the urinal in the men’s bathroom and I stay as far away from it as possible. It never looks clean. Why do they have two things in theirs?  They don’t at home. Sometimes I choose the bathroom based on toilet paper, cleanliness, smell or lack of. 

Lately many different kinds of gender neutral bathroom signs have been popping up on single unit bathrooms. It is confusing to me because if a bathroom is empty I just use it. When I have to go, I don’t stand on ceremony. I don’t get  the transpanic thing on single unit bathrooms. (Sweden)

 Doesn’t everyone just use the empty one? Can we all agree that any one-person, private restroom can (and, I’d argue, should) be a gender neutral restroom? It basically already is. Use whatever sign you’d like, or just do it the British way and put W.C. on the door. I believe it stands for “Who Cares? (US)

Fly safe,
JAZ

The Golden Circle, Iceland

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The Golden Circle, Iceland

“Earth’s crammed with heaven. But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Everyone who has been to Iceland will tell you that a day trip driving the Golden Circle  is necessary, and they are 100% correct. The Golden Circle is the most popular day trip  from Reykjavik.

The first stop is Gullifoss which I have already talked about.

The next place to visit is the geysir. The English word “geyser” is actually derived from this exact geysir here in Iceland.

There are lots of bubbling pools to check out, along with the two famous geysers, Geysir and Strokkur. Strokkur is the only one still active today, which erupts every 5-8 minutes or so, sometimes even more (meaning you’ll see it shoot out it’s steaming hot water multiple times) What’s cooler than watching a hot spring spout steaming water up to 60 feet in the air without any mechanical support? That’s geology for you.

The last  stop is Iceland’s first National Park, Þingvellir. Not only is it the first national park and Iceland’s largest lake,  but it’s also the location of Iceland’s first Parliament, started back in 930 AD. Back then an assembly of 48 chieftains would gather to discuss Viking law and hold court. It’s regarded as the founding of Iceland as a nation and historically important to Icelanders. Pingvellir has recently been accepted on the UNESCO World Heritage list because of this.

And for all you Game Of Thrones fans, this is also the place where many scenes of the show have been filmed,

 It’s  considered to be  the best place on earth  to view the North Atlantic divergent ridge (where the North Atlantic and Eurasian tectonic plates collide),

The plates are slowing moving apart at around 3cm per year, ultimately meaning the continents are being brought closer together.

I was lucky enough to be able to tour Iceland in a Smithsonian group led by geologist Scott Burns. It was on my bucket list to do Iceland with someone who could explain the rugged beauty, glaciers, climate change and volcanoes. Scott was just intimidating enough for me to know that he knew his stuff, and just as easy-going to answer my questions. I learned so much and it was fun. I look forward to more trips with him. I have a lot of this earth to understand.Thanks for everything.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Eight Other Things That I Did In Iceland

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Eight Other Things That  I DidIn Iceland

“The poetry of the earth is never dead.” John Keats

Deildartunguhver is Europe’s most powerful hot spring. Most of the water used for central heating in the towns of Borgarnes and Akranes is taken from Deildartunguhver.

The hot water pipeline to Akranes is 64 km long, the longest in Iceland and the water is about 78 – 80 degrees when it reaches Akranes. If you have taken a shower anywhere within a 65 km radius of the spring, you have already bathed in the hot water from this powerful spring.

Rising about 170 meters above the ground, Grabrok Crater belongs to the volcanic system of Ljosufjoll. It can be easily accessed via a footpath. The crater is quite steep and steps have been built on part of it to make the hike easier.

This volcanic crater is located east of Lake Hreðavatn in the fjord of Borgarfjörður in West Iceland. Spread over a distance of 90 km, it is also the largest of three craters (Stora Grabrok, Grabrokarfell and Litla Grabrok); it was formed about 3400 years ago in a fissure eruption.

.Once at the rim, I got a nice view inside. The path allows you to walk all around the crater but the strong Icelandic  wind almost blew me into the crater.

The Icelandic Horse is the only horse breed from Iceland and their ancestors were brought there in the ninth and tenth centuries by Vikings/Norwegians. It is a small breed of horse – not a pony. In the 10th century they banned importing horses into Iceland in an effort to keep the Icelandic breed pure. The ban still stands today. If an Icelandic horse leaves Iceland, they are not allowed to return.

The Icelandic  horse is fairly sleek in the summer months – though they retain a heavy mane and tail – but in the winter they grow a special, three-layer coat, which helps them survive the freezing Icelandic temperatures.Tthey are known for their sure-footedness and the ability to cross Iceland’s rough and diverse terrain, 

 Glaumbær Turf Farm was the perfect place to see these beautiful little buildings with mud roofs up close and learn more about Iceland’s history and culture. The farmstead is still inhabited. The old house is a part of the National Museum’s Historic Building Collection and houses part of the Skagafjörður Heritage Museum.  This site has been inhabited for centuries.  Glaumbær is mentioned several times in the medieval Saga literature. The age of the buildings vary considerably, the youngest dating from around 1880 and the oldest back to mid 18th century.

Glaumbær is composed of fourteen clustered houses.  Exhibits show four tradesmen’s workshops  (carpenter, blacksmith,  watchmaker and saddle maker), personal history of the local novelist Guðrún Baldvina Árnadóttir,  two storage houses, living rooms, bedrooms. the hearth kitchen and three pantries.

Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice due to its long history of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tongue twisting names for glaciers. The Lava Center Museum in South Iceland is worth a visit. This innovative museum opened in 2017 not far from Mt Hekla, an active volcano that was considered to be the gateway to hell in the Middle Ages. The interactive, state-of-the-art exhibit depicts millions of years of Icelandic volcanic activity, including earthquakes, eruptions, glacial floods, rift systems and the formation of Iceland’s landmass.

Siglufjörður is the northernmost town on the mainland of Iceland. This also means something quite exciting: The midnight sun shines bright all night long.

The highlight of any visit to Siglufjordur is the Herring Museum. Rather than describe the golden age of fishing from the Fifties through to the end of the Sixties, the award-winning museum recreates it, with figureheads and navigation lanterns galore. There are vintage photographs of fishermen with wind-lashed faces, ankle-deep in the day’s catch, and of the “herring girls” with bright Nordic smiles.

Akureyri is arrestingly pretty, with antique wooden houses, corrugated modern ones, tempting restaurants, bookshops, an excellent art museum and heart shaped red lights.

It is Iceland’s second largest city. and considered to be the capital of North Iceland.

Asbyrgi (Shelter of the Gods) is a remarkable horseshoe-shaped canyon. Viking/Norwegian settlers believed it to be a hoof-print formed by Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged flying horse from Norse mythology. Some people say that it is the capital of the Hidden People of Iceland.

Geologists believe that Asbyrgi was formed as the result of a catastrophic flood from the nearby Jokulsa glacial river. Located in Jokulsargljufur within the Vatnajokull National Park, Asbyrgi has 100 meter (330 ft) high cliffs which form a 1 kilometer (.5 mi) wide ring of protective shelter around the rich vegetation and forest.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Best Day In The Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

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Best Day In The Snaefellsnes Peninsula In Iceland

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”  Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

 I was more in awe during my day in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the west fjords of Iceland than during any other part of the country I visited.

This is saying a lot considering how much I fell in love with the glaciers, Myvatin, all hot springs and waterfalls.

It helped that it was a warm, sunny, windless day.  I still can’t say the name of it properly. 

Snæfellsnes Peninsula is often called Iceland in miniature as you can see everything the country has to offer in one area: volcanic craters, lava fields, a glacier, waterfalls, fjords, hot springs, black and golden sand beaches, lush meadows,  cute fishing villages and colorful wooden houses.

Bárður Snæfellsás was the settler of this area, half a troll and half a man,. He came to Iceland in the ninth century and gave the peninsula its name. The big stone structure of Bárður Snæfellsás at Arnarstapi was made by sculptor Ragnar Kjartansson.

Búðakirkja is a little black wooden church in the hamlet Búðir (which seems to consist of a hotel and this church) that was originally built in the 19th century.

It has an isolated location amongst the Budhahraun lava fields just above the sea. 

Snæfellsnes Peninsula is one of only a few places in Iceland where the beaches are golden. 

There are stunning views of the mountains and Snaefellsness glacier here. Many interesting stories are connected to the glacier, and it is believed to be the meeting place of extra-terrestrials.

Some people believe it to be one of the seven chakras (energy centres) in the world and you may not sleep well due to the magnetic energy.

Jules Verne wrote an interesting science fiction book called  Journey to the Center of the Earth in 1864 about a group of scientists, who ventured into the crater of Snæfellsjökull glacier. Yes parts of the 2008 movie were filmed here.  

 You can also do long walks through the lava fields.

Every bend in the road, the landscape changes.

Notice how perfectly shaped these basalt columns  are. It’s hard to imagine that nature did this. Lava flowed out, cooled and contracted. The slow speed at which the lava cooled made it crack and create these forms.

We ate lunch at a lovely ancient fishing village in Hellnar overlooking the water and amazing cliffs.

There were  dozens  of birds hanging out on the cliffs and rocks, staining the columns white  poop I imagine, although I definitely could be wrong.

After lunch we were off to yet another black beach (my favorite kind of beach).

There were huge lava formations.

We passed a few turquoise and green colored lakes.

This is a portion of beach with iron pieces from a British shipwreck in 1948 (which are kept here in memory of the brave fishermen who lost their lives).

 I finally reached those beautiful black pebbles.

It’s quite clear why it’s also known as Black Lava Pearl Beach, as the beach was entirely made up of small and smooth black pebbles (called Djúpalónsperlur or “Pearls of Djúpalón).

With huge monolithic rocks in the water and smooth pebbles beneath our feet, I could have walked here all day.

 Nestled deep inside a spectacular landscape of lava fields not far from the fishing village of Stykkishólmur, is the Shark Museum.  Stykkishólmur was featured in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. 

It was masquerading as Greenland.

I assume many of you have not been to the Bjarnarhofn Shark Museum so I will explain it.  The room is filled with an eclectic mix of fishing tools, bones, dried shark skins, as well as taxidermy relating mostly to Arctic birdlife. 

It is randomly displayed like a garage filled with stuff.  Sharks are not specifically hunted, it so happens that some might get caught in the net when other fish are being sourced.

I ate some fermented Greenland shark which is poisonous if eaten fresh. You dip it in  Icelandic schnapps (Brennivin) and it was surprisingly delicious to me. I like the Swedish salt ammonia flavored  licorice so it might not be the same for you.

We went to see some of out tour guide  Argunnar Yi‘s paintings in a nearby hotel.

Art and black sand beaches -kind of a perfect day for me. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Things That I Have Learned In Reykjavik, Iceland

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Things That I Have Learned In Reykjavik, Iceland

“Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer” – Unknown

Reykjavík is the northernmost capital city in the world.

Reykjavík is regarded as the world’s most sustainable city. The city plans to be a carbon neutral city by 2040.

The steam rising from the area’s hot springs gave Reykjavik its name, which literally translates to “Cove of Smokes,” or more eloquently ” Smoky Bay.

Towering over the Reykjavik skyline is Hallgrimskirkja, a 240-foot tall Evangelical Lutheran church. The building which resembles volcanic basalt lava columns, opened in 1986. It is the tallest building in the city—as well as the second tallest in the entire country.

The National Museum of Iceland is the place to go when you want to learn about Icelandic life through the centuries. Everything related to this island nation from belief and religion, to seafaring, farming, culture, costume and the development of trade relationships from the beginning to the present day. The exhibits are beautifully displayed in the various sections with lots of info. Audio displays tell some fascinating stories and computers give access to a wealth of additional facts. A photography exhibition is always on show.

One of the most popular foods in Iceland is hot dogs. There’s no better hot dog stand in Iceland to get them than at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur. The kiosk has been in the Reykjavik harbor since 1937, but President Bill Clinton and Anthony Bourdain’s visit solidified its constant long line of locals and tourists waiting for the lamb-based hot dog doused in ketchup, mustard, remoulade (mayonnaise-based sauce with sweet relish), and both raw and fried onion. ”The president you have now, I wouldn’t serve a hot dog.”, said the owner.

The Saga Museum which features seventeen exhibits traces Icelandic history from the Norwegian exodus to the Black Death. It is now located  in a historic home on the Reykjavik harbor.

The Icelandic Phallological Museum is a must visit for those who are curious about penises – from whales to hamsters. It is located on the main shopping street in Reykjavik. I didn’t have time but I would I have loved to see all the tourists taking selfies. 

From mid-April until late August, the Atlantic puffins summer in Iceland! You can take a Puffin tour from Reykjavik but I saw them near Husavik.

They are cute little birds and definitely worth putting the red suits on (for warmth and flotation devices)  and taking a beautiful three hour tour. 

On October 8, 2007, John Lennon’s birthday Yoko Ono revealed an outdoor beam of light called the Inagine Peace Tower on the city’s Viðey Island in honor of her late husband. “I hope the Imagine Peace Tower will give light to the strong wishes of World Peace from all corners of the planet. And give encouragement, inspiration and a sense of solidarity in a world now filled with fear and confusion. Let us come together to realize a peaceful world,” Ono said. Now it is  lit from October 9 to December 8, December 21 to December 31, February 18, and March 20 to 27.

In 2011, Reykjavik was the fifth city named a City of  Literature by UNESCO, thanks to its “invaluable heritage of ancient medieval literature” and “the central role literature plays within the modern urban landscape.”

Let’s be real. People don’t come to Iceland to shop. They come for the nature, the waterfalls, the glaciers, and all the fun stuff you can do around Iceland.. Reykjavik is one of the most expensive cities.in Europe. However, you can find  cool, locally designed outerwear in many stores for similar  prices to your country. Every time you wear it, you will remember your time in Iceland. 

Fly safe,

JAZ