Things That I Have Learned In Rio, Brazil

Things I Have Learned In Rio, Brazil

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

Rio is named for a river that doesn’t exist. According to tradition, it was first visited in January 1502 by Portuguese explorers, who believed the bay they encountered (now called Guanabara Bay) was the mouth of a river. They named the area Rio de Janeiro, “River of January.”


Rio was capital of Brazil from 1763 until 1960, when that role was transferred to Brasilia.

Rio’s locals are called carioca (a name also sometimes applied as an adjective to the city itself). It may have come from kari ola, or “white man’s house” in the indigenous Tupi language.

The food scene in Rio is laid-back. ( feijoada)


You can happily grab some fried bar snacks and a caipirinha to enjoy on the beach, or head straight from the beach to a rodizio (all-you-can-eat). The tropical influence is also evident in the many choices of fruit juice stands (on every corner in Rio), and the abundance of açaí.


Cariocas  have a habit of putting mustard and ketchup on their pizza. There are also amazing five-star and cool trendy restaurants with delicious food.


In Brazil, there’s soccer (or futebol) and then everything else. Brazilians are obsessive, diehard fans and just about everyone plays, especially at the beach. Even for the Americans who now grow up playing soccer, your skills are no match for the footwork and volleying on display at the beach in Rio. Even the younger groups of kids are able to pass the airborne ball back and forth, using every part of their bodies from their heads to their shoulders to their knees, like its nothing.


Rio explodes with energy and color during the five days before Ash Wednesday, when millions take to the streets for the world’s biggest Carnaval. The party starts on the Friday, when the mayor hands over the keys to the city to a man crowned as King Momo, a mythical jester who acts as the head of the festivities. Rio’s Carnival features hundreds of booze-soaked bandas (riotous street parties, often with specific themes) and elaborate balls. The party reaches its height at the Sambódromo, when the best samba schools in the country compete for top prize. On Ash Wednesday Carnival is officially over, and King Momo goes home.Carnaval has been called one of the seven wonders of the world.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 6.13.20 PM

In 2014, Rio de Janeiro legalized street art on many types of city property, turning the already colorful city into an outdoor art gallery. Street artists are allowed to decorate columns, walls and construction siding so long as they’re not historically designated. The city has even created a quasi-government agency, Eixo Rio to regulate the city’s urban artists, and celebrates an official Graffiti Day on March 27—the date Brazilian graffiti pioneer Vallauri Alex died in 1987.

Carmen Miranda conquered the silver screen as a singer, dancer and actress in both Brazil and America in the mid-20th century. The Carmen Miranda museum  is filled with memorabilia including her trademark platform heels and towering turbans of plastic or sequined fruit.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 9.19.52 PM

Rio de Janeiro became a World Heritage Site in 2012.

Rio is where you will find two of the world’s most famous beaches – Copacabana and Ipanema. Ipanema isn’t as hectic and the waters are cleaner.  When you’re in Ipanema make sure to stop into Garota de Ipanema as it is where the famous song The Girl from Ipanema was written.


The Art Deco Copacabana Palace built in 1923 faces the beach. It has hosted the rich and famous for ninety years. You definitely feel old Rio when you are there even though it has been completely redone.


.There are two great places to get away from the craziness in Rio de Janeiro.The Botanic Gardens covering over 130 hectares is extremely peaceful and home to over 6,000 types of plants and trees. The Tijuca forest is the largest urban rainforest in the world. Here you can go on hiking trails, admire waterfalls and much more. (Tijuca forest)

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 10.13.03 PM

Museu de Arte de Rio (MAR) is Rio’s newest art museum. It is part new modern building linked with a traditional building  by a canopy supported by pillars. The views of Guanabara Bay and the massive Rio-Niterói Bridge from the top floor are amazing. There is classic and contemporary art as well as an interesting exhibit on the history of Rio.


The Museu del Arte Moderna is another incredible building designed by architect Affonso Eduardo Reidy.



It houses one of the most comprehensive collections of Brazilian art in existence and interesting temporary exhibitions as well.


The Biblioteca Nacional is the largest library in Latin America, In addition to the books, visitors can also delight in the library’s stunning neo-classical architecture and intricate Corinthian columns.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 9.16.02 PM

Brazil’s most famous dance – samba – has its origins from the African slaves that worked in the plantations in the State of Rio de Janeiro There are more than 200 samba schools in Rio.

Lapa is known as the best place in Rio to experience nightlife.  This fun and unique neighbourhood comes alive at night, when Samba music can be heard pouring out of nearly every doorway and locals can be seen swinging their hips away while sipping on tasty cocktails. It is filled with row after row of live music venues, tapas bars, and thumping clubs.

I have to thank my guide Gabriel Morand who went above and beyond to make sure I had an amazing time in Rio. I saw everything I wanted to see, ate well and bought everything I needed to buy. I loved Brazil and can’t wait to return.


Tenha Uma Boa Viagem,


Ten Reasons To Go To Brazil

Ten Reason To Go To Brazil

“I can choose either to be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It’s all a question of how I view my life.” Paulo Coelho (yes he is Brazilian)

1. The beach – there are over 1500 beaches and five hundred islands.

2. Amazon Rainforest and Eco Tourism –  It is important to support and help preserve our environment in a responsible way.

3. Sao Paulo Street Art – It’s my thing.

4. It is the home of the acai berry.  If you live anywhere that is health trendy like LA, acai is the food of the moment. It comes in a bowl or in a drink as far as I can tell. No one really knows why it is healthy – kind of like the chia seed. You order it at a trendy expensive juice bar in a voice that sounds like you just know. I’m shallow like that. I’m going to learn the  Brazilian way to pronounce it as well so I can correct all the wannabe healthy people.

5. Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio De Janeiro. It’s one of those iconic Brazilian symbols that I always see in photos and movies and wonder if I will ever be there.

6. It’s another one of the best coffee in the world countries. Those are my favorite.

7. I can practice my Spanish. I mean because I will have the time. They speak Portuguese in Brazil. The languages sound similar to us because they are romance languages and not English. I am hopeful that as in any country but America people speak more than one language and Spanish will be one of them. Otherwise I will rely on my third language of hand motions and charades.

8. I’m not a big drinker but I do love Caipirinhas which happens to be the national beverage of Brazil. It is made with cachaca a sweet Brazilian rum made from sugar cane, lime juice and more sugar. I feel as with all cheap liquor now, the market is changing and when I get to Brazil there will be many premium cachacas to try.

9. Capoira combines dance, martial arts, music and acrobatics. It is known for quick and complex moves, using mainly power, speed, and leverage for a variety of kicks, spins, and highly mobile techniques. It was started as a fighting technique between African slaves who were forced to fight each other. They found a way to make dance like fighting.

10. The yellow soccer jersey. My first live professional soccer game was in Buenos Aires and I have been hooked ever since. Though they lost the World Cup on their home turf and were humiliated by Germany, they have still won more World Cups then any other country. It is the “o pais do futebol.” – the country of futbol.

Tenha Uma Boa Viagem,



Things I Have Learned In Dublin, Ireland

Things I Have Learned In Dublin, Ireland

“I live in Ireland every day in a drizzly dream of a Dublin walk” John Geddes

 Dublin was founded by Vikings, who settled in what they called the “Norse Kingdom of Dublin” in the 9th century.

The average temperature in January in Dublin is 41°F and in July, it is 63°F.  It is estimated that fifty per cent of the city’s residents are under twenty-five years old. Dublin has the youngest population in Europe. My advice is dress warmly and be ready to party. (St Stephens Green)

europe06 123

Dublin houses Ireland’s National Treasure which is the Book Of Kells sacred manuscript created by Celtic Monks in about 800 AD which features the Four Gospels of the New Testament. It is decorated with metallic gold Celtic style writing and symbols and stunning artwork. This sacred Book of Kells can be found in the Trinity College Library in Dublin.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 10.27.47 PM

In 1759 Arthur Guinness made the deal of his life.  He leased a brewery in the center of Dublin for 45 pounds annual rent and took it for 9,000 years!  It is now where the most famous Irish alcoholic drink is made.  Ten million glasses of Guinness are produced daily all around the world. Dubliners love beer, they drink 9800 pints every hour between 5:50 pm on Friday and around 3 am the following Monday.  Also a donation to the Blood Bank in Dublin is paid with a pint of Guinness since it is recommended to replace the iron lost during the donation.

europe06 124

Soccer is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen. Rugby is a gentlemen’s game played by hooligans.

In 1816 this  bridge opened  to any Dubliner willing to pay a ha’penny, the exact price of the then redundant ferry  to William Walsh, ferry owner and alderman of the city. He retired his leaking ferries and was compensated with £3,000 and the bridge lease for one hundred years. (Ha Penny Bridge)

europe06 138

Dublin Writers Museum is a must visit if you are into literature and writing, or if you want to understand Dublin’s literary heritage. You get a truer understanding of Ireland if you get  to know its writers.There are two main museum rooms. Room one traces the roots of Irish poetry and storytelling, and it showcases writers with international status such as Swift, Goldsmith, Sheridan, George Bernard Shaw, and Oscar Wilde.  Room two deals with writers such as Yeats, Synge, James Joyce, Sean O’ Casey, Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker Frank O’ Connor, Brendan Behan and many more.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 8.26.57 PM

The title of Bram Stoker’s book “Dracula” is said to come from the Irish words “Droch Ola” meaning bad blood..

Christ Church was famous for the first performance of Handel’s Messiah.

The Abbey Theatre was founded as The National Theatre Of Ireland in 1904 by W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory.  Its goal  was “to bring upon the stage the deeper emotions of Ireland.” and that is still true today.

europe06 135

The oldest pub in Ireland is called the Brazen Head and is in Dublin .

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.32.53 AM

Temple Bar is one of the oldest areas in Dublin. The modern street pattern of Temple Bar is based on the medieval plan of the Old Viking City.  Today Temple Bar has many newer arts venues, cool boutiques and galleries, restaurants,bars,  award winning cultural and residential buildings. Temple Bar is home to one of Europe’s oldest built theatres (Smock Alley Theatre), one of Ireland’s smallest theatres (The New Theatre), one of the best examples of a Victorian theatre (The Olympia) and one of Ireland’s best know modern theatre spaces and arts centres (Project Arts Centre)

europe06 140

After Francis Bacon’s death his studio was moved to the Hugh Lane Gallery. You look through a  window at the 7,000 items they shifted: a huge easel, piles of paints, jars, brushes, rags, pots, books, photos, towels and empty boxes of Krug Champagne. A fantastic sight.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 8.18.58 PM

Built between 1220 and 1260  St Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the few buildings left from the medieval city of Dublin. Today St Patricks is the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland and is still the largest cathedral in Ireland. Its most famous Dean  Jonathan Swift  is one of around 700 burials here.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 10.18.44 PM

Many of U2’s back catalogue of albums were recorded in their home city. Windmill Lane Studios was the place where U2 recorded their early work and first three albums. The site at Windmill Lane Studios is covered in graffiti from fans that have paid pilgrimage from all over the world and is known as the “U2 Wall.”

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.18.48 AM

Dublin is a city of storytellers. Everyone has a story to tell.  If you happen to be in a pub telling a story, chances are there will be someone there who knows someone in it. So be careful with your facts and if you embellish, disguise your characters well. And if you don’t know any stories, you will by the time you leave.

Fly safe,

Things I Have Learned In Peru

“A man of knowledge chooses a path with a heart and follows it. He looks and rejoices and laughs and then he sees and knows. “  Carlos Casteneda  (born in Peru)

Things  I Have Learned In Peru

Don’t drop your camera.

According to a Stanford University study, seventy-five per cent of taxi drivers in Lima are psychotic.(view of Lima)


Beaches in Lima are not just for swimming but a good place to play soccer and park your car.


Millions of guinea pigs are eaten  in Peru every year. No special occasion is complete without them. They are served whole with the head and feet intact. The word in Spanish is Cuya if you do or don’t want to eat it by mistake.

If you are with a Peruvian, you will get a better exchange rate for your money from the man standing on the corner outside the bank.  Don’t try this alone.

Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor (“Main Square” in Spanish) is the place where Lima city was born in 1535, founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. It is also the spot from where Jose San Martin announced Peru’s independence from Spain in 1821.


As in other countries if you want real silver or real alpaca, buy from a store with a door. Otherwise you will not be sure if you bought baby alpaca or maybe alpaca.

Taxis in Peru do not have meters and you must negotiate a rate before you get in. Anyone can put up a taxi sign in their car and often do to supplement their income. There are no regulations. Many people do it on their way to their regular jobs – if they are late for work, watch out.

If you happen to be in Lima on Palm Sunday, you can see the Archbishop.



Need stamps? Or anything else?  Palm Sunday at the Post Office.


There are two seasons in Peru. There is summer when it rains and winter when it is foggy.  The temperature is about the same but sometimes your pictures come out clearer.

We are a bit late with quinoa (the new it food in LA) . It predates the Incas and has been a staple in the Peruvian diet for years. They have many other grains that are high in protein  since quinoa is getting so expensive for them. Check Whole Foods for kikucha.

Soccer is the first second and third sport in Peru. They are very enthusiastic and very bad at it.

Due to the bad state of the economy and the massive inflation in the 1980s , the government got rid of the inti and brought the new Peru currency “nuevo sol” as the country’s new money. The Peruvian nuevo sol is a stable and reliable currency, it is also the least affected by the weak dollar global tendency.

 Peru’s geography yields diverse ingredients: abundant seafood from the coast, tropical fruits from the jungle, and unusual varieties of grains and potatoes from the Andes. Peruvian cuisine is recognized around the world as one of the best in South America. It was surprisingly delicious. The immigrant population throughout the years has strongly influenced the cuisine.  African, Italian, Japanese , Chinese , Spanish, Inca,  Quechua as well as surrounding South American has created the original fusion cuisine.

Peru was the last colony in South America.

Coca tea is helpful in preventing altitude sickness among other things.


The Andes is the world’s longest mountain chain. (the Himalayas are the highest  -you know I had to look that up)


Llamas are pronounced yamas, unlike yams, sweet potatoes, yellow potatoes, white potatoes purple potatoes, large corn, small corn and plaintains which are often found at the same meal.  No meal is complete without potato. There are 3000 varieties grown in the Andes. They will eat a different kind of potato for breakfast lunch and dinner. (potatoes at the food market, Cusco)


I only eat cooked vegetables and fruits and bottled water when I travel to third world countries but had no problem eating raw fish (ceviche) at every meal.

It was just another day in the Sacred Valley with quick stop for lunch.



For centuries Peruvians have turned to natural remedies to cure their ailments. Medicinal and hallucinogenic plants have been used since pre-Inca times for healing. A variety of healers (referred to as shamans in North America) exist throughout the country with a wide range of techniques. While healers from Northern Peru use San Pedro cactus in their ceremonies, healers from the Amazon work with ayahuasca, which in Quechua translates to ‘vine of the dead’. Ayahuasca is a hallucinogen that induces visions and helps to diagnose illness. Healing ceremonies take place late at night, when the energies are at their highest, especially during a full moon. Westerners have come to Peru specifically to visit with these healers about a variety of issues including cancer and depression. There are mystical Andes tours that include ayahuasca sessions. It is best to do these things in Peru with a real shaman and not in your living room with friends.

The one on the end is not me.


The first day of hiking at 9000 feet is hard. The first day of shopping at 12,000 feet is no problem.

Pisaq Market  sells handicrafts, jewelry, minerals, herbs, spices and local foods and is the biggest market in Cusco. it’s a good way to learn about the local way of life, get a taste of how herbal medicine works, see how paints and dyes are made using natural minerals and sample the various local foods.

The Quechuas are the descendents of the Incas. You see them all over Cusco and the Sacred Valley in their native dress.  I find the women’s outfits most unflattering. But what is beauty and  who defines it?



In Cusco, never say maybe later to someone selling you something in the street, somehow they will always find you later. ( Cusco view)


Pisco ( pure grape brandy) is the national drink of Peru. There are Pisco Sours , Piscopolitans and Piscotinis.

Walking a short distance, from where the bus drops you in Ollytambo, to the train to Cuzco ( due to construction and flooding) is still shorter than changing gates at any major airport.

The potato, tomato, lima bean and avocado come from Peru. (Get it – lima-Lima?)

The Peruvian national Anthem ”El Condor Pasa” sounds a lot like Paul Simon’s “Id Rather Be A Hammer Than a Nail. “  At first I thought, these Peruvians must  love Paul Simon. Hopefully, he gave them some money. Guess what song he is playing?


Peru is the world’s second-largest producer of cocaine. (yes, Columbia has retained its number one status)

Peruvian corn has the biggest kernels in the world.


Llamas have the right of way at Machu Picchu, should you be on a narrow road and meet one.  From far away, it is hard to tell the difference between an alpaca, a vicuna and a llama.  It is easier to tell by the feel of the sweaters.



The Peruvian root Magra is what they make Viagra from.

Like their grandmothers, the Quechua women of Chinchero weave textiles. They have formed the Chinchero Textile Center. Dressed in their native clothes, they spin, thread, weave and dye with natural dyes.  They are prepared using wild plants, to color the wool. The red is from cochineal and the green  is chilca or ragwort, with drops of lemon for a more intense color.


The Cuzco School Of Art is a series of religious paintings.  The Spaniards taught the Inca artists how to paint their icons in the style of Flemish and Gothic masters.   There are no names on the paintings and though the subject  is Christianity, the Indians have managed to put in many hidden symbols from their own culture. They moved from the traditional style and added their own interpretation.  The best pieces are in the Cuzco  Cathedral.


The magic of the Andes is that every time you turn around, the colors are different. (yes its the picture at the top of my page)

677099003311 wp 13-21-30

If you want to learn about the  Incas, it is another blog.

Things i have Learned from the Incas In Peru

Viajen con cuidado,