We recently did an amazing trip of the Northeast and I don’t want to miss writing about it or at least posting some pictures, because it was incredible. It’s the place that everyone talks about…There is Rio, Sao Paulo, the Amazon and the Northeast. I just thought, well some beaches and agua de cocos, but it is so much more than this! It is the most beautiful part of Brazil. Not only full of amazing beaches and agua de cocos, but full of hospitable people, incredible food, countless small villages all full of their own character and identity, adventure, surprises and sun! We started in Maceio, where we couchsurfed with our wonderful hosts for a few days. Alagoas is quite a small state so it can be done and seen by car in a couple days. We did the coast in two days and we could have spent 2 weeks! Just sitting and absorbing the true northeast culture… relax!
Top 5 things to do in Alagoas:
1. Maceio – a beautiful city with gorgeous city beaches and wonderful people
2. Eat fish! Its hard to have a bad plate or fish or pirão! (especially at Peixarão)
3. Eat a tapioca!
4. Rent a car and go see all the towns on the coast…spend time talking with the locals and eating where they recommend and doing what they do.
5. Skip the Maragogi reefs and opt for the reefs in Maceio, they are just as beautiful and so much cheaper! Less touristy too!
Today if I could I would be in Paris with G and P. I would be sitting on a bench near the river eating a baguette and brie watching the spring blossoms and the boats. I would be be walking through the tiny streets filled with shops and boutiques. I would stop for a café au lait. I would eat a croissant. I would be wearing a spring dress and little peep-toe heels. I would sip a good glass of french red wine. It would be a swell day.
So! I fulfilled one more thing on my bucket list… I went to Carnaval in Brazil. And it was brilliant. Really.
Initially, I wanted to go to Salvador where I hear the true Carnaval was to be found. However, after several times mentioning it I always received the same helpless stare from G. It was the look of “please don’t make me take you there” but “I will because I love you”. Bless the poor man’s heart. We decided on Recife instead. After deciding on Recife and booking our tickets I can’t tell you the amount of people that told us what a good decision we had made. Salvador is not for the weak at heart… its for the single at heart. I am not single. Nor do I wish to be. So off to Recife we went.
Recife’s Carnaval is also very famous throughout Brazil and as a Carnaval that has kept to its roots. It is very typical of the region and is still quite traditional. Oh and it didn’t disappoint! The party was non-stop…the parades… the food… the drinks… the concerts… the activities… the music… It was grand. And I didn’t sleep for 5 days. Not so grand. Oh well.
We visited Olinda as well, which is a town near to Recife, that has its own Carnaval and also very traditional. We also escaped the madness for a day and headed to Porto de Galinhas…which let me tell you is not a chicken port, but in fact it may just be heaven on earth.
In reality it is called Porto de Galinhas or chicken port because of the slave trade which secretly continued there even after it was abolished. When people heard that the chickens from Angola had arrived, the masters in Recife knew to expect another round of slaves. Despite its past, it really is incredible. Surrounded by reefs, blue warm water, good food, great company (friends from SP) and cheap…it must be one of my highlights (and seeing Vanessa da Mata!).
The pictures say it better than I ever could, unfortunately we didn’t want to risk the nice cameras getting stolen so G and I just took our mini Canons, which do the job quite well.
So I got a lot of crap from my students when I got back to Brazil. They all said that I wrote a one way blog entry and that even though I missed things from home there has got to be things I missed about Brazil. Well… in the end… they were right. So here we go, without further ado… The top ten things I took/take for granted in Brazil:
1. Vegetables and Fruits tasting…well…like…vegetables and fruits.
*For some reason they just taste much better down here. Don’t ask me why guys… I just eat it.
*No. It is not the same as #1 because juices in Brazil deserve their own category. Watermelon, Mango, Papaya, Caju, Grape… you name it, they’ve got it. The succulent, refreshing, all natural juices in this country have become my daily liquid intake. And I love every second of it.
*If you don’t know that I like beaches, you don’t know me. And if you don’t know that Arizona doesn’t have beaches, well then you wouldn’t understand why I missed them so much.
*God’s gift to Brazilians. A market full of everything you should eat in life. Every. Single. Day.
5. Not always doing things the right way.
*Ok, so its not like I’m a big fan of let’s disobey laws. But in Brazil its just so easy to just twist the law a little… don’t get me wrong guys, I’m a law-abiding citizen… well.. as much as any other Brazilian, right? It says don’t park… but… oh… maybe just for a little bit is ok… right?
6. Brazilian Food… Rodizios…Pastel…Sushi…Pão de Queijo…
*Its just so good. Period.
7. Football Fervor
*The excitement and passion that Brazilians have for their teams is a true devotion. Some times too much…but still.
*Don’t get me wrong again… anywhere you go, you have challenges. But living in a country that is not your own is a completely different second-by-second challenge that teaches you all about yourself and makes you feel totally uncomfortable, but in a good way. It makes you do things you never thought you would do. It’s probably the best thing about living abroad.
10. G and P. And my Brazilian family.
*People always make a place what it is.
Well the Camino was everything we expected and so much more. G and I did the Via de la Plata which is the Camino de Santiago, but starting from Sevilla and going north. We didn’t have that much time to do it so we started in Orense. I’m just posting some picture in this post and will write about the actual Camino very soon! Enjoy…be jealous.
Spring in Sevilla has an overwhelming amount of celebrations….fiestas…happiness…culture…love…and allergies. And I just can’t get enough of it. Here is a review of what I’ve been up to.
Cruz de Mayo– This is a fiesta that takes place all around Spain and other South American countries. It is a day to celebrate the day Catholics believe the true cross (where Jesus died) was found by Saint Helena in Jerusalem. Really, in Andalucía everyone eats a lot, drinks just as much and dances flamenco around a cross that is beautifully decorated with flowers. Needless to say, G and I drank, ate, and danced flamenco around a cross (well maybe not the last one, but just imagine).
Carmona- This quaint little village lies about 50 kilometers outside of Sevilla. We decided to take a short day trip to the village to see the Roman ruins that have been discovered in the town some years ago. It is also a nice excuse to leave Sevilla for a few hours.
Bull Fight- I didn’t really watch it, I was there more for support so G didn’t have to go alone. Even not watching it I think I was scarred for life. It is a tradition I just can’t seem to accept. Enough said.
Andalucían Flamenco Ballet- Phenomenal. Spectacular. Unforgettable. The only sad thing is I don’t have any pictures because we weren’t allowed to take them during the performance. The performance was called Poema Del Cante Jondo and you can view it by pressing on the link (view it!!!!!).
Virgen de Rocio- Is a pilgrimage that is made every year at the end of May or beginning of July. It is celebrated because of a hunter who, back in the 13th century, discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary in a tree trunk. A chapel was built there and the pilgrimage to this place began. Now the hermandades (brotherhoods) all over Andalucía do this camino (walk) at Pentecost. The journey takes about 4 days and that includes about 4 days of partying. The Spanish way… of course. Dressed in their flamenco attire and dancing the whole way to Almonte, the pilgrims are accompanied by their oxen pulling elaborate carriages, which carry all their gear (food, sleeping equipment, and drinks) for their trip to Almonte. We didn’t take part, but enjoyed watching the hermandades leave Sevilla on their journey.
Sevilla FC wins the Copa del Rey- Sevilla Football club wins the Spanish Cup! We got to see the team parade it’s way down Constitucion (the main avenue in Sevilla). It was fantastic and almost like being at the game itself. I’m proud to be a wannabe-Sevillana.
Zahara de los Atunes- G and I were able to enjoy an awesome day at the beach with our good friends Sarah and Jordan. We rented a car in the morning and headed down south to the beaches between Tarifa and Cadiz. It was fantastic, shades of blue that I had never seen in the water and the glorious, hot sun. The day was incredible, the company was incomparable, and the beach was always a delight. My ideal Saturday.
I have a little more than a week left in Sevilla and you better believe that I’m making the most of it… Sevilla has my heart…and I’m not letting go so easily.
I met up with two of my dear friends from when I lived in Zurich and it was more than grand. Milan was the chosen city because we had an apartment to stay at and thanks to Ryanair we were all able to find cheap flights. I also saw another dear Italian friend who lives there permanently.
I loved meeting up with them and spending quality girl time…gossiping…drinking…shopping…eating…and laughing so hard we cried. I only wish we saw each other more often, but in the end a friend is a friend and the 7 years apart quickly disappeared and it felt like yesterday when we graduated high school all together…so scared and so excited about the world awaiting us.
Until next time girls…I shall love you and miss you.
I miss you, my city. It’s been too long. I know this because I had a dream about you…you were the same…but more people had discovered you. I miss walking your avenidas and drinking cortados. I miss shopping your boutiques and eating your medialunas. I miss spending hours in your parks in spring and smelling asados in summer. I haven’t forgotten about you though… I’ll be back soon.
I finally experienced the oh so famous Feria de Abril in Sevilla, and it was spectacular…to say the least. The pictures say it all and there is really no need for me to ramble on about it. I will however give you a mini ramble about what this actually is.
Have you ever seen those Spanish women in pictures and they are all dressed up in flamenco dresses (trajes)? polka dots? stripes? paisley? Then on top of their colorful and figure-hugging dresses they decorate themselves with colorful accessories… earrings, broaches, shawls, flowers, hair clips, bracelets… you name it… they got it. If you have seen pictures of these women and children, probably they were on their way to the Feria de Abril in Sevilla!
The fair or feria is just another excuse for Sevillanos to drink, eat, dance, and party. And who could argue? Starting in 1847 the fair started to gain popularity and created this idea of casetas or small houses. These houses are owned by the elite Sevillanos whose families carry on the tradition of owning and keeping these casetas for all family and friends to come and strut their stuff at the feria. Each caseta is a little bit different, but all of them include a dance floor, a mini-restaurant, and seating. Now in Sevilla many of the big companies have casetas too, which has added to the amount of casetas that totaled more than this year! Many Sevillanos ride in on horseback or horse-drawn carriages and there are also daily bull fights…its all tradition of course.
G and I were so fortunate to have some Sevillanos take us around to their casetas and we enjoyed drinking rebujito (manzanilla wine with sprite), eating to our heart’s content, and showing a few moves on the dance floor… which was cut short seeing as the rebujito was WAY too easy to drink.
You can also see more photos on my picasa page…as always. Don’t miss your chance to go to the Feria de Abril it doesn’t disappoint.
Happy to be able to breath again (figure-hugging dresses or figure-life-sucking dresses),
G and I took a quick trip to Marrakech this past weekend after finding a good deal with Ryanair. It was one of those places that I would have been really disappointed if I didn’t go while living in Sevilla. It was refreshing being back in North Africa and back in with the Arabic culture. It brought back all the good memories from this past summer and Morocco, like the Middle East, didn’t let us down. It was a photographer’s paradise and I only wish I had had a great camera to take all the photos I wanted. Every corner showed us something new, from snake charmers to spice stands to the best street food to souqs, mosques, and the devout saying their prayers. It was sensational. We CSed with a Moroccan and he was more than delightful, warning us about the prices we should pay and recommending the restaurants we should try. In the end, the best way to explore Marrakesh is just to walk… and walk. After our first two days in Marrakesh we decided on our last day to go to the Atlas Mountains for some fresh air. We headed to a town called Setti Fatma. Setti Fatma is situated at about 1500 meters and has some pretty sah-weet waterfalls to hike to. We hiked up and spent the day inhaling some clean non-dusty air, which doesn’t exist in Marrakech.
Monday morning we headed to the airport to catch our plane back to Sevilla, only to find out that our flight had been cancelled. Muy mal. The adventure began (or nightmare, you tell me). Who knew volcanoes still erupted anyways?! So, the main problem was that there were only flights Monday and Friday back to Sevilla, so we had no option but to travel through pretty much the whole of Morocco (Marrakech is in the south) and try to get to Sevilla. We found a group of Americans who had agreed to rent a big van with a driver and travel up to Tangier (the ferry crossing to Spain). The taxi driver said 6-7 hours to Tangier. He forgot to say 6-7-8-9-10 hours. Yes, my friends, it took 10 hours. Including a pit stop to his “cousin’s” restaurant in Rabat, which I refused to eat at and told him instead that we had no money and we had to go to McDonald’s because they accepted credit cards. Maybe he was unhappy, but there was definitely no heads-up about paying 10 EUROS for a tajine. No way. So, McDonald’s saved our lives yet again. Anyways, quick tour of Rabat we were on our way again and hoping we would make it to Tangier for the 10pm ferry. We arrived at 9:45pm (we left at 11.40am). Got our tickets and the ticket man informed us that we would have enough time to make the ferry. We ran. And ran. And ran. Seven Americans and one Brazilian running in the port of Tangier. Screaming, “Algeciras? Algeciras?” We ran through customs down to the port and saw our ferry tug away into the dark sea. Muy mal. We asked the man at the port for the next ferry he said that there was another one in 15 minutes. We waited. 45 minutes we saw a ferry pull up. Load up. Close up and start to heat up the engine. There we were again, seven Americans and one Brazilian, screaming at the port men, “Stop that BOATTTTT!!!!” They realized they forgot about us. We didn’t let them. They stopped the boat, opened it again and we got on. We arrived in Algeciras at 1:30 am with no place to run, hide, or go. We stayed on the streets until 6:30 am, when our bus to Sevilla left. 26 hours since we left our CSer’s house in Marrakech we were home sweet home. And how sweet it was.
Dear Mother Nature,
The next time you decide to erupt, please keep the ash at a level more convenient for everyone.
p.s.- Top Ten Marrakech 1. Jemaael–Fna Square by day 2. Jemaael–Fna Square by night
3. Fresh orange juice from the stands 4. Jemaael–Fna Square for dinner (eat at the food stands! If I didn’t get sick, neither will you!)
5. Palais Bahia 6. Talk with the locals in the Souq (you’ll get the price you want!)
7. Day trip to the mountains
8. Get lost 9. Eat rghaif (Moroccan pancake with butter and honey)
10. Visit the parks…
11. (not really a thing to do, but just wanted to say that maybe going to the desert should be in the top 10, but I had been there done that, so didn’t want to spend money on it again!).