Friday Flashback to São Paulo, Brazil

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit São Paulo, Brazil. One of the cool things to do is check out Beco de Batman also know as Batman Alley.  If you love the graffiti in Melbourne, you will be blown away when you get to Beco de Batman.

Apparently, well know street artists from all over the world have come here to make their mark.  The first piece of art, which was a drawing of superhero Batman, was placed here in the 80s and since then the walls have been covered by vibrant paintings that draws crowds from all over the world.

We took an Uber for only a few dollars from where we were staying.

Have you been to Brazil?  What cool places did you experience?

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Walking through Batman Alley in São Paulo, Brazil.

 

Tango in Argentina

As a visitor in Argentina you will at some point see tons of flyers with info on tango shows for as high as $100 USD per ticket. This offer usually includes a shuttle bus from your hotel with a dinner included.  It can make for a fancy night with your date (if you have one).

If you’re more into the local scene, then you will be more likely to want to see the hardcore dancers after midnight in dance clubs and tango bars.  While this is the more affordable option, it also means staying up all night and the possibility of being reeled in to dance.  People eat dinner late and get their party on well after 11 pm. We opted for affordable show, which was held at Centro Cultural Borges.  Be sure to check for show times because it does not happen every day.

In Buenos Aires, like all major cities, you will stumble upon free activities in public areas.  While wandering the streets we stumbled upon a bit of a tango show and the professionals stopped for us to take perfect photos of their perfect poses.

 

How to Stay Safe on Your Adventures

I have visited over 10 countries in the past 2 years and I have to say that safety is something to consider no matter where you go and whether you travel alone or in a group.  Here are a few tips to help you stay safe on your next adventure.

  1. Research the city you are staying in and choose your accommodations accordingly.
  2. Read the reviews on Tripadvisor and other forums to see what people have said about the area. I sometimes even look at wikipedia to get an idea about the neighborhood.
  3. If you are traveling abroad, have a photocopy of your passport with you and leave your passport in your hotel room’s safe. Most hotels also take a copy of your ID and keep it for their records, so that’s helpful too.
  4. Ask the hotel staff about walking in the area at night.
  5. Don’t travel with all of your cash on you. Place some cash on your person, in your handbag and in your hotel room’s safe.  If you lose cash, you will still have enough to get you through the remainder of your trip.
  6. Travel with a credit card.  In some countries, like Uruguay, you actually save 22% when you dine at restaurants.  A credit card also helps track your steps, it has insurance if you lose it, and it minimizes the amount of cash to carry.
  7. If you are traveling with a mini knapsack, wear it facing your front and not on your back.
  8. If you take your jacket off, make sure there is no money in the pocket of your jacket.
  9. When using a bank machine, be aware of your surroundings. Expert thieves are waiting to watch your every move, so that when you get distracted you become a perfect target to rob.
  10. Be careful about asking people to take photos of you. The moment you give your camera or phone to a stranger, they could easily run off with it. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
  11. If you are traveling alone, it is a good idea to let someone know where you are going and when you return.
  12. Use Uber wherever possible.  Not only is the driver trackable, but if he/she doesn’t speak English you can still be sure that you are getting to your destination. You also can’t get ripped off.

Comment with your useful tips to safe when you travel.

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I like to wear the purse across my body.  Many times I move it to my front, but for this photo I moved it to the side. My husband took the photo.

What to Eat in Montevideo, Uruguay

South America is known for its delicious foods including steak, empanadas, dulche de leche, ceviches, and yerba mate.   On this trip we indulged in so much, except for yerba mate; a tea that’s a staple in the South American diet. We saw people walking in the streets sipping on yerba mate everywhere we went, but we did not see it available on any of the restaurant or cafe menus.  That’s all right though, we brought some home with us.

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This is a chivito sandwich, the national dish of Uruguay made with a piece of chicken, fried egg, tomato, mozzarella cheese and usually a piece of bacon. Excuse the red film; this happened because I took the photo without the flash while sitting under red umbrellas on the patio.

If you love steak, you’ll be in love with asado in Uruguay.  Asado is all about the fire, the grill and the meat.  Some people call it bbq, but many South Americans prefer not to hear you reference it this way.  We had a good portion at Puerto Madero, the steakhouse near the World Trade Center.  The steak was juicy and served with fries as a side.  The spring weather was nice this day, yet the patio was empty. For most people this would be a bad sign for the restaurant, but we like to give business to the small companies that don’t have a ton of advertising.  The owner was so kind to take his time to show us the menu, we couldn’t help but take a seat at his restaurant and we were so pleased that we did.

After this awesome meal we took a walk in the area (Pocitos) and stumbled upon the charming cafe, The Lab.  The coffee and treats were perfect and probably the best dessert I had in this country.

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When you visit Punte Del Este, choose piazzarella.  This restaurant gets their dough flown in from Italy.  The pizza was like no other and my husband who normally gets heartburn (acid reflux) from pizza didn’t have it at all. It must be something about the sauce.
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We arrived at this restaurant by fluke and absolutely enjoyed it.

Inmigrantes is a local gastropub that opened up about 3 months ago.  I think we were the only tourists in the place as the location is tucked away in a neighborhood with not much else around.  When we arrived the place was packed, the DJ was spinning the beats and every seat in the place was filled. The kitchen was busy and the wait staff were running tables with a little stress and class at the same time.  Our food took a while, but it was worth the wait and the hospitality made up for every minute we thought they had forgotten about us.  At the time of writing this article, the restaurant accepts cash and debit only.

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A fritatta style dish with potatoes, egg, and cheese. Uber delicious!
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Empanadas made with pulled beef

Our final meal was in Montevideo at La Otra for asado.  We were thrilled to learn that Anthony Bourdain’s team ate at this restaurant and it will be featured on Parts Unknown in 2018.  So you’re getting our review about this quaint spot first!  We arrived for lunch closer to 4pm, which I would not recommend you going at that hour because the staff seemed exhausted by a hectic afternoon lunch rush. By the time our food arrived we were so hungry, we dived in before taking pictures of the ribs. I give the food 5 out 5 stars.

A few tips for you when dining in Uruguay.

  1. Tip anywhere from 10% and above.
  2. Ask the restaurant before you sit down if they accept credit cards. There are two taxes totaling 22%, but if you are a foreigner using Visa or Mastercard there is no tax for you.
  3. Some restaurants have a sitting fee for each person on top of your bill.  It is written on the menu and on your bill as Cubiertos, which means cutlery in English.IMG_9056

Why You Should Add Uruguay to Your South American Travel

Uruguay is a little laid back country with a ton of charm.  I liked this country more than I expected I would.  Before the trip was complete I was already thinking this is a country I would love to come back to.  I traveled with my husband and my sister and we flew from Miami to Montevideo.  Since my husband uses TMobile (which includes South America in the plan) it was easy to get an Uber from the airport right into the city center for about $30USD.  We stayed at My Suites in the upscale neigborhood called Pocitos and from there it was easy to walk around and catch an Uber for about $5USD for anywhere local that we wanted to visit.  There are so many things that I can say about Uruguay, but for this post let me give you the key reasons why I think you should add this country to your list of places to visit.

  1. Uruguay is one of the safest countries to visit in South America.  We walked around in the day and at night and always felt comfortable as we toured around the city streets.  Of course we were in a group of three, which may have helped, but from what I noticed as long as you exercise caution you likely have nothing to worry about even if you are traveling alone.  This country has a good economy and most people live a very good life, in fact the World Bank labeled this place as a high income country.
  2. Uruguay has a blend of cultures.  The influence of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian is upon this nation and there is also an African presence.  If you are around on Saturday afternoon, you can catch a group of people drumming in front of the City Hall. We missed this as we were in Punte Del Este.
  3. The beaches and gorgeous coastline.  If you have time take a trip out to Punte Del Este and other cities outside of Montevideo to see how beautiful the coastline really is.  There are too many beaches to choose from in Uruguay and surprisingly good surf in Punte Del Este. I don’t know anything about surfing, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been that surprised anyway.  To get there, take a bus from Tres Cruces terminal. The cost is $18USD each way and I recommend that you buy your tickets a day in advance to ensure that you get a seat.  The bus allows people to stand, but you don’t want to be standing for 2 hours.
  4. Great food.  There is a vast selection of restaurants to choose from for asado, pizza, chivito, cafes and even nice fast food joints.  I will do a food post soon about all the food we experienced, including the restaurant La Otra. We later found out Anthony Bourdain visited two weeks ago for his show Parts Unknown set to air in 2018.
  5. Kind people.  Spanish is the main language spoken, however you will be able to get around even if you don’t know any Spanish.  Some people speak English and will do as much as they can to welcome you to their country.  We met one woman in the market who spent about 10 minutes telling us about Uruguay and that racism does not exist there.  She went on to say that Uruguayans have an African population and they want to see more Africans because there are few.  She spoke about the history and the culture and she was so proud to share her experience with us.  I always like to talk to locals to get a feel for how they live.
  6. This place is laid back.  There seems to be no stress here.
  7. The architecture.  Visit the Old City, also known as Cuidad Veija, to take in the beautiful old structures.  Make sure to go up to the 22nd floor of the Montevideo City Hall where you can take in a view of the city for free.
  8. The largest outdoor market. If you love to find unique bargains in markets, then you will want to spend an entire Sunday at the Tristan Narvaja.  Here you will find antiques, food, clothing, and art. This is the most popular market in the entire country.

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Buenos Aires: A cemetary that brings joy to tourists and locals

Last year, my husband and I toured through Buenos Aires, Argentina.  As usual we looked at a list of things to do and must see sites and agreed that we must go to the Recoleta Cemetary.  The cemetary was site is right next to a high end shopping mall in quite a favourable neighbourhood.  As we approached the cemetary our eyes widened as we were in awe of the elaborate tombstones and memorial sites of loved ones who passed on.  The Whos who of Argentines were laid to rest here as far back as 1716.

You probably will not see another cemetary like this anywhere else. This is a site to see.

 

I love using Uber Abroad

Uber proved to be a reliable and affordable quick option to get around in Buenos Aires and in Athens. For travelers heading to Athens, let me give you the heads up that you will be asked to fill in a document, upon entering the driver’s vehicle.  It is for the driver’s safety.  You will need to provide your name, the time you entered the car, and your passport number.  At first, my husband and I were a little reluctant to provide the passport number and the driver noticed. Fortunately, his English was very good and he let us know that it is an agreement that all the drivers must have by law for the driver’s safety. That was understandable, plus we knew that Uber has done the check on all of its contractors and figured if this guy was planning anything sneeky, we could track him down in the future. So we let it be and provided the necessary information.

As we continue to travel, we will rely on Uber, unless the city we visit is completely walk-able and metro friendly. Santiago, Chile was like that for us.  Santiago has a great metro system and we actually walked around a lot. We used a cab twice and then figured out after we were already leaving that we could have tested out Uber. Has anyone used Uber in Santiago?

 

Liberdade Eats in Sao Paolo, Brazil

We love mingling with locals and eating really awesome food. Sao Paolo has the second largest Japanese population in the world and on Sunday in their local community, they have quite the outdoor event of food, art, and everything in between for sale from morning until late afternoon.  We walked through the open market and down a couple of streets to take in the vibe and then we chose which food we wanted to eat.  After wolfing down a plate of noodles and stir friend veggies, we got in the line for churros.  Tasty little things I tell you.

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