Thursday, 31 January 2013

Battle of the beaches and the bulge

We arrived in Rio de Janeiro this morning. Ahead of a trip to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain by cable cars and then a Portuguese BBQ scheduled for later in the day Hn and I had a quick wander around the precinct of our hotel.

The hotel fronts right on to Copacabana Beach and is also just two blocks to Ipanema Beach.

Here are a couple of images.

Copacabana Beach viewed from in front of our hotel
Ipanema Beach

One thing quickly obvious is that for lovers of budgie smugglers - or rather...lovers of viewing budgie smuggler wearers - this is a little piece of heaven. I have rarely seen such a display of...ahem...over-ample bulges. I scarcely knew where to look. I also felt somewhat faint, although the heat and humidity might have contributed to that.

A room with a view

This morning we are flying to Rio de Janeiro and by this afternoon we will be at Copacabana Beach. To keep you entertained in the meantime here are some images of the hotel we spent the past nights at in Iguassu Brazil.

Hotel das Cataratas

Lobby and Reception
The Pool
The Pool, again
A few bathers in 36ºc heat
The Hotel Restaurant which is adjacent to the pool
The outdoor section of the restaurant which is by the pool; naturally!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Iguassu Falls, Brazil

So, the next morning. Our hotel is the only one inside the National Park on the Brazil side so we are able to view the falls early before the thousands of daily visitors arrive after the National Park opens at 8.30am.

Here are some images.

The approach from in front of our hotel
That is Argentina, viewed from Brazil. Note the rainbow

Yes, we are headed for that walkway below

The rainbow connection, from here... here
We are in Brazil, the water is in Argentina

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

The Iguazu (Argentine Spanish spelling) Falls are a spectacular collection of waterfalls bordered by three South American countries; Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. We visited Iguazu (Argentina) on the afternoon of 29 January after a 1 hour 45 minute flight from Buenos Aires. Later that afternoon we drove across the nearby border into Brazil.

The next morning we visited the Iguassu (Brazilian Portuguese spelling) Falls to view what he had seen in Argentina from the opposite perspective.

Sounds repetitive? It was spectacular. I do not possess the words to describe the experience but I suggest you visit, at least once in your lifetime.

This post has images from the Argentine side. The next post (the next morning) will be from Brazil.

Here are the Argentine images.

Initial travel by train to protect the National Park
Then walk along bridges to key scenic spots
First indication of Devil's Fall
Tremendous power
Widespread spray, prepare to be drenched
Further collection of falls
Another perspective, another section
These photos don't do justice to the sights in real life but the view from across the border the next morning is really something even in my images. They will be posted later today but first I need a break and a drink by the hotel pool. I'll be back.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The dance of passion...

...according to our tour guide as we drove to Rojo Tango in Buenos Aires for dinner and a performance of Tango dance and music.

Yes, there was passion aplenty and also dark, moody and dangerous stories acted out in dance. The skill was undeniable. Here are some images from the night. Photography was not easy in the low light, smokey surrounds, peering between other diners and with flash not permitted for obvious reasons.

I think these give you a flavour of the night, nonetheless. As usual, click on photos to enlarge.

Monday, 28 January 2013

I want to be a part of B.A.--Buenos Aires--Big Apple!*

(*'Evita', Lyrics by Time Rice, Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber)

We've been on a city tour of Buenos Aires in 37ºc heat for most of the day. Eva Duarte Peron has featured prominently.

Some images. (Click on photos to enlarge)

Casa Rosada (Pink House) where the Perons and others addressed their people

General Belgrano who gave Argentina its flag and whose name is also famous for events in 1982

Our stop for morning tea and a taste of local cafe culture
A section of the cafe interior

La Boca, famous for Maradona and poverty, cashing in on tourism; note Tango pose for a price
More from La Boca, Tango dancers entice tourists in the street, this pair was enjoying an intimate tete a tete

The Mausoleum of Eva Peron's family

Can you guess who is interred in the family vault?

A tour guide at the cemetery, not ours though

Tonight we visit 'Rojo Tango' for dinner and the show. Hopefully pictures will follow.

Girls love a Gaucho

They are not the only ones!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Six amigos

Don't cry for me...

...I'm in Argentina.

The main activity today has been a visit to Estancia Santa Susana about 45 minutes outside Buenos Aires. The Estancia covers an area of 1200 hectares and whilst it is mostly dedicated to agriculture for the past ten years it has also operated as a tourist attraction.

Whilst this activity is obviously commercial the visit turned out to be hugely entertaining. On arrival guests were served drinks and empanadas by Gauchos (South American cowboys). There was a museum to visit, the obligatory gift shop and horse rides (in reality horse walks). All the while in the background a massive barbecue was underway.

About two hundred guests (including the twenty members of our tour group) sat down to lunch in the massive dining room. The menu was three salads (potato, carrot and capsicum) and bread rolls, followed by chorizo sausage, then blood sausage, then a barbecued beef steak followed by barbecued chicken pieces and finally a pastry dessert and coffee. A lot to eat. I stopped short before dessert.

The gauchos not only welcomed guests and assisted with the horse 'rides' they also served lunch, drinks, danced with guests during the folkloric show that followed the lunch and finally entertained us with a display of horsemanship and horse based games of skill during which they also singled out ladies from the guests for brief canters (and quicker) around the dusty field. That final display of skill was particularly spectacular.

Some images from our day;

Arriving guests

Horse 'rides'

My favourite Gaucho, who proved particularly skilful in the games

The barbecue in preparation

Another favoured Gaucho

Games of skill

(Click on photos to enlarge)