BRAZIL - THE BASICS

Brazil

Countries are a bit like people in that they are all special, only some are more special than others. Brazil is one of those countries that is just extra special. There are plenty of countries you could describe as a melting pot but Brazil has got to be high on the list as far as diversity goes. Starting with the many different indigenous peoples and continuing throughout history to be influenced by colonisation, slavery and immigration. Brazilians are descendants of Indigenous peoples, Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch Colonisers, African Slaves and immigrants from Italy, Germany, France, Syria, Lebanon, Japan and many other places. Depending on what part of the country you visit, these influences are more or less apparent in the culture and cuisine, with the north having a higher African population while the south has a larger European population. It has been joked that a Brazilian passport is the best fake document to obtain since any person could pass as being Brazilian. Portuguese colonisation of what is now Brazil started in the 1500's so it has been over 500 years in the making of what is a unique and distinctly Brazilian culture. 

Brazil is a country that has something for everyone and it never ceases to amaze me how many people come to South America but skip it in favour of the west side of the continent (also amazing). But I do understand that it is so enormous people almost don't know where to start, and most who do just visit the same gringo trail of Rio, São Paulo, Búzios, Ilha Grande and maybe Floripa or the Iguaçu Falls (all amazing of course). To see a decent amount of what Brazil has to offer I would recommend no less than a month.  If you can only visit for a few weeks then you'll just have to pick a few highlights. In my opinion the two cities not to be missed are Rio and Salvador, and both cities have great beach towns near by for a few days on the beach. If time is limited I would spend all of it on the coast.

I have spent about 8 months in Brazil over two trips and can speak the language so I have managed to see a lot of the country from north to south and learn a lot about the culture. This post is my attempt to pen as much wisdom as I can for anyone heading to Brazil. Rather than being a guide to a particular city or place I'm just going to share my tips and tid-bits of info that might be handy to know. 

Why visit Brazil?

There are a thousand good reasons to visit Brazil, it's a must see country. But if you like any of the following then you will find something to love about Brazil:

Diving and snorkelling (Try Maracajaú, Fernando de Noronha, Buzios, Bonito, Ilha Grande or Porto Galinhas)

Amazing beaches (All the way from Florianópolis to Jericoacoara and beyond you will find amazing beaches!)

Spotting wildlife including: dolphins, turtles, capuchins, marmosets, coatis, toucans, macaws and SO MUCH MORE! (Try a little town on the north east coast called Pipa, the island of Fernando de Noronha, the Iguaçu falls, the wetlands of Matto Grosso do Sul and of course the Amazon river which you can access from the city of Manaús.)

Drinking cold beer in the sun (everywhere)

Visiting world class art galleries (São Paulo, Belo Horizonte or Curitiba)

Eating great seafood/barbecue/street food/sushi/tropical fruit (Anywhere really but BBQ rules in the South, Sushi is great in Rio and São Paulo and the best seafood and tropical fruits can be found in the north east)

Dancing and live music (anywhere in Brazil. No doubt you've heard of Samba but you should also check out Forró, Pagode and Axé - that last one is hilariously cheesy and most likely to be found in Bahia)

Hiking, surfing, paragliding, fishing, sand dune boarding (Check out Florianópolis, Natal, Canoa Quebrada, Cabo Frio and so many other coastal towns)

High end shopping (if you are loaded, all foreign goods are taxed to hell and back in Brazil) (Rio and São Paulo have amazing fashion scenes and São Paulo Fashion Week would be an amazing experience) 

Budget shopping and markets with everything. EVERYTHING! (Rio, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte all have excellent markets) 

Parties that go all night (anywhere in Brazil)

Amazing natural scenery (all over the country but check out Iguaçu, Bonito, Pipa, Fernando de Noronha, Búzios)

Lying in a hammock (anywhere but beach towns are best!)

Interesting Architecture (Rio, São Paulo, Brasilia, Olinda, Manaús, Paraty...)

Don't leave without eating...

Churrasco - Pronounced 'shoe-has-ko', churrasco means barbecue. A Churrascaria therefore, is a barbecue restaurant and a must do experience in Brazil. Research online for a good one near you. They work like this; there's usually a set price for all you can eat (between $40-100 Brazilian Reais depending on the place). There'll be a buffet for your side dishes and then the waiter will bring the meat to your table on large skewers that come off the grill. They start with the cheap stuff and fill you up on sausages (linguinça) and chicken (frango) and cheaper cuts of beef, which they slice off for you depending on how well you like it cooked. Picanha (pi-canya) is the favourite cut in Brazil and supposedly the most tender and tends to come later on. Be bold and try the coraçãozinho (cora-saow-zeenyu) aka chicken hearts. Not for everyone but also not the craziest thing you could try travelling. The funniest thing about a churrascaria is that they give you a traffic light so you can indicate to your waiter green for 'keep it coming' or red for 'i'm taking a break or am done'. If you you decide you can squeeze more in just flip it back to green.

Pão de queijo - Cheese bread, but more special than it sounds. They are little balls and the cheese is mixed into the dough giving the bread a special texture. Sooo good fresh with butter.

Pastel - The pastel is to Brazil what the pie is to NZ and Australia. It's a deep fried street food savoury made with a fried-wonton-like pastry filled with meat(carne) and cheese (queijo), or chicken(frango) or sometimes shrimp(camarão) and cheese. 

Coxinha - my fave street snack! Coxinha de frango (co-sheen-ya-gee-frahngo) is a tear shaped deep fried delight. It has shredded chicken in the middle which is surrounded by a special dough and deep fried to golden crispy goodness. Soo good with a bit of tabasco!

Feijoada - a national dish you must try, feijoada is a bean stew (best with black beans) made with various cuts of pork meat and sometimes sausage. It is served with white rice and together they are a staple of the Brazilian diet. You can also just get feijao com arroz (beans with rice) and that won't have all the meat (I'm not promising that it will be totally vegetarian though so check!) 

Moqueca - the other national dish, hailing from the African influenced north east, moqueca is a stew made either 'de peixe' (gee peh-shee) with fish or 'de camarão' (gee ca-maraumn) with prawns, cooked in tomato, coconut milk, onions, lime juice and the magic ingredient dendê oil- a pungent oil and common ingredient in north eastern cooking. Moqueca is served with rice and toasted cassava root(farofa).

Brigadeiro - a yummy little sweet made of condensed milk, a little butter and a little cocoa (or sometimes not). It's a bit softer and gooier than fudge but firm enough to roll into balls. Condensed milk is a big thing in Brazilian desserts.

Don't leave without drinking...

Cachaça - the national spirit made from sugar cane and as strong, if not stronger than tequila. You can have it in shot form, and like tequila there are higher shelf ones that are (sort of) sip-able. But cachaça is best consumed in a...

Caipirinha - the national drink. A cocktail of crush iced, muddled lime, heaps of sugar and a free pour of cachaça. You can't not try one, and why stop with one? They make them with pineapple, strawberry, passionfruit and various other tropical fruits too. The sugar alone will give you a hangover but YOLO.

Caipisake - my personal fave! There's a notable Japanese influence in Brazil and they married the glorious Japanese sake with a caipirinha to create a caipisake. It's the same thing just made with sake instead of cachaça and is best with strawberries. 

Guaraná - Brazil's very own soft drink. It's sickly sweet but definitely try it once!

Fresh fruit juices - Brazil has an abundance of tropical fruits to try and there are loads of places to get freshly squeezed juices.

Need to know

Generally don't drink the tap water but brushing your teeth should be fine. This does depend on what city you are in, some cities are ok but as a general rule I just wouldn't bother unless it has been boiled. 

Therefore tap water is not really a thing in restaurants. Still or sparkling?

Agua sem gás = Still Agua com gás = sparkling.

You are not obligated to tip in restaurants but it would sure be appreciated but the low-wage-earning and overworked wait staff. If you want the tip to go specifically to your wait person I would hand them the cash. 

Most bars, nightclubs and per kilo restaurants will give you a card upon arrival that works as your tab and you pay for everything you consume at the end. Do not lose this card in a bar or nightclub or you will be made to pay a set minimum amount (this will be stated on the card and is usually no less than R$100) before security will let you leave. A lot of bars and nightclubs have a funny little check in area at the front for this reason. 

What's a per kilo restaurant you say? Well! It's an ubiquitous dining option in Brazil that you really should try out. It can be a bit confusing, especially if you don't speak Portuguese. In short it's a buffet, but you pay based on weight. Again you'll receive a card upon arrival, you pile up your plate with what you want and then you get it weighed before you sit down, handing your card to the person weighing, and any one who takes a drink order from you, so they can add it to your tab. Sometimes there will be two price options. A per kilo option or a set price all you can eat option. The per kilo rate will be advertised.  Buffets, to me at least, have a bad connotation,  but they are actually usually pretty good in Brazil and are a great way for travellers to get in some salad/veges and try small amounts of loads of different new things. Be careful though, I racked up a few big tabs accidentally with the per kilo option, as I have eyes bigger than my stomach combined with a serious problem choosing when faced with too many options. Buffets are also part of a churrascaria experience but at a churrascaria you will have a fixed price for everything and won't need to weigh your plate. Each place is slightly different so check in advance if you are spend conscious, it's really easy to overspend (0r I'm just a pig. Or both).

Getting there and around

Getting there is easy. Both Rio and São Paulo have two airports and I've had domestic and international flights from all 4 so do make sure you double check which one you're meant to go to. In São Paulo you have Gaurulhos and Congonhas. In Rio you have Santos Dumont (try to fly there if you can, it's way closer to where you're likely to want to go) and also Rio Galeão- Tom Jobim International Airport.  There are four national carriers to get you around the gigantic land mass that is Brazil. Tam (recently joined with Chile's Lan to create LaTam), Azul, Gol and Avianca. I flew with all of them and didn't have any issues with any. I'm sure if you search reviews you'll find people complaining about one or another but in my experience they were all pretty decent. 

You can take intercity buses and again I had no issues at all with this- they were decent quality and comfortable and for Brazilian standards they were actually pretty punctual (touch wood). I don't recommend buses for long distances because with 4 airlines competing for customers why would you waste your time busing when you can get a reasonably priced flight? Rodoviario (ho-do-vi-ah-rio) is the word for bus station. One deterrent from busing was that it was often recommended to me to book bus tickets at least a day in advance, but doing that would mean hauling my ass all the way to the rodoviario and back for the ticket one or two days in advance. Ok - in small towns, annoying AF in Rio or São Paulo. 

Once I got stuck in Ubatuba and left my friend stranded in Rio waiting for me (a great place to get stuck - google it) because I just assumed there would be buses everyday when in fact there were only a few per week. Don't be silly like me. Check in advance. Out of big cities there'll be one everyday for sure, but not necessarily from small towns. 

If you are busing, try not to arrive at bus stations late at night, especially in bigger, more dangerous cities. They are known for being a bit dodgy and this is an unnecessary risk - definitely don't schedule to arrive after dark in a bus station as a solo female with no one there to greet you. 

Taxis in Brazil are moderately priced and an ok option. If you are taking a taxi from the airport you can negotiate a price in advance. Be a bit more wary just hailing one from the street. Make sure they are legit and have a meter running. Upon the recommendation from a Rio local friend, I used Uber in Rio and São Paulo for a third of the cost of taxis and found it to be much safer. Uber is not legal in the state of Bahia but as far as I know, or least when I was last there, it was legal in the states of Rio and São Paulo. Check for current status as this seems to change.  As with everywhere else, taxi drivers don't like Uber. 

Most of the big cities have a metro and of course buses. I always find buses harder to navigate and avoided them but they are a good and (sometimes only) option. I got around Rio and São Paulo on the subway which is a great option because traffic can be pretty bad. I also did a lot of walking and you'd be surprised how much ground you can cover on foot in Rio and São Paulo, as long as you aren't in too much of a hurry. Public transport is a great place to get pick pocketed! Wear your bag at the front and keep aware of your surroundings.

Safety

Brazil is a place you need to keep your wits about you at all times. Try not to wander around gawking like an obvious gringo. Walk with purpose and confidence, leave your jewellery at home and don't take all your financial options out at one time (i.e all your cash and cards). Keep cash on different parts of your person. Mugging is a legitimate concern. You shouldn't get scared or be put off going but you should be aware that it happens everyday (as much to locals as to foreigners) and do what you can to avoid putting yourself at risk. Opportunists make a living out of people letting their guard down. Don't be ostentatious. I had my iPhone stolen in Brazil because I was distracted by a police chase and people running and screaming. I wasn't paying attention for a brief moment and then poof - no more iPhone. This was in my first week and I had to go phone-less for the next 5 months because phones are too expensive to buy in Brazil. I mentioned earlier that foreign goods are taxed insanely high. iPhones cost about 3 times what they would in the States, Australia or New Zealand so there's a market for second hand ones making them a lucrative thing to steal. Be aware. The same goes for anything Apple, Nike etc (covetable big name brands). Brazil has a bad reputation for safety and it is a dangerous country, however as long as you use common sense you're very unlikely to have any serious trouble. If you do have the very bad luck of being mugged, keep calm and hand over whatever you have on you. Don't argue and don't be a hero. This is not meant to scare you off. I was never mugged and I have friends who have lived there their whole lives and have never been mugged, however they ALL know someone who has. You can have a great time. Danger is not lurking on every corner, you just need to be more alert and risk adverse than in some places.

Money

Be very careful and cautious where you withdraw cash from. If you can go inside a bank to withdraw cash that's the best option. If you have to use an ATM be VERY careful to hide your pin as you enter it. We had two cards copied in Búzios and thousands of reais stolen from our account. It doesn't matter if the ATM is inside either (corruption is a problem), always be extra cautious. Credit cards are widely accepted and there are plenty of ATMs, however If you are leaving cities to visit the smaller towns then I recommend withdrawing cash first in case the town doesn't have many ATMS or they are out of order. ATMs running out of cash is not uncommon in small towns. As mentioned before, keep various money options in different places and make sure you travel with several cards because if one does get hacked, stolen and consequently blocked you will need a back up. This is really common sense for any travel anywhere but I am stressing it as Brazil is literally the only country I've been to where these potential issues actually came to fruition. 

Language

To be honest, English is not as prevalent as you might think in Brazil. There are plenty of people who do speak some but if you don't speak Portuguese you will have some trouble communicating. If you think your remedial Spanish is going to help, I'm sorry to say, it won't. It might help you to read some things but it will not hep you to understand spoken Portuguese. They do not sound the same. There are accents in Brazil that even some Brazilians don't understand perfectly. Luckily Brazilians are a friendly bunch and they will try to help you as best they can and you should be able to find some English speakers in Rio and São Paulo and other big, more educated cities and in many tourist towns, but just don't take it for granted that everyone will. If you need to do something that requires you to speak to someone in the service industry I would google translate some key words first. While it is more than likely that your hotel receptionist might speak English (not always though), you definitely cannot expect that people in low paying service jobs have had the opportunity to learn English well. You should make the effort to learn some basics before you go. I'll get you started.

Oi = Hi

Por favor = Please

Obrigado (if you are male) Obrigada(if you are female)(oh-bree-gah-du/a) = thank you. 
Muito obrigad/a (moynto -brigah-du/a) = Thanks very much

Com licença ( Com-lee-sen-sa) = Excuse me (you can drop the com part and still make sense)

Bom dia (bon-gee-a) = Good morning

Tudo bem? (too-doo beng?) All good? (a colloquial way of asking how are you?) 

Respond with 

Tudo bom ( too-doo bong) =  All good (a statement)

These two are interchangeable - i.e you could ask tudo bom? and reply tudo bem. It's the intonation of the bom and bem that makes it a question or a statement.

Como vai ?(coh-mo vai vai rhymes with eye) = How's it going?

Estou bem (es-toe- beng) = I'm fine. 

Aonde é o banheiro? (a-on-gee-eh-oh-ban-yay-roh) = where is the bathroom(toilets)

Cade o banheiro? (ka-deh oh ban-yay-roh) = where is the bathroom (toilets)

Onde (on-gee) = where whereas cade (ka=deh) is a colloquial way to say 'where is'.

Sou(soh) Hannah = I'm Hannah. Like in English you can say my name is or I am, and like in English, 'I am' is more common in informal speech. 

But just for the record...

O meu nome é... (oh-mayo-nom-ee-eh = my name is...

Fica à vontade (fee-ka-von-tar-gee) = make yourself at home - you might hear this one if you are invited into someone's home but you'll also most likely hear it if you are browsing in a shop or perhaps from a flight attendant.

Accomodation

You have three main options. Hotels, Pousadas and Airbnb (or other apartment rental services). I never really did the hostel thing in Brazil as the above options were so affordable, so I really cannot comment on them - only that I don't think they are as ubiquitous as they are in Europe or Asia. A pousada is a guest house and just like a hotel they vary in price and comfort, but they are my favourite option as they are more cosy than hotels and always seemed to come with a hammock. That said, I stayed in some great boutique hotels there too. Both will almost always include breakfast as part of the room rate, often with a really great selection of unique Brazilian foods to try. I had excellent experiences with Airbnb too as Brazilians are very hospitable people and I used this option in all the big cities I went to, other than Salvador, where I stayed in an amazing boutique hotel in Pelourinho. The main reason for this was simply to be able to prepare my own food more as Brazilian food can be on the heavy side and very light on the vegetables and salads.  In 2016 we paid between AUSD $40 and $70 a night on average for really nice places. If you want to go super fancy (such as Copacabana Palace or the Instagram favourite Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro) then you will pay similar prices to anywhere else in the world for 5 stars, around $5-600 a night. As a long term traveller I was pretty budget conscious but if you are just on a holiday and looking to pay around $1- 200 you will be able to find beautiful accomodation for this.  Rio can be very expensive so I did the Airbnb option here and that was more like $100 a night for a very nice one bedroom apartment in Lagoa (next to Ipanema). That said, I was there around the Olympics time so prices were higher than normal. If you are going to Iguaçu and aren't sure which side to base yourself on then I highly recommend staying on the Brazilian side. It's very easy to go across to the Argentinian side but the accomodation options are much nicer and cheaper on the Brazilian side.

In summation..

Brazil is definitely not the cheapest country in South America and many things will seem expensive (go to Colombia for amazing cheap tropical goodness). However I found tourist excursions to be very fairly priced and available to be booked at the time in any tourist friendly area or town and you should definitely budget for lots of outdoorsy excursions because Brazil has fantastic options. Food and accomodation will depend on your budget. You can definitely do it on a budget, but also Brazil is a Disneyland for the wealthy and if you want to spend your hard earned cash on luxury, Brazil will happily take your money. You may have images of slums and poverty in your mind when you think of Brazil but I can tell you one thing, they know how to do luxury well and have a lot of world class luxury dining and accomodation options.

A lot of people are put off of going to Brazil because of its reputation for being unsafe and I can not tell you how sad that is because it is an AMAZING country, especially for a traveler. They have great weather (São Paulo and everywhere south of there do have cold-ish winters though so don't go there mid year without warm clothes thinking it'll be tropical - Rio yes, SP no!) Brazil has some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world, great food, and a fun, happy culture. I won't lie, Brazil can be hard at times as things won't always seem easy or straight forward and you do need to take safety seriously and keep your guard up, but it is totally worth the effort! And now I'm just going to round this post out with a series of photos demonstrating how BEAUTIFUL this incredible, diverse country is. This is not a country to miss out on!

Parque Lage - Rio de Janeiro

Parque Lage - Rio de Janeiro

Looking down into Praia Vermelha on the climb up Pao de Açucar - Rio de Janeiro

Looking down into Praia Vermelha on the climb up Pao de Açucar - Rio de Janeiro

Brigadeiro at the Confiteria Colombo - an age old institution in down town Rio de Janeiro

Brigadeiro at the Confiteria Colombo - an age old institution in down town Rio de Janeiro

Selaron Steps - Rio de Janeiro

Selaron Steps - Rio de Janeiro

Búzios - Rio de Janeiro state

Búzios - Rio de Janeiro state

A coxinha de frango

A coxinha de frango

Cachaças from the state of Minas Gerais

Cachaças from the state of Minas Gerais

Ouro Prêto - one of the oldest towns in the country - Minas Gerais

Ouro Prêto - one of the oldest towns in the country - Minas Gerais

São Paulo Cathedral

São Paulo Cathedral

Liberdade - the Japanese precinct in São Paulo. Japanese 'lanterns' for street lights and street art. "Basic quality education for everyone!" " End hunger and misery"

Liberdade - the Japanese precinct in São Paulo. Japanese 'lanterns' for street lights and street art. "Basic quality education for everyone!" " End hunger and misery"

Liberdade - São Paulo

Liberdade - São Paulo

Cashew fruit and custard apples at Mercado Municipal São Paulo

Cashew fruit and custard apples at Mercado Municipal São Paulo

São Paulo

São Paulo

Búzios- a few hours out of Rio

Búzios- a few hours out of Rio

Street art in Fortaleza - "How long are we going to live like this?..."

Street art in Fortaleza - "How long are we going to live like this?..."

A tapioca pancake with condensed milk and coconut

A tapioca pancake with condensed milk and coconut

Salvador - Bahia

Salvador - Bahia

Pasteis - the plural form of pastel

Pasteis - the plural form of pastel

Porto Seguro - Bahia

Porto Seguro - Bahia

Praia do Forte - Bahia

Praia do Forte - Bahia

Pelourinho, Salvador - Bahia. Where Michael Jackson filmed the music video for "They don't really care about us". 

Pelourinho, Salvador - Bahia. Where Michael Jackson filmed the music video for "They don't really care about us". 

Trancoso - Bahia

Trancoso - Bahia

Trancoso - Bahia

Trancoso - Bahia

Guaraná - the national soft drink you have to try

Guaraná - the national soft drink you have to try

Monkeys - Jardim Botanico - Rio de Janeiro 

Monkeys - Jardim Botanico - Rio de Janeiro 

Jardim Botanico - Rio de Janeiro

Jardim Botanico - Rio de Janeiro

"Matheus Santos Moraes - 5 years old - Killed by a stray bullet that hit him in the head while he was playing with marbles in front of his home where he lived with his family, during a military police raid in the lake community in Magé on the 4th of April 2016"  One of many signs hung along Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas bringing awareness to the city's struggle with violence. Over 2000 people were killed through violence in Rio between January and April of 2016 alone, many of whom were children and innocent bystanders who got caught in the cross fire between drug lords, gangsters and the military police. 

"Matheus Santos Moraes - 5 years old - Killed by a stray bullet that hit him in the head while he was playing with marbles in front of his home where he lived with his family, during a military police raid in the lake community in Magé on the 4th of April 2016" 

One of many signs hung along Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas bringing awareness to the city's struggle with violence. Over 2000 people were killed through violence in Rio between January and April of 2016 alone, many of whom were children and innocent bystanders who got caught in the cross fire between drug lords, gangsters and the military police. 

The sunsetting over Botafogo Bay - Taken from the Pão de Açucar - Rio de Janeiro

The sunsetting over Botafogo Bay - Taken from the Pão de Açucar - Rio de Janeiro

NORTH EASTERN BRAZIL : CANOA QUEBRADA

Canoa Quebrada, meaning broken canoe, is a tiny little beach side town in the Northeastern state of Ceará, Brazil. I found it the way I often find random little towns to visit - by zooming in on google maps. I did a little research and decided it would make for a great little stop over between Fortaleza and Natal. It's a fishing village come tourist town and I recommend Canoa Quebrada to anyone already in the north east looking to get off the beaten track and also to kite surfing enthusiasts. The beach is surrounded by pink sand dunes and lined with impressive sandstone cliffs giving views of an eternal turquoise coloured sea. It's not a destination you would come all the way up north just to visit, but it is definitely worth going there if you are up that way. It's a tourist town, sort of, mostly for Brazilian holiday makers and the odd European back packer, but it is still comparatively undeveloped. You will find dirt roads, stray chickens and donkeys and a small population of locals who live a pretty simple life. Tourism in this cute wee town started in the 60s with hippies coming and staying in the homes of the locals, many of whom are of indigenous heritage. For a small town Canoa Quebrada has a fascinating history, including being the birth place of Francisco Jose do Nascimento, one of the first to enter into the fight to end slavery in Brazil. You can read a little more on the history here if it interests you. (Go on, it's concise, fascinating and has cool old photographs)

I spent just over a week here. We had only booked for 4 nights but couldn't drag ourselves away from this pool so soon so we extended our stay. There is one main street in the town centre known as 'Broadway" with all the bars and restaurants you need; a lot of them seemed to be Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. The beach is ideal for kite and wind surfing and, because it's a bit rough and windy, the sea is quite sea-weedy and not amazing for swimming, although certainly doable. However if you take a stroll down the beach southward there are sand bars creating beautiful pools of clear warm water for wading and bathing in. Like any good beach town in Brazil there are several barracas (beach bars of various levels of infrastructure) along the beach where you can snack, drink ice cold beers, enjoy some music and chill on the beach. If you're not one for sitting around on the beach all day then activities include kite surfing as I've already mentioned, horse riding and buggy rides along the beach. You'll see a lot of fishing boats up on the beach and it's possible to go for a little sail if you feel so inclined.  If you feel like swimming but find the sea too choppy then you can head to Chega Mais for something uniquely Brazilian. It's essentially a beach front restaurant but it also has a pool and a bunch of hammocks to lie in. It's a family day out and like so many Brazilian places you have to get a token on arrival that works as a tab for any service you want to order/consume (i.e lockers, pool entry, drinks, the buffet or the a la carte restaurant.) You then pay on your way out. This kind of system is ubiquitous in Brazil and although it was strange to me it's good to be able to lock up valuables and deal with paying at the end of the day. I didn't use the pool because I have no desire to be in close proximity to other people's screaming children but we ate here twice and it was pretty good, simple and authentic north-eastern Brazilian fare. It's kind of a cheesy place but I found cheesiness to be a running theme in the north east of Brazil and it's pretty funny to see and enjoy - you might need to go there to get what I mean. 

If you want to get away from big city hustle and bustle, Canoa Quebrada is a great place to escape to. Switch off, turn off your gadgets (but keep your camera handy) and enjoy the simple and best things in life: food, beach, and nearly year round sunshine. Some people might speak some English but don't expect everyone to, you will need to brush up on some basic Portuguese - this applies to anywhere in Brazil outside of the main cities in the south (even then you'll have some trouble), but especially so in the North. Luckily I speak Portuguese as I found it be life saving in the north of Brazil, but if you don't speak any just be prepared for some language barriers and keep a sense of humour, even if you can't communicate well, you will figure out 'um jeitinho' to do whatever it is you are trying to do. 

Getting there

We were already in Fortaleza, the capital city of Ceará, which has an international airport, and from there we actually took a shuttle that was part of a day trip tour, only instead of going back to Fortaleza with our group we stayed on in Canoa. This was the easiest and still a cheap option (around R$55 each) for us so I recommend it - just make sure you check they have room in the van for your luggage. This shouldn't be a problem given the Brazilian philosophy to 'dar um jeitinho' which basically means to find a little way around something. Brazilians often apply this to logistics and just make impractical things work. The drive is about 2.5 hours and is really quite beautiful. The north east of Brazil is very poor and it really shows in rural areas, but the drive past mangroves and palm trees is pretty and interesting to see and I found it fascinating to drive through tiny villages in north eastern countryside to see the basic way people are living there. I don't recall the name of the tour group we used however there were plenty to choose from that do a similar trip and you'll find people selling regional day trips all around the tourist friendly area of Praia de Iracema, in Fortaleza. The reason we did this instead of just taking a normal bus is that the buses weren't direct. The bus goes from Fortaleza to Aracati (a town near by), and from there you would need to find another shuttle, bus or taxi to Canoa Quebrada. This is a perfectly viable option and is the way we left 10 days later, but we preferred the ease and comfort of the tour group shuttle taking us direct from our apartment in Fortaleza to our hotel in Canoa. If you want to take the bus it leaves from Fortaleza's rodoviario (central bus station) and takes you to Aracati's rodovario. Taxis should be available from here for the last short leg of the trip. I don't particularly recommend being at bus stations in Brazil late at night if you can avoid it. Most of the time you'll be fine but no need to tempt fate, muggings are a very regular occurrence throughout the country.

Stay

Canoa Quebrada has a few hotels and plenty of pousadas to pick from (a pousada is not quite a hotel and not quite (although closer to) a guest house but can vary from being quite simple to being like a 5 star boutique hotel.) We picked a good'n and I highly recommend anyone visiting Canoa Quebrada to stay at Hotel Long Beach. (Pool pictured above, Bungalow pictured below) Our nightly rate varied a little over the 10 days between AUD$45-$70 a night although it is worth noting that this was in the low season. We had a huge room that was a stand alone bungalow with a roof top with hammocks and the rate included a fantastic buffet breakfast that treated us to various uniquely Brazilian foods. (Breakfast is almost always included in the rate in Brazilian hotels) There aren't any super fancy 5 star resorts(that I noticed) in this quaint little town but Hotel Long Beach was really nice and the pool was amazing! Power cuts are not unusual in Canoa regardless of where you stay - just go with it :-). There are certainly cheaper pousadas available to those on a shoestring budget too. 

CANOA IN PICTURES...

Canoa Quebrada
Canoa Quebrada
Canoa Quebrada
Canoa Quebrada
Canoa Quebrada
Canoa Quebrada
Canoa Quebrada
Canoa Quebrada
Canoa Quebrada
Canoa Quebrada
Canoa Quebrada
Canoa Quebrada

MEXICO PART 1 : PLAYA DEL CARMEN

This one is going out to my lovely friend Jane, Misceo Alumni and fellow adventurer, soon to embark on a little trip to the magical land of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. I started this post quite a while ago but never got around to posting it but since Jane reached out for some tips on visiting Mexico I thought it was high time I did. 

Read More

VISITING THE IGUAÇU FALLS

One of the great natural wonders of the world and one of most well known and visited attractions in Latin America, the Iguazú Falls are not to be missed. If I am honest I was really only luke-warm about making the detour to visit the falls but in the end they turned out to be one of my greatest experiences in South America so far.

Read More

EATING MY WAY AROUND CHILE

Chile is a country that offers it all! Glaciers, mountains, vineyards, beaches, deserts, big cities and cute little towns, you name it, Chile has it. And yet all of this would mean nothing to me if the food was not good, for what better window into the soul of a society than through their cuisine...

Read More

MACHAS A LA PARMESANA

This recipe was created fifty years ago in the Chilean coastal city of Viña del Mar by an Italian immigrant and it is now considered a Chilean classic. The perfect entrée, Chileans serve the razor clams in their shell, lightly baked to perfection in a decadent creamy white wine sauce and covered in parmesan. 

Read More

COOKING CHILEAN CUISINE IN VALPARAÍSO

My newest travel obsession is cooking classes. For me, foraging the bustling markets for fresh and local produce and learning how to cook a nation's classic dishes is like an express pass to the best kind of cultural experience possible. 

Read More

KEEPING FIT WHILST TRAVELING; professional tips from personal trainer Laura Court

Laura is a professional photographer and qualified personal trainer based in Auckland, New Zealand.  Her love of travel has lead her to live overseas several times, most recently in London where she was working as a photographer for Net-a-Porter followed by a stint working on the super-yachts.  She has recently turned her life long passion for health and fitness into a career by launching her own personal training business. I got in touch with Laura to pick her brains on the best ways to maintain healthy habits, even whilst living out of a suitcase. Here's what she had to say... 

You were living as an expat in London when you decided on a career change to Personal Training, what inspired you to make the leap?

I have always been interested in health and fitness, being active has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. It has been in the back of my mind for a while now that I wanted to study again although it wasn’t until I moved back to New Zealand after several years in London that I finally put my thoughts into action and enrolled to study.  I still love photography, so rather than a complete career change, I like to look at it as a progression into doing and hopefully combining the two things I love.  Well, that plus travel so the three things I love.

You’ve always been an athletic and fit person but have you ever found yourself falling off the wagon or lacking motivation? How do you motivate yourself? 

I stay motivated by mixing my workouts up each week - weights, spin, swimming, yoga, running and walking.  If I don’t feel like doing a specific workout on that day then I change it by doing something different, as long as I’m moving I’m happy. While I do spend the majority of my training time in the weights room, yes leg day is my favourite day, I change up my workouts by changing the sets, reps and the order of exercises, this keeps my body guessing.  Lastly, it’s important to set yourself goals whether they are long term or short term as it helps to have something to work towards.  Once you have achieved that goal, set another.

You’re mad keen about fitness but you’re almost as keen on traveling. Where have you been and what were your most memorable trips?  Do you have a favourite country/city? What do you love about it? 

I started traveling straight out of high school and have relocated several times now, living in Canada, America, London, and the South of France for a short period of time before working on a super yacht.  There have been many holidays in-between these periods too so it’s hard to pick a favourite as each trip is different and memorable in it’s own way.  I am quite adventurous, so any travel involving diving or snowboarding is top on my list – living in Canada was perfect for this as I was in BC and the ski fields there are amazing.  A recent trip to Bali was amazing for diving.  On my last dive I was lucky enough to see eight manta rays which was incredible.  Being a photographer I love to travel and photograph anywhere that is completely different from New Zealand, Asia is amazing for this, in particular Cambodia’s Angkor Wat which is one of my favourite destinations. 

They say losing weight is only 20% exercise but 80% diet, do you agree?  What is your diet like and what would you typically eat in a day? 

Yes I agree, you can exercise all you like but if you’re not eating the right foods it makes it very hard to reach your goals.  You may achieve them in the end but it will take you a lot longer.  For me, a typical day usually consists of muesli for breakfast which I make myself.  A combination of toasted oats, chia seeds, dried fruit and chopped nuts.  I have this with some yogurt and a banana, then a hard-boiled egg on the side for my protein.  I usually have carrot sticks and/or a piece of fruit mid morning for a snack.  Lunch is a salad of some description depending what I have in the fridge at the time.  Salmon, chicken, tuna or beef, depending on what I have cooked the previous evening with a mix of spinach, tomato’s, peppers, grated zucchini, corn, roasted kumara ( sweet potato for those outside of NZ), quinoa and dressed with balsamic vinegar.  In the afternoon I will have another snack, a piece of fruit, some nuts or a homemade slice.  Dinner is generally the same as lunch, in winter I often substitute the salad for a stir-fry or homemade soup.  It’s a bit of a joke I have with my flatmates actually, “salad for dinner again tonight” but I love it and it’s super easy to prepare so it works for me.  I have a bit of a sweet tooth too so I like to have healthy sweet treats around, usually some dark chocolate or my oat slice which I make.  This is all on a good day, to me life is to be enjoyed so moderation is key – I won’t say no to going out for dinner or a drink with friends, I’ll just make sure the rest of the day or week is as healthy as possible.

It’s one thing eating a balanced diet when at home and in a routine but it can be a lot harder when travelling. What tips can you give for eating clean whilst traveling overseas?  

It all depends on where I’m going and what I’m going to be doing.  If I can I will always head to a supermarket and stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables and a selection of nuts.  At least that covers my breakfast and snacks for the day then I will generally try and choose the healthiest option on the menu if I eat out. 

It’s also very easy to let exercise fall to the way-side when travelling; can you suggest some good ways to add a bit of fitness to your day when travelling? 

It’s definitely harder when you are away from home and your routine.  When packing my bag for any trip away the very first thing that goes into my bag is my workout gear so I can go for a run, there is nothing better than going for a morning run in an amazing new city.  If I’m going to be in a country where I am unsure on whether it is safe to run or it’s not possible then I will always have my skipping rope tucked away in my suitcase or pack as an alternative.  Another option is a circuit-based session or tabata, short bursts of high intensity intervals that can be done in limited space and at any time.  Stay tuned for my upcoming travel workouts.

What are your top exercises that can be done anywhere, no equipment required? 

Running is on the top of my list as it’s the perfect way to explore your new surroundings.  I often try out new gyms when I’m traveling if I’m going to be somewhere long enough, it’s a great way to see what is popular in a different country and to try out some new classes.  I’m a strong believer that resistance training mixed with cardio as the perfect way to shape and transform your body to create a well-balanced physique.  When I don’t have access to a gym I do body weighted exercise instead, I’m a huge fan on squats and lunges so they are always in my sessions.  There is nothing like some jumping squats or lunges to get the heart rate up and burn calories.

Any last words of wisdom for fellow travel lovers who like to keep looking and feeling their best even when on the road? 

Walk whenever you can, explore each new city by foot rather than jumping on a bus or in a taxi - this way you really get a feel for what a city is like rather than observing it from the outside.  Also, moderation is key, enjoy your travel but remember you don’t need to have a drink at every bar or have gelato on every street corner to enjoy yourself.  Lastly, exercise is a time when you get to focus on yourself, everyone is different and it’s about finding what works for you in the time you have available.

For more fitness inspiration you can follow Laura on Facebook and on Instagram at @lauralcourt

 

BUENOS AIRES THROUGH THE EYES OF A LOCAL; Cindy Wagner from Turista en Buenos Aires - English Version

Cynthia (Cindy) Martinez Wagner is a Buenos Aires native and the founder and writer of the successful blog Turista en Buenos Aires. A lover of travel herself she realised, as most of us do, she was taking her own city for granted by falling into the routines of life. When we are travelling abroad we make the most of getting out and exploring a city so that’s what Cindy decided to do, but in her own backyard. She documents photos of her beautiful city of Buenos Aires on her Instagram account @turistaenbuenosaires as well as running a bilingual blog (Spanish with English translations) with lots of great tips on exploring and enjoying Buenos Aires that serves both locals and tourists alike.

A fan of the blog, I reached out to Cindy to meet up and learn about Buenos Aires through the eyes of a native who loves her own city so much she writes about it, sharing her passion for Buenos Aires with all. 

Did you have to travel abroad to appreciate what you have at home or have you always been in love with this city?

I have always loved to travel and I have had the opportunity to visit many places. The feeling of visiting a new country is a unique experience. When I visited cities like Madrid and Paris, I had moments where I felt as though I was walking through the streets of my own city. In other places I visited, I noticed the pride felt by the locals for their cities and I also met many foreigners who told me how fascinated they were by their experience visiting Buenos Aires. So then I asked myself “ what are they seeing that I am missing? That was when I started to go out wandering (with my camera in hand) to see new things. The funny thing was when I started to make plans to explore my city I realised that I really didn’t know it, and that many of the things that tourists like about it (visiting La Boca, watching a tango show, visiting an iconic café) I had never done myself. The experience from that day till now has exceeded my expectations in every way. More than once I have found myself dazzled and excited to share my experiences with others. The key is to have the same attitude as when you are traveling. I know it’s not the same but it’s the first step to re-ignite a love for your own city.

Can you share some fond memories you have of growing up in Buenos Aires?

The lasting impression that Buenos Aires leaves on anyone who has lived here is one of affection. It’s a city where anyone (whether local or not) can garner friendships. We have certain customs that you don’t encounter in other places. From our manner of greeting (a hug and a kiss) to our extended meal times spent sharing stories with our family or friends. Coffee dates with friends and rounds of mate at work, these are moments that I have always (and still do) enjoyed a lot. These experiences, and nights out dancing till the small hours of the morning are typical for all Porteños. I also remember the excitement of the day I learned that the Pope would be an Argentine. I remember the moment, I was in bed with the TV on in the background.

Tell me about your lifestyle as a young woman living in Buenos Aires.

Always on the go. Buenos Aires is a fast paced city (sometimes too fast). I am 28 and married. I am a graphic designer, I work full time and work out twice a week (swimming). Before I go home at night I pick up some groceries from the shops near home ( being only two we just get what we need). The weekends are when I get to enjoy being a tourist in my own city. In spring and autumn I like to go bike-riding. Dining out with friends or going to the movies with my husband are other things i enjoy (I am a big fan of popcorn). Sundays are for family and we all get together (siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews) at my parent's place, which ends up being a huge table of people and we really enjoy ourselves.

What makes Buenos Aires a unique city in your opinion?

Everything! For starters the people and our customs that I mentioned already. We are the most European city in Latin America, especially the architecture. There’s an amazing cultural scene and in addition to that we are open minded about many issues so anyone who visits can integrate themselves into the culture quickly. Furthermore, you will find Buenos Aires to be a very eclectic city with modern suburbs like Puerto Madero within a short distance of the historic quarter, which is really fascinating, and then not much further there are suburbs like San Telmo and La Boca which are like a time warp. Even the craziness of day to day life here ends up being part of the attraction for visitors. From the honking and the chaos of traffic, to the effusive way that we speak (similar to the Italians) and where patience is not an common attribute; it all adds to the amusement for outsiders looking in.

Let’s talk about food. I believe experiencing the cuisine of a new country is one the best ways to experience its culture, do you agree? Tell me all about the cuisine of Buenos Aires. What do you love? Is there anything you hate? What is the best area for dining? What is the must-try food for visitors? What is the best thing your parents cooked when you were growing up?

I agree 100% with you that while experiencing the food of a place you also experience its culture. Personally I find it really fun to explore supermarkets in other countries, seeing their different products and trying new things. I also try to try the signature dish of any city that I visit. When it comes to my country, it’s common knowledge that Argentina is renowned for its meat, its dulce del leche, mate, schnitzel and empanadas. You can’t visit Buenos aires without trying a classic barbecue. What makes us unique from other places is that we heat our grills with either coal or wood and we serve the bbq in stages.  First we serve the “achuras” which includes things like chorizo, blood sausage and sweetbreads(the latter two are my favourites) before moving on to stage two and three which will usually include different cuts of steak, ribs and pork accompanied by salad or grilled veggies. If you are lucky to be invited to a barbecue in someone’s home you’ll be served all of this. In a restaurant you should be able to order a mixed grill so you can try a few different things.

Dulce de leche is my Achilles heel (I love sweets) and although they try to imitate it abroad with caramel, I’m sorry to say it just doesn’t compare. While you can try dulce de leche straight from the spoon I recommend having it within some context. Flan (creme caramel) with dulce de leche is a classic for us. You can also try an alfajor (Havanna and Chachafaz make the best ones) or in the form of a candy. Another delicious way to try dulce de leche is in a slice of chocolate cake or a pancake. Regarding Mate, there’s no particular time of day for having it, it can be at any time. Some people like it sweetened but I prefer it bitter. Usually you drink it in a group, sharing the same mate gourd. In the workplace people sip on it all day. For people new to mate I recommend trying a yerba suave which is milder blend of tea leaves.

It’s worth noting that Buenos Aires has various key areas for dining. Puerto Madero (a modern area with view of the river) Palermo (a young and casual area) are the most busy. There are also some great places to eat in San Telmo and there’s a lot of variety throughout the city from Mexican, Italian, Sushi, Armenian and Arabic to whatever else you can think of. The offerings outweigh the demand.

Vegan and health food deserve their own paragraph. In recent years there has been a boom in health food with increasing numbers in places specialising in this cuisine. In my blog I have many recommendations for good places to eat although I suppose one should be mindful that what I like may not appeal to others.

Regarding my parents, it was my dad who taught me to cook. He taught me how to make flan with dulce de leche and cream. Delicious!

Argentine cuisine has long stuck with stock standard items like bbq, pasta, pizza and pastries but I have noticed a few new trends, especially around the hipster areas in Palermo of gourmet burger joints, vegetarian and vegan, Peruvian cuisine, and Asian cuisines like Thai, Vietnamese and Indian. Do you think young Argentines are becoming more adventurous with their tastes?

Yes and I celebrate it. I’m so glad we are evolving and that there are these kinds of offerings. As I said before, there are many options and the gastronomy of Buenos Aires won’t disappoint.

A visitor only has 3 days to explore Buenos Aires so they can’t see everything. What MUST they see and do?

Day 1: Casco Histórico + San Telmo
- Plaza de Mayo (Casa Rosada, el Cabildo, la Catedral)
- Av. De Mayo (Café Tortoni, Mirador Barolo, the Congreso building)
- Av. 9 de julio and Av. Corrientes (the Obelisco and the Teatro Colón)
- Calle Florida + Galerias Pacífico (shopping)
Night: dine in San Telmo. There is block I love Balcarce (between Belgrano and Venezuela) and the surrounding area. Choose a nice place and if there's a tango show all the better!

Day 2:  Recoleta + Palermo
- Have breakfast at Café La Biela + Cementerio Recoleta
- Flor Genérica + Puente Facultad de derecho
- Av. Alvear and Patio Bulrich (shopping)
- Av. Santa Fe (up till Callao) to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the shopping district.
- Bookstore El Ateneo Grand Splendid
- Take the subway to Plaza Italia, explore a Palermo Soho
- Plaza Serrano and Plaza Armenia for artist markets, bars, restaurants, and a lot of street art.
Palermo is always buzzing, you can go there to dine, just for a few drinks or to continue on for a night of dancing.

Day 3:  La Boca + Parks + Puerto Madero

- Morning: take a walk through the parks in Palermo (Rosedal and Jardín Japonés)
- Afternoon: La Boca (Caminito + La Bombonera)
- Evening: Dine with a view of the river in Puerto Madero and get a photo of the Puente de la Mujer (the women's bridge)

Of course that's cutting it all a bit short but if you only have a few days  I recommend fitting in the above things depending on what you like (museums, shopping, bar hopping).

What have been your favourite travels overseas? What country are you dying to go and visit?

I love New York, it’s a city that constantly reinvents itself and every time I go there is something new to discover. Furthermore I can speak enough of the language which makes it easier to arrange things. On the other hand I am dying to visit Japan and learn about its culture.

There is a lot of street art in Buenos Aires, what is the culture behind this trend?

I love it and every day there is more. I’m actually writing an article about it at the moment. Street art has a long history in our country. It started in the regrettable time of a dictatorship when public spaces were used to denounce the huge number of disappearances that occurred. From there continued a tradition of graffiti of political protests(again in the crisis of 2001) and in more recent years it has moved more towards design, murals and general graffiti. There has been an unprecedented visual explosion of street art to the point where artists are now commissioned to paint murals on buildings. By now you could say that it has become part of our culture and you can see examples all over the city, in the subways, bridges, buildings etc.

River Plate or Boca Juniors?

BOCA!

Besides Bs As, where is your favourite place in Argentina?

Baricloche/Villa la Angostura. The south of our country is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my life, I recommend it just as much in summer as in winter.

Is there anything else you would like to share with travellers thinking about visiting Buenos Aires?

That they are more than welcome and that we love to have people come to see not just Buenos Aires but the whole country in general. Regarding safety, while there are always recommendations for travellers in South America, don’t be scared, just enjoy it. You need to take the same precautions as in any cosmopolitan city. Stay in tourist friendly areas and mind your belongings. When you need to exchange your money you’re better to do it at the bank. Finally, people drive very badly in Buenos Aires and it’s not like other countries ( I.e London) where you set foot on the road and everyone breaks (and practically put down a red carpet for you to cross). Here you need to be very mindful when crossing the street.

Having said all that we await your visit. And if you can’t physically travel you can at least come with me on my blog www.turistaenbuenosaires.com Or on Instagram: @turistaenbuenosaires

A big thanks to Cindy for taking the time to share with us!

En Español - Buenos Aires por los ojos de Cindy Wagner del blog Turista en Buenos Aires - Spanish Version

IMG_7493.jpg

¿Tuviste que viajar al extranjero para apreciar lo que tienes en Buenos Aires o quizás siempre has estado enamorada de esta ciudad?

Siempre me ha gustado viajar y he tenido la posibilidad de conocer muchos lugares. La sensación de estar conociendo un país nuevo es una experiencia única. Cuando me tocó visitar ciudades como Madrid o París, hubo momentos donde me sentía caminando por las calles de mi propia ciudad. En otros lugares que conocí, me di cuenta el orgullo que sienten los locales por su ciudad y muchos extranjeros me hablaban de lo fascinados que estaban por haber conocido Buenos Aires. A partir de esto me pregunté ¿Que están viendo ellos que yo me estoy perdiendo? Este fue el punto de inicio para salir a caminar (con cámara en mano) y conocer cosas nuevas. Lo curioso fue que cuando empecé a planificar conocer mi ciudad de cero, me di cuenta que realmente no lo conocía, que muchas de las cosas que les encantaba a los extranjeros (visitar la Boca, ver un show de tango, conocer algún café emblemático) yo no las había hecho nunca. La experiencia hasta el día de hoy ha superado mis expectativas en todo sentido. Más de una vez vuelvo deslumbrada y con ganas de compartir mi experiencia con los demás. La clave es tener la misma actitud que cuando uno viaja. Sé que no es lo mismo pero es el primer paso para volver a enamorarte de tu ciudad.

¿Puedes compartir algunos recuerdos cariñosos que tienes de crecer en Buenos Aires?

La huella que deja Buenos Aires para quienes han vivido acá es la del afecto. Es una ciudad donde cualquiera (sea o no de acá) puede cosechar amistades. Tenemos costumbres muy definidas que no se encuentran en todos lados. Desde nuestra forma de saludar (abrazos, besos) hasta nuestras sobremesas (eternas) compartiendo anécdotas con nuestra familia o amigos. Los cafecitos con amigas y las rondas de mate en el trabajo, son momentos que he disfrutado mucho y que sigo disfrutando. Las previas y salidas a bailar son un clásico de todos los porteños que abarcan casi toda la noche. También recuerdo la emoción del día que me enteré que el Papa era argentino mientras hacia la cama con la TV de fondo.

Hábleme de su estilo de vida como una mujer joven que vive en Buenos Aires. 

En constante movimiento. Buenos Aires es una ciudad con ritmo (demasiado por momentos). Tengo 28 años y estoy casada. Soy diseñadora gráfica, trabajo y hago deporte 2 veces por semana (natación). Antes de llegar a casa hago las compras en los almacenes del barrio (al ser 2, vamos comprando lo necesario). Los fines de semana es donde aprovecho para ser turista en mi ciudad. En primavera y otoño me gusta hacer las salidas en bici.  Comer afuera con amigos o ir al cine con mi marido es otra cosa de las que disfruto mucho (soy bastante fanática de los pochoclos). Los domingos son más familiares y nos juntamos todos (hermanos, cuñados, sobrinos) en lo de mis papás, lo cual termina siendo una GRAN mesa donde nos divertimos mucho. 

¿Que hace Buenos Aires una ciudad única en su opinión? 

Todo!! Por empezar su gente y nuestras costumbres como te conté antes. Somos la ciudad más europea de América Latina sobre todo por su arquitectura. La movida cultural que hay es increíble sumado a que somos abiertos en cuanto a un montón de temas hacen que quien visite la ciudad se sienta al poco tiempo integrado. Además te vas a encontrar con una ciudad muy eclética: barrios super modernos (como Puerto Madero) y a poca distancia el Casco Histórico que es realmente fascinante y no mucho más lejos, barrios como San Telmo o La Boca que son como un túnel al pasado. Inclusive la locura con la que se vive día a día en la ciudad termina siendo a la vez una atracción para quienes nos visitan. Desde los bocinazos y el caos del tránsito, hasta lo efusivos que somos para hablar (parecidos a los italianos) y donde la paciencia no es una cualidad; son un complemento por momentos divertidos para quien los ve de afuera. 

Vamos a hablar de la comida. Creo que experimentar la cocina de un nuevo país es una de las mejores maneras de experimentar su cultura, ¿estás de acuerdo ? Dime todo sobre la cocina de Buenos Aires. ¿Qué amas? ¿Hay algo que odias? ¿Cuál es la mejor zona para comer? ¿Cuál es el deber- probar la comida para los visitantes? ¿Cuál es la mejor cosa que su madre cocinaba cuando estaba creciendo? 

Coincido 100% con vos en cuanto a que al conocer la comida de un lugar se conoce también su cultura. Personalmente me divierto mucho en supermercados de otros países, viendo sus productos y probando cosas nuevas. Siempre trato de probar algún plato autóctono de la ciudad que me toca visitar.  En cuanto a mi país, es sabido que Argentina es mundialmente conocida por su carne, por el dulce de leche, el mate, la milanesa y las empanadas. 

No podes irte de Buenos Aires sin haber probado un clásico asado (barbecue para Uds). A diferencia de otros lugares del mundo, nuestras parrilladas se hacen al carbón o leña, y por etapas: 1º están las “achuras” como el chorizo, las morcillas o las mollejas (estas últimas son mis preferidas), antes de pasar a la 2º etapa donde podes empezar con una colita de cuadril (al plato o en sándwich), o probar un vacio y así terminar con la 3º etapa, a base un lomo y/o matambrito de cerdo, acompañado de ensalada o verduras a la parrilla. Todo esto si te invitan a un clásico asado argentino en un casa. En un restaurante seguramente te traigan un mix de lo mencionando arriba, en una mini parrillita, para que degustes. El dulce de leche es mi talón de Aquiles (amo los dulces) y aunque afuera quieran imitarlo con el “Caramel”, lamento decirles que está muy lejos de superarlo. Si bien el dulce de leche se puede probar da manera directa con una cuchara, yo les recomiendo hacerlo dentro de un contexto. El flan con dulce de leche es un clásico para nosotros. También podes probar un alfajor (Havanna y Chachafaz los más ricos),  o en forma de golosina (Vauquita). Una porción de chocotorta o un panqueque son otra forma muy sabrosa de probar este producto.

Respecto al mate, no hay un momento del día para tomarlo, puede ser en cualquier momento. Hay quienes lo toman dulce aunque yo lo prefiero amargo. Se suele tomar en grupo (es una tradición) y se comparte del mismo mate. En los contextos laborales todo el mundo está tomando mate a toda hora. Para los primerizos les recomiendo usar yerba suave.

Vale aclarar que Buenos Aires cuenta con varios polos gastronómicos importantes. Puerto Madero (barrio moderno y elegante con vista al río) y Palermo (barrio juvenil y descontracturado) son los más concurridos. En San Telmo también se encuentran lugares muy buenos para comer y existe una gran variedad de opciones por toda la ciudad que van desde comida mexicana, italiana, sushi, comida armenia y árabe, hasta lo que se te ocurra. Por lo cual la oferta es más grande que la demanda.

Párrafo aparte merece la comida vegana o natural. En los últimos años se vive un boom de la comida saludable y cada vez hay más lugares especializados en este tipo de comida. En mi blog hago muchas recomendaciones de lugares para ir a comer. Aunque hay que tener cuidado porque lo que me puede gustar a mi, puede ocurrir que a la otra persona no.

Respecto de mis padres, el que se destacaba en la cocina era papá. Con el aprendí a hacer flan casero acompañado de dulce de leche y crema. Riquísimo!

La cocina argentina siempre ha ofrecido elementos tradicionales como la barbacoa , pasta, pizza y pasteles , pero me he dado cuenta de algunas nuevas tendencias , especialmente alrededor de las áreas de hipsters en Palermo de lugares de hamburguesas gourmet, vegetarianos y veganos , la cocina peruana y cevicherías y Asia cocinas como Tailandesa, Vietnamita e India . ¿Crees que jóvenes Argentinos son cada vez más aventureros con sus gustos? 

Si y lo celebro! Me encanta que innovemos, que nos animemos y que haya propuestas de este tipo. Como te comenté antes, existen tantas opciones, que la gastronomía de Bs.As. no los va a decepcionar.

 Un visitante sólo tiene 3 días para explorar Buenos Aires, entonces no puedan ver todo. ¿Qué deben ver y hacer?

Día 1: Casco Histórico + San Telmo
- Plaza de Mayo (Casa Rosada, el Cabildo, la Catedral)
- Av. De Mayo (Café Tortoni, Mirador Barolo, El Congreso)
- Av. 9 de julio y Av. Corrientes (Obelisco y el Teatro Colón)
- Calle Florida + Galerias Pacífico (shopping)
Noche: cenaría por San Telmo. Hay una cuadra que me encanta: Balcarce (entre Belgrano y Venezuela) y sus al rededores. Eligieria algún lugar lindo y si es con show de tango mejor!

Día 2:  Recoleta + Palermo
- Desayuno en Café La Biela + Cementerio Recoleta
- Flor Genérica + Puente Facultad de derecho (vista aérea)
- Av. Alvear y Patio Bulrrich (compras)
- Av. Santa Fe (hasta Callao) para vivir el bullicio de la Avenida de la moda
- Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid
- Subte hasta Plaza Italia, rumbo a Palermo Soho
- Plaza Serrrano y Plaza Armenia para feria artesanales, bares, restaurantes, y mucho streetart
Palermo tiene un ritmo constante, por lo que pueden ir de copas o cenar ahí mismo y hasta ir a bailar.

Dia 3:  La Boca + Parques + Pto Madero
- Mañana: Recorrida por Los Lagos de Plaermo (Rosedal y Jardín Japonés)
- Tarde: La Boca (Caminito + La Bombonera)
- Noche: Cenar con vista al río por Puerto Madero (fotos en el Puente de la Mujer)

Lógico que me quedo corta, pero si sólo contaran con 3 días, recomendaría esto que te mencioné arriba.
Después queda a gusto de cada uno (los que prefieren los museos, los que prefieren las compras, los que sólo quieren ver arquitectura o los que les gusta ir de bar en bar, etc.)

¿Cuáles han sido sus recorridos favoritos en el extranjero? ¿En qué país estás muriendo para ir a visitar ?

Nueva York me encanta, es una ciudad que constantemente se reinventa y siempre que voy, hay algo nuevo por descubrir. Además manejo el idioma y eso también facilita las cosas. Por otro lado, tengo muchas ganas de conocer Japón y toda su cultura.

Hay mucho arte de la calle en Buenos Aires, lo que es la cultura detrás de esta tendencia?

Me encanta y cada vez hay más. Justo estoy escribiendo un artículo sobre esto. El StreetArt tiene muchísimos años en nuestro país. Comenzó con una época lamentable que fue la dictadura donde el espacio público fue utilizado para denunciar la gran cantidad de desaparecidos que había. Luego se mantuvo la tradición en contexto de protestas (crisis del 2001) y en los últimos años se volcó mas para el diseño, ilustraciones surrealistas y graffitis. Hay una explosión visual sin precedentes a tal punto que muchos comerciantes solicitan que hagan murales en sus establecimientos. A esta altura puedo decir que forma parte de nuestra cultura y se ve reflejado en la ciudad: en sus subtes, puentes, edificios, etc.

¿River Plate o Boca Juniors?

BOCA

¿Sin incluir Bs As , donde es su lugar favorito en Argentina?

Bariloche/Villa la Angostura. El sur de nuestro país es una de las cosas más lindas que vi en mi vida (tanto en verano como invierno, lo recomiendo)

¿Hay algo más que le gustaría compartir con los viajeros pensando en visitar Buenos Aires ?

Que son más que bienvenidos y que nos encanta que haya parte de todo el mundo conociendo no solo Buenos Aires sino nuestro país en general.
Respecto de la seguridad, si bien siempre existen recomendaciones para los viajeros en cuanto a los países  de América del Sur, no tengan miedo y disfruten. Hay que tomar los mismos recaudos que cuando se decide visitar una ciudad cosmopolita. Mantenerse en las zonas turísticas, no descuidar los objetos personales (por los arrebatos). A la hora de hacer el cambio de divisa hacerlo en los Bancos.
Por último, en Buenos Aires se maneja (conduce) muy mal y no es como en otras ciudades (Ej. Londres), donde pones un pie en la calle y todos frenan (y casi que te ponen una alfombra roja para que cruces). Acá hay que estar atentos a la hora de cruzar las calles.

Habiendo dicho eso, los espero! Y si no pueden viajar físicamente, al menos háganlo conmigo a través de mi blog: www.turistaenbuenosaires.com. O por instagram: @turistaenbuenosaires

Muchas gracias a Cindy por compartir con nos!

3 AWESOME DAY TRIPS FROM BUENOS AIRES

3 AWESOME DAY TRIPS FROM BUENOS AIRES

There is much more to Buenos Aires than just the Capital Federal area so if you’re staying for more than a few days then we can highly recommend taking a day trip to one of these excellent destinations...

Read More

Coffee with Strangers: Rocio Roitman from Buenos Aires

We are very excited to present the first in a series of interview based articles called Coffee with Strangers, where we sit down for a coffee and a chat with local strangers in the cities and towns we visit in order to hear all about life in their city as they know it.

Read More