Written by Montevideana on 27 Apr, 2010
To get to Hermenegildo you have to cross the Uruguayan border, go along 30 kilometres and then turn right into an unpaved road. After that you have to go along that road for another 30 kilometres; this road was full of wholes and had massive…Read More
To get to Hermenegildo you have to cross the Uruguayan border, go along 30 kilometres and then turn right into an unpaved road. After that you have to go along that road for another 30 kilometres; this road was full of wholes and had massive fields along the sides with cattle, horses, sheep… There were no lights along the road (or it even could be called "path") and you had to go along many rustic hand-made bridges. The road was ok, and we didn’t care about it at first… but one evening, after months of drought a storm broke out. Immediately, everything went dark and it started to pour, we decided to leave the house and go to the Uruguayan border to feel safe. We were afraid that this little unpaved road would give way after some time raining. Once we were in Uruguay again, we felt safe. We looked for a restaurant to give us shelter for a while… The storm didn’t want to cease… it kept on raining for ages and it was time for us to leave the restaurant. We were exhausted and we had been in the restaurant for too long. Our bellies were extremely satisfied and we had no room for anything else. We started discussing… should we go back to our rented house or should we stay for a night in a hotel there? After discussing it for some minutes we decided (not me really, I would have paid anything to stay there for the night) to head back to the house. Rain was still heavy, we couldn’t see very well in the darkness along the route… we finally got to the unpaved road… there are no words to describe the scene. Heavy rain, mud road, cattle everywhere and not a single light. It immediately came to my mind the typical horror film scene where a bunch of teenagers are in the middle of nowhere, in dark nights, looking for danger on purpose. I felt like one of those teenagers, the difference was that I was with my parents and my fiancé; we were supposedly four responsible adults! But we were still heading for danger. When we were half way to the house, we saw some red lights on the road. It looked like an ambulance. How could it be? The closer we got, the more lights we saw. It was an accident; the lights were from the police officers trying to help a car which had fallen from one of the bridges. The scene was horrible; we didn’t stop to help because we were not allowed to, but we were seriously shocked by the scene. We finally got to the house safe and sound but that was a night difficult to forget. Fortunately we can laugh at it. Close
Written by LenR on 05 Nov, 2009
It is quite possible to enjoy Iguazu Falls without taking any organised tours but some experiences are only available to groups or by paying an operator. Here are a few options.The Challenge Range is located near the falls on the Brazxilian side. This offers a…Read More
It is quite possible to enjoy Iguazu Falls without taking any organised tours but some experiences are only available to groups or by paying an operator. Here are a few options.The Challenge Range is located near the falls on the Brazxilian side. This offers a variety of activities such as rappel, rafting, tree climbing and Tyrolese. There are different levels of difficulty and it is accessible to all ages.The Poco Preto trail tour (Tel: 3529 9626) follows a 9 kilometre trail on the Brazilian side from the main road to the river. You can do it on foot, by bicycle or wagon. It is conducted by bilingual guides who give you an appreciation of the flora and fauna along the trail. You then make a visit to the Lagoa Poco Preto and the bird observatory. At the river there is the option to go for a kayak ride or to head for the ourist centre by powerboat. There are other tours in this general area including the Linha Martins tour, the Macuco safari tour, and the Bananeiras trail tour.Helicopter rides are available from the Brazilian side but they have now been banned in Argentina because they disturb the wildlife in the national park. Take this into account before you travel. On the Argentine side there are three alternatives (Tel: 421 696). The first is a thrilling 12 minute ride by speedboat through the Devil’s throat canyon and under the San Martin waterfall. The trip departs every 20 minutes from the dock in front of San Martin Island. To reach this point there are 100 metres of stairs so you need a certain level of fitness. You will get wet during this ride so you need a plastic bag to keep your personal belongings dry. There is no way to protect yourself!The second trip is called the Great Adventure and adds an eight kilometre long jungle drive in a 4WD vehicle on the Yacaratia trail to the speedboat ride. This trip takes approximately one hour and tours depart hourly from the visitor’s centre. A similar warning about protecting your belongings is needed and pregnant women are not permitted on this trip.The third option is something much more sedate. It is called the Ecological Tour and starts at the Devil’s throat station. You float for about three kilometres on a rubber boat through the upper Iguazu’s delta observing the flora and fauna as you slowly travel downstream. The tour departs every 15 minutes and takes about 30 minutes. Close
The majority of the falls are on the Argentine side and this side provides the more up-close and personal experience. There are more than 270 falls in an area where cliffs and islets are scattered in a half moon. The Argentine side options are more…Read More
The majority of the falls are on the Argentine side and this side provides the more up-close and personal experience. There are more than 270 falls in an area where cliffs and islets are scattered in a half moon. The Argentine side options are more scattered and take longer to see and there is even a train to help you get around. All visitors enter the falls area through the visitors centre. This is the location of the La Selva restaurant, toilets and a range of other facilities. From the visitors center you can walk along the Green Trail or catch a picturesque train. Both take you to Cataratas station. Along the way you will see butterflies, birds and coatis. From here a trail leads to two basic circuits: an upper path and a lower path.I recommend that you start with the upper circuit (Circuito Superior). This is the least spectacular but is easy walking and it builds anticipation. The trail is 1200 metres long and it crosses several arms of the river to provide views of several falls. The lower circuit (Circuito Inferior) is a 1.5 kilometre loop which leads to the base of the falls. There are quite a few steps but it is a unique experience well worth the effort. As part of this circuit, one track takes you to the main river where you can take a free boat to Isla San Martín. This operates about every 15 minutes. On the island there are more trails and more close-up views. By now you will be wet!Probably the best part of a visit here is walking to the top of Devil’s Throat. You leave on the train from Cataratas station and travel through the jungle to Garganta del Diablo station. Here a boardwalk begins at a point upstream of the falls and you walk past some tranquil islands before reaching the balcony on the Devil's Throat, the biggest of the falls with such a big flow of water that you will be overcome by the grandeur of the spectacle. The falls roar in your ears, the mist washes over your face and the rainbow arcs across the rush. It is a multisensory experience that will impress everyone.There are a couple of places to find snack bars and you could always eat at the Sheraton Hotel. The light is best for photographs from this side of the falls in the late afternoon. Allow a minimum of four hours to enjoy this area. Close
Iguazu Falls are waterfalls of the Iguazu River located on the border of the Brazilian state of Parana and the Argentine province of Misiones. The falls can be reached from the two main towns on either side of the falls: Foz do Iguacu in Paraná,…Read More
Iguazu Falls are waterfalls of the Iguazu River located on the border of the Brazilian state of Parana and the Argentine province of Misiones. The falls can be reached from the two main towns on either side of the falls: Foz do Iguacu in Paraná, and Puerto Iguazu in Misiones as well as from Ciudad del Este (Paraguay). The falls are shared by the Iguazu National Park (Argentina) and Iguacu National Park (Brazil). These parks were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1984 and 1987, respectively.We flew in from Rio to the airport on the Brazilian side and as we were staying in Argentina, we decided to see the Brazilian side of the falls while travelling between the airport and the hotel. This apparently is a very common thing for tourists to do and the transfers are set up so you can do this without hassles. All in all we spent about two hours on the Brazilian side. To get to the falls, you have to enter the national park and pay the admission fee. You do this at modern park headquarters where there are bathrooms, lockers, souvenir shops, eating facilities and a museum. We then took the car to the start of the walkway. There is free bus transport provided if you need it. We started by exploring a long walkway along the canyon through the rain forest which starts near the up-market Orient-Express run Cataratas Hotel (Tel: 45-2102 7000). The National Park contains a number of animals and birds that are at risk of extinction such as the jaguar, puma, and cayman but you will not see any of these in this heavily trafficked part of the park. What you do see is a diverse range of flora and some great views of the various parts of the falls. Perhaps the highlight of the walk is the boardwalk to the lower base of the spectacular Devil's Throat waterfall. Here fourteen falls drop over 100 metres with such force that there is always a huge cloud of spray overhead. You will usually see a rainbow. For a close up view, we walked through the subtropical forest of National Iguaçu Park to the base of Salto Floriano, out on the boardwalk over some rapids, and then took the elevator to the top of the falls. It was all very spectacular and the camera worked overtime. From here it is just a short walk to the Porto Canoas where there is a souvenir store, a service centre, a boat landing station, food court, first aid post and the Porto Canoas restaurant. We sat out on the deck watching the river flow towards the top of the falls and enjoyed a lunch from the food court.We discovered that the view from the Brazilian side is the most panoramic and because it is confined to a reasonably small area it is by far the easiest to explore. If you want other adventures there are helicopter rides out over the falls from Foz do Iguaçu and from the visitors centre, and you may also take boat rides out to the falls (see the tours entry in this journal). It is also worthy to note that the light is best in the morning for photographs. Close
Puerto Iguazú is a frontier city in the province of Misiones, Argentina. With a population of around 35,000 it is more like a country town than a city. The world-renowned Iguazu Falls are only 18 kilometres away and, as a result, the city has developed…Read More
Puerto Iguazú is a frontier city in the province of Misiones, Argentina. With a population of around 35,000 it is more like a country town than a city. The world-renowned Iguazu Falls are only 18 kilometres away and, as a result, the city has developed its infrastructure around tourism. The Tancredo Neves International Bridge links Puerto Iguazú with the Brazilian border town of Foz do Iguacu and the towns are almost directly across the river from each other but this is not obvious when you are there.The city is served by its own international airport, Caratas del Iguazu, as well as by Foz do Iguacu Airport on the Brazilian side of the border. We flew into the Brazilian airport from Rio and left from the Argentinean airport en-route to Buenos Aires.There are many hotels in town and quite a few reasonable restaurants. The parrilla (outdoor barbeque) is top choice but there is more on offer for those looking for another option. River fish fresh from the Ríos Parana and Iguazu are in abundance and make for a very tasty seafood experience. The Argentinean take on Italian food is also popular, with flavoursome Pizza and Pasta of all types available. Here are a few restaurant options.El Quincho Tio Querido (Tel: 420151) is a traditional place with over 20 years of experience, It has managed to maintain the skill of preparing the most delicious Argentine beef. It is located in the heart of Puerto Iguazú, on the street Bonplandy Perito Moreno. To top it off there are lively music shows held in the eveningsIl Fratello Restaurant (Tel: 424157) at av. Gustavo Eppens 294 has over 70 different items on the menu, injcluding pastas, pizzas and grilled. There is also a wide variety of wines, and some good desserts. The restaurant has a buffet that serves breakfast and snacks. El Gallo Negro (Tel: 422165) at the end of Av.Victoria Aguire y Curupí is all about the typical Argentinean roast and barbecue steak cooked over wood. There are daily shows with tangos, and Argentinean folklore.Aqva Restaurant (Tel: 422064) on Av. Cordoba is an abundant seafood/fusion restaurant making full use of local river fish on its creative menu. The decoration is bright but the atmosphere remains comfortable – it is styled as a log cabin adding to the warmth and coziness of the place. La Rueda (Tel: 422-531) at Av. Córdoba 28, is a well organized and pleasant dining experience with friendly and attentive service. The building is constructed from local materials and has a relaxing outdoor patio to sit and enjoy the abundant menu options. Pasta, steak and riverfish all feature with wine and steak a popular choice.Gusto del Litoral at Avenue Misiones 209, at the lower end of the price scale, but you should not be put off. The chef is an absolute master of invention cooking up a storm of regional Argentinean cuisine with various other influences from across the borders. Close
Written by LenR on 02 Nov, 2009
There are probably more hotels in Copacabana than any other part of Rio. They cover almost the whole range from semi-budget to luxury. If you are into luxury, there is only one place to stay and that is right on the beach. Here are three…Read More
There are probably more hotels in Copacabana than any other part of Rio. They cover almost the whole range from semi-budget to luxury. If you are into luxury, there is only one place to stay and that is right on the beach. Here are three suggestions, all on Avenida Atlantica.Rio's magic can be enjoyed from the rooftop pool at the JW Marriott Hotel Rio (Tel: 2545 6500; Fax: 55 21 2545 6555), with sweeping views of Sugar Loaf and Corcovado. Copacabana's newest 5-star hotel, offers luxury accommodations wired for high-speed Internet access and designed for supreme comfort. There is a Spa & Fitness Center and temptation awaits at Terraneo with Mediterranean cuisine(breakfast, lunch and dinner)or at the stunning setting of Taiyou Sushi Bar Lunch and dinner) one of the best Japanese restaurants in Rio de Janeiro. Even if you are not staying in the hotel you could be tempted to visit the American-style Terraneo where you can relax over drinks, beers, or order a Caipirinha Sampler to enjoy with traditional tapas. The simple Cafe da Praia which has snacks, sandwiches, sodas & delicious Brazilian coffee is a further option.The Copacabana Palace Hotel (Tel: 2548 7070) is the most renowned hotel in Rio de Janeiro and has welcomed the rich and famous since 1923. A glamorous icon of the city of Rio, this Orient-Express hotel has a reputation of exemplary service, superb cuisine and opulent luxury which matches any of these great properties around the world. Ever since Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' danced together at the Copacabana Palace in the celebrated movie Flying Down to Rio, the hotel has been the place to stay when visiting Rio de Janeiro. Guest rooms have been updated and now provide all the modern luxuries you would expect. The full-service spa features massage and treatment rooms. In addition to an outdoor pool, Copacabana Palace Hotel provides a tennis court, a health club, a spa tub, and a sauna. Business-related amenities include complimentary wireless Internet access, complimentary high-speed (wired) Internet access, a business center, and a technology helpdesk. There is also a fitness facility, a steam room, and a concierge desk. Sofitel Rio de Janeiro Copacabana (Tel: 25251232) is considered one of the most prestigious Rio de Janeiro hotels. There are 388 rooms with balconies, 66 rooms with Club Millésime services, and outstanding cuisine at this hotel. You will also discover a Convention and Business Center, 2 pools, a gym, 2 saunas, and direct access to beauty salons and shops.One of the hotel’s highlights is dining. Restaurante Atlantis is located on the first floor and features a beautiful balcony area overlooking Copacabana beach. It has buffets with special themes at lunch and a la carte dinner. Restaurante Le Pre Catelan is renowned as one of the top 10 hotel restaurants in the world by Hotel World magazine. It has modern decor and views of Copacabana. The menu changes fortnightly and it only opens for dinner. Close
Written by SeenThat on 29 Mar, 2007
When arriving at a new and foreign place, many aspects of its culture are closed to us. However, much before we comprehend the language or understand the culture, much before the gestures and body language of the locals make sense, even in our first day…Read More
When arriving at a new and foreign place, many aspects of its culture are closed to us. However, much before we comprehend the language or understand the culture, much before the gestures and body language of the locals make sense, even in our first day there, we can taste and enjoy the local food. It is the first gate we cross to a new culture. It may be quite limited – it won’t explain all the local idiosyncrasies – but it would provide the first glimpses. Which ingredients do they use? How do they cook? Do they care about aesthetics? What kind of cutlery do they use? Endless questions, maybe not very important ones, but the only ones that are easy to answer in the first days.Brazil’s multifaceted ethnic mix has created unique dishes which blend up into a very special cuisine full of flavors as complex and wonderful as their creators. The local staples are rice, black beans, and manioc flour, which are combined with different meats and fish to create basic meals. The best known and the indisputable national dish is the feijoada, a stew of meat and black beans (feijao) served with rice. The meat type and amount can change enormously, but the dish uses only modest amounts of spices – if any at all. The dish is usually big enough to share between two. If the stew contains mainly vegetables (and especially potatoes, yam, manioc, or carrots) and little or not meat at all, it is called cozido.But meats and rice are not enough for a complete diet. Caruru is a dish originating in Africa which became very popular in Brazil. It is made with vegetables cooked in water and drained. Then peppers, onions and shrimps are added and everything is grated with okra paste and dende oil. It is fabulous with any fish – the traditional companion of the dish.A fruit is always a great way to end a meal and Brazil offers plenty of them. Even better are fruit juices, which here are called "sucos". Ice and sugar are usually added, unless the drink is asked to be "natural." "Vitamina" is a juice prepared with milk instead of water. "Batida" is prepared by adding to the fruit and the water a bit of "cachaça," a sugar-cane liquor. Many of the fruits do not have names in English; guarana and graviola are such two and their taste justifies settling down in the country.It would be impossible to finish such a note without mentioning the local coffee beans. I did not manage to drink a bad coffee in Brazil regardless how cheap or badly prepared it was. Even the simplest stall in a poor neighborhood and the overcooked coffee in a thermos at the back of a long distance bus were elixirs rarely available elsewhere.The food is the first cultural gate we cross while arriving at a new place. If that gate is a pleasant one – and Brazilian food is gorgeous – then the other gates seem to open in a friendlier fashion. Suddenly, facing a new – sweet sounding – language is not so intimidating. Bon appetite! Close
Written by SeenThat on 28 Mar, 2007
Many travelers dislike traveling in local buses. They find it cheap, maybe even degrading. Actually, it is a good way to see the countryside and local culture. Most other ways of transport create a barrier between the traveler and his muse; and aren’t we –…Read More
Many travelers dislike traveling in local buses. They find it cheap, maybe even degrading. Actually, it is a good way to see the countryside and local culture. Most other ways of transport create a barrier between the traveler and his muse; and aren’t we – travelers – trying just to look above cultural and physical barriers?Hence I decided to take a bus along the Brazilian coast from Sao Paulo to Chui, the border cross to Uruguay. Instead of stopping over at the main cities along the way, I treated the trip as a quick survey; I took a direct bus and flagged the places worth of a special visit in the future.Two companies serve the line, one Brazilian and the second Uruguayan; they work on alternate days. I bought a ticket with the Brazilian one, Transporte Turismo, and was not disappointed. The only worrying issue was that they kept the passengers passports during the trip. The bus left a few minutes before midnight and provided snacks and meals stops.Once there was light outside, the landscape was attractive despite its monotonousness. Most of the trip was through a huge plain, green, and well-watered; lazy cows enjoyed effortless meals. From time to time we stopped for meals; the Brazilian food turned out to be tasty and varied; it included barbecued meat and plenty of vegetarian dishes.Eventually the bus did not travel exactly along the coast and the ocean views were rare. The only exception was Florianopolis. The city is split in two parts; the western one is on the mainland, while the eastern is on the Ilha (isle) de Santa Caterina. Two bridges connect between the two and the bus used both of them. The elongated island has many beaches, some of them facing the mainland and others the Atlantic Ocean. It is a main beach resort in the country and I immediately decided for a more careful visit in the future. Though much bigger and being surrounded only by salty water, the general layout of tame and wild beaches reminds of Punta del Este, in Uruguay.Chui was the final destination and we arrived there about two hours after midnight, twenty-six hours after beginning the trip. Unfortunately the passports were given back stamped out; but getting a new entry stamp to Brazil was possible on the spot. The two countries were separated just by an avenue, and it was possible to move freely across the border.Chuy was the name of the Uruguayan town, which was full of casinos catering for a dubious crowd. Finding a hotel there was an experience on the limit of being life-threatening, with a thug following me closely in an old, decrepit car that seemed to be the first prototype of that technology. The hotel concierge hurried me in and closed the door with a huge key.The LanguageEnglish did not help. I had a little Spanish and no Portuguese at all. However, for Portuguese speaking people it is relatively easy to understand Spanish (it does not work in the opposite direction) and Brazilians turned out to be extraordinarily helpful people. Each one of them did an effort to understand and to answer slowly, well-pronounced simple words.The PeopleAll Brazilians exuded a simple message: “Live and Let Live;” simple but few have mastered it. Smiles, politeness, and a feeling of cooperation were the norm, from the clerk selling the tickets, through the smiling waitress serving the cappuccino, and ending with a nosy kid at the bus that did not stop asking questions.The BusThe bus was worth every penny. It was modern and comfortable and included spotless toilets. The seats were wide and there was room for stretching the legs; I slept in perfect comfort. The frequent breaks allowed studying the cities along the way. But being in Brazil, there was more good news. At the back side of the bus there was a big container of hot coffee, free for the passengers. Needless to mention, it was excellent. Close
Written by onesundaymorning on 19 Aug, 2006
This is everything in Brazil. No matter where you go you can see capoeira. This is a form of martial arts done to a Samba beet that was invented by slaves in Brazil. They were forbidden to learn a form of self-defense so they created…Read More
This is everything in Brazil. No matter where you go you can see capoeira. This is a form of martial arts done to a Samba beet that was invented by slaves in Brazil. They were forbidden to learn a form of self-defense so they created Capoeira. This was a style of fighting that looks like dancing. It was done to Samba music, so when the slave masters were coming a look out would warn the people playing the music. They would change the beet slightly signaling for the fighters to break into dancing
If you have the time I suggest taking a class. It will cost about $20 and last an hour. There are several places in the Cidade Alta where you can take a class. It is the most invigorating thing I ever done. By the end of the class you are so sweaty, but never so energized. This is easily seen in any capoeira performance. The performers are always more amazing at the end then at the beginning.
If you aren’t interested in a class, take in a show. The dinners are usually over priced and bad, the show more then makes up for it. These shows usually fall along the same lines. They tell the stories of the Afro-Brazilian gods though the form of dance. At the end the capoeira performers come out. They end up flipping off the walls. Sometimes they even pull the people in the audience up on stage to dance with them.
The city is divided into two levels, the lower level and the upper and the upper level, Cidade Alta. The lower level looks a bit seedy where, as the upper level is very clean and very touristy. However keep in mind tourists shouldn’t be up…Read More
The city is divided into two levels, the lower level and the upper and the upper level, Cidade Alta. The lower level looks a bit seedy where, as the upper level is very clean and very touristy. However keep in mind tourists shouldn’t be up there at night. I know at least four people who were beaten up and robbed there in the same night.
There are two ways to get to the upper level one is by cable car and the other is by elevator, yes it’s really an elevator. Just below it there is a wonderful market where you can find everything from cloths and jewelry to musical instruments and hammocks.
The Cidade Alta is very clean and so beautiful, especially all of the old churches. If you are looking for some place to eat there is a little pizza shop and Internet café in the plaza area where you can get very good pizza at a decent price.
At night the upper level turns into one big dance party. When I was there was a big bus with the playboy logo on the side blasting music. Everyone stopped what they were doing to dance in the street. Although it was fun this was the point of the night when all the tourists were getting robbed.