Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Flat Lizzie Photo Journal

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Flat Lizzie and I just returned from São Paulo, where we spent (an unexpected) ten nights in the Casa Club hostel. What can I say? The place had a great vibe. Sure, there are loads of stories to come, but we are wrecked and she has to head back to Milwaukee tomorrow. So for tonight, just some pictures of her adventure.



Getting around...




Looking around...





A little shopping around...





but mostly, we were hanging around.














It was brilliant.

Loquinha Paulista?

I think there might be a ring to it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hanging out in POA

I have lots of pictures I have been meaning to post.

Here’s one of me sampling the goods at Água Doce Cachaçaria. The cachaça base is mixed with your choice of fresh fruit juice combinations and, if you like, condensed milk, to balance the kick. A gimmick of the joint is serving all the drinks with a chorinho. Literally that translates into little cry, but you won’t be cryin’ in your “backup” glass. Trust me, you only need to order one.

Another night, another happy hour. This time with a wildly diverse group of foreigners at Boulevard da Vasco, a new regular in our arsenal of haunts, with a great big patio to enjoy the perfect evenings.

The city did a beautiful job restoring the historic Teatro São Pedro, and I am ashamed to admit that I still haven’t been to see a play. Out of view just to the left is a brand new outdoor theater complex that opened last week. It looks very lovely.

One of my favorite hideaways here, Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana, has undergone some renovations recently too. Best addition: the new café just inside this garden on the 5th Floor rooftop. The bathtubs from the old Hotel Majestic that used to occupy the building were recycled into planters for water lilies.

My one year anniversary in Porto Alegre happened to be on the city’s birthday, March 26th. There is always a really good selection for the art-and-cultural inclined, but last week the event listings were enormous. In the middle of the night I went to the giant park, Redenção, with some friends for a celebration. It was really a spectacle! Light show, giant movie screens, live music, food, dancing, and the unveiling of the refurbished fountain that serves as the centerpiece of the park. Flat Lizzie and I also made it to a photography exhibit showcasing some of the city’s most endearing charms; the architecture, the sunsets; and the people buzzing about.

Friends (and fellow LOST-junkies) Marianna and Roberto took Lizzie and me to Priscilla’s. Apparently a sister site to a famous bakery in New York City, it’s the only place in the world I’ve ever found sticky buns just like my mom used to make. Unholy, I tell you.

Flat “Sticky Fingers” Lizzie approved.

You can still find payphones everywhere in Brazil. Here, they are appropriately nicknamed orelhão, or Big Ear.

You might recognize the packaging for the ubiquitous (outside the US) Kinder brand chocolate eggs.

I recently learned that the orange trash bins around Porto Alegre have a fun nickname too: Ovão, or Big Egg.

And speaking of chocolate eggs, it’s that time of year. These giant chocolate Easter eggs are everywhere! Stores set up giant grids overhead to display them…thousands of them!

I hope everyone enjoys a nice long weekend in good company. I know I will. I’m heading off to stretch my legs in São Paulo for a while.

Offline.
LG

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Worst game, best game, and out-of-towners

Mid-week I attended the Brazil x Peru World Cup qualifier and had the worst experience I've ever had in a stadium. I don't have any photos because, although I brought my camera, I was too scared to take it out in the crowd of aggressive jerks that surrounded me. Specifically, I was afraid that the ornery old fart that screamed at me for 20 minutes, grabbed my arm, and shoved me around would take the camera and smash it. (He was angry that the arquibancada inferior section was oversold and he had to share. That, and he was looking for trouble--he targeted a few other people too during the hour in which I had the great misfortune of being near him.) What's more, the game wasn't even worth it. Sure, Brazil won 3x0, but as I repeatedly heard on the street the following day, the Brazilian superstars played like they were wearing high-heels. Bah!

But today, returning to Beira-Rio for another epic grudge match between Gremio and Internacional, I had backup! I brought Flat Lizzie with me!


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Lizzie is my cousin. Her first grade class is doing a project, inspired by the children's book Flat Stanley, for which the kids make a doll of themselves and send it far-off places for adventures. I am documenting her Brazilian vacation. As you can see, she really enjoyed her first jogo de futebol brasileiro-style. And this time, the 44,520 people in attendance were peaceful and playful, and the play on the field was good too.

Gremio scored a penalty kick 19 minutes into the first half, but Inter equalized, also with a penalty, at 33 minutes.

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From then on, the game was a real nail-biter. Really. Despite Lizzie's soothing, I was chomping away on my cuticles.

Granted, Inter fans always want Inter to win.
Inter fans always, always want, want Inter to win when the opposition is Gremio.
But when the GreNal happens to be one day after Inter's 100th Anniversary blowout, Inter fans go crazy when the team takes the lead with a goal in the 32nd minute of the second half.

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I have been to many good, no, great games. This one, though, was the best. Vamu vamu Inteeeeer! Parabens em seu jogo bonito e seu centenario!

After the game, we met some friends for sushi, though I think Lizzie prefers McDonalds.

In a few days, Flat Lizzie and I will be traveling. Should be a hoot. Stay tuned for details...

LG

P.S. Last night I had a dream that I was walking down some street in Russia. I stopped in a bakery and tried to order lunch in Portuguese. Weird.