And Then There Was Gramado...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Last weekend the Brito's (old family friends) showed us around Gramado. We got there around 9pm, and we immediately loved it. With wide, impeccably clean streets and Christmas lights already making an appearance (no complaints here) I felt no where near Brazil. Gramado has a lot of German and Italian influence, which makes it all the more charming. I've heard a few say it is the Park City of Brazil but I'm not sure this does it justice. The Brito's were the most incredible hosts, and wined and dined us like no one's business.

Gramado is famous for its chocolate, endless fondue restaurants, and bright hydrangeas lining the streets. Picturesque.

I was tempted to take this stunning, strutting bird home with me. Turns out we don't need any more sassy pants around here.

So after a weekend of colonial breakfasts, fondue dinner, churrascaria, etc- I was ready to take a few days off eating. You know, for my heart's health sake. And I had the full intention of doing so (and probably would have until 10am the next morning) until I remembered it was Alex's birthday the next morning. Luckily, I had mostly planned ahead.

In my family, birthday's are kinda a big deal. But not in a presents sort of way. More in a make-you-feel-ultra-special kind of way. We always have a handcrafted sign, breakfast in bed, front seat in the car, dinner at their favorite restaurant, you get the drift. You see, when you are one of the nine kids, a day like this is pretty special. 

So I planned accordingly. Luckily I still had the happy birthday sign my sisters sent to me for my birthday, planned to make his favorite french toast breakfast (with the GOOD kind of bread this time, and homemade syrup...duh), my dad brought Red Vines from the U.S. (another Alex favorite), a pre-scheduled masseuse to come to our apartment, a surprise cake at work, and to a French restaurant for dinner.

Awesome, right?

Unfortunately, the birthday sign broke in several pieces (seriously..don't even know), the masseuse didn't show up, I couldn't go to work that day to witness the surprise cake, and overall I felt terrible. He was so sweet though, such an easy going guy this one. We still had a great time. We sat for at least 2 hours just enjoying our frenchy meal and talking. It was one of those restaurants where there is no menu, just one option of a 3 course meal.

And if you care to know, the above picture is a massive bowl of the best mousse I've ever had. Of course it had to be documented.

So Tuesday it was back to normal food and mass amounts of veggies. Lately, my favorite is pumpkin. In honor of U.S.'s autumn, and because I refuse to be out of the loop on this one. And it never looked so good.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Last weekend Alex and I traveled to Guarajuba, a little beach town outside of Salvador. A family friend graciously offered her vacation home right on the beach, and basically, it was bliss. I'm embarrassed to say that I lugged my DSLR with me, only to take a couple pictures five minutes before we left. It was one of those rare times (for me) that I don't have the irresistible urge to capture everything, from every angle. The few I took were from our phone.

It was a chillax weekend full of swimming in the ocean, reading to my little heart's content, french toast (with a sorry attempt of carmelized bananas), sleeping in, and lots of sun with an ocean breeze. It was dreamy, especially knowing that we will probably never do this again. For a while at least. I mean, seriously- just the two of us in a beautiful house right on the ocean.. in Brazil??

This weekend I finally got my hands on Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I've been waiting to read it for well over a year, and I devoured it. Alex began reading over my shoulder around page 100, and the rest of the weekend consisted of hoarsely reading aloud to each other. That is, until we took a break for the Utah vs. ASU came. ...But then prompty resumed when the poor Utes got creamed.

Now for the, for lack of a better word, unglamorous part of our week. Of course I'm still having Portuguese "learning curves" on a daily basis. And lucky for me, they are usually quite awkward for everyone around. At least I'm keeping people on their toes. A little tip, don't tell people how "excitante" (excited?) you are. Eventhough google translate says its fine. FYI, google doesn't know everything.

Top ramen, every night. As a foodie, it's flat out embarrassing. But right now I'd rather travel. When in Brazil I suppose...

Something else, our stove has been bit by bit (or perhaps instantaneously) giving me unreasonable anxiety. Such a pathetic little thing, but it drives me half mad. I'm not sure whether it's the ancient pans, or that there is no such thing as "medium" between off and blazing high... or the combo. Either way, I can't go near it without muttering all sorts of unladylike things.

The oven is Alex's downfall. But to his credit, we are convinced that in its previous life, this little hellraiser was once engineered to be a death trap. Who knew I'd be missing my sliver of a kitchen back in Provo so dearly?!!

Lastly, this week has been surprisingly chilly. Compared to Utah, it's nothing. We love poking fun at Brazilians bundled up in marshmallow coats, thick scarves, and gloves in 60 degree weather- but with no heating systems in any buildings, it can get a little frio at night. This picture is actually old, but if I had this hat with me I'd definitely be using it.

We leave Brazil in a month...I can't believe it! As excited as I am to see family, friends, fall weather, and getting back to normal life with people that speak english- this is going by way, wayyyy too fast.

Foz do Iguaçu

Sunday, September 16, 2012

This past week, Alex and I visited Iguaçu Falls. I was a little worried it wouldn't live up to its unreal hype, but I promise- it does not disappoint. It has to be the most amazing thing I've seen in my life, and  I already can't wait to go back! 

When everyone kept insisting we stay there at least two days, one day each for the Brazil side and Argentina side- I thought they were nuts. Who needs that much time to see a waterfall? But we did it, and my oh my. You must do it too.

They say when Eleanor Roosevelt visited she proclaimed, "Poor Niagra!" She said it perfectly. The Brazilian side is stunning. You get to see the whole thing, more from a distance. We did the raft/speedboat (you know the ones that look like they'll pop on the first rock, but has the power of a speedboat? Yeah. ) that took us right under one of the falls. For this, don't even bother with the little ponchos. Nothing can protect you, and soak it in! ..literally

We also visited the bird sanctuary on the Brazil side. I'm not an animal person (at all...sorry), but this was surprisingly, legitimately cool. But beware of sassy Toucan's. They are beautiful, and they sure do know it.

This bird has to be the craziest thing I've seen. Seriously, those colors!!

After a full day of "nature", that night Alex woke up to me freaking out about a spider on my pillow, insisting on sleeping by his feet. He looves to egg me on during times like this, and offered to kill the spider. To which I responded, "No thanks- it is too beautiful." Whaaaa, what??

A little dirty secret for you, the Argentine side is even better. The Devil's Throat (Garganta do Diablo) is absolutely insane. From a distance it looks like a big role in the river.

And then you get closer.

 See that little black thing in the bottom left corner? A bird. My journalist Grandpa likes to say Iguaçu makes Niagra look like a peanut, and I have to agree.

Another good thing about the Argentine side is there are many trails for different views. And a little island between the falls that you can take a (free) boat ride to swim and basically be in heaven.

And on the way home, the "Triple Frontier", the tri- boarder between Brasil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

Until next time!

7 Things

Sunday, September 9, 2012

1. Hilary is a MOMMY! And I have to say, Hallie Rose is one of the most beautiful babies I've seen.  Skype dates rock with this little one. Have I ever mentioned that I am legitimately terrified that I won't love my own children as much as my nieces and nephews? I have nightmares about it.

2. We visited Brasilia. My favorite part was this beauty, the Dom Bosco Church.

3. I broke my piggy toe. And they made me go to the hospital, which was simply hilarious. Too bad nothing can keep me from 4" heels! Anti-inflammatories, and this thick bandage for 6 weeks you say? Good one doc, good one... (This is where the dumb American card comes in handy.)

4. I am in love with White Collar. I think the only other TV series I've been this excited about was Lost (eventhough I peaced out for the last season.) Well.... unless you count The Next Food Network Star, Biggest Loser, and American Idol- but I probably should have kept that to myself.

5. Husband found out that the (American Sports) Center is on every morning for one precious hour. It's like every morning at 8AM is Christmas, and the first day of school at 8:45 when we have to leave before the "Top 10 Plays" comes on. It's quite the exhausting cycle to begin your day with. (If you're wondering, we are not fans of the first day of school.)

6. I found a way to make cookies and pancakes here. Thanks Dad for smuggling baking powder, baking soda, and chocolate chips in for me. HALLELUJAH!

7. Speaking of my dad, he is pretty cool. I always knew that, but seeing what he has done down here is downright awesome. Azul celebrated their 20th million customer on Wednesday, and they did it with serious style. Hippies handing out flowers, a marching band playing "All You Need is Love", and a dancing parade of escatic people through the airport.

Above 4 Photo Creds: Noemi Ferrer

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