Monthly Archive: February 2013

Feb 28

Street Art Adding Colour to Rio

Regular readers will know that I have a soft-spot for street art. I know it’s not to everyone’s liking and some people even have quite strong objections to what they see as ugly vandalism, but I like it. Having said that, I definitely have more trouble with the pixação so common in São Paulo – while street art (in my eyes at least) makes places less ugly and more interesting, pixação seems to do the opposite.

Today I wanted to illustrate the positive effects of street art in Rio. Praça Quinze de Novembro is a large open square in Rio’s Centro (downtown) neighbourhood. Running straight through the middle of Praça Quinze is the Elevado da Perimetral, an overpass or flyover. Take a look at the scene back in February 2012, taken from Google Maps Street View:

VEvd-Perimetral

Dark and imposing – the Elevado Perimetral running through the middle of Praça Quinze. Photo from Google Maps Street View

 

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Feb 27

Being Brazilian

Hi everyone. I mentioned recently that I had taken on a new contributor and today is the day of her first contribution! I won’t give her a big introduction, I’ll just say that I met her almost 3 years ago and Reader, I married her.

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I have never seen myself as the typical Brazilian. After Mr. Eat Rio and I got married, I joked several times that his friends would be very disappointed when they met me. I’m not tall, I’m not tanned and my samba skills are questionable. But in the same way that happiness only exists with sadness and beauty with ugliness, thinking of myself as a true Brazilian only made sense when I compared myself with my loved Englishman.

 

union jack

 

So over the last years, I’ve learned I’m very Brazilian indeed. I’m loud; I touch people I don’t know very well; I engage in deep conversation with people I don’t know at all; I snap my fingers to call waiters; I think it’s normal when my family discusses family members’ lives on Sunday lunch. But I think the major aspect that sets me apart from my husband’s nation is this: I interrupt.

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Feb 23

My best Rio Carnival moment of 2013

I know I know, carnival is over – just accept it and move on… Well I’m not ready to move on! Back in 2012 I told you about my best moment of the carnival that year (just an entire carnival bloco invading the airport - if you haven’t seen it then don’t miss the video). This year’s carnival moment was perhaps not quite so dramatic, but as an example of the spirit of Rio carnival, it’s hard to beat.

Google-maps-markers

The Google Maps Markers! The markers were actually joined by a rope which made for some interesting manoeuvring!

 

One thing I’m struck by each year at carnival is how often I see the same people at multiple blocos. One of us will nudge the other and go “Look, it’s those Google Maps Markers again” or “Check it out! It’s that girl in the monkey suit from yesterday!”. Well one team I saw both during carnival 2012 and also at several blocos this year were noticeable because of a sign they held: Ceará Livre!:

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Feb 21

What is Brazilian food like?

I saw a comment on Facebook the other day that got me thinking. Someone had posted something about the food not being great in a certain part of Brazil and then someone else had responded “Well, no one goes to Brazil for the food”. My initial reaction was “Harumph! That’s rather dismissive of Brazilian food!”. But then I thought back to my first few months in Brazil.

Back then I was not impressed with the food at all. There was my first taste of farofa which reminded me of a mouth full of dry sawdust. Then there was some weird gooey slop with prawns called Bobó. The rice and beans were OK, but if you had asked me about the best food in Latin America, I would have told you about the Ceviche in Peru, almost everything in Mexico and, of course, the sublime beef and red wine of Argentina.

steak-chimichurri

Two fat Argentinian steaks, one bowl of delicious chimichurri and one happy Englishman!

 

So maybe that Facebook comment was fair after all? When people think of a holiday in Brazil they generally think of beaches, samba, carnival and football – not the food. But even if people aren’t obsessing over the food when they arrive in Brazil, what do they think of it when they actually try it?

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Feb 21

Photo Post: The Leysian Mission

The Leysian Mission sounds like some kind of spy thriller doesn’t it? Well in fact it is this fine building that I snapped on my way to work on Tuesday. London really is rather magnificent sometimes…

Leysian Mission

Originally this was a Methodist school which also offered a “poor man’s lawyer”, a relief committee, feeding programmes, meetings for men and women, and a range of services and musical activities.

 

Feb 20

London vs Rio

Did I mention that I’m back in London for 2 weeks? I’ve been really busy since I got back, but I started writing this on Monday morning as I made my way to work:

 

This is the first time I’ve been back to England in a year. I landed less than 24 hours ago and already the contrasts with Brazil have been jumping out at me. Here’s how today started…

 

Duvet

Everyone in Britain sleeps under a duvet (sounds like DOO-vay). A duvet is a thick quilt, traditionally stuffed with goose or duck down, nowadays more commonly filled with cheaper artificial fibres. Outside the temperature is just a few degrees above freezing, so the single sheet that I used back in Brazil would be useless.

 

Duvet

A duvet (AKA quilt). It keeps you cosy when it’s cold, but getting out of bed in the morning can be tough.

 

Morning Water Torture

Getting out from under the cosy duvet is really hard, but things get worse when you get to the shower. Of course the water comes out hot, but in older houses especially, the bathroom itself is often freezing! Back in Brazil I used love a long, cool, refreshing shower in the morning (and usually at least one more later in the day). Here in London it is like cold water torture…

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Feb 15

Where to stay in Rio

If you’re coming to Rio for a holiday, finding a place to stay can be tricky. If you want something cheap then you’ll probably start looking on the various hostel search websites and soon you’ll discover that “cheap” is a relative term! A bed in a dorm in Ipanema will set you back around R$50 (US$25) per night.

Further up the pecking order you’ll find pousadas (guest houses). These vary enormously, from basic to boutique. There are some real gems out there so if you’re looking for something with personality, this would be my recommendation. I’m no expert on accommodation in Rio (I live here!), but there is one pousada I can definitely recommend because it’s where Mrs Eat Rio and I got married!

Casa Áurea

Casa Áurea in Santa Teresa. Ahhh, happy memories of our big day!

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Feb 15

Photo Post: A walk around Pão de Açúcar

After all the mayhem of carnival I decided on Wednesday that what I needed was a nice tranquil walk in peaceful surroundings. I had heard that there is a path that goes around Pão de Açúcar and unlike many of the hikes in Rio, this was an easy stroll without any steep slopes – perfect for my carnival-weary body! You pick the track up just next to Praia Vermelha, not far from where the cable car takes you up to the top of Pão de Açúcar.

There are plenty of more taxing hikes that actually take you some of the way up the Sugarloaf or its neighbouring hills, but I opted for the super-easy path which I had heard was a little over 4km. In the end it turned out to be even easier as after around 2.5km there was a sign warning people not to go any further without a guide. I expect it is quite possible without a guide, but I was feeling intensely lazy and only wearing flip-flops so I was quite happy to turn around and stroll back the way I had come.

Even on this fairly short walk I spotted all kinds of interesting sights along the way.

Praia Vermelha

As I set off on my leisurely stroll, I looked back through the leafy branches and caught sight of the hectic scenes back at Praia Vermelha (Red Beach).

 

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Feb 13

Carnival Costumes

One of the things I like most about Carnaval de Rua (the free street carnival, as opposed to the paid procession at the Sambadrome) is the dressing up. And from the looks of it, I’m not the only one! Of course there are the classic costumes that show up every year (about 50% of all carnival photos will contain at least one pirate), but some people really go to town.

Today I thought I’d show you a few of the fantasias (way cooler then the English term I grew up with, ‘fancy dress’) that caught my eye this year. Let’s start off with Watermelon Man! Sure, anyone can put a watermelon on their head, but the shirt, cape and arm ‘protectors’ take this outfit up a level.

Watermelon Man

Simple, effective and, well, a bit mushy on the head I guess.

 

Next we get a bit naughty!

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Feb 08

Escondidinho – the little hidden

I know, I know – not everyone uses carnival as an excuse for a full-on, 5-day fun-binge. Some people actually dislike carnival and do their best to leave town during what is admittedly a bit of an inconvenient time if you want to do anything which doesn’t involve dressing up as a nun/ballerina/pirate and dancing in the street. Happily I fall into the full-on, 5-day fun-binge category and so for me this is a time I look forward to all year.

If you ask people who’ve been to carnival if they have any tips, you’ll probably get all kinds of advice, from best pee strategy (go whenever you get the opportunity, even if you don’t really need to go), to best bloco enjoyment strategy (set your alarm and get up early – a lot of the best stuff starts at 8am).

Today I’m going to give you another tip: Don’t forget to eat! I know that may sound a bit like saying “Don’t forget to breathe”, but it’s surprising how easy it is to get carried away with all the dancing and singing and moving from one bloco to the next. Before you know it it’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon and you’re absolutely exhausted and ready for bed.

If you like some beers and caipirinhas with your samba, you are going to need something good and heavy to keep you going – a green salad ain’t going to cut it! May I present Escondidinho:

 

Escondindinho

Escondidinho (sounds like eskon-jee-JEEN-yo). This will keep you samba-ing to the end of day.

 

If something is hidden, it is described in Portuguese as escondido (sounds like eskon-JEE-do). Well you remember how much Brazilians like to add their diminuitives? The dish you see above roughly translates as ‘Little hidden’ and when you start eating it you soon see why.

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