Monday, June 30, 2014

Brazil Day 1: Sao Paulo/Brasilia

Did you know that the entirety of the South American continent is east of Detroit?  That makes the jet-lag to Brazil pretty much non-existent, despite the nine-hour flight from Toronto to Sao Paulo.

This whole crazy idea to go to Brazil started with a suggestion in a bar that going to Brazil for the World Cup would combine two things we've wanted to do: travel to South America and go to a World Cup.  The idea was quickly seconded by our friends Cassy and Connor, and before we knew it, we were buying plane tickets, getting up in the wee hours of the morning to purchase tickets to a game, and scouring Airbnb for places to stay.

And then the day came, and all four of us landed safely in Brazil.  We arrived in Sao Paulo, but hung around the airport for a few hours for our next flight into Brasilia, the capital of Brazil.  Brasilia was built as the new capital in the 1960s, and we were drawn to it for the renowned architecture and city planning which makes it unique in Brazil and the world.  It is also in the center of the country and has a very different climate than that of the coast.

The cab ride from the airport to our apartment introduced us to what would be my lasting impression of Brasilia - the crazy driving tactics of the citizens of Brasilia.  We made it safely, however, and after some poor attempts at speaking Portuguese with the doorman, we met with our hostess, Leide, who is a soil researcher at an institute just outside the city and, coincidentally, had gone to graduate school in Kyushu, Japan about the same time I was there.  We dropped off our bags and  Leide very kindly drove us around the neighborhood so we could get our bearings on the grocery store, some restaurants, and where to start our sightseeing.

By this time, we were quite hungry, so we had Leide drop us off at one of the nearby bar/restaurants for our first attempt at ordering food.  It was fairly easy to order beers and french fries, but my "He's a vegetarian" line did not work so well, and so we ended up with what we assumed were some breaded chicken pieces.  We decided we shouldn't forget the phrasebook next time.

On our way home we stopped at the grocery store for breakfast food.  I love grocery stores in other countries.  You can learn about a culture in the grocery store.  We quickly realized that Brazilians do not eat a lot of cheese, do not have open container laws, and are never in a hurry when checking out.

Travel tip: Do not flush your used toilet paper in Brazil.  There are wastebaskets next to the toilet for that.  Sam says that you should not be able to be a developed country without adequate sewer systems to flush your toilet paper.  It didn't bother me that much.

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