Are you sure we aren’t in Antarctica? : Brazilian Beer

Our first experience with the extreme coldness of Brazilian beers came when we were staying at the Awesome household in Goiania.    Mr. & Mrs. Awesome didn’t speak much English, and our party far less Portugeuse!   But as soon as we got settled in their lovely casa, they were getting us settled, cooking us snacks, and offering us cold cervajas (beer in Portugeuse).   With the Goania weather being in the mid 90’s, we happily accepted.

Having fun our first night in Goiania

They would bring out one-two cans and serve us all.   As soon as we got low, they’d get another cold can to split.  Not understanding the concept of polar bear beer, we thought this was quite funny their attentiveness to pouring.

Later that night, at Carne da Sol, the polar bear beer started to make more sense.   What happens when you go out with friends is that you order in total for your group.  They then bring out large frosty bottles (about the size of a forty) in mini cooling sleeves and serve them into tiny glasses.

The frosty beer and its cold sleeve.

This allows the beers never to get warm as you can replenish when you finish your glass.  Most of the time the servers poured for us.  As Daughter Awesome explained, “at a restaurant, we complain about the service if our glasses get low!”


B’s favorite is one called Antarctica with a penguin on it.  I can vouch that it’s the coldest beer I have ever had in my life.

B and his favorite

When Family Awesome took us to their country club, they also ordered beer.  This one came in a fancy cooler, like what we would have wine in at a restaurant.

A+ for presentation!

Cheers with Family Awesome

At the wedding, the servers were super attentive, pouring beers every time you took a sip or two.   We found it so funny how we were never empty!!   And, it is really easy to lose count this way.

Gabe’s glass was never empty

Us with Daughter & Son of Family Awesome who taught us so much about Brazilian life

Nonetheless, we are huge fans of our newly learned Brazilian tradition.  Maybe we’ll try to replicate this in the States with our wine chiller.


The Brazilian Beauty Salon

The day of the wedding, D’s mom, Mama I, arranged for hair appointments for all of us.  While I encourage Gabe to get his hair cut in every country we go to (it is half or third of the price of Geneva), I had never had the pleasure of an international hairdo.

Pippi Longstocking?

D’s cousin worked at the salon where we went so she was in charge of telling all the stylists what needed to be done.   We all selected our styles out of the book and Miss L, D’s sister, translated our preferences.

Trying to decide on styles

We enjoyed the different experience, commenting how busy the salon was.

Daughter Awesome had taught me & Gabe that most Brazilian women make salon appointments for Friday, to prepare for the weekend, no matter what the income bracket.  She explained that rich went to the rich salons and the poor to the poor salons.  You either had your nails, makeup, or hair done.   Just for the weekend!

I haven’t had a pedicure in one full year, so I was very jealous of this frequency!   Even young girls were in the salon getting pedicures as early as eight.  I guess you have to start with the beauty routine early….the Brazilians are such beauties!

Mama Mia getting her do

The Sensuous Siren after her curls were set

Mama Mia and the aunts delighted in the coffee, which the salon girls brought out on a tray, with china.   This is something we are used to in Switzerland – a more formal presentation for food & drinks, but this custom blew them away.  There was a picture taken of everyone receiving their lovely coffee treat.

Mama Mia, the world’s #1 coffee lover, was delighted.

While our curls set, we started getting called up for makeup.  The makeup was more dramatic than we were used to, which I think was a really neat for the big event.    I had already planned to ask for dramatic due to my more casual dress.  However, after seeing some of the aunts, I decided that asking for dramatic in an already dramatic country might be a little overkill.

Glamour Queens with their lovely make up complete.

Miss L translated what I wanted to her cousin, and I loved it……. D’s cousin is really talented in this area.  In fact, everyone loved their bold Brazilian wedding look.

As things frequently do in Brazilian, time got a little off track with timing.  So, D, the bride, had to step in and finish about five of the hairdos while her cousin focused on the makeup.

I will mention that D is a talented hairdresser, so she felt like this relaxed her instead of sitting watching.   However, since she has been in the US for ten years, the salon patrons did not know.  So you can imagine that they were very curious about our whole group and what the heck was going on!

D, finishing Mama Mia’s updo

D doing her mom’s hair, Mama I

In the end, we all walked out a lot more glamorous and ready for the big ceremony.

Don’t you love the dramatic makeup and styles???

Mama Mia and The French Cougar

Floridian Fox, Sensuous Siren, French Cougar and Mama Mia

Mama I & Dashing Dad’s beautiful girls

Gratitude Friday: A Taste of Brazil

While spending a week in Brazil, we certainly got spoiled by the food.  We aren’t used to tasty food while living in Geneva, so thus, this week’s gratitude Friday post!

Upon arrival in Rio, we took advantage of the ocean and dove into fish dishes.   We enjoyed fish stew, moqueca. We also had delicious fresh sushi.  We can’t afford sushi in Geneva (like 25 CHF a roll!) so we loved the all you could eat option at the restaurant we dined in.

Moqueca, image courtesy of

We weren’t sure what the plans were in Goiania so we also took advantage of trying a traditional  churrascaria barbecue, Tourão grill, near Barra da Tijuca in Rio.  We have both experienced this type of service in the US, so knew to expect to eat a lot.  That was an understatement… in Rio, the meat flowed even more freely.  We loved the variety, especially since we aren’t used to having much meat in Switzerland because of the cost.   In Rio, it was 37 $R per person for the service, which was less than $40 USD for the both of us!

Typical Brazilian steakhouse concept. Image courtesy of open

The best of the foods came in Goiania when we met up with D’s family.   We were greeted by fresh fruit, juices, breads, cheeses, and focaccia at Mama I’s apartment.  She even had sweet gelato-pudding for dessert.

Cheeses & breads at Mama I’s

Foccacia that was made fresh by Mama I

After breakfast, Gabe & I, along with Aunt French Cougar and Aunt Brazilian Bombshell, went to the Awesome Family’s house to stay.   D calls Mrs. & Mr. Awesome her aunt and uncle, but really they are just very close family friends that go back 35-40 years.

We didn’t know we were going to paradise.  They had a lovely home.  And the food at this house was off the charts.   In minutes, she had prepared us three pizzas to snack on.

Mrs. Awesome’s delicious pizza.

That night we went out with the group.   D ordered a selection of appetizers.  I adored the fried yucca.  Also, they ordered piranha for the group.  One order fed 10 of us as it came out with two types of bean sides, rice, and sauce.   Also, The Awesomes ordered chicken stuffed with cheese.  The Swiss would approve of this Brazilian dish!  Delicious!

Yucca appetizer

The delicious meat & sides

Chicken stuffed with cheese

The wedding day I also got a little treat of appetizer items that Mama I picked up for the girls at the salon to tide us over to dinner.

Little Brazilian bites

Wedding fare was a little fancier….a beef and rice with some delicious salads.   Brazilian weddings go later and this feast was served after midnight.  Boy, was I ready to devour it!!  Actually, this is Gabe’s plate.  I started eating mine too fast and forgot to take a photo.

Gabe’s wedding plate

We also got to experience country cooking when we went on our waterfall excursion near Pirenópolis.  The place where we started our hike offered a home cooked food buffet, on cauldrons over fire.  It was so awesome!

The set up. Open fire blazing under all the cauldrons.

The cauldron selection – beans & rice, zucchini, corn, pumpkin, ribs. Also eggs and steak were grilled on demand.

My plate. Mmmm.

The evening in Pirenópolis, we let Daugther and Son Awesome order as we were at a loss for the Portuguese menu and the foreign Brazilian dishes.  And it is so much easier in a big group to do family style.   Locals know what is best, and everyone gets to try something new.  I couldn’t recommend this approach more for groups in a foreign country.

We were delighted with a seafood risotto, a steak plate w/ sides, beans & rice.   The aunts ordered some white spaghetti to appease some cravings from back home.

The next day’s breakfast was a beautiful spread of Brazilian pastries & rolls with fresh juice and coffee.  By the way, their coffee comes sweet.

Coffee and juices

Speaking of juices, we tasted our fair share.  Passionfruit, Cajou, and my favorite – mango.   We were even able to see the cajou growing during our hike to the waterfalls:

Cajou fruit

Before leaving for the airport, we stopped at the family’s rental house where the group had been BBQ’ing and cooking all day.   We got to taste the delicacies out of the pots:

Yummy Brazilian soup: corn based with pork meat in it

Chicken & rice. Mmmm.

As you can see, we had quite an array.  Never have we experienced such a wide variety of foods in our travels.    A big thanks to Mama I, the Awesome Family, and to D, the bride, for giving us such a taste of their amazing country.

Bon weekend, everyone!

Sugarloaf Mountain

Another stop on our Rio list was Sugarloaf Mountain, or Pão de Açúcar, in Portuguese. Sugarloaf is named from the way that it resembles the pile of sugar, as sugar trading was a big livelihood in Brazil.

Sugarloaf, as viewed from the beach near downtown Rio

We had heard it was an interesting outing.  We practically had to beg our tour guide to take us as she said the view was better from Corovado mountain, where we saw Christ the Redeemer.

Making the cable car journey to Sugarloaf

That view from Christ The Redeemer was higher up, but I wouldn’t say it was better.  Because Rio was surrounded in a dense haze most of our trip, we thought the panoramas from Sugarloaf provided for better perspective of the beaches, city and landscape.

Checking out the gorgeous Rio coastine from the top of Sugarloaf

Our guide wasn’t so hot at taking photos. I had to delete 5 where she chopped our heads off. But this one you can somewhat see the background!

Rock climbing is popular, but for those less adventurous, there is a cable car that runs every 20 minutes.

Descending back into town. The beach in the distant left is Copacabana, where we were staying. Downtown Rio is in the right top.

Escadaria Selarón

When we were in Rio, we stopped at the Escadaria Selarón or Selaron Steps.   The steps have been tiled by one individual who did it as a tribute to the people of Brazil.  Jorge Selarón, the artist, was born in Chile and traveled the world before settling in Rio, in the neighborhood that contains the steps.

Gabe standing on the steps

Me on steps

Originally a painter, Selarón first started the tile project on the concrete steps near his doorstep and then grew into an obsession to complete the entire stairway.   And he has finished many times over.  Now, once he finishes an area, he re-does another.  His intention is for it never to be complete, a living artwork.

The artist is the guy in red. He was busy working while we visited and even invited us in to his house.

Our guide told us tourists bring tiles from all over the world.  Next time we are back in Rio, we’ll have to bring him one.

Related links:

The steps are featured in Snoop Dogg’s Beautiful video

Christ the Redeemer

As long as I can remember, I have thought it would be magnificent to see the monument of Christ the Redeemer.

I think my first notion that it existed came from the disaster movies.   You know when they show scenes from across the world, showing special monuments and cities collapsing?

Check out a clip of the film 2012 here, to see if you recognize it:

Built for the 100 year anniversary of Brazil’s independence, the Christ monument came from the Catholic Circle of Rio.   It was funded by Brazilian  donations and designed by a French sculptor.  They selected the Corovado mountain for its view over the city.

The photography I have seen of the monument is so peaceful and serene.  With sun setting over him, the enormous mountain, and the immense city, it certainly gives you a feeling that he is protecting the metropolis.

It is no wonder that this special monument and place was selected to be one of the seven new wonders of the world.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

He is visible from a large part of Rio de Janeiro itself.  As you drive along, you can see him on the Corovado mountain, from most vantage points.

We were able to see The Christ at many times driving in Rio, even with the haze

And beyond getting an ants view, we had the chance to visit the monument while in Rio.   We took a furnicular train up the mountain which was neat as it took us through the Tijuca rainforest.  It was our first time in a rainforest, so that was cool in itself.

Tijuca rainforest, Rio

Two of the 1500 favelas, or slums, covering Rio’s hills

After 25 minutes and 2,310 feet (704 m), we reached the summit.  250 stairs or an elevator then take you to the Christ’s feet.

Up close with The Christ monument

It was pretty miraculous.  The views and the sheer size of The Christ was breathtaking.

View of the bay from Christ the Redeemer monument

I only wish we were able to get the views from behind him to witness the same perspective of him holding the city as the photo above.  Our guide said these were done from a helicopter.  Oh well. Next time.

Anyhow, I am thankful for the chance to go see this beautiful monument and part of our world.

The Beaches of Rio de Janeiro

We had planned to go to the second wedding in Goiania, Brazil.  We had a few days before the rest of the guests and the bride & groom arrived to Goiania, so decided to hit another Brazilian locale.  We chose Rio de Janeiro as we had heard a lot of good things about the oceanfront city.

It was winter in Brazil, but temperatures were still warm in the upper 70’s.   It was cooler than it had been in the States but not too cool for swimming.

We stayed at Copacabana Beach.  This was mainly due to the fact that we had Marriott points and the JW Marriott was the only option of the chain in Rio.   Our hotel was right across from the famous beach.    It was nice…we ended up taking a walk daily down its 6km length.

Copacabana Beach. View from the JW Marriott.

However, our favorite was probably Ipanema. As I have mentioned before on the blog, I love it when beach landscapes have terrain adding to the panorama than just the ocean.  And Ipanema fit my “perfect beach” because of this quality.   It also had gorgeous blue water and felt a bit safer than some of the other beaches that we visited.

Ipanema Beach and Two Brothers mountain

Swimmers in Ipanema

We also took a walk on Praia de São Conrado.  It is more southward of the city and located just under one of the 1500 slums in Rio.   It stands in the shadow of Pedra da Gavea, which is the world’s largest monolith sitting on a coastline..  Again, I enjoyed it because of this feature.

The Sao Conrado beach falls on the other side of this giant mountain. The favelas, slums, surround the mountain. At least they have water views!

Sao Conrado beach

Lusi drove us by the 22 km Barra da Tijuca beach, but we ended up just taking a drive  because it was so long and we were limited on time.

A few tips on beaches:

–       Pack sunscreen – the sun is intense!!!!  We had a lot of haze but the sun still can penetrate your skin.

–       Wear the right flip flops.  The Brazilian brand Havaianas is famous.  You can purchase them for 15 R and up on the streets.

–       Be careful.  We had heard never to walk on the beach after dark.  Also, we were strongly discouraged to take a camera on a walk on the beach or any money, watches or valuables.    These photos were taken from high rises, or either when our tour car was in sight.

–       As far as attire, anything goes.  We saw everyone from five year olds to grandmas sporting the famous Brazilian thong (called fio dental translating to “dental floss”).   No one lets weight or age stand in their way.     Plus, speedos are the norm for the fellows.

Notice anything?

Eu Aceito: The Brazilian Nuptials

The week after the Ohio wedding came a second wedding for the couple in Brazil.  Since D is from Brazil, there was a blessing/ceremony of the marriage for her family members that couldn’t make the trip to the US.

Eight of us, not including the bride and groom, made it to the Brazil ceremony.   Beyond a few Greek weddings, this is the first multi-cultural wedding I have attended, so I thought I would share a few customs we noticed:

1 – Contrary to the USA where people are supposed to arrive a half hour prior to the wedding time to be seated, in Brazil, it is completely normal for the bride to be late.  Guests arrive late in anticipation of it, typically a half hour.  In fact, this wedding started over an hour after the time on the invitation.

The groom waiting for his bride.  Good thing they were already married in the US or he might be sweating it 🙂

2 – Instead of a traditional wedding party where everyone dresses the same, the important people in the couple’s lives are paired up, in duos called padrinhos.  This can be siblings, cousins, or important friends.   They don’t dress in the same bridesmaids dress, or suit, just in what they have chosen.   They stand at the altar, but seats are provided to sit in during the ceremony.

The lovely couple: the brides’s sister Miss L and cousin D. Image courtesy of Miss L’s camera.

3 – While USA flower girls are tiny, flower girls can have more of an age range in Brazil.

The lovely flower girl.  Image courtesy of Miss L’s camera.

4– The parents share a prayer at the beginning of the service.

5 – The weddings are more formal than the normal US wedding.  I actually wasn’t aware of this and had a little confusion thinking we were wearing the same dress as Ohio and didn’t bring anything suitable.  I passed in one of my dresses packed for Rio.     However, 99% of guests were dressed in their best suit and ball gown.

6 – After the ceremony, the samba music starts rocking. They are very talented and their rhythms inspire instantaneous dancing.

The bride’s sister had hired this band as a present.

So instant, in fact, that everyone dances during the appetizers and before the dinner.  And their feet can move!!!  We were so impressed, especially by Awesome Son’s fast footwork.

Bride, rocking to samba.

7 – Similar to throwing the bridal bouquet, in Brazil, the bride throws a cluster of Santo Antonio dolls at the eligible girls.  This Saint, Antonio, is whom you pray to when you want to get married.

Image courtesy of

D  threw one of these in Ohio.  As soon as it is launched, all the individual saints fly off into the crowd, at least four or five of them.   We Americans thought that it was a pretty neat trick for appeasement of many women who want to be married.  But the little girls got more sad they didn’t ‘win’ the game because they were dolls!

In fact, I had to console one little granddaughter of Aunt Foxy Floridian, letting her know that it was okay….she shouldn’t want a husband quite yet, they are a lot of work!  (just kidding, my love)

8Caipirinhas, the national drink of Brazil, are served in addition to beer and non-alcholic beverages.

Image courtesy of wikipedia

Awesome Son has a caipirina in his hand!

9 – Guests are given sweet cakes called casadinhos, or “marry well” cookies.  They are sweet cookies melded together with a sweet sticky center.  It is said that whomever eats one shares in the same luck as the bride and the groom.  D’s aunts & Mama I brought these to Ohio for everyone to partake.  And they were delicious!!

10 – Things get crazy after dinner at Brazilian weddings.   Dinner was served a little after midnight, and shortly after eating, the sisters handed out fun dress up items for us to “get crazy”.  It was like New Years Eve!

Me and my garb

The groom with his faux tie and hat

Aunt Sensuous Siren

Aunt Foxy Floridian

Everyone convened to a little glass room where a late night DJ was stationed to continue partying until the early morning.  Confetti cannons started booming and everyone danced the night away.

The little glass room was rockin’

It is said that Brazilian festivities don’t stop until all the food and booze run out.  We only stayed until 2:30am  so I can’t personally vouch for this, but I think the rest of the crew got in around 5:00am.

And tradition # 11  didn’t happen. Gabe had read the below custom on this site, so he was disappointed his brother didn’t ride the donkey.

“Very interesting wedding tradition in Brazil is that the groom has to subdue an unruly donkey. In such way he should to prove his worth as a responsible husband. The Brazilians called this custom as Bumba-Meu-Boi. This custom appears only in some parts of Brazil.”

The blog post is named Eu Aceito as these are the vows one would say (like “I do”) in the Portuguese language.  B, the groom, realized a few minutes before the ceremony that this information would be helpful.  He found D’s father who gave his son-in-law a quick lesson on when and what to say during the ceremony!!

Our trip, by the numbers

We are finally home in Geneva.   Below is a recap of our most recent trip, by the numbers.

Our route: Pink is me. Blue is Gabe. Purple is when we were together.

20,000      # of miles flying, averaged (19270 for me, 20126 for Gabe)

1,250         # of miles driven from Charlotte to Appomattox to Charlottesville to Appomattox to Blacksburg to Ohio and around Ohio for the wedding

56              # of hours spent flying in a plane

28              # of days I was gone

21               # of days Gabe was gone

11               # of beds slept in (3 in Charlotte for me, Appomattox, Blacksburg, Mendon, Rio, Goiania, Perinópolous, hammock, Atlanta)

10               # of legs of flights, each

8               # tanks of gas filled with our rental cars

7                # of loads of laundry done – 2 Charlotte, 2 at my moms, 2 at Gabe’s moms, 1 at the Courtyard Marriott Atlanta

5                 # of pumpkin spice lattes consumed during the trip (only available in September)

4                 # of overnight flights (over 9 hours)

3                 # of continents

2                # of different rental cars

2                 # of wedding ceremonies for Gabe’s brother & our sister-in-law attended

1                # of college football games attended

But, attending cross continent weddings and seeing immense numbers of friends & family……Priceless.

Aside from it being priceless, I think I can vouch for both of us that we have a little bit of travel burnout.   We’ll be sharing our Brazilian travels in the coming week so look for those on the blog.  I’ll be taking a nap in the meantime, recuperating from our journey.

Gratitude Friday: Making a VT game

As it turned out,  we were able to sneak in a Virginia Tech game when we were in the States.   Gabe joined me in Virginia, so that we could drive up to Ohio together  to help with the wedding preparations and to see Gabe’s friends & family.

And, do you know what falls on the way driving between Virginia and Ohio?   Blacksburg!!   It was amazing timing that the same day we planned to drive  happened to be the Monday night home season opener.  What luck!  Or, maybe it was fate!

For those of you know don’t know about American football, we can be quite fanatical about it.   My university, Virginia Tech, located in Blacksburg, Virginia, is no exception.  I am less fanatical than most of my friends.    I only wish I could be as dedicated as them, but a three-year long distance relationship and International move has inhibited by game-attendance.

Here is a quick video to orient you to the craziness that is Virginia Tech football:

Beyond the “Enter Sandman” and the actual game watching, most of the fun around game attendance is doing something called “tailgating”.  I will explain it for those of you who aren’t from America.   Before the game, people park their SUVs (sport utility vehicles) in the parking lots surrounding the stadium.  They arrive much earlier than the start time, sometimes 12 hours in advance.  They set up food and drinks on the tailgate of the car.  More committed tailgates also have chairs and tables that they set up behind the car.   And they “pre-game” for many hours before the actual game is set to occur.

Things that are common to tailgates in the South:

-special cars / tailgating-mobiles

Image courtesy of Facebook

Image courtesy of

-camping chairs

-grills or burners or crock pots for cooking food

Awesome grill, image courtesy of

Image courtesy of flickr

-delicious foods such as : fried chicken, deviled eggs, pasta salad, ham biscuits, chips, and homemade desserts.  Sometimes there are hot dogs and hamburgers.  In the winter, there can be soups and chilis to keep you warm.

Image courtesy of

-bourbon & beer

-games such as flip cup, beer pong, or cornhole

Image courtesy of

As I mentioned, the fans are super dedicated.    I’d like to provide you with some examples:

  • Two of our couple friends, both of which have given birth to their first child in the last 9 months, rent out an apartment for the season.  This enables them to have an entire weekend dedicated to Hokie football.   They bring sofas, TVs, and blow up beds and pay rent.   They’ve been doing it for years.   And now the babies are here, they haven’t stopped.  That’s serious commitment.

Have baby. Will tailgate.

  • These same friends may or may not have a generator, special TV and slingbox/cable for their car to tailgate, so you can watch the ESPN commentary live.

Watching ESPN from our tailgate

  • One of these couples is so important to VT that the Hokie Bird came to their wedding:

Hanging w/ Hokie Bird @ R’s wedding

  • I grew up with a Hokie Fan who has only missed 3 Virginia Tech home games in the last 25 years.

The Hokie-tastic family where the dad, my friend, has missed 3 games in 25 years!

  • I was in a wedding of one of my best friends that was completely VT themed.

C’s wedding, 2007

  • A bunch of us gals are so serious about VT football that we actually went to Women’s training camp in Blacksburg to prepare for the upcoming Football season.

Girls with all the VT coaches after our two day training camp

This is Gabe’s third VT game.  He is very good at cheering for VT, as long as they aren’t playing against Ohio State or Miami of Ohio (his alma mater).   He also doesn’t like eating the turkey legs they serve there as he considers in cannibalistic.  Which it is, sort of, since our mascot is a turkey.

Our mascot, Hokie Bird, is a turkey

Image courtesy of Talesfromtheroad –

You should see the opposing team’s jeers and posters on Thanksgiving game weekend!

Anyhow, this game, we bought Gabe his first VT shirt.   I think marriage has finally convinced him that he probably needs one since I’ll be trying to get him to go to more VT games in his lifetime than he’d previously planned on.

Playing cornhole in the new Hokie digs

The game was great – we got to tailgate and sit with great friends.   VT finally pulled out a victory in overtime, the first in Lane Stadium.    Go Hokies!

Bon weekend, everyone!