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?