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Monday, 27 June 2011

Fight for your right to Paraty

So we went to Paraty this weekend - a mere 260 odd kilometres along the coast. And the coast is pretty spectacular. Every few miles there is some delightful beach or other - You could easily make a day of the journey. Wonderful.

This weekend was the feast of Corpus Christi -  and a long weekend for most of us. We heeded advice and got up at the crack of dawn to hit the road while most of the snoozing Cariocas were still fast asleep. Sound advice indeed - even if getting up in the morning is about as appealing as punching yourself in the face.

Well, as a reward for our commendable early rising, we were rewarded with near-silent road conditions and made our way down to the wonderful historical landmark without incident. Our digs were cool too. We stopped at Mangu´s Posauda - one of about a thousand and one to choose from (although I´m told at peak times you definitely need to book ahead - even if you want to stay somewhere crap.)

I knew one day I´d end up at Magnus again

Our room was just up the stairs.
The historical pedestrianised part of the town is a real gem. Loads of chiq eateries to practice your Portuguese in, and loads of street vendors to make sure you don´t have to walk more than ten feet without a drink in your hand. You´r gonna need one if you want to stay sane pulling a buggy over the confounded cobbles!

Ok - Buggy over cobbles is easier than buggy through the flood...

Friday, 17 June 2011

Violinsta no Telhado

(as ever, the real fiddler was in the pit...)

Ok - so I unreservedly take it all back. Broadway musicals in other languages can work. Actually, they can work really well.

One of my earlies memories of the theatre is 'Fiddler on The Roof'. Now I´m not precisely sure when I first saw this show - but I know I was really small (maybe even 2 or 3) - the perfect age to be educated about xenophobia and pogroms. No wonder I turned out to be such a balanced and rounded individual.

The show has popped up to haunt me at various points in my life ever since, and given that it must be 5 years or so since I last saw it, I should have known that I was due for another onslaught. Allbeit here in Brazil.

Ok - going to the theatre here is a big deal and not cheap. So remember to be half smart and not half pissed. Check. Now enjoy the ride.

The biggest difference that struck me the moment the Violin cadenza started, was that the whole thing was going to be at a volume akin to listening intently to an angle grinder at close quarters. Fortunately, the pain soon subsides and it turns out that it is actually a pleasure to listen to a well mixed sound where I can actually here everything. (even if it was like being at some kind of quasi stadium style broadwayesque production)

The band were great, and the cast totally convincing throughout. I was really moved - and I have to say that once you know the story, I don't suppose it matters what language they´re speaking.

At the interval I went and stared into the orchestra pit and exchanged a smile with a couple of the players. To me that place will always be the engine room of the theatre. I couldn´t help but feel a smidgen of envy.

I swear I´m getting softer by the day.

Do you love me? Do I bollocks.

anyhow, if you want to go then click here...

Saturday, 11 June 2011

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

Midweek Breakfast Panic......

Now theres no point starting the day on an empty stomach, and here in Rio there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever. My daily coffee and fresh bread is such a staple part of my life now I feel as though I might come slightly unhinged without it. Who would have thought? Anyhow, if by some freak of nature (and believe me they happen here) I don't make it to work before breakfast is snatched back into the kitchen, there are literally hundreds of en route possibilities worth considering. I'm not kidding. On wednesday this week I bought a coffee and a sarnie from some bloke selling them from the boot of his car. Absolutely top notch.

Weekend breakfast delights....

Now, since the patter of tiny feet, hung over lie-ins have become more modest to say the least. Hangovers though, I have to say are still plentiful and getting worse as a speed towards dementia. Thanks heavens for the marvellous Copacabana saturday morning breakfasts. They truly save lives. Here's how.

This morning we amble along the road for 5 minutes and stopped at Big bi's (I reckon there a few) - and bought:

  • Toast+butter
  • Pineapple Juice (fresh as a daisy)
  • 2 coffees with milk
  • Cheese and ham pastry (called a joelho)
  • Esfha de Carne (mince meat and veg pastry)
  • pão de queijo (cheesy bread balls)
Wonderful - all fresh, and served with a smile - the bill? R$16 - just over 6 quid.

Coffee here, as you might expect, is everywhere and really varies in quality, but at these places, a 'Cafe Media' with milk is a small work of art. Take the time to watch your waiter pour the milk and coffee it precisely the proportions you want. Does it really make a difference? - Apparently so. And always remember that if you want to add the entire sugar bowl to this carefully crafted concoction, then that's absolutely fine.

Now - if you want to splash out, there are loads of places the hungover chic Carioca set like to be seen recomposing after a heavy night. Last weekend we went to Santa Satisfação. The honey was amazing - and I'm not that bothered about honey. Ra ra ra - you get the idea.

Anyhow, I reckon we could do breakfast out for years without exhausting the possibilities. How do you eat yours?
I can't get no place to sit down...

Monday, 6 June 2011

Happy Birthday João Gilberto

Shh..Blame it on the Bossa Nova

If there were ever a truly special reason to learn Portuguese, then this man could easily be it. In the early sixties, he helped to establish Bossa Nova as a new Brazilian national music. To me it seems to capture all that is relaxed and beautiful about this place, despite being juxtaposed with noise and bustle and even danger.. Its still cool to sit on your front doorstep and croon one beautiful lyric or other. Its transcends the age gaps too. Teenagers and pensioners alike are hypnotised again and again. I fail to see how anyone can fail to find these melodies anything less than the height of romance.

Erm... Before I go completely soft, I should also add that Mr Gilberto has also proved to be hilariously intolerant and quirky throughout his life, which in my book confirms his legendary status. He has been known for walking off stage because members of his adoring public were talking. Once he even entertained a sweltering crowd because he insisted that the noise from the air conditioners would ruin his performance. Legend.

And my favourite story of all was about a recording session with Stan Getz and Tom Jobim. Joao was less than happy with Getz (who didn´t understand Portuguese) and told Tom Jobim - "Tom, diga a ese gringo que ele é muito burro.' - Oi Tom - Tell this gringo that he really is a donkey!

Tom smiled and told Stan he was doing fine.

I know that these stories get distorted with the passage of time, but there are so many about this wonderful bloke, that there simply has to be some truth in them,

Anyhow, happy birthday for yesterday João. You are one on your own. (and I dream of the day when the audience sing along with me like they do with you. Simply lovely.)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Cristo in the red....

Anyone else seeing red?

As part of my effort to blend in with the commuting masses I grab a free paper each morning before I jump on the bus. This way I effortlessly blend in to the hoard as I leaf through the pages. Surely such a confident guy must be Brazilian, despite his over tall, over fair, booted and suited swagger (no, I havn´t got a limp - its a macho swagger)?

Anyway  whilst perusing the toxic propaganda filled pages of the ´metro´ (heh - 'spose that makes it quite simalar to a 'metro' I used to read!), I noticed  that to mark the occasion of 'World No Tobacco Day' yesterday, the powers that be changed the bulbs and Christ The Redeemer was bathed in red limelight for one night only.

Nice touch. And I'm told that the inspiration for this theatrical display had nothing to do with the slightly murkier red lights found in other parts of town.

Try one of these....

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