Visiting Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo & an Argentinian restaurant

November 18, 2016

After our visit to MAC-USP, Dale and I crossed the bridge over the busy thoroughfares below, to reach Ibirapuera Park and more art museums!

There was something called the Bienal – the 32nd biannual art exposition – housed in one of the park’s buildings, very near the ramp that extended over the streets to MAC-USP on the other side.

There was a lot of really interesting artwork on display, much of it inspired by Brazil’s indigenous peoples and natural environment.  To the right of the entrance, a lot of tall stalks painted in natural colors evoked a forest.

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20161118_130144In the middle of that part of the hall was a replica of an indigenous house – an oval “mud” hut with a roof made of thatched palm leaves.

20161118_130207 Stepping inside, we had to duck, for the doorway was too low for most adults.  In the middle of the hut was a circular raised pit, with four carvings of animals representative of native species, including a turtle and a tamanduá (anteater).

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20161118_130359Against the curved walls were pieces by native artists which I found fascinating, beautiful renditions of Brazilian folk art!

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This kind of boat is used by fishermen and is called a jangada.

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These curved hats are typical of the leather hats worn by cowboys in the Northeast. A general term for these men is cangaceiros.

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Hints of myth and religion…

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Bumba-meu-bói costume – in the Northeast during carnaval (known in the U.S. as Mardi Gras) two people get into these bull costumes, one in front, one in back, and parade in the street. It’s a type of dance performed with typical music of the sertão – the rural arid interior of Northeast Brazil.

20161118_130619I could have lingered there longer, but Dale had taken a panoramic video and was now beckoning me to go.  He was getting hungry and where was the restaurant that signs promised?

We looked at a few other exhibits while searching for the restaurant,  including a circle of potted plants and their role in planting and harvesting.

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20161118_131703We ended up having to walk completely around the outside of the building to find the café – not really a restaurant.  Perhaps the restaurant was closed.

We entered the café from a rear entrance and down a hall covered with advertising posters from previous years’ biennials. With the limited menu, we decided to have just a snack – I ordered us two quiches and two Guaraná Zeros. (Guaraná is a Brazilian soft drink made with the guaraná, a type of berry. It is tangy and refreshing! But we are watching our diet, so we ordered the “Zeros” – meaning no sugar!)

There was another art museum (MAM) in the park but instead of spending time there,

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Facade of MAM (Museum of Modern Art)

we headed across the park to the Afro Brasil museum, but when we approached the entrance we saw a crowd of several school groups lingering outside – it would be crowded and nosiy, so we decided not to go in.

While we had been looking for that museum, we had passed a couple of statues, some modern sculptures,

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Ibirapuera Park

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132_3820and a low white domed building with round whited-out windows – it looked like an alien spaceship! In fact, we think it was the planetarium or possibly the “Oca” listed on the map, which also contained some art on display.  We did not go in.

I think this is the planetarium at Ibirapuera Park.

Interesting trees
pândano tree

Walking away from the Afro Brasil museum, we followed main paths that circled the park, where lots of kids on bicycles passed us in noisy groups – including three girls who passed us several times; Dale thought they were lost but I laughed and said they didn’t act like they were lost – they were just having a good time riding back and forth!

Mural behind palm and flowering trees
Mural on another building (unused, it looked like- there were abandoned shopping carts alongside it) behind palm and flowering trees

We passed the edge of a lake and in spite of the uneven path and some garbage floating in the water near the shore, it was peaceful there. I stepped off the path to stand on the bank.

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We stepped off the trail to stand on the bank, where I took this picture.

But we returned to the main path with its walkers, bicyclists and skateboarders.  There was a restroom, so we each went into our respective sides.  There was a slight odor and the toilets didn’t have seats – I had to gingerly lower my bottom onto the rim – and once there, realized there was no toilet paper!

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Although stinky and deteriorating, the restrooms were colorfully painted.

Good thing I had packages of Kleenex – I threw the tissue into the little wastebasket next to the toilet. Ugh!  Leaving the stall, I went to wash my hands and observed some girls coming in, who pulled paper out of a large round dispenser.  Each of them tore off a piece which they took with them into the stalls.  So that was the toilet paper! I looked around for something to dry my hands on and saw an employee with thick packets of paper towels loading them into the paper towel dispenser.  I murmured something vague as I grabbed one off the top of the pile before she closed the dispenser.

TIP:  If you are visiting Ibirapuera Park, DON’T use these outdoor johns – the restrooms inside exhibit buildings are cleaner!!

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Exercise station – these are scattered throughout the park.
You find artwork in the most unexpected places!
We found art in the most unexpected places!

More public art

My legs were getting tired so we sat down on a bench to rest.  Dale pointed to one of the paved paths which seemed to lead into a dark area, but he was convinced we should take that route to get back to the bridge.  I was opposed at first, saying it was dangerous but then I saw a couple of people walking and bikes whizzing in and out.  He was right – taking that route led us to Portão 4 where we exited the park and walked over the bridge over the busy thoroughfares.

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We went back to the apartment in Vila Mariana and rested, and decided where to go for dinner.  I found an Argentinian restaurant, Dr. Tche Parilla de la Villa, that was not too far away, so we went there around 7 pm.  Hardly any customers were there – but for Brazilians, it was fairly early.  I highly recommend this restaurant – it was excellent!

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On the menu were a variety of cuts of beef – I knew a couple of them, but not all.  The waiter told us one order was enough for two, so we ordered bife de chorizo which, contrary to what the name implies in Spanish, has nothing to do with sausage.  It was, in fact, a very tender and lean cut of beef, which I ordered medium but for me it could have been cooked just a tad longer.

Still, it was excellent and came with chimichurri sauce (picture on the right above) and pico de gallo. The sauces came first, along with the bread, so I heaped them on the rolls first.  I had ordered suflê de batata, which I thought would be something like mashed potatoes but in fact were irregularly elongated potato puffs, hollow inside.  The meal also came with broccoli which had been marinated in garlic and seasoned.  We each had a tropical caipirinha (Dale)/caipiroska (me).

The waiter was very solicitous, the service was great.  We had plenty of leftovers which we brought back to the apartment and put into our little refrigerator.

(Note: All pictures of the restaurant were downloaded from Google Images.)

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Way Up There

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, I looked up pictures that I took looking up! Here are the results:

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Passageway between two tall buildings: Chicago, Illinois
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I don’t know the name of this building in Chicago, but I like its design.
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Catedral da Sé, São Paulo, Brazil
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One of the statues on the facade of Catedral da Sé, São Paulo
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Stairs leading up, modern building in São Paulo
Clock tower at Luz station
Clock tower, Luz Station, São Paulo

Last but not least, here is my favorite of all! I was fascinated by a species of pine tree found only in the region around the state of Paraná, Brazil. Its scientific name is araucaria but people there call it pinheiro paranaense (pine tree of Paraná). The native people of this region, a tribe of the Tupi-Guaraní, called it curi, which is how Curitiba got its name!

Towering araucaria against a darkening sky
Towering araucaria against a darkening sky, Curitiba, PR, Brazil

WPC: A Good Match

For this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge, these are some good pairings or matches that I have photographed. I have grouped them into different types of matches.

Color matches

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2 Red Chairs and Kayak (Wisconsin, 2014)
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Yellow Full Moon and Windows (Des Plaines, IL 2015)

Couples/love matches

a pair of loons! They have been getting so close to the dock.
2 Loons on Lake (Wisconsin, 2014)

2 Cakes for a 50th Wedding Anniversary (Des Plaines, July 2015)

Bride & groom gaze at each other with love.
Sandy and Steve’s Wedding: Love Forever (Wheaton, IL 2014)
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Cousins All Dressed Up at the Wedding Reception (Wheaton, 2014)

Artistic harmony match

Dwarf Japanese Juniper
Miniature Bonsai Trees (Chicago Botanic Garden, 2015)

Some things just go together matches

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Little Boys and Fireworks (Wisconsin, 2014)
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Katy and Double Fudge Ice Cream (Minocqua, WI 2014)
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Dale Fishing in the Quiet of Sunset (Wisconsin, 2013)

Thursday Doors: Helio Oiticica

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Before building full sized structures that one could enter, Oiticica created 3D works such as this, which hangs from the ceiling.

For Norm’s Thursday Doors feature this week, I am contributing something somewhat different. On Tuesday, my husband and I visited the Chicago Art Institute. I was especially interested in a special exhibit by Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980). Oiticica was born in Rio de Janeiro and during his 25-year career he created works to appeal to all the senses. Rather than paintings on a flat surface, his work featured structures that you can walk in, around, and on, to experience the space in a variety of ways.

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Dale stands next to the entrance to a small “bolide” – a 3D structure that is meant to be experienced in a variety of ways. We were not allowed to go into this one, however.
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Looks like a comfy mattress inside!

To fully appreciate “Tropicália” or “Eden” as this particular installation is called, you could take your shoes and socks off and walk around on the sandy surface – the same feeling you get when walking on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. There were other surfaces too – gravel (hard on bare feet!), a bed of leaves, water, and more.

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This structure was in a large work entitled “Eden”, which combined different elements of the Brazilian tropics – sand, plants, parrots, water, music and poetry.

Other “rooms” to play in:

Partial views of the installation “Eden”:

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This structure with walls of cloth could be explored inside. It is meant to evoke the makeshift houses of the favelas, shantytowns.
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The doorway:

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Some homeless people in Brazil put up tents in parks, while others use tents to explore their country on the cheap. This tent in the “Tropicalia” installation contained headphones through which you heard a song being sung by the Brazilian singer Gal Costa.
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Yes, there were large green and yellow parrots too!

Another installation, called “Filter Project” had plastic colored sheeting at the entryways, so that what you saw was filtered through those colors. They represent the bright colors of the Brazilian urban landscape.  During Brazil’s military dictatorship, Oiticica spent several years living in New York. He created “Filter Project” in New York in 1972, for an exposition in Rio de Janeiro. This was the height of the dictatorship and the project is also an expression of his anger and concern for his country.

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While many of the installations are replicas, the one below is an original. It, too, is meant to be explored, but we could not go inside because the museum is making some adjustments to make sure it is strong enough to experience safely.

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The artist in New York in the 1960s:

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São Paulo’s art museums: MAC-USP

The city of São Paulo has a huge number of art museums and art installations. In part this is because Brazil has many artists of all types. The first art museum we visited was MAC-USP (Museum of Contemporary Art – University of São Paulo), adjacent to Ibirapuera Park in the Vila Mariana district.

On November 18, 2016 we walked from our lodgings to Ibirapuera Park, and stopped to have a look at MAC-USP on the way.  The museum has several stories, and we had to choose only two or three exhibits to visit, but there is much more to this museum than I cover here.

The museum was free and I picked up an arts map, which later turned out to be very useful for getting our bearings in the park as well as on other days.  Dale had to leave his backpack in the coat-bag check, and water wasn’t allowed either.  So we went through the museum without our water bottles and cameras.  We took pictures without flash, which was allowed, with our cell phones.

There were some interesting sculptures on the ground floor,

Maria Martins (1900-1973),
Maria Martins (Brazilian, 1900-1973); “A Soma dos Nossos Dias” (The Sum of Our Days) 1954/55
Angelo Venosa, Untitled 1987; fiberglass
Angelo Venosa, “Untitled”, 1987; fiberglass
Grande Cavalo (1951) by Marino Marini; bronze
Marino Marini (Italian, 1901-1980); “Grande Cavalo” (Large Horse) 1951; bronze

including one we were allowed to touch: a giant cat!  It is soft to the touch (which we were allowed to do) and supposedly also purrs, although we didn’t hear it!

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Nina Pandolfo, “Um Amor sem Igual” (A Love without Equal), 2011

On the 4th floor, we saw an exhibit was of modern Latin American artists, entitled Vizinhos Distantes (Distant Neighbors). Many of these contained political and social commentary. Much of Latin America was ruled by right-wing dictatorships in the 1960s and 1970s.

Sergio Meirana,
Sergio Meirana (Uruguay, 1966- ), “Superficie da Memoria” (Surface of Memory), 2008
Leon Ferrari,
Leon Ferrari (Argentina, 1920-2013), “Releitura da Biblia” (Rereading the Bible), 1986/87
Leon Ferrari (B.A., Argentina 1920-2013),
Leon Ferrari, “Autopista do Sul” (Southern Expressway), 1981
Alfredo Portillos,
Alfredo Portillos, “Caixas com Sabonetes para Classes Sociais Distintas” (Boxes of soap for different social classes), 1975

The other exhibit we visited on the 4th floor was called A Casa, inspired by the Vinicius de Moraes poem and song, which I immediately began singing to myself:

20161118_114203Era uma casa
Muito engraçada
Não tinha teto
Não tinha nada.

 Ninguém podia entrar nela, não
Porque a casa não tinha chão
Ninguém podia dormir na rede
Porque a casa não tinha parede
Ninguem podia fazer xi-xi
Porque pinico não tinha ali.

Mas era feita com muito esmero
Na Rua dos Bobos, No. 0
Mas era feita com muito esmero
Na Rua dos Bobos, No. 0

(English rough translation: There was a very funny house/It had no roof or anything/No one could go inside because the house had no floor/No one could sleep in a hammock/Because there were no walls/No one could go pee-pee/Because there was no toilet./But it was made with a lot of care/On Fools Street, No. 0).

This exhibit displayed artistic works having to do with the home.

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Alexander Calder, “Grande Mobile Branco” (Large White Mobile), 1948; and Jose Carratu “A Mala” (The Suitcase), 1986/87
Alex Vallauri, Untitled, 1985
Alex Vallauri, “Untitled”, 1985

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Alex Flemming, Cordeiro de Deus 1991
Alex Flemming, “Cordeiro de Deus” (Lamb of God), 1991
Flavio Cerqueira (Brazilian, 1983- ), “Foi assim que me ensinaram” (That’s how I was taught), 2011
Leda Catunda, Onca pintada No. 1 1984
Leda Catunda (Brazilian, 1961-), “Onca pintada no. 1” (Jaguar No. 1), 1984; acrylic on blanket

Finally, we went up to the roof where we had a panoramic view of the city. What impressed me most was the unbroken line of skyscrapers in every direction – conveying the immensity of this city!

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My husband made this video – but turn down the volume because there’s a very irritating background sound, probably due to the wind up there!

 

São Paulo: Public art in Vila Mariana

São Paulo, November 18, 2016

Our plan for today was to walk to Ibirapuera Park and I asked our host how to get there.  He described it to me.  Leaving the building, you turn left and go until you get to a curve – I brought up a map on my phone GPS.  There are a series of viaducts and ramps but you can keep going – there’s a sidewalk and at some point a pedestrian bridge crosses over the highways.

We set out armed with this info, but when we came to the curve, we took the right fork which took us into some other streets, which happened to have some beautiful public art.

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These dalmations were sitting on a ledge outside a building.

In a courtyard outside a private museum:

Wall art:

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Tree art:

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Looking at the GPS map, I figured out a way to get back onto the main street and it was actually good because we avoided most of the tangle of busy streets.

Under a viaduct:

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On the other side of the viaduct post (not art – it’s where a homeless person apparently camps out):Homeless person's possessions

Emerging onto Av. Pedro Álvares Cabral, we saw the MAC-USP (Museum of Contemporary Art of the University of São Paulo) building designed by Oscar Niemeyer up ahead – a functional sort of building, not like his more avant-garde structures.

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Next: MAC-USP

Airbnb: an alternative to hotels

Our stay in São Paulo last November was our first experience with Airbnb. Airbnb has a database of apartment and room rentals worldwide.  On their web site, you first choose where you want to go and then you can look at a variety of places to stay, filtering for factors such as neighborhood, whether you want a room or entire apartment, etc.  It’s common in many countries for people to rent out apartments when they are on vacation, so it is possible to find an entire apartment to rent, but more common are rooms in the homes of locals.  The mission of Airbnb, in fact, is to connect travelers with local residents which can lead to a better understanding of the people and culture of a place, and even to get inside tips on the place you are visiting that you wouldn’t find out about otherwise.

Recently, probably in response to the actions of the new Trump administration, Airbnb sent an email to their clients stating:

We believe in a world where anyone can belong

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Everyone deserves to belong. But for too many, it’s a dire need. So our five-year goal is to make sure 100,000 people have short-term housing during urgent times. Please join us.

#weaccept

February 5, 2017

We believe in the simple idea that no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, you deserve to belong. We know this is an idealistic notion that faces huge obstacles because of something that also seems simple, but isn’t – that not everyone is accepted.

People who’ve been displaced, whether because of war or conflict or other factors, are acutely vulnerable to not being accepted. They are, quite literally, in need of a place to belong, which is why we’ve been inspired to take action.

We started by providing housing for evacuees of disasters and have since provided housing during 54 global disasters. We partnered with organizations dedicated to the needs of refugees around the world. And just last week, we announced that the Airbnb community will provide free housing to refugees and those recently barred from entering the US. When we announced this, there was an outpouring of interest from our community, and we were inspired to go bigger.

Today we’re setting a goal to provide short-term housing over the next five years for 100,000 people in need. We’ll start with refugees, disaster survivors, and relief workers, though we want to accommodate many more types of displaced people over time. To help people around the world facing displacement, we’ll work with our community of hosts to find not just a place to stay, but also a place to feel connected, respected, and a part of a community again. In addition, Airbnb will contribute $4 million over the course of four years to the International Rescue Committee to support the most critical needs of displaced populations globally.

We couldn’t talk about the lack of acceptance in the world without pointing out the challenges in our own community at Airbnb. The painful truth is that guests on Airbnb have experienced discrimination, something that is the very opposite of our values. We know we have work to do and are dedicated to achieving greater acceptance in our community.

These efforts are just the beginning, and we hope you consider joining us by sharing your home with someone who is displaced or donating to organizations that assist those in need. It’s possible that a child today will grow up in a different kind of world, one where they’re accepted for who they are, no matter where they are. Because we really do believe that the world is a better, more beautiful place the more we accept each other.

– The founders of Airbnb

Brian Nate Joe

This tells you a little about the philosophy of Airbnb, and for me, this alone would be reason enough to look into what they offer.  But there is another distinct advantage for almost any traveler:  It’s much cheaper to stay in the homes Airbnb offers than most hotels!
Since we didn’t know anyone in São Paulo, I did research ahead of time to familiarize myself with the layout of the city – the largest in the Americas – and figure out which areas would be most desirable and advantageous for us.  I asked myself, What are we looking for?
  • convenience – access to the tourist sites we were most interested in.
  • proximity to metro – I knew we’d be taking public transportation and we didn’t want to spend much on taxis.
  • relatively quiet and residential neighborhood
  • good restaurants and shops within walking distance

The neighborhood of Vila Mariana seemed to fulfill all of these.  It had two metro stations, it was within walking distance of Ibirapuera Park, a major tourist attraction with art museums on site, it was a mix of apartment buildings, houses, and small businesses, and within 1/2 mile were a variety of good restaurants.  Although Vila Mariana was not my only pick, it’s where we ended up when I viewed the apartments/rooms for rent on Airbnb and was able to compare locations, prices, and other desirability factors.

When you select a place you might be interested in renting, you can find out basic facts about the place, the host, read reviews, and click through pictures of the home.  Due to confidentiality between host and traveler, I will not reveal the name or address of our rental, but I can say that it cost us only $216 for six nights. We had access to the kitchen and other public rooms of the apartment, we had our own room with a private bathroom, and our host had certain things I was looking for, such as a washing machine, WiFi and a microwave oven.  Compare this to the price of a decent hotel in São Paulo and you can see that we got a deal!

If your main objective is luxury and comfort, then probably Airbnb isn’t for you, although renting an entire apartment might suit your needs.

Our host was a single, middle aged man, a classical musician by profession and an opera buff, who lived in a small apartment building (about 10 stories, and only 2-3 apartments per floor) on a major street. He did not speak much English, but spoke Spanish fluently and also some German. It wasn’t an issue for me since I speak Portuguese, but I had to do most of the talking on my husband’s behalf.

There was a man watering the plants in the front of the building when we arrived in mid-afternoon on Nov. 17.  He said to dial the apartment number, but there was no answer.  He said he’d call the person to get authorization to let us in, so I gave him our host’s name.  This accomplished, the guy let us in and we took the elevator to the right floor, knocked on the apartment door, our host answered and greeted us.  He showed us our room and around the apartment and how things worked.

Our room was a bit small with not much storage space, so Dale pulled the beds a little farther apart and we put our suitcases down between them.  This added a bit of a shelf so we can plug in our electronic devices.  We logged into our host’s WiFi, whose address and password he had helpfully written on a blackboard surface near the kitchen.

He showed us the coffee pot (which he hadn’t emptied), where the sugar was – in the ‘frig! – and how to use the washing machine. Clothes had to air dry, but there was a rack to hang them on.

After we had lunch at a restaurant across the street (mediocre), we went to a little market he told us about to buy necessities for breakfast:  Pilão coffee, queijo de Minas, strawberries and a cake.  We walked some more, going up the street until we found the Vila Mariana metro station.

We went back to the apartment and put our food in the tiny refrigerator in our room.  Then we rested and I looked up restaurants online to find somewhere to go for dinner.

Bistro 28 sounded good but didn’t open for dinner until 7 pm.  We could go to Graça Mineira, which doesn’t close until 11:30 pm so we could go anytime.  I checked my GPS, which does work here, even without WiFi, I discovered, to get the directions and approximate walking time to Graça Mineira.  We left at 6:30 pm, but we got a little lost because of a miscalculation on my part.  We arrived at a very busy street and saw some policemen, so I went to ask them how to get to the restaurant.  They didn’t know, because they hadn’t heard of this restaurant, but when I told them the street, they got us started in the right direction.  The GPS got us the rest of the way there.

The restaurant was open, although there were no customers – a few came while we were there but clearly Thursday isn’t a busy night for them.

I began to relax and feel happy, because of relief that we’d found the place and because of the music they were playing – lots of songs I knew and I recognized one of the singers – Alcione. We ordered tropical caipirinhas (mine was a caipiroska), which was a mixture of strawberries and some tropical fruit, but the strawberry flavor was predominant. They were very tasty!

I didn’t know some of the terms on the menu.  I asked but didn’t understand the waiter’s answer very well.  We ended up ordered “summer salads” with meat on the side – me, chicken; Dale, pork.  There was a card on the table advertising some desserts and we ended up getting one to share – good thing, because it was big!  It was a churro- or donut-like shell filled with doce de leite and ice cream on the side. It was yummy!

Find reviews, photos and information about Graça Mineira here.  There is even a photo of the dessert we had! I wrote a review for this restaurant and several other restaurants and attractions on TripAdvisor.

 

 

 

WPC: Shadow

Here are my entries for the Weekly Photo Challenge topic Shadow:

The first two pictures are of my cat, Hazel. A beam of sunlight highlights her light areas with the rest in shadow.

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Hazel's light features enhanced by light coming in the window

A few years ago, my husband and I were on our way home from a trip down South, and we stopped in St. Louis in the late afternoon. The people sitting on the steps are literally in the shadow of the Gateway Arch, which extends out onto the surface of the river.

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A dragonfly posed on the dock where I was sitting, on a lake in northern Wisconsin.

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Last week we went to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, which had an exhibit of old-fashioned bicycles.

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Ukrainian Memorial: Our last sightseeing excursion in Curitiba

November 16, 2016

Carlos, D. Lais, Dale and I went the Ukrainian Memorial, our last sight-seeing site in Curitiba.  It is a park within the larger Tingui Park, surrounded by forest and on the grounds is a replica of an old Ukrainian Orthodox church and a little gift shop. The church is a replica of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel and was constructed at the end of the 19th century by Ukrainian immigrants  in the Serra do Tigre, in Marechal Mallet, Paraná. The architectural style is Byzantine, with a bronze onion dome cupola and external bell tower.

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The Ukrainian Memorial: center, the replica of a church , to the left is the bell tower; on the right, a cross in stone is the Holodomor monument and to the right of it, partially hidden by trees, is the gift shop.

Near the entrance to the park is a small memorial to the Holodomor, the genocide of Ukrainians by Stalin’s politically engineered famine, which killed 3-10 million people, according to an informational poster. The genocide through man-made famine was carried out in 1932-33 in which one fifth of the rural population of Ukraine perished. Over a third of these were children. Besides taking farmers’ lands and goods, Stalin also attempted to eliminate the Ukrainian culture and language (in this, fortunately, he did not succeed). The memorial, a replica in granite 1.8 x 1.4 meters of the original Holodomor memorial in Kiev, was created by Elvo Benito Damo, a sculptor from Paraná.

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In the shop, the shopkeeper said it was OK to take pictures and she was very friendly.  She asked where we were from, we talked about the weather and admired the things she had for sale.  I was trying to decide whether to buy a picture frame or a hexagon-shaped pen holder.  Lais then insisted on buying the picture frame for me, and I bought the pen holder for myself, as well as an edible Christmas memento. The shopkeeper explained what the different designs on the items meant.

Matruskas (nesting dolls)

These woven items are made with straw and the designs have special meaning.

Ukrainian crafts for sale

I wandered into the church, which was decorated with religious icons in frames with embroidered scarves draped over them.  There was also a cabinet full of beautifully painted eggs called pessankas, for which the Ukrainians are famous, each one with some meaning in its design.  There was a nice poem embroidered on a cloth with a translation in Portuguese.  The Ukrainians, like the Russians, use the Cyrillic alphabet.

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A large metal egg-shaped sculpture stood in the yard and next to it was the bell tower, a small building with a lookout on the upper level.  This whole area had suddenly filled with a group of middle school kids from a school, all dressed in their uniforms of a white shirt embroidered with their school’s logo, and dark pants. Their school was in Blumenau, (in the state of Santa Catarina, to the south of Paraná), I read on one of them.  I didn’t get the name of the school but someone told me it was a Jewish school.

Carrying the plastic bags with my wrapped purchases, I climbed up the stairs too and looked around.  When most of the kids had vacated the area around the pessanka sculpture, I took a closer look and snapped a few pictures.

As we were getting back in the car, it started to rain again!  Once again, good timing!

That evening, we packed, because the next day we would have to say good-bye to our friends and depart for São Paulo.