Back to reality

When my world crumbled back in December, I never would have dreamed that the first few months of 2012 would be so amazing. Even though I started out on my own with no itinerary, the trip came together perfectly. I have to thank Agnes and Alex for introducing me to the beauty of South America. And, a second big thank you to Agnes for introducing me to Patricia, Barbara and Kim in Brazil. I would never have gone on my own since Brazil is not the safest place. However, being with them on our many crazy adventures was fabulous. Patricia and I were joined at the hip from the time we met. She was a breath of fresh air with her passion for life, her positive energy and free spirit.
Thanks to the girls and our hostel living, we made many new friends from around the world. With Faceboook, I know we will stay in touch and even see each other again!
I am also lucky because I came home to a new job. I interviewed just before leaving for South America and got the job offer the week after I got there. I am the head of digital marketing for a leading professional services organization. I still can’t believe they waited for me for two months so I could take my trip. I am truly blessed to have an amazing job to come home too.
While I am very excited about my job, travel will continue to be my passion. Who know where I will head to next, but I will blog again! A final thank you to my friend, Dj, for helping me set up my blog. Thanks to him, I have been able to capture so many amazing memories of my trip. I hope you enjoy sharing my adventures with me!

Final days in the sun

Galetta BeachOne of my favourite places in Florionopolis was Praia Mole – a beautiful beach with a couple of cool beach bars that served great cocktails and played awesome tunes. Patricia and I had lunch with David (who was robbed that morning!) and Najeeb, a fellow Canadian who had wrestled a crocodile and went fishing for piranhas during his South American travels.You really do meet interesting people on vacation! Continue reading

Life’s a beach

Floripa sunsetAfter the hectic trip to the falls, I was looking forward to a few final days by the beach before returning home. We had a tough time finding accommodations last minute for the weekend so we went back to the Barra Beach Club Hostel that we loved. Patricia and I wanted a private room so we got the owner’s back up which pretty much up consisted of a shack for midgets! At least we had our own private space and the beach.
It was Saturday night so we went out to a club called Pacha. I had high expectations because I had been to Pacha in Spain. It was beautiful with a gorgeous crowd and awesome house music. This club could not have been more opposite with brutal music and an extremely young crowd – they let in 16-year olds! We drank tequila shots in an attempt to have a good time and finally spent a good chunk of change to party in the VIP area. It turned out to be the worst and most expensive night of the trip. Continue reading

The jewel of South America

Iguazu Falls - Brazil Side

After 8 weeks away, it was fitting that the grand finale in my last week would be a visit to the Iguazu Falls. The falls are 150 million years old and the name means big water. There are 275 waterfalls shared primarily between Brazil and Argentina.
There were four of us who took the long 15-hour bus journey to and from the falls. It was me, Patricia, Barbara and Mattheus – one of the awesome staff at the Barra Beach Hostel. Barbara and Mattheus met at one of the beach parties and have been seeing each other since. Another fabulous vacation romance! Sadly, Kim had to head back to Toronto. But it was great to have four of us for the road trip. Continue reading

Paradise in Brazil

Barra Beach Club
We spent the second half of our stay in Florionopolis – a gorgeous area with lots of quaint beach towns. Barbara booked our second hostel and, while our room was tiny, it was an amazing place. It’s called Barra Beach Club and is directly on the beach. The hostel provides free caipirinhas from 7 to 7:30 and delicious home cooked meals for only 8 US dollars. The place is packed every night. Even people from other places come for the great food, drinks and company. We met lots of awesome people from Australia, the UK, Holland and even fellow Canadians. Every night was an adventure. We went to a party at a small bar on the beach and enjoyed many cocktails at the local bar in town called Galapagos. Nice coincidence that my stop before Brazil was in the Galapagos Islands! Continue reading

Last day in Rio

On Monday we did a city tour where our first stop was to see Christ the Redeemer, one of the most famous tourist icons of Brazil and the world. The statue is 30 feet high and sits high above the city. It is not only a work of art but a symbol of the strong and predominantly catholic faith in Rio.
We also took two cable cars up Sugar Loaf Mountain. We were so high that we saw the city from above the clouds. Beaches and marinas surrounded the city and vultures soared in front of us. It was definitely one of the most breathtaking city views I have ever seen, rivalled only by The Peake in Hong Kong. Continue reading

Natural beauty of Rio

Even though it was surprisingly hard for us to find a good party in Rio (probably because people were all partied out from carnival the week before), the city is absolutely gorgeous. It is made up of many beautiful beaches, forests and mountains and has a vibrant city that inspires singers, painters and poets.
We spent Sunday exploring the Ipenema Market and the beautiful Ipenema Beach. We watched the sunset and then climbed a lookout to see the city sparkle from above. That night we went out for an authentic Brazilian barbecue where the servers brought every type of meat possible to our table. Continue reading

Party time in Brazil!

I was both nervous and excited about going to Rio. I had heard lots of horror stories about thefts and even kidnappings! Plus Agnes’ friends had booked a hostel for us and I was not sure what to expect from this new travel experience.
I arrived at the hostel at 7am on Saturday morning and got my first view of Copacabana Beach as the sun came up. It was a long stretch of beautiful beach with the glowing red sun rising over the water. Continue reading

Quick stop in Quito!

After visiting the turtles, we took a flight to Quito. It’s the second highest city in the world at 2,800 meters above sea level. It has a beautiful city centre with lots of historical colonial buildings. It also has fabulous restaurants and bars. I went to an incredible seafood restaurant called Zazu with John, the New Zealander I met on the cruise. The meal, service, ambience and the company was outstanding. I only had one night in Quito and I was very happy to spend it there.
The next morning I was going to take a city tour to see the old part of the city but I didn’t have enough time before my flight. I mistakenly thought it was safe so I hopped in a cab and headed to the old town around noon. I took out my SLR camera and took photos of the beautiful old buildings. I was surprised when a local came up to me and told me to leave the area because it was not safe. I took his advice and jumped in a cab. The cabbie spoke very little English and took me the very long way to my destination. We went so far that I thought I would miss my flight! I had heard of cabbies doing this to other tourists. I usually ask hotels and restaurants to call cabs for me so I had not run into the before. Luckily, cabs in Quito are cheap so even though he drove me around for 45 minutes, it only cost 15 US. I was just happy to be back safely at the hotel and in time for my flight!