Bonding in Brasilia
Brasilia Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
It‚Äôs been a really long time since I‚Äôve blogged about my South American holiday. According to my previous post I should be writing about
When the maximum fun you have had in a country comes from the least touristy place then it has to be either the people or the experience. In my case it was both.
Day 1 - 11th Dec 2009
Sitting at the Foz do Iguassu airport waiting for my flight to
Brasilia is the latest capital of Brazil. I say this because Brazil has been in the habit of changing its capital more than once. From 1549 to 1763 Salvador was its capital. Rio de Janeiro took over from 1763 to 1960 when it handed over the reins to Brasilia. On the 21st of April Brasilia celebrates 50 yrs of being a capital city and celebrations are in order.
Another Brazilian habit is changing its currency. It used to be the Cruzeiros (Cru‚Äúzeiros‚ÄĚ) until 1986 when inflation forced them to drop three zeros from the currency and from its name as well. The new currency was Cruzado which was still carrying too many zeros and again another three zeros were dropped and the Cruzados became Cruzados Novos (New Cruzados). Cruzados Novos died in 1990 and Cruzeiros which had died in 1986 came back to life.
Another interesting fact is that the old bills had historical characters but the noble intentions of paying homage to their leaders became an embarrassment when these bills started losing value very fast. Nowadays, the bills only have images of Brazilian animals on one side and a female character, representing the republic, on the other.
There were too many zeros floating in my mind and I knew exactly why Brazilians must be very good at mental maths! Added advantage! - Frequent changes in currency can successfully keep any counterfeiters at bay! I realized that my boarding call was being announced and I quickly walked towards the gate.
At last, I was boarding the flight to
An anxious me located my favorite aisle seat on TAM flight JJ3886. I was on seat 8C and once seated I realized I was not the only one anxious there. Seat 8A was occupied by an equally anxious Cleo going to
Suzana had already warned me more than once that her spoken English vocabulary was that of a five year old and all I could reply was- I love kids :) Poly drove the car with Diana sitting in the front and Suzi and me at the back. There was so much to say that I didn‚Äôt know where to start. It was kinda amusing that I was sitting next to Suzi but talking to her through Diana sitting in the front.
The moment we came out of the airport parking I could notice that
In about half an hour we reached my hotel Mercure Lider,
I checked into my room and immediately headed down to the reception to enquire about any nearby supermarkets. If you have traveled long enough you will know well that milk and water are the two most important things you must stock up on as soon as you check into a hotel apartment. Buying water in the hotel can be a criminal waste of money and must be left for emergencies alone. The hotel staff was more than helpful and directed me to a shopping centre just 5 minutes from the hotel. I walked across to Brasilia Shopping Centre and found Lojas Americanas a Brazilian retail chain formed by three Americans in 1929. I bought the bare essentials I was looking for and headed to the food court as I was feeling famished.
It is not easy to find Veg food in a meat loving country but food courts never let you down. After going around a bit I decided to try my luck at an Italian place called Spoletta. It was like finding a gold mine. Fresh Italian veg food cooked right in front of me!! Yummy! I had a feast that evening and was sure that I would be looking out for Spoletta wherever I went in
While I was checking my mail in my hotel room that evening Suzi came online and it was kinda funny chatting with her on the net in the same city! We exchanged briefly our first impressions and discussed the next day‚Äôs plan.
Day 2 -
Rise and shine were the buzz words that morning. I got up early, got ready and reached the lobby at waiting for Suzana and her friends to arrive and start my city tour.
nobody in sight and I wondered if I had got the time right. I SMSd Suzi and she mssgd back saying they were running late. Thankfully hotel lobbies are a great place to spend time. I was busy observing and soaking in the local culture so to speak when Suzi walked into the lobby with the cuddliest little girl I had seen in a long time. She introduced me to Maria, Poly‚Äôs 3.5 yr old daughter who had the most beautiful smile and full of energy to run around and have fun.
So what does
I am not sure if I like such a precise and segmented city. As a traveler it takes away the joy of discovering new places in obscure corners or the concept of getting lost. My opinion as a resident might have been different though. One thing I was sure of was that I would have a fun time as I had great company that morning. Poly and Suzi had got Michelle and Betty with them. So it was one guy, four women and a little girl! I suppose that just about sums up the male : female ratio in
Suddenly I realized that I was surrounded by too many intelligent women, all doing their Masters or Phd. I had to act and sound intelligent. Thankfully, Maria was a good excuse to act like a bobo (‚Äúsilly‚ÄĚ in Portuguese).
We started by visiting the TV tower to get an excellent panoramic view of the city. From the viewing gallery one can see how big the city really is and how well planned it is. On the grounds of the TV tower there were lot of small shops and being a Saturday it was like a mini bazaar. I was surprised to see a lot of shops offering clothes and accessories from
We hung around there for a while until everyone was hungry and then proceeded to a shopping centre for lunch. I had already learnt that one of the two things Brazilians love is eating, the other being caring for pets. Every other shop I saw so far was either a restaurant or a pet shop!
Food courts I have noted are just about the same in every major city and a great concept to eat what you like and yet eat together. Being the weekend the place was full but we did manage to grab a table and enjoy our meal. Post lunch I even got my birthday gift in advance. I was celebrating my birthday on Monday the 14th of Dec and we were all going out for dinner.
We then proceeded to the sector which housed the square of three powers, The Congress, the Presidential Palace and the Supreme Court. We walked around a bit but the heat was really getting to us. The heat even got the better of little Maria‚Äôs balloon which burst in her hands! After walking around a bit more and taking some pictures we got back to the hotel.
Michelle and Suzana stayed back as I had to go through with them all the goodies I had brought from
It was my best day in
Day 3 -
I call day three the ‚Äė
Christmas was less than a fortnight away and the mall was buzzing with activity and Santa of course. Christmas season is fun time particularly this year as the world seemed to slowly come out of the fear of recession. Happy children with indulgent parents always make a pretty picture.
It was nearing and time for Suzana to get back home as it was Sunday and she didn‚Äôt want to miss going to the Church. She invited me to her apartment to meet her roommates and then accompany her to the Church. It sounded good. I wanted to meet her other roommates and it would be my first visit to a South American church!
I got back home rested a bit and took the bus to Suzana‚Äôs apartment. It was my first meeting with Bruno and Simone and Michelle was there too. We chatted a bit and Emmanuel another friend of theirs joined in. We clicked some pictures, exchanged music files and sipped some coffee by which time Suzana was ready for Church. It was time for another nice long walk which I absolutely enjoyed. Church was fun too as it was Christmas / New Year time and I was introduced to many of her friends who were surprised that I had come all the way from
It was dinner time when we left the church and my hungry Brazilian friend and I decided to grab a bite a local fast food joint. Yummy crepe and some juice was enough and we were ready for another nice long walk back home. It was very fulfilling day. I got to know my friend better as we spoke on a myriad of issues. We laughed at lot and that‚Äôs what matters at the end of the day. The next day was my birthday!
Day 4 -
It was a lazy morning and being behind
I had the whole day to myself and called Jovania in Gionia to tell her that I would be taking up her offer to visit her little town three hours away from
It was nearing 7 p.m. and I was all packed and ready to check out before I went for dinner as I had to travel to Gionia immediately thereafter. I waited in the lobby for Suzi who was supposed to take me to the restaurant and her other friends would directly meet us there. Suzi arrived a bit late but I had no complaints as she had to spend extra time to get dressed in the Indian clothes I had managed to pick up. She looked very pretty and almost Indian!
The restaurant was full and buzzing with activity and that much crowd on a Monday evening was a sure sign of good food. Soon after everyone arrived we started getting served loads of Pizza slices and it was a very interesting experience. I had never had chocolate or banana and cinnamon pizza before. Poly who had earlier excused herself gave me the best surprise by turning up with little Maria. We had a great evening and before I realized it was already close to midnight and the driver who had to take me to Gionia had arrived.
It was time to say good bye to a wonderful bunch of people I had met for the first time but made me feel as if we had known each other for a long time. I wished I could spend a few more days in
My only regret that evening was reaching the restaurant late and missing Amelia who had come to meet me there and left before I reached. However, I was not going to give up that easily and on way back from Gionia to the airport I would make sure to meet her at work and at least say hello in person.
I will be writing more about meeting wonderful Amelia and Gionia‚Äôs generous mother daughter team of Jovania and Jordana in my future posts.
This has been my longest blog so far and special thanks to you for your time and patience if you have reached this far!!