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December 31, 2010

Florianopolis, the brazilian paradise

Florianopolis, aka “Floripa”, is often mentionned as the best place to live in Brasil… why ? Because you can find there all what you can expect in holidays… if you put the price :)

There are two places to stay at… the city itself & the island Santa Catarina, located 45’ by bus from the city center (and other amazing sites a bit farther but we didn’t have the chance to go… however, it may be important to highlight that the second largest Ocktober Fest in the world is happening some kilometers more north, in the city of Blumenau :)).

- So, Dowtown, you can find markets, pedestrian streets, shops, cinemas, international restaurants, luxury shops… a lovely little city (of still 1’000’000 inhabitants) with high western standards (bring your credit card). But Floripa is especially known for its gigantic nightclubs (some parties at 10’000 people!) for an unreasonable price (25 EUR entrance for guys, hardly cheaper for girls). Girls there have a European style, with whiter skin as you get more to southern brazil, and Argentina. There are also known to be the most good looking of the country… this is a matter of taste but if Brazilians from all the country are coming here, there is a reason… sun, hot girls, crazy parties, this is Floripa!


- A bit farther away, you can reach the ilha Santa Catarina, and its 56 paradisiac beaches. Here, the atmosphere is very different, chilling. We got our hostel in Barra de Lagoa, a beautiful village of surfers… and here we are: the area is a world-famous surfing spot. The world championship of body board are always ending in Praia Mole, hundreds meters away from our Hostel. Therefore we definitely had to learn how to surf and we focused two days on this :)

When learning about surfing, the first thing you need to know is not to take the smallest board… even if it looks easier to ‘handle’, you will never make anything out of it :p As we weren’t progressing at all, we took a training to learn the basics, on a long board… and we could stand up! (a pity that we don’t have pictures… being both in the water ^^). The thing is that beginners are surfing during several months with a very large board before being able to use the standard surf board without frustration… but now, we are ready to go on… New Zealand, Australia… watch for us! :)


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Belated, though not forgotten, we would like to wish all our readers, friends, families, colleagues and fellow travellers a very happy Christmas and a successful New Year, full of new adventures!

Thank you for all the support, love and encouragement that we receive during our trip, it really helps to pass those days far from home, without sun and fiesta:) Keep following us in the new year and don’t forget to leave funny comments or suggestions.


…and a bonus video from the fireworks of Valparaiso, where we currently are.

December 22, 2010

Iguaçu, Iguazu, Iguassu

The Portuguese, the Spanish and the English spelling. Nevertheless, they all refer to the same place: the waterfalls on the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, one of the new natural wonder candidates of the World. If you have seen Niagara, you have seen nothing! The falls are massive and it takes two days to see both the Argentine and the Brazilian side.

We started on the Brazilian side. The falls can be visited in a few hours, and you will only get wet at one place. Next day in the morning we crossed to the Argentine side. The city itself is smaller and poorer than the Brazilian side: the old cars and the poor conditions even reminded us to that of Peru. The waterfalls themselves are more spectacular from the Argentine side: you can spend a whole day wandering around, making photos, taking a speedboat trip to feel the power of the waters right in your face.

Let the images talk for themselves.



Salvador and Morro de Sao Paulo

So we arrived to Salvador at midnight, collected Aline, the lost German girl at the airport and got a place to sleep at the house of Julius, an emblematic figure of the local couchsurfing community.
The very next day we headed early to visit a nearby island called Morro de Sao Paulo. There are two ways to get there: the long and cheap, and the short. We decided to take the long way and to return on the short one. The long way takes up to 9 hours: bus, ferry, another bus, another ferry. Nevertheless finally we arrived, and took refuge in a nice hostel. The beach was nice and the waters were warm and clean. The locals offered a variety of fruit juices mixed with cachaca during the night.



We spent a great evening here with Aline and some Italian friends, and next day we were ready to return on the rapid boat. The rapid service takes only 2-3 hours, and we have been warned that it is not for the faint-hearted. When you embark on a boat that has a little plastic bag attached to all seats, you should start to be suspicious. We managed quite well, but during the trip three people were vomiting around me, sometimes solitary, sometimes in chorus. To ease their pain there was an endless samba performance displayed on TV.

Arriving back to Salvador, we headed for the great fiesta of Tuesday nights: after church, a huge number of people gather in the city center to listen to live music and enjoy a couple of drinks. It tells everything, that the police officers walk around here with bulletproof vests and a loaded gun in one hand. It was here where Paul was pocket searched by a local guy and later found out that some bills were missing from another pocket.

Next day we visited the elevator, the golden church, which of course has a saint of Santa Isabela da Hungria:), and Barra beach. According to the legend Salvador has 365 churches, and apart from the classic ones, there are plenty of modern churches. Some of them are huge and highlighted during the night like a casino in Vegas. Apparently in Brazil churches have such tax advantages, that even cats and dogs are opening churches and creating imaginative religions:)

In the evening had a few Skols, the local specialty, acarajé, and met some great people on the local couchsurfing meeting.

Rio: the marvelous city

So we took a bus from Sao Paulo to arrive to Rio de Janeiro. The comfort of the bus was incomparable to what we experienced in other countries of South America. The 8 hours trip passed quite easily, even though the last hour we spent trying to get inside the bus terminal. There was a queue of buses only, several blocks long. As we waited in the traffic, we noticed: not a single horn was sounded. Quite a different experience after Peru:)

We had our hostel in Botafogo, and in the next days we discovered Ipanema, Copacabana, Pao de Acucar, Cristo Redentor – names of places that are always associated with Rio and fascinate the mind of probably all of us.


As we also had a number of rainy days, we spent some time in museums and also visited Petropolis, a city in the mountains, wrapped in clouds near Rio. It was there where we spotted a Hungarian confiteria, and just minutes later, two elderly ladies chatting in Hungarian on the same bus that we took. Back in Rio we also stumbled upon a selection of Hungarian writers published in Portuguese and a t-shirt commemorating Puskas.


We also visited Maracana, the once greatest stadium of the World is now under reconstruction, waiting for great matches to be played during the next World cup.


Since we had bad weather, our beach experience was not so great. Copacabana had strong currents and not so many people. We saw some shamelessly small bikinis, but the women behind them were not as perfect as expected:) Nevertheless a freshly opened coconut is still a pleasant experience at any beach.


Probably the most memorable event was a Friday night in Lapa, the local going-out district. It is a bit like Bairro Alto on steroids: huge streets are closed down, people chatting, eating and drinking outside, occasionally entering some clubs to dance, or just simply dance under the open sky. The district serves all vices: you can get cheap beer, even cheaper caipirinhas, drugs at will, female or male prostitutes and only God knows what else. Careful with the alcohol consumed though: many boys look like girls, and many girls look like boys, sometimes its damn hard to spot the difference:)
We have also witnessed a spectacular act of vomiting (similar skills we have only seen in Finland:)): a guy was holding a girl by her pony-tail, while another guy was pushing his fingers down her throat to get rid of the excess capirinhas consumed.

Despite the bad reputation of Rio, we had never experienced a single moment of insecurity. As people normally don’t stop at red lights during the night, we witnessed one car crash (yeah the horn was not enough this time), but probably that was all. Just after we left a kind of civil war broke out though: police fighting with gangs who set cars and buses on fire. This we only saw in TV from the relaxed atmosphere of Florianopolis.



December 21, 2010

Backpackers of South America

So recently we have been titled the “Champagne Backpackers” by a vagabond Spaniard, and I need to reflect on this:)

On our trip we have met a number of backpackers who travel across South America on buses, often taking 20-30-40 hours to get from one place to the other. In fact lot of them are measuring the length of the trip not in hours, but number of movies displayed:) I would love to experience the romanticism of such rides, we just don’t have the time to do so, as we have maximum one year to complete our trip and arrive back to Europe.

We have also met a number of people who arrive to a city without any idea where to sleep that night. For some reason recently we met a lot of lonely blond German girls doing so:) The most extreme case was a blondie, arriving to Salvador at midnight, speaking little Portuguese, no plans of whatsoever. Well, Salvador is not the safest place to be lost:) Nevertheless this kind of travelling is also fine, but again, we prefer to spend our time getting to know places instead of searching for places to lay our head day by day, therefor, whenever we can, we plan ahead.

Thirdly, we have also met a number of people who are saving all the money on food and lodgment, but willing to shell out large amounts of cash just to get drunken on any given night …to wonder next day if he drank too much or he was robbed:) This is a kind of travelling we try to avoid, and instead put those bucks somewhere else.

I have to say I admire those kind of “hippie” travellers, who put together just enough money to fly in and out, then completing a rich journey with budgets way smaller than ours. In fact, much more people should do that, …much more Hungarians should do that!

December 20, 2010

Game: drawing the winner of the shirt

So our little game came to an end. During two weeks we managed to put together 132 EUR, thanks to many of you. We will round this sum up to 150 EUR and transfer it to Aldea Yanapay before Christmas.

As for the drawing, the process was like this: Adam put the names or initials of each player in a hat. Players donating a multiple of 5 EUR were appearing multiple times. Adam shook the hat well, then gave it to Paul to draw the lucky winner.


and the winner is…


…Arnaud Tribout, from Belgium :)


Thanks to all the participants, it was a great initiative !