A new adventure begins!

Hi friends,

Mid-April already – time flies! It’s been nearly a year and a half since we returned to Florida. We bought a home, found jobs, and settled into a routine that’s about to change pretty drastically :)

As some of you know (mostly our Miami friends), Abe and I are beginning a new adventure this June. We’re really excited about this new chapter in our lives, which will become a little louder, a little more chaotic, and definitely filled with even more love.

I wanted to share Abe’s final video of our trip around the world, an amazing recap that makes me, well, think of all the stories and the adventures we experienced during our unforgettable year of travels.  We used this video to share our big news with our families back in November… I hope you enjoy it.  Check out the low res below, or see the high res here.

 

And for those of you still having some doubts… It’s a GIRL! :)

 

 

Bee Stings and Butt Cheeks

It’s been a long time since my last update and I’m sorry about that– I know it must be tough to find other sources of entertainment on the Internet.

To give you a quick explanation/excuse – we had some last minute change of plans and spent the past 2 weeks in Geneva, Switzerland, as my grandma was unwell. With all the commotion and emotions, I really wasn’t in the mood to write. I’m happy to report that my grandma is doing better now and our trip is back on track.

So, I’m going to pick up where I left off: Our trip to Brazil. Get a glass of wine and I’ll shed some light on this unusual blog post title.

Rio Sugarloaf

{Abe and I at Sugarloaf mountain, overlooking Copacabana beach}

We spent our first week in Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, and we absolutely loved it. We drank countless liters (or gallons, whatever) of coconut water, sampled the city’s best caipirinhas, went up Sugarloaf Mountain, visited Christ the Redeemer, biked around the lagoon, checked out a Kandinsky exposition, and of course, spent many, many hours at the beach. Oh, and for musical accompaniment I sang ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ non-stop; that was surely a highlight for Abe too.

You can re-live all of our Carioca adventures, as well as highlights from our trips to Salvador and Iguazu, in Abe’s latest and awesome video montage below (to see a high res version, click here):

But let’s fast forward to the real ‘junk’ of this post. The back-story, if you will. The story I want to tell you begins with a formidable quest: The quest to tan my butt cheeks.

Now, don’t judge me. You know what they say: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. So, in Rio, I bought bikinis. The issue is that Brazilian bikinis hide only about 1/4 of your butt, and that’s if you buy an XL (cue Sysqo’s Thong Song – if you don’t get this reference you’re either too young or too old, but I love you for reading anyway). Since I’m neither Roman nor Carioca, my butt was white as snow. You’ll find that there are even websites dedicated to teaching tourists how to blend in on the beach– that’s how serious this issue is.

So I spent most of my time at the beach, working on my rear tan, getting a bigger (or, rather, smaller) variety of tan lines than I ever thought possible. And then, finally, I decided to try and even things out, tanning my front.

Boat Ride Brazil

{Check us out – I did get pretty tan in Brazil}

I live in Miami peeps. I know what I’m doing. I undid and tucked my bikini straps expertly, adjusted my position to face the sun, sprawled out on my beach chair, and got ready to bronze. And then, just as several beach vendors were offering to sell me crap I didn’t need, a bee found its way to me. And it stung me, right between my boob and my armpit.

It might have been ok if I hadn’t yelled. It could have been ok if I hadn’t jumped off my chair while doing so. It definitely wasn’t ok when did both of the above, and repeatedly brushed my hands against my body like a maniac, trying to shoo the bee away.

My top flew off. I flashed all of Copacabana beach. And thanks to my panicked squeals, I made sure they were all staring at me when it went down.

I wish I could tell you that I got a discount from the beach vendors, but I didn’t. No one clapped, though I doubt that’s to be expected and it would probably have made me feel worse. In the end, all I got was an embarrassed but entertained husband, and a swollen bee sting to remind me of my Brazilian exploits.

Penguins & The End of The World – Photos & A Video

In my 50 Shades of Grey post, I described the first and painfully slow week of our cruise in Patagonia. Luckily, our second week of cruising was much better as we were able to disembark on the rest of our stops in Ushuaia, the Falkland Islands and Montevideo. Plus, we got to have a picnic surrounded by penguins(!), and penguins make everything better.

To distinguish myself from the babbling old bats on our cruise, I’ve decided to make this a limited chitchat, photo-only entry (but I reserve the right to write lengthy captions).  I’ve also included Abe’s latest video at the end of the post, so make sure to scroll all the way down to see it.

Now, without further ado, please disregard all that I just said; pretend I resisted giving you an intro and skip right to the pictures.

Falkland Islands – Volunteer Point with Penguins

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

{Driving through ditch-filled farmlands to go see penguins}

King Penguins

{King penguins heading into the water at Volunteer Point in East Falkland}

King Penguins Group

{A group of King Penguins}

Gentoo

{A Gentoo penguin going for a stroll}

Abe with the Penguins

{Can you spot Abe amongst the penguins?}

Scenic Patagonia Cruising 

Glacier Patagonia

{Glacier – I wish I could remember its name, but it’s not like you really care right?}

Glaciers

{Another glacier with beautiful reflections – see above caption regarding name}

Ushuaia – Hiking at the End of the World

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{We hiked in the Tierra del Fuego National Park}

Tierra del Fuego Parc

beaver dam
{There were beaver dams along our hikes in Tierra del Fuego National Park. I couldn’t resist the joke.}

Montevideo

Montevideo - And our Ship{Abe and our ship, the Zaandam. I’m not going to post more pictures of Montevideo because they aren’t exciting, and I know you’d rather see pictures of penguins anyway. So just scroll back up and look at those King penguins again. Aww.}

Abe’s Video – Patagonia Cruise

To see the high res version of this montage, click here. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and video!

Wrapping up Argentina: Zombies & Wine

So, I know what you must be thinking: I haven’t told you anything about our trip to Mendoza, nor the remainder of our time in Buenos Aires! In reality, I’ve been waiting for Abe to finish his video montage so I could share that with a post. Now it’s finally ready, so check out our adventures with Porteños and our visit to the wine region below (or see the high res version by clicking here):

 

As you can see in the video, I wasn’t lying in my last post about Buenos Aires. Most of our time really did consist of feasting on meat, wine, and Havanna coffee. We also took a tango lesson, cheered on River Plate in a soccer game, and yes, acted like zombies in the Recoleta cemetery. What else do grown-ups do in such an impressive but creepy place with over 4600 vaults? Did you know that a girl there was buried alive (this creeped me out, so read about it at your own peril)? But the most famous mausoleum there is of course that of Eva Perón, which meant we had to watch the musical Evita, which is why I was singing Don’t Cry for Me Argentina in front of the Casa Rosada. Now the video makes sense, right?

After BA we spend 4 days in Mendoza, where we hired a tour guide to drive us to 3 wineries a day. We visited some beautiful bodegas, including Catena Zapata, Andeluna and Salentein, and drank lots of incredible wine.

Bodega Catena Zapata

{At Catena Zapata}

Wine at Salentein

{Wine pairings with lunch at Andeluna}

It was interesting to learn about the wine production in the region. Wine used to be heavily consumed in Argentina with an average of 90 liters per person in the 70’s (that’s a bottle every 3 days- this is my kind of place!), but now consumption has halved with the introduction of other drinks and changes in the economy. The wine was traditionally produced for quantity rather than quality, with lots of cheap ‘vino de mesa’, and in fact it is still incredibly affordable. However, in the last 20 years or so though, there’s been an attempt to compete with wines globally (they’re kind of obsessed with rivaling French wine), which has resulted in the production of higher quality wines and more foreigners buying vineyards in the region.

We enjoyed many of the wines we tried, but our favorite was actually from a very small bodega called La Azul, which has limited international distribution and is owned by Argentinians. We bought some bottles to sneak onto our Patagonia cruise, though we definitely needed a few days break after Mendoza before cracking another bottle open!

 

50 Shades of Grey

We boarded a Holland America cruise on March 4th, heading from Santiago, Chile through Patagonia, with bright and colorful hopes.

Us glacier

{Aboard the Zaandam, in front of a glacier}

These hopes have since been dashed in more ways than one. Allow me to elaborate.

We’re accustomed to Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL, specifically to their cruises around the Caribbean. We tend to avoid most of the passengers on those ships because 1) We are recluses; 2) We are disgustingly adorable and want to be alone together; 3) People go to get wasted and party and we’re too lazy for that.

However, on this ship, we avoid people for an altogether different reason. At least 90% of the passengers are over the age of 50, and I can safely estimate that 50% are over 70.
This ship is literally at least 50 shades of grey.

View Patagonia

{Our 50 shades of grey views – no filter}

I shared this sentiment once, and it led to the most hilarious Bruce Willis situation I have ever been in.

We were at dinner, seated with 2 other couples. The man must have been in his 60’s. We were chatting about the other passengers, and suddenly… the guy started making conspiratorial statements like: “There are definitely a lot of old people on this cruise,” and “we are surrounded by elderly people, there are so many of them.” That’s when I realized it was a real-life ending of ‘The Sixth Sense’ – the guy didn’t realize he was dead old! It was both depressing and hilarious at once.

Being surrounded by the elderly has 3 key repercussions:
1) Food lines have never been slower, for 2 key reasons: a) they walk at cautious speeds, and b) they can’t read the signs explaining what the food is. “And what is THAT? What did you say? Fish? And what is THAT? Ah, Chicken. And what is THAT?” I don’t know how staff members don’t throw themselves overboard daily.

2) They are starved for conversation, especially with young people. Those of you who know Abe know how much he likes small talk (not at all). I feel like fresh meat on this ship, in a purely conversational way. Once they latch on, we have to whack them hard to make them let go. Just kidding. We ease out of the conversation real gently.

3) It’s hard to get peace and quiet. Now, you wouldn’t think that, seeing as there are so many old people around. But picture this: Abe and I go to a nice spot, settle in with our kindle/audiobook/whatever. First, as I said, old people want to get close to our youth, so they tend to sit near us (as in, at our table) even if there are better seats further away. But then, since we won’t chat, they sleep. And then they snore. And so I end up getting frustrated and nudging Abe out of his audiobook every other minute so he can share my pain and hear their snores. It’s tough to bear that burden alone.

Anyways, let’s put the old people down aside. We’ve had crap luck with the weather: every day, you’ve guessed it, has been grey.

Glacier

{The glacier}

It’s beautiful though. We’re sailing through the breathtaking Chilean fjords and channels, and have even caught sight of a couple whales and seals. We’ve passed shipwrecks and a sparkling receding glacier with light shining through. The wilderness of it all is amazing – just mountains and cliffs emerging from the water, rivers and cascades breaking through the changing vegetation as we sail further south. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be stopping in Ushuaia – weather permitting, that is, as it’s put a damper on things so far (pun intended).

 

Buenos Aires: Café, Carne y Español

Hello from Buenos Aires!

We’ve been in BA for nearly 2 weeks now, and we’re really enjoying the city so far. We have lots of time to explore, so we’ve been visiting attractions and museums, checking out lively neighborhoods like Palermo and Puerto Madero, and sampling as many delicious restaurants as we can. We’ve been staying in an awesome apartment in Recoleta, which is well located and has made it possible for us to walk around a lot.

Casa Rosada{Visiting the Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo}

In fact, I’ve been walking to Havanna Café, a coffee chain comparable to Starbucks but with an Argentine twist, on a nearly daily basis. I’ve become quite obsessed. I love it so much that I took Abe on a 20-block detour to find another location when sadists closed the one by our apartment for renovations. I consistently order their deliciously addictive espresso with condensed milk, plus a chocolate alfajor to make sure the whole ordeal is sugary enough. The weird thing is that I could easily replicate this coffee at home just by buying condensed milk, but then I’d get fat. I’m better off having to walk the 20 blocks, and getting as many cups as I want while we’re in BA. Then, when we leave, I’ll have to end this caffeinated love affair and not look back.

Havanna Cafe{Havanna deliciousness}

Abe’s favorite part of BA has undoubtedly been the meat. Nothing else has come remotely close. We’ve tried to adhere to a ‘no more than 3 times a week’ meat policy. We’ve been pretty successful so far, so long as you don’t count all the meat empanadas that we’re eating on the non-steak days (those don’t count, right?) I’m usually not much of a meat fan, but it’s really good here. Plus, with the current exchange rate it costs 1/3 of what it does the US, and you can get great malbec to wash it down too. It just seems wrong not to take advantage.

I realize that so far I’ve reduced this city to its food and wine and coffee. Don’t judge me, we’ve done other things too.

For example, I’ve been taking Spanish classes. My teacher was amazed by my entrance evaluation test. Not because it was stellar, unfortunately. He discovered that I’m ‘unbalanced’, which wasn’t news to me. It turns out that I speak Spanish very well, but when I write I don’t conjugate correctly in the past tense. Or in the future. Or in the conditional. Or in the subjunctive. I just pull it together somewhat convincingly when I talk and mumble over the parts I’m unsure of. To be fair, that’s because I learned Spanish by listening to Venezuelans rather than taking classes. I’m really enjoying learning the theory though, and I’m happy to say that my Spanish is improving muy rapidamente.

Abe is doing something similar and taking French classes at the Alliance Francaise. It’s obviously not a typically Argentine thing to do, but it’ll be really helpful for him later in our trip when we spend time in Geneva. I have no basis for saying this as I haven’t met the others, but I’d like to point out that he’s way smarter and better looking than everyone else in his class.

Other than that, we’ve done some really fun things. We took a great cooking class and learned to make empanadas, flan, and dulce de leche. We saw a beautiful tango show, which to Abe’s peril had me practicing tango dance kicks between his legs for the rest of the evening (it’s art, ok? No one got hurt). We had a wine and empanada picnic in the Palermo Woods on Valentine’s day. And we did the usual suspects too, visiting the Recoleta Cemetary, MALBA, Casa Rosada, San Telmo, Puerto Madero, Teatro Colon, etc.

Overall, we’re loving it here. We have lots planned this week, including a River soccer game and a visit to El Caminito, and then we’ll be heading to Mendoza to drink some more wine on Saturday. Dale, un abrazo amigos!