Chaotic, Overwhelming, Incredible India

I’m sitting in a monsoon downpour in Chiang Mai, Thailand right now, and I’ve decided it’s time I told you about our trip to India.

Abe enjoyed it, but didn’t love it as much as he’d hoped. He didn’t like how we didn’t feel safe while we traveled through Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Varanasi. How we feared for our lives every time we got in a car or tuk-tuk as they swerved and honked their way around bikes, dogs, cows, cars, potholes, and countless other obstacles (and we did get in a crash, so our fears were well-founded after all). How we got squashed by hundreds of sweaty Indian men in the subway (ok, I’m the one who didn’t like that). And he felt that people were constantly trying to scam us out of tiny amounts of money.

 

{The sunrise illuminates the buildings and ghats along the Ganges in Varanasi}
{The city wakes up as the sun rises over the Ganges in Varanasi}

But I loved it. I loved how different India is. How colorful. How spiritual. How it’s so utterly unique from anything else I’ve ever seen or experienced. Yes, it’s smelly, it’s dirty, it’s chaotic and it’s overwhelming. And yep, I spent several days with food poisoning, and even ended up taking antibiotics because of it. But it’s incredible and beautiful, and I’m so glad we went.

 

Blue City Jodhpur
{Overlooking Jodhpur, the blue city}

I could write an endless post chatting about the blue city of Jodhpur, the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal in Agra, the Swaminarayan Akshardham in Delhi, our cooking adventures in Jaipur or the amazing relationship people have with the Ganges in Varanasi. But I won’t put you through that. Instead, I’ll share a couple fun anecdotes from our travels. Oh, but before I start (that’s right, I’m just getting started), please warm up by watching this video. You’re welcome for that.

 

{Lots of love at the Taj Mahal, Agra}
{Lots of love at the Taj Mahal, Agra}

 

{Hanging out at the Pana Meena in Jaipur}
{Hanging out at the Pana Meena in Jaipur}

#1: We are the monkeys

So, I kinda felt like a movie star in India. You know, the kind you vaguely recognize – you can’t quite put on your finger on where you’ve seen them but you think they’re probably famous so you stare and discreetly take a selfie with them in the background just in case. Abe and Simon (Abe’s brother, who joined us in India) were my dashingly handsome but slightly less famous co-stars.

{The boys pose with a couple at the Taj, who didn't care that the palace wasn't in the shot}
{The boys pose with a couple at the Taj, who don’t care that the palace isn’t in the shot}

As we learned, most Indian people rarely see white foreigners and they find us really interesting. Indians have different cultural norms, so they find it perfectly ok to make intense eye contact even when you give them your best stop-staring-at-me-I-can-see-you look.

So the whole time we were in India, people wanted to get their pictures taken with us. At first I thought they were just approaching with their cameras because they wanted us to take their picture in front of the Taj Mahal. But nope. They wanted us in the picture. If the Taj happened to show, that was just a plus. How could I not develop a diva complex with that kind of attention?

 

{A baby monkey feeds from his mom at the Monkey Temple in Jaipur}
{A baby monkey feeds from his mom at the Monkey Temple in Jaipur}

Anyways, that brings me to Jaipur. We visited this amazing monkey temple, aptly named for the thousands of monkeys that call it their home. We hired a weird local guide who seemed convinced that he could speak to the monkeys (who knows, maybe he could) and exclaimed “LAH!” and “AWH!” at regular intervals while giving us peanuts to feed to his furry friends. At one point, as we were trying to entice the monkeys to climb on our shoulders, we realized that they were becoming increasingly nervous and reluctant to approach. They guide confirmed it: “They’re getting nervous because of the people.” The people?

 

{Feeding monkeys at the Monkey Temple in Jaipur}
{Feeding monkeys at the Monkey Temple in Jaipur}

And that’s when we noticed. We had a crowd of about 20 Indians behind us. They weren’t watching the baby monkeys like us though. No. We were their spectacle. And that’s when we realized: We were their monkeys.

 

#2: Why did the one-legged man cross the road?

Our guide in Varanasi summed up the traffic situation perfectly: “You need three things to drive in India: good breaks, good horn, and good luck.”

{Or you could take the metro, if you'd rather...}
{Or you could take the metro, if you prefer…}

It’s hard to do justice to the insane Indian traffic. It’s not just that the roads are bad, flood easily, and that goats, cows, and buffalo disturb traffic regularly, but the drivers are also pretty special. There’s no respect for lanes, traffic lights are suggestions, Tuk Tuk drivers stop to take leaks en-route, and the biggest vehicles always have the right of way.

Motorbike Jodhpur
{Motorbikes in Jodhpur… Is anyone watching the road?}

We had a cab driver in Delhi who embodied every aspect of driver oddities: he was a overly friendly yet pushy, drove in a terrifying way and overcharged us for the ride. This guy referred to himself as Doctor Taxi Driver (and printed this honorary title on his business cards). He insisted on waiting for us everywhere we stopped during an afternoon in Delhi, ignoring our adamant refusals by simply repeating: “I am not compelled to you, you are not compelled to me” as if that explained everything. Doctor Taxi Driver drove without windshield wipers in torrential rain, literally swerving between lanes using only other drivers’ honks as guidance. I honestly believe that he dodged cows and dogs out of sheer luck because his windshield was so opaque with the rain that we couldn’t see a thing. To further enhance our experience, he covered the running meter with a cloth despite our complaints because “the light hurt his eyes.” Unsurprisingly, when he removed the cloth with a flourish at the end of our ride, the fare was unusually high.

{Buffalos stop traffic in Jaipur}
{Buffalos stop traffic in Jaipur}

Now that you have a glimpse of what it’s like to be a passenger on an Indian road, try to imagine something even scarier. Crossing that road on foot.

Road crossings were downright terrifying in Delhi, even more so for Abe than for me. He operates under the belief that cars won’t stop for him (probably due to his Venezuelan roots) whereas I tend to optimistically assume that they will (likely because I’m Swiss), which terrifies Abe even more. It feels like every little road crossing in our lives was just practice for the ultimate challenge we faced in Delhi: crossing the insanely busy road near Chandni Chowk market.

It was kind of like a scene from a terribly boring action movie: There we were, struggling to cross a seemingly impassable road. Suddenly, just when the situation seemed most dire, the most unexpected hero appeared at an unusually slow pace: it was a one-legged man, hopping to our rescue. Seeing us dither helplessly, he put his best and only foot forward and hobbled along, stopping tuk-tuks left and right with angry shouts and gesturing aggressively with his crutches. He yelled something in Hindi at us when it was time to make a run for it, then shouted again when we had to stop. Somehow, miraculously, the unexpected hero granted us safe passage. Once he ensured that he had completed his mission, he welcomed a tip and then self-appointed himself as our guide despite our objections and stalked us somewhat creepily for the next half hour.  The End.

Fear not though, there’s plenty of potential for sequels. We were also flashed by a fellow train traveler, scammed by a Brahman in Varanasi and harassed by lonely puppeteers in Jaipur. But those stories for another time, maybe over a glass of wine when we get back in November. Until then, Namaste!

Sunrise yoga on a rooftop in Varanasi, overlooking the Ganges
Sunrise yoga on a rooftop in Varanasi, overlooking the Ganges

Baltic Cruise Video

Now that we’ve finally finished planning our trip (check out our complete itinerary here!), Abe’s had much more time to work on his video compilations. You heard a little about our Baltic cruise in my last post, but Abe’s amazing (and dance-filled) video definitely brings our Viking adventures to life. Check it out below, or see the high res version here. It might be his best one yet!

 

What part of Eyjafjallajökull don’t you understand?

Dear friends – it’s been a month since my last confession post. But it’s ok, because it’s important that I manage your expectations regarding the frequency of my updates (after all, I’ve been told that low expectations are the key to happiness). Abe and I are now officially more than 7 months into our trip, and it’s time I started weaning you off anyway.  Can you believe there’s only 3½ months left to our travels? It’s freaking me out.

But I don’t want to whine about how my yearlong travels are too short for my taste. You might already secretly hate me a little for it, and I don’t want to make it worse. I’m not looking to get hate mail or anything. No, instead, I’d like to tell you about our Icelandic adventures.

Before I start though – I feel I should disclose that I’m skipping over a Nordic cruise with my parents-in-law. And I’m not skipping it because they’re secretly cruel to me and I couldn’t find anything nice to say. Quite the opposite. We had an amazing time, and you’d think I was just sucking up to them if I told you how much I loved discovering Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland together. But the show must go on, or I’ll never get to recount Iceland and that happened over a month ago already. So I’ll just share a couple pictures of our Nordic trip, and then I’ll fast forward.

DSC_0419 {Formal dinner aboard the Eurodam}

DSC_0624{Being Vikings in Stockholm}

So, Iceland. We landed around midnight and it was still light out. We read that sunset should happen around 2AM, but as we found out a couple hours later, the sunset is somehow also the sunrise (does that make sense?) so it never actually gets dark out in the summer. Which was fine by us: it just meant more time to see stuff. Apparently though, Icelanders sometimes go a little crazy in the summer because they forget to get shut-eye and get ridiculously sleep deprived. Like that would ever happen to me. Maybe I should become a summertime sleep coach in Iceland – after all, I have all the necessary expertise and 27 years of impressive napping experience.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA{The beautiful iceberg lagoon near Vik}

Then again, I feel I could go crazy myself just listening to the Icelandic language. I’ve never heard a language that’s so crazy complicated. You can’t even try to pronounce the words you read. No, go ahead, really: I dare you. Read the store name in the picture below. Icelandic is probably the least sexy language in the world. It even beats German, and that’s an impressive feat.



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Anyways, við skulum fara (that’s “let’s move on” in Icelandic). We spent 6 days in Iceland, where we drove an average of 500km per day. It’s an insanely beautiful country, and nature there just feels… powerful. There are crazy glaciers, crater lakes, volcanoes, cliffs, cascades, iceberg lagoons, fields packed with trotting Icelandic horses, and only a few little towns in between. Oh, and let’s not forget the many sulfuric geysers that look awesome but smell like rotten eggs. At first, I thought Abe had some serious farting issues. I’m #sorrynotsorry to admit it, but I blamed him for countless geyser stinks as we drove through the countryside. I do believe that he eventually started taking advantage of the situation and blamed geysers to cover up his farts, but he denies this so it’ll remain a mystery.

crater lake iceland{at an incredible crater lake}

I can’t really tell you about our Icelandic experience without mentioning that we went dogsledding on a glacier(!!) and boating in an iceberg lagoon(!!!). First, let me tell you about the dogs: they were adorably fluffy and so incredibly excited to go running. I wish I could muster half their excitement towards exercise – I’d be the fittest Swiss in Miami. It was funny though: the second the dogs started running, they all decided that they absolutely needed to pee and poop WHILE running, which they obviously couldn’t do, so they started tripping over each other and kept (unintentionally?) peeing on each other as they ran. That sounds to me like a pretty great incentive to run faster.

dogsledding iceland{our view from the sled}

Abe with dogs Iceland{Abe petting two of ‘our’ dogs.}

As for the iceberg lagoon… wow. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and the fact that there was an adorable seal lounging on icebergs and swimming around made it even more special. Beyond the more traditional explanations, our guide also told us that local guys (including himself) sometimes try to impress women by offering them small icebergs that they’ve pulled out of the water… That’s right, that’s how Icelanders attract potential mates. You only see the 10% that’s above the water, so you’re in for a real treat when he whips the whole thing out. Sexy… Luckily, you now have ice to cool yourself off.

seal in iceberg lagoon iceland{see the seal swimming around?}

Well, I think that accounts for most of our Icelandic trip. Oh, we also went to hear this guy in concert, and… well I think this actually changes things a bit. Disagree if you will, but I think he redeems the Icelandic language. It’s now back up above German on the language sexiness scale. And on that (musical) note, we’re off to continue our adventures!

Pirate Lions & Wieners

Caution: This post contains nudity and wiener flopping. Scroll at your own peril. 

Once more, I’m so far behind on my blogging that I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how other bloggers stay on top of it. Maybe if I rewarded myself with wine every time I wrote I’d do it more… who am I kidding, I do that already and it barely works. Anyways, let’s get to it. I know you’re curious about the wiener flopping.

Since I last posted, Abe and I have spent 2 weeks in Greece, a week in Amsterdam, a few days in Geneva and 2 weeks cruising Scandinavia. There’s a lot to catch you up on and it’s a bit overwhelming. So, in the wise words of Julie Andrews, I’ll just start at the very beginning (a very good place to start) and tell you all about Greece.

We split our time between Athens, Santorini, Paros, Antiparos and Mykonos. Santorini is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Instead of describing it to you, here are a few pictures:

Santorini{Oia, Santorini}

Amoudi Bay {Amoudi Bay, Santorini}

Abe and I Santorini{Us in Oia, Santorini}

Unfortunately, it seems that half the Chinese population agrees with me and finds Santorini picturesque. As a result, we ran into at least 5 Chinese couples getting their wedding photos taken daily, in full bridal attire. Here’s the weird part though: those couples don’t actually get married in Santorini. Instead, they hold on to their wedding dresses and tuxes for a few years, until they travel to Greece and then do a photo shoot there. At least the grooms know their brides will stay skinny enough to fit into their dresses… that’s worth a photoshoot in Santorini, right? No fried rice for you.

hike in Santorini{During a 4-hour hike from Thira to Santorini, passing countless Chinese couples}

As for our time in Antiparos: we were really lucky to be invited by my sister’s best friend’s parents (still following me?) who have a home there. At first they didn’t recognize me (fair enough, they hadn’t met me before) and told me I didn’t look much like the picture they’d seen of me. So I started thinking I should probably wear makeup again, or do my hair, or do something to look like my pre-travel self. Eventually they showed me the picture in question though: turns out, it was picture of my sister. Mind you, they’ve met my sister repeatedly, and she stays with them for a week every year. Somehow they didn’t recognize her and assumed it must be me. Luckily, I still look enough like her, so they put their suspicions aside and let us stay. And fed us. And pampered us. And it was wonderful.

In Antiparos we spent our time boating in turquoise waters to other beautiful islands and beaches. There was also, I should tell you, a pirate lion on our boat. WHAT? That’s right, you heard me. A pirate lion. It was like Life of Pi, minus the fear of being eaten because he was a little too cute.

Pirate Lion{The lion on the boat}

 

Pirate Lion 2{Note the pirate flag}

Any resemblance to an oddly shaved dog is purely coincidental.

Mykonos also had its share of thrills. We went beaching, clubbing, ate lots of Greek food, visited archeological sites, and met this Italian guy:

Italian in Mykonos{At Paradise Beach, Mykonos}

You may find it hard to believe, but the front of his swimsuit was more revealing than its back. And he flopped ‘it’ on people. Wait, why am I censoring myself? He was flopping his wiener left and right, literally whacking people repeatedly with it to the tune of ‘What is Love.’ I know it may be hard (hah) to believe, but it was great beach entertainment. And I thought I’d seen it all on South Beach.

Ok, so now you’ve heard my share of Greek anecdotes. I’ll let Abe tell you more of our stories, and in a more refined voice I’m sure, with his great video (a masterpiece, in my opinion). See it below, or view the high res here:

 

 

 

 

Flying over Fairy Chimneys

Dear friends, my dream of flying away in my own house, attached to thousands of colorful balloons, almost came true. (Thank you, Pixar, for giving me completely unrealistic dreams). I only had one balloon (but it was huge – size does matter), it wasn’t my house, and I didn’t land in Venezuela, but what matters is that I flew. And the place I landed in was breathtakingly beautiful.

Before I get to that though, let me give you some background about where it all went down UP.

We went to Cappadocia a week ago, and it’s an otherworldly place. There are tall cone-shaped rock formations everywhere, romantically called fairy chimneys (such a perfect name). The most impressive part is that people carved homes and churches into these rocks over 1000 years ago, so the fairy chimneys have windows and doors and some even have frescos painted inside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA{Fairy chimneys in Goreme, Cappadocia}

Now, back to my ‘UP’ experience: We started our visit in Cappadocia with an incredible hot air balloon ride at sunrise.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA{Hot air ballooning is popular, obviously}

The funny thing is, the people who managed our hot air balloon company weren’t brilliant businessmen. After realizing that we could book their services through our hotel for cheaper than their listed rate, Abe negotiated an even lower rate with the company (what a boss. I love him.) When we showed up, they asked us “what are you paying today?” which was a weird (and dumb) question to begin with. And then I saw, directly in front of me, a list of all the different rates that every passenger was paying that day. The rates ranged from 90€ p/p (us) to 160€ p/p (some really ripped-off people). Those were some pretty inflated hot air balloon prices (hehe) considering that everyone was in the same room, receiving the same service at the same time, and that the price list was RIGHT THERE for anyone to see. People started asking each other about pricing (luckily, before the 160€ losers arrived), but we kept our traps shut to avoid mutiny before takeoff. I’d rather cause chaos once I’ve received my service.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA{Flying over Cappadocia}

The flight itself was incredible. We took off just around sunrise and delved into the beautiful valleys and canyons to see the fairy chimneys from up close. Abe overcame his hilarious manly and perfectly normal fear of heights and actually enjoyed this whole new world (cue Aladdin song). We were lucky to have made it back down alive though. Let me tell you why.

A moronic couple on our flight did nothing but take selfies and ask others to take their picture the entire time, from pre-takeoff to post-landing (I’ll henceforth refer to them as ‘the idiots’). This in itself was annoying but forgivable as it was admittedly a picturesque and once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. But then, as we were preparing to land and 2 men reached to bring our hot air balloon safely to the ground, the idiots repeatedly thrust their phone into the men’s faces (who, have I mentioned, were holding the ropes to our safety) and asked them to take their picture INSTEAD OF LANDING US. The guys stared at the idiots incredulously, and somehow managed to politely tell them that another colleague would take their stupid picture later. What kind of morons do this? #areyouforreal?

Beyond flying in hot air balloons, we hiked in the Love Valley. This sounds really romantic, but the truth is that the valley is named for its penis-shaped phallic rock formations (let’s be mature about this). So of course we had to take photos.

 

Love Valley{Being mature in the Love Valley. This is sadly one of the more appropriate photos. Don’t ask.}

We also hiked in the Pigeon and Rose Valleys. If I might offer my marketing services to Cappadocia, I would rename Pigeon Valley something like ‘the Hummingbird Valley’ instead. Who cares if people don’t actually see hummingbirds (because there are none… but just tell the tourists they were unlucky that day)? At least people will want to go. Pigeons suck. But, despite the valley’s terrible name and the fact that we got lost and had to be rescued by a local, the valley was beautiful and fun to explore, and was surprisingly not covered in pigeon shit.

Pigeon Valley {Fairy chimneys in Pigeon Valley}

Overall, we loved our time in Cappadocia. Even without a thousand tiny balloons, we were transported to a magical and truly unforgettable place.

Abe hot air balloon {Abe UP in the sky}

A Vacation from our Vacation

We spent 2 weeks in Israel with my parents recently and had the most wonderful and relaxing time (check out Abe’s latest video montage at the end of the post for proof!). We felt so content: we were pampered like crazy by my parents, drank lots of limoncello in the hot tub on our terrace, ate hummus daily, and spent hours wandering happily around Tel Aviv. It was like a vacation within our vacation. And, on top of all that, there’s just something about that city that makes me feel at home.

It might be because strangers tend to treat you like you’re family, even if you’ve only just met them. Like when we drove from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and back with my parents and a hired driver. You could swear that my dad and the driver knew each other since childhood – complaining about their wives, laughing out loud about the torture of marriage, patting each other on the back… the driver literally gave my dad his card and told him to call him if he wanted to get some lunch. Not a cab ride, mind you, just a completely hetero besties lunch date.

Western Wall Kim & Abe{Abe and I at the Western Wall in Jerusalem)

And then the driver proceeded to thrust his friendly life advice my way: I should have babies NOW and move to Israel with my husband. That way my parents could take care of my kids. What am I waiting for, he asked? It’s what’s best for me. If the taxi driver says so it must be true, right?

Anyways, as I was saying, we had an incredible time in Tel Aviv. I’ll change the tone a bit though, and tell you about the more emotional moments for me. We were lucky to spend Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day), Yom Hazikaron (Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) in Tel Aviv. On the 2 first days, a siren is sounded throughout the country to remind people of the fallen – and it’s really beautiful and touching. The country comes to a halt, in part because every family unfortunately knows someone who has been hurt or killed. Everyone stops what they are doing: cars pull over on the highway, people get off their bikes, and friends stop mid-conversation and stand in silence. It’s really powerful, and I think I’ll never forget how it felt to stand on our balcony, overlooking a suddenly still city with that mournful siren ringing loudly in my ears.

Namal Yom Haatzmaut{Celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut at the Old Port}

Thankfully, on Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence day, in case you’ve already forgotten), the city’s mood changes from somber to ecstatic. It’s the happiest day I’ve seen in the country, filled with parties, concerts, music and dancing. My awesome cousin Eric and his girlfriend were in the city and had tickets to an open bar party on their hotel rooftop. Free drinks, great views, music, good company… did I mention it was an open bar? We were IN. We spent the night celebrating, watching a group of gay men come in and out of a bathroom wiping white powder from their noses (powdered sugar?), chatting and laughing until the wee hours (ish, we left at 3AM, but that’s not bad by married people standards).

Bahia Gardens Haifa{the Haifa Bahá’í gardens}

What else can I tell you? We visited some of Abe’s family in Haifa, and checked out the beautiful Bahá’í gardens while we were there. We visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and thanks to a wonderful Israeli friend we received a VIP tour of the Jerusalem tunnels. It was a perfect 2 weeks, and the ideal way to unwind before heading to a much less comfortable hostel in the heart of Istanbul.

Western Wall {Israeli soldiers and an orthodox man stand by the Western Wall}

To get a feel for our Israeli adventures, check out Abe’s spectacular montage below (or see the high res version here). As a bonus, you’ll also get to see us sweating our way up the very steep Salève mountain near Geneva. Hope you enjoy!

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

{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!