Taiwan was my first ever south east Asian country, I have never been to this region before and I was really looking forward to discovering it. Everything was new to me, especially the food and the humid weather (both were killing me xD). The culture as well was very different from what I was used to (Europe, Middle East and Latin America), both in terms of “sightseeing list” and in terms of local lifestyle. Sometimes I had my difficulties adjusting to this new world, but overall I looooved the experience, because it was really unique and special for me. I remember recording long voice messages to my friends telling them about all the new things I was encountering every day. I just had so much urge to share my Taipei adventure and I could not keep it to myself. Continue reading “Discovering Taipei”
Rio de Janeiro the beautiful
I have been struggling with this post for a while because my experience of Rio was very different from other cities in Brazil. It’s easier to post nice pictures and talk about what you have seen and done as a plain tourist (hopping from one point in the sightseeing list to another), but it is much more difficult to write about something that you lived as a … lets’s say … prolonged visitor. Your experience is not linear anymore: it’s an irregular mix of events, moments and episodes and it is just hard to create a single thread of a story. In my head I have flashes of random memories that are filled with emotions and thoughts, and I don’t really know how to put it all together into one “Rio” post. Nevertheless, I will try. Maybe by starting with the simple things and telling you how I got there.
Iguazu, Brazil and Argentina
The truth is, I don’t really know what to tell you about Iguazu … It just has to be seen and then all the words in the world are powerless. Unfortunately, my amateur photos will not make it justice either. But I will try! Iguazu falls are located on the border between Argentina and Brazil on the river with the same name. These falls consist of many waterfalls of different height (60 to 82 meters) and you can enjoy them over the length of 2,7 km. You can (and should) visit both sides to have a whole impression of the grandeur of this place and to decide which one you prefer better. They say Argentina owns the waterfalls, because 80% of them lie on its territory, but Brazil owns the view! For me the most spectacular side was the Brazilian one, I was fascinated and left breathless… a true wonder of nature!
“Brasilia?! Oh, there is nothing to do there unless you are very interested in modernist architecture.” – so I was told by several people. I wouldn’t say I was, but wanted to see it anyway. I wanted to see the city that was built out of nothing in 41 months, that completely followed a designed plan and that was the fullfillment of a visionary idea of a new capital for Brazil. For around 200 years Rio de Janeiro was its capital, but located in the southeast region it was too far from the rest of the country. President Juscelino Kubitschek, fulfilling the promise of his political campaign and the country’s first republican constitution of 1891 (which stated that the capital should be moved to the center of the country), has ordered the construction of Brasilia in 1956. On the 21st of April 1960 it was inagurated.
Brasilia was built by urban planner Lucia Costa and chief architect Oscar Niemeyer, who designed most of the public buildings. The city’s shape, proposed by Lucia Costa, resembles an airplane or a bird. There are 2 axes: one along the fuselage of the plain and one along its wings. The first axis is called Eixo Monumental (Monumental Axis) – it is the central avenue of Brasilia where many important government buildings and monuments are located. When you do a sightseeing tour of the city you are basically moving around these avenue. The second axis is curved and it is a residential area of the city.
When I first saw those colorful pictures of Salvador I told to myself: “I have to visit this place!” When I went to read more about it on the internet I was like: “No way, I am not going there! My life is still too precious to me!” If you google world’s most dangerous cities it would be somewhere in the top 20 (together with many more Brazilian cities and the rest of Latin America). But then I went on booking.com and checked hotels’ reviews. And I thought: If thousands of tourists from different countries go there and write positive comments, then it can’t be that bad after all, right? =)
On the 25th of July we landed in sunny Salvador! We took a taxi and went to our nice hotel in the historical city center, in the district of Santo Antonio. The guy at the reception welcomed us with memorable words about his hometown:
“It’s not a paradise, it’s more like a hell. But a good hell!”
Brazil has never been on my high priority list and I don’t know how much time it would have taken me to visit the 5th largest country in the world, if it hadn’t been for the Olympics. But 2016 was the year of Rio de Janeiro and as I was going to volunteer for the first Olympic Games in South America, I decided I might as well travel around and discover the beauty of the host country. I asked my friends to join me, but no one was willing to pay sky high prices for flight tickets and hotels. I was actually ready to travel alone just by myself (and that was a scary thought!), but then I decided to check with online friends. I thought of 2 virtual friends that could have been interested in an adventure like this. And one of them, amazing Anna, said yes! I was very surprised by her prompt answer (she has even booked flight tickets before me!), but very-very happy as well that I got a chance to travel in her great company. As I said, I have never met her before in real life, but through her instagram I knew we would get along! And I was so right ) Later on another friend of her, Sasha, has joined us and we became a gang of three ready to enjoy Brazilian winter.