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Posts Tagged ‘Manaus’

Brasil!

Brasil!

July 26, 2014

Well we’re finally back from our 35 day trip to Brazil to attend the World Cup so I thought I’d share some random thoughts on our visit.

The most common question I’ve received since I practically first set foot on Brazilian soil has been “How do you like Brazil?”. More on that one later.

I’ve been told by many people I’ve met over time that Brazilian people are some of the friendliest and nicest people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. For the most part I can attest to this. Just about everybody we met was very friendly and helpful. However, the dark side is most people don’t really realize how innately capitalistic Brazilians are. Sometimes the overly helpfulness is because they have their left hand in your pocket. I’m not saying this to be mean, just candid. This happens everywhere in the world and it certainly happens in Brazil. Just letting you know sometimes that smile is there because you’re being sized up on whether you’ll pay $50 or $100.

My goodness there are a lot of beautiful Brazilian people. You can’t stand on a sidewalk swinging a dead cat over your head and not hit 12 beautiful people with one swing. These are the people you see on your television back home. However, there are tons of people here in Brazil that are not quite as beautiful. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I’m the ugly fat Gringo here myself so I have nothing to say. But there are an awful lot of people like me down here. Stated otherwise, normal people.

On the heels of the above paragraph Brazil has some of the most stunning and beautiful landscapes you’ll see before you exit this spinning ball of ice called Earth. We saw mountain after river after ocean after waterfall after you name it. The Brazilians are truly blessed with some natural beauty you don’t see just every day. However, Brazil has a serious poverty issue as well. You can see equally ugly vistas around any corner. People living in a lean to, sleeping on a cot under a business door jam to avoid the rain, walking through two feet of water in their homes while you pass by on a brand new multi-million dollar subway line right above. This country has a lot of poor and a lot of squalor and without getting too political about this I think the government needs to step in and do something because sometimes only something as big as the government can fix something that is that badly broken. Enough said.

We were here for the World Cup and make no mistakes: soccer is religion here. Not only is it religion here it is religion for just about every country that played here during this tournament. These people take this very seriously. They will cry uncontrollably at a loss while the next guy in line will beat your ass because you’re wearing the jersey of the team that just beat his. So it is all fun, well and good but make no mistakes. This is a serious affair when you attend the World Cup and the deeper teams go into the tournament the more serious it gets.

If you really like pepper on your food then you had better bring some with you in your suitcase. Carry it around in your pocket every time you think you might be eating a meal. These people have a serious aversion to pepper. Something to do with trading with another country in their history and only receiving pepper in return. In any case, you’ll have a really hard time finding it on any table in Brazil and if you ask for it you’re going to get a small jar of pepper sauce similar to Louisiana or Tabasco or Sriracha.

Along the lines of the previous paragraph if you have a strong affinity for things like ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise then you might think about bringing those with you as well. If you ever find these on a table you’ll likely find a 1 gram packet of something that once upon a time might have resembled the condiment you’re seeking. Odds are pretty high it won’t even be there and if you ask for it you won’t get it. If you do, see above. It’ll be a 1 gram packet of suck.

If you are in a big city like Rio de Janeiro think long and hard about ever taking your cell phone out of your pocket while in public. The second you raise it to your ear I will just about guarantee you that you are now a made target waiting to happen. You might win, you might lose. In either case, I don’t think it is worth it. We saw this in action ourselves and it is quite fast and dare I say impressive to witness. If you really need to even carry your cell phone with you always step inside someplace to make or take a call or exchange text messages.

Along the lines of above plan on getting pickpocketed at some point in your trip. Take the necessary precautions to not get pickpocketed but plan on getting robbed at some point in your trip. If you do get robbed it’ll be done and over with and on you go. If you don’t, you’ll consider all things great and a wonderful vacation had. I don’t say this to be mean or negative but the reality is we stayed at several hotels across several cities and I heard several stories over the course of the trip of somebody getting robbed or pickpocketed. It just happens with a reasonable enough frequency here that you might get nailed so prepare for it and forget about it if it happens. All the normal rules apply. Don’t go anywhere alone, down dark streets, carry objects out in the open, wear any jewelry, dress flashy, etc… Same things you’d practice in any major city in the world. Some of the best advice I heard before this trip was “Don’t take anything with you in the morning that you want to bring back in the evening.”

If you’re flying inside the country TAM has made great strides in improving their fleet and service.  They are actually now part of the OneWorld Alliance they’re doing so well.  On the flip side Gol has fallen quickly and hard after their promising start.  I’d say avoid Gol at this point.  Azul is a bit of an outlier but I enjoyed both flights as they are a 2 by 2 leather seat configuration with plenty of room, live TV, etc…  Patterned after U.S. carrier JetBlue.  I also heard that if you can get it due to limited routes most Brazilians that want a quality experience use Avianca.

Brazilian drivers including your taxi driver love their cell phones while driving.  Make no mistake, everybody has a minimum of one cell phone stuck to their ear while driving, taxi drivers being professionals have two while they are driving.  Don’t fear for your safety.  They are properly distracted.  If they hang up the phone and see what you’re seeing while they’re driving they’d shit their pants in fear and kill you in a fiery crash.  Roll with it.  It is normal in Brazil.

So back to the original question. “How do you like Brazil?” The answer is I like Brazil just fine. It is a beautiful country filled with happy, tortured souls if that makes any sense at all. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Rio, explore the Iguazu Falls and visit Florianópolis which is the one city I wanted to visit that I didn’t get to visit on this trip. There are also a couple of minor areas like Paraty. So yes, I like Brazil and would go back. I’m just not in a hurry to return. After all, I have two more continents to visit.

Hope to see you again soon.

Tchau!

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Lider Hotel Manaus
Avenida 7 de Setembro, 827
Centro, Manaus – AM, 69005-140, Brazil
Phone: +55 92 3621-9700

Worship the Ancient Blue Toilet

Worship the Ancient Blue Toilet

June 17th through June 23rd

Lider Hotel Manaus is a perplexing situation for me. As I sit here trying to formulate my thoughts on this hotel and this stay in particular I guess it all needs to boil down to perspective.

If I were looking at this hotel compared to other hotels in the area that I’ve been in during this trip or spoken to others about during this trip I’d have to say Lider Hotel Manaus is a nice hotel, clean, safe, in a central part of the city within walking distance of historic sights and public transportation and the like. The staff is friendly and helpful as best as they can but speaking Portuguese is definitely a plus while staying here. Given the appearance, location and performance of this hotel during our stay I’d have to say I’d recommend it.

If I were to pick up this hotel and stick it into the middle of any modern city in the U.S. or the EU I would say this place is a hole with a shitty view of a trashed out roof, surrounding walls and trashed out buildings. Specifically:

  • The view from our room is of the waste dump better known as the roof of our hotel.
  • Our bedroom is equipped with four, short single beds that creak all night and feel itchy when you sleep in them.
  • One of our beds had stains on it when we arrive.
  • The fridge in our room looks 30 years old and buzzes when you open it.
  • The TV is an old style tube TV and buzzes when it is on.
  • The closet is three side by side cabinets that smell and look more like confessionals than closets.
  • The toilet and sink are the originals to the room it appears in their deep blue splendor.
  • The glass door to the shower is dark tinted in the style of an 80s Dallas episode.
  • You or anybody within three floors flushes their toilet the person in the shower is either frozen or boiled alive.
  • There are what I’ll call minor mold spots throughout the bathroom, particularly the shower.
  • There are bugs in the room. We’ve seen them fly by but haven’t caught one yet.
  • The hotel is located in centro surrounded by trashed out buildings, beggars and street vendors.

So there is the perspective. From a first world, everything should be near perfect point of view this place isn’t it. From a surroundings in Manaus point of view, it would be recommended. I’ll let you be the judge of which view best fits yours.

Conclusion: I’d only stay here again if I couldn’t find a better option. I’ll grant you there may not be any better options in the area.

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June 23, 2014

Welcome to Recife

Welcome to Recife

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY SON DAVID!!!

He always seems to get stuck at home holding down the fort while we’re on the road someplace. Happy Birthday Son.

The day started slow. Breakfast at the hotel. Then it came…

…the vomit…

…here…there…everywhere. The floor, the toilet, my wife’s suitcase. Nothing was sacred. I guess it had to happen at some point. Fantastic that it happened on a travel day. Thankfully it was violent and quick. After well over an hour my stomach seems perfectly calm.

Today was a travel day. A long travel day. We’ve basically been on planes, in airports and riding in taxis all day today. So there really isn’t anything to report other than we’re finally here in Recife for about four days. We’re here to catch the Germany v USA game later this week before we head off into the knock out rounds.

A couple of interesting notes about our travel today.  When we landed in Brazilia for our transfer Brazil had just won their game.  The city was brightly lit and fireworks were going off throughout the city.  It made for a nice show as we were landing.  The later as we approached Recife we had an aborted landing.  That’s always a pucker up moment for most of the uninitiated on the plane.  Apparently his ground speed was too slow due to an unexpected head wind higher than anticipated so just under cloud break right above the ground he realized he was slow and short so back came the yoke and up roared the engines.  Second time was the charm.  He came in hot and flat and slammed that baby onto the runaway.  Full brakes.  We were landing this time!

Hope to see you here tomorrow.

Tchau.

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Tambaqui De Banda
Avenida Tancredo Neves, 9
Flores, Parque 10, Manaus – AM, 69057-700, Brazil
Phone: +55 92 3236-5995

Tambaqui de Banda Fish and Chips

Tambaqui de Banda Fish and Chips

June 21, 2014

We popped into this place because it is conveniently located on the Amazon Theater Plaza (I believe the address above is for the main location). There is some indoor dining but the bulk is setup alfresco in the plaza. My recommendation is go alfresco.

There is nothing on the menu that I could find that was anything other than fish related. 100% fish, 100% of the time. So if you’re not into fish don’t even bother stopping.

We started with the Fish and Chips. They serve it in a small cardboard “cone” that is almost reminiscent of getting your fish and chips wrapped in newspaper in London. The portion is small but the flavor is good. I’d recommend it.

We also had the Fish Balls. This is generally regarded as a Brazilian specialty. These were very flavorful and enjoyable. I’d recommend these as well.

They have a bar that allows purchase and carry so Caipirinhas were flowing and the beer was traveling.

Service was a little slow at times but if you manage your waiter you’ll be fine.

Attire is casual. Prices are very reasonable. Credit cards are accepted.

Conclusion: I’d return. I had a good time and a good meal.

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June 22, 2014

USA v Portugal

USA v Portugal

GAME DAY!!!

Today is our 12th day here in Brazil and it is game day for us. Today we’re off to the Arena Amazonia to watch the USA v Portugal game. Things took an interesting turn yesterday when Ghana managed to tie the German team. In short if we win today we’re through to the Round of 16. Anything else and the Group of Death is still fairly wide open going into the last set of matches.

Breakfast in the hotel again. One of these days they’ll change up the menu for me although I have to say they have a pretty wide selection. Guess I shouldn’t fuss. We then spent the balance of the morning trying to figure out the bus routes to the arena, surfed the internet and watched the first match of the day on TV before heading up the hill to catch the bus to the game.

Then the bottom fell out. Maybe not that bad but when that late goal for Portugal you could feel the collective air gasp from all Americans in the stadium. We were seconds from going into our last game up 2-0 and now we’re in the mix with everybody else at 1-0-1. The ever growing large Germany game looms in Recife later this week. Our group very much undecided at this point.

I’d also like to add that every single portion of my body and clothes are soaked head to toe. I think even my ear canal is sweating at this moment. If you don’t like humidity coupled with heat do NOT come to Manaus. If you do come bring twice as many clothes as you need, plan on a cold shower twice a day and a change of undergarments twice a day. Otherwise, you’re a walking fish.

Tomorrow is a travel day and a long one at that. We basically check out of the hotel at Noon local time to head to the airport and we’ll be in transit until around 11PM tomorrow night Recife time. Don’t be surprised if there is nothing to post tomorrow but in case there is…

Hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Tchau.

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Churrascaria Búfalo
Rua Pará, 491
Nossa Senhora das Graças
Manaus – AM, 69053-575, Brazil
Phone: +55 92 3131-9000

My first Brazilian Wine

My first Brazilian Wine

June 20, 2014

Churrascaria Bufalo is roughly a 10-15 minute drive from Centro Manaus heading towards Arena Amazona. The building is attractive from the street as well as inside. Lots of glass, warm woods, modern finishes. There is also a nice “American” bar downstairs that specializes in whiskeys. The main dining floor is large but not too large like a lot of churrascaria seem to gravitate towards these days. It is a comfortable environment, especially for Americans and Europeans as well as the locals.

The food is OK. Not the best churrascaria I’ve had by a long shot, equally not the worst by a long shot. However, the one complaint I do have is the food service. It is erratic at best. Once I finished my salad I waited a long time before I was finally served any of the meats. Once I was finally served I was served the same (less expensive) top sirloin over and over and over and over and over. Little variety at all. Once Cynthia and I were pretty full and gave up on meat and turned our plates in a flood of stuff we hadn’t seen all night long at any table magically appeared around the room. Obviously I found this annoying. Dare I say it? Unacceptable. A churrascaria is known for a variety of cuts of meat and grilled pineapple to finish. We saw none of this. Poor food service on this particular evening.

Service by itself was pretty good. Our waiter was pretty much there when we needed him.

Prices are high for what we received. Maybe if the food service were better I’d be a bit more forgiving of the prices but not this occasion.

Dress is casual to business casual. Major credit cards accepted.

Conclusion: I likely won’t return.

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June 21, 2014

Fan zones are fun

Fan zones are fun

Today is our 11th day here in Brazil. It is a Saturday here in Manaus. We’re staying in Centro so I pretty much expect everything to be closed, the streets bare of people and the like. Then again I pretty much expect that on the weekends here in Manaus. My impression so far is that it is a sleepy little city when commerce isn’t being conducted.

We started with the usual breakfast at the hotel. We then worked until around 12:30 local time. The internet seemed fairly quick so you seize the moment when you can.

We spent the bulk of the rest of the day watching soccer in the fan zone in the Amazon Theater Plaza. It isn’t an official fan zone of FIFA which means I like it about 10 times more already just based on that fact. I’d rather not spend a dime in Seth Blatter’s Yacht Purchase Fund if I can avoid it. The official fan zone is sealed off for security purposes, sells only FIFA approved products, only accepts VISA or cash, you must abide by the FIFA code of conduct, etc… The unofficial fan zone we attended is sponsored by the Minister of Culture for the Amazon Government. There are just under 1,000 events planned during the tournament. The most of any government in Brazil. We got a beautiful hi-def screen, live musical acts from local artists between games, our choice of refreshments and meals from any vendor or restaurant in the area, freedom to come and go, etc… Needless to say it beats the heck out of Seth’s playground. Stand up and take notice extortonist.

Lunch wedged between and into the games was at Tambaqui De Banda. Totally fish oriented. No other protein. It was good. I’ll try to do a write up but feel free to stop by.

After the Germany v Ghana slight disappointment we swung by Bob’s Hamburgers & Shakes and I had a non-hamburger and a non-existent shake. That includes his famous Ovaltine shake. You figure out how that one happened.

We finally got back to the room and called it for the day. We took a refreshing ice cold shower after being in the sun and humidity all day, watched the final soccer match of the day, surfed the internet and did basically nothing but relax into the evening. Down time required.

Hope to see you here tomorrow.

Tchau.

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