Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sao Paulo
(posting by Andy) - Photo at the Vogue Carnaval Party 2007

We got back from the Vogue Carnival event about 4 a.m and that was considered early....we are old farts but we tried, we really really tried!

Here goes with a synopsis of what took place....

First I would like to admit, that Mr. Hirko and myself looked rather dashing in our black and white tuxedo suits. I am still refusing to wear my underwear until Britney puts hers on, but for the most part we fit in fine. The tuxedo service the hotel hooked us up with was fantastic, they came to our room, took our measurements and then returned back to our room with full pressed suits and shoes ready to go to the ball. The cost for both rentals was $500.00 ! Holly Crap. Thank goodness that the hotel picked up the tab because when we saw the bill our mouths dropped.

We left the hotel about 11:30 in the hotel car that swooped us away. Once we got to the ballroom, it was like a scene from E or Hollywood ! Stars, Media, Entertainers, Politicians, we were all in the same line. We were right in the middle of it all, there were no VIP lines, since we were all VIP's- and there was Rhett and I with our golden ticket in hand.

It was a sea of men dressed like penguins and some local wealthy women but mostly Brazilian Vogue models (including Gisele Bundchen), wearing the latest Brazilian fashionable outfit parading around waiting to be noticed. These women were gorgeous, so pretty that Rhett and I were in awe even though we didn't know who they were.

It was actually good that we didn't know who the stars were and who was celeb. We were all equally important because we all had the exact same invitation in hand and people just assume that you are important or you wouldn't be there. I think if it was Hollywood, we could have been star struck. Imagine the red carpet kind of feel...with little old Rhett and I in our little old tuxes smack in the middle of it !

The building itself had large gates that entered the ballroom, six giant white pillars that held up the canopy where all of us waited in line for about another hour (even the stars). The guest list held more that 1500 people and all over were models prancing around waiting for the next person to take a photo of them. The main singer (the main attraction) was just in front of us as she was escorted in wearing a feathered mask (carnival) as the media interviewed her and took photos.

Once we passed security and the front door, now 1 a.m., the ballroom consisted of two large rooms, in total about 10-15,000 square feet, decked out in feathers and other Carnival decorations. In one of the rooms, a large stage that continuously had some type of entertainer playing music which had the whole room in a trance of samba and other forms of Brazilian, carnival music. Keep in mind, no VIP rooms so all these models, and other very important people in the fashion industry and so on...they were all around us and the cool thing was that no one had an attitude. They thought we were just as VIP as them so everyone was really cool. Red Bull, Johnny Walker, Stella Artois " Brazilian Beer", and Champagne filled the room as they were sponsors. The buffet tables were overflowing with caviar ( yucky), sweets, finger sandwiches and much, much more. All the bells and whistles were thought of for this event and considering the guest list, I am sure it was just enough.

Rhett had to drag me out about 4 a.m. I was having such a blast meeting people and I must admit, I had one to many Vodka/Redbulls. I am glad that we went home when we did, otherwise I would have been praying to the toilet if I had one more..Everyone was wasted, the bar was continuously filling our glasses hour after hour non-stop. I came to find out that this was the biggest carnival event in Sao Paulo and Vogues 5Th year holding it in their city. Fun. Fun. Fun.

The music had the whole place in a trance and it looks like everyone was having a great time, some people too much fun. Waisted.

So today we just hung out by the pool then for lunch, had a traditional Brazilian lunch (happens every Saturday) consisting of Pork, Rice, and Beans. This is what most locals eat on Saturday but not the ideal food for hangovers. Can you say FART?

After lunch we went to another art and antique fair which after 2 hours, we just were so beat that we are now back in our room and ready to crash on the sofa and chill in for the night.

That is it for now..... Sorry so long winded email but I can to emphasize the party since it was so impressive. The photos week too were not as impressive since the room was so smokey that the photos we took inside suck...we do have some to share. Everyone smokes here and boy oh boy do they like to drinky drink too.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sao Paulo
(posting by Andy) - Photo of typical traffic in Sao Paulo.

Hello all.

Well, the rain has finally caught up to us. Gotham city ( Sao Paulo, Brazil ) has been getting a bunch of rain but we did not see it until last night. Although this feels like a good life, it can get lonely in a big hotel. This place is so wonderful (400 rooms). Modern, very swanky, and the services is fantastic.

We really do get taken care of like Paris Hilton around here. Check this out....during my stay at the pool, the cleaning service cleaned our room, cleaned and pressed all of our clothes and folded them...including our undies. We have fresh flowers in every room (3 rooms) in the dozens, and they took all of our dirty clothes and had them washed and pressed without being asked. At first, I felt weird about it because I do not like being taken care of like that, but that is just how they roll around here for us. Having Rhett here is the reason why they are so good to us....but the service outside of that is fantastic. This is one of the most expensive hotels in Sao Paulo so that is what you get for your bucks. $$$$$

The downside, just as in Paris Hilton is that they do everything for you that you really have no responsibilities and you can learn to rely on everyone to take care of all your needs. Sounds great to some of you I am sure, but its not the life for me...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Rio de Janeiro
(posting by Andy)

The beach is packed and can you say speedo and thong anyone? If you know about Rio you can probably imagine what the beaches look like around here. The people are so amazingly tan and the only thing to really do around here, since its so hot (90 degrees and humid) is go to the beach or lay by the pool. When I say hot I mean it folks, men walk around everywhere without shirts, some not so flatering, and women in their bikinis, also some not so flatering but who's hot! The sand castles made by the local artist on the beach look grand and amazing. Theses sandsculptures are enormous and they are spectacular to look was a castle, one was a giant mermaid and so on.... I think they spend all day with teams of people to make them....will find out more tomorrow.

Since we have taken over 600 photos the battery on our camera ran out so we blew half the day today searching for a new one but finally found it at a mall. During this quest we had a chance to see some of the town and also the beach. We have three beaches near our hotel....Leblon, Ipanema (as in the song) and finally Copacabana (also famous). Our hotel is right on the water and our pool is really nice and that is where we will spend some time each day for the next few days prior to touring and sight seeing.

We just heard about the weather in Chicago and I hope you are all bundled up....sorry. We will try to bring some of the hot sun with us when we return in less than two weeks. Our journey is long but the time is going by rather hoo.

Tonight we went to the downtown "Centro" (not safe at all- only with a cab...and right into the club) to check out a samba/bossa-nova club with live music (highly recommended by friends and Wallpaper magazine). Check out the had three floors, the first where you can have dinner and listen to a live band play local samba/bossa-nova music and the other two a bar where you can hear the music from the floors below. The ambiance was a throwup of antiques, garage finds, and wall to wall of yard sale finds. If it sounds wierd, well it was. The tables where little but nice and the place was packed that you needed to wait to get in by the time we left. Right in the middle of the ghetto where from time to time, we spotted the police that guard the streets with machine guns. We are definately not in Kansas any more. I kinda freaked out because I seldom feel unsafe and for some reason, I did not. But, we are safe and sound and back at the hotel ready for another adventure tomorrow.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Puerto Iguazu, AR
(posting by Andy)
Photo of Toucan at the Parque de Aves, Foz do Iguazu, Brazil

Well today we went on another journey and to another country- Brazil. Yesterday we viewed the Iguazu Falls from Argentina, today the views were just as spectacular as yesterday but a bit different.... From Argentina, we were basically in the falls and in the water, from Brazil, we could see the falls from afar and they looked so awesome. Although just across the country, the views were just as wonderful. We could see them from afar so we got the panoramic views rather that being in them and on them. The photos we will share will explain more....wait to you see them!

As for the jungle part, the woods were denser and the animals were plentiful. These racoon-like creatures ("coatis") were all over the place, begging for food and looking as cute as can be.....but feeding them was not a good idea, they can and will bite ya if you feed them because of course, they want more. So, we just looked and shot photos of cute. As we journeyed into the forest other creatures like Vultures and butterflies were plentiful. Sounds cheesy but its really cool when they land on you and when you see the vibrant colors they display as they flap their wings.

80% of the falls are on the Argentina side so they adventure was not as long as yesterday's but the weather was damn hot. We think it got to 90 or higher but what saved us was the Brazilian side was under a canopy of forest so the shade saved us from passing out. Some of the tourists took helicopter rides over the falls but we opted not to. Kinda scary and most of all too expensive for us at this point. We still have about two weeks so we need to keep an eye on our spending...wait, did I just say that? Oh, Rhett would be so proud.

After the falls we went to a bird sanctuary and there we visited all types of cool birds and we even had a chance to hold some. Toucans, Macaws, African Grey's, and much much more. These are large parrots that come from these parts and are very expensive to buy at home. The Toucans just fly right up to you and they are just as inquisitive of humans as we are of them... and the colors of their beaks are magnificent...blues and reds and orange and more. Once again, we shot some photos of them and other creatures we have seen along the way.

It's our last night here in the jungle and tomorrow we will go to Brazil- Rio for the next five days. If you didn't know Rio- it's the second largest city in Brazil and its cultural capital. The flip flops are going back in the suitcase and big city here we come. Seriously though, we need to be safe and careful and we will be. We have met many people along the way that got jumped and we need to not where any jewelry and watch our backs....we are pretty good about that and thus far, know one has messed with us. We never keep all of our money on us and we always have some in the front pocket and some in the back so if something should arise, we will show them all we have ( in one pocket only). Tip of the trade.

We have been going so long that we will spend most of the day at the pool prior to our flight to Rio. Believe it or not, we have not layed out for about 7 days, toooo busy doing the sights, but have plenty of sun on our faces and arms. I believe we have an awesome farmers tan....need to touch up the whitey parts tomarrow.

We hope to write soon. If any of these emails are bothering you folks, just let us know so we can take you off the list. For the most part, everyone has enjoyed following along with us on our journey.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Puerto Iguazu, AR
(posting by Andy)

The mighty Iguassu Falls

Hello Amigos from the jungles of Argentina.

Well we went on our journey today to Iguazu Falls and all we can say is WOW-EE. The mighty Iguazu Falls are the most overwhelmingly in all of South America. There are two ways of visiting the falls, one side from Argentina, and the other from Brazil. Today we did the Argentina side. On both sides of the falls there are National Parks. The journey took all day, about 8 hours which consisted of close views of the individual falls in their forest setting with its wildlife and butterflies (there are over 500 diffferent species). It's so cool...if you're lucky, and most are, you stretch out your arm and one will land on you. The colors are vibrant and so many that just float past us as we journey through the jungles and falls. The water is majestically beautiful and the closer you get to them, the closer to God ( of your choice) you get. We took this journey with a family we met from Florida and from time to time they started to cry it was so overwhelming. Rhett shed a tear too but he would never admit it.....he had something in his eye.....what a big girl. Seriously folks, one of the greatest wonders....we took many photos but even they will not serve it justice. Also among this scenery were Toucans, flocks of parrots and ther birds such as Vultures and many other over our heads. The Vultures were pretty scary and we made sure we drank plenty of water to avoid passing out and getting eaten by the bastards. We also had the pleasure of taking a boat in the water which took us nearly under the falls....totaly got us drenched and so much fun. Rhett really loved the ride and we have a video of us going under them. There are so many animals in the forest but unfortunately we didn't see the ones we really wanted to. It is so hard to describe, but truly overwhelming - huge, WOW experience.

Tomorrow we are off to the Brazilian side offers a superb panoramic view of the whole falls... and a visit to a bird zoo in the national park.