Brasil x Ghana, the fight between magician and voodoo
Time : 5:52 PM
As early as 2 weeks ago, we had made the reservation at the nearby restaurant, Taberna. It was already fully booked then, and we can only get the outdoor seat: a row rite in front of the not-so-huge plasma TV, full with Brazilian and a few SGreans.
The whole place was a sea of green and yellow. Regardless of age and gender, people are shouting, cheering, blowing whistles and trumpets, waving their beloved national flags & etc. Another mad phenomenon I enjoyed in Brasil: Time off for all to watch football! Shops, banks, metro train station, roadside stall – everywhere (but restaurants) I believed, were closed. The only activity was to cheer for their national team, even the old ladies also came out to join the crowd!
The Ghanas were really on the offensive tactics, they have tried so many shots at Brazil but none went in. They were like 11 black bulls charging in the field, running after the single ball. Good stamina, good spirit, good speed, too bad no finishing power. Brazil did not perform as well as they should, however they were lucky. Ronaldo fifth-minute strike was an unexpected one and wat a mayhem- everyone, including me, was screaming and shouting, banging on the table, waving the flags, horning the trumpet. I thought I would go deaf from the noise and dumb from the shouting. This not only give Brazil a good opening-goal but also put the name of this Brazil marksman into the record bk. This was his 15th goal in the FIFA World Cup, taking him past Germany's Gerd Muller as the most prolific scorer in the 76-year history of the tournament.
The game ended with Brazil winning 3:0 as most expected. We strolled back to office with full stomach full of beers, frango portuguesa and pau de queijo. Foods, beers and game! That’s how Brasilian love and celebrate their football! And thats also how i love this country and their amdness. =D
Araras Trip Day 2
Time : 10:07 PM
I woke up early in the morning.. feeling totally refreshed after a face-wash with the icy tap-water. I took a peep out of the window, and OH MY!!!!!! The scenery that came into vision was mind-blowingly beautiful! There was pink in every place... The cherry blossom flourishes as one of Araras's most refreshing sights. How i appreciated the essence of this small little resort. The gentle pink wonderland was stunning, with flowers sprinkled randomly in all directions. Wat a vibrant and fleeting image of pure beauty.
Edward was sleeping in the living room by the fireplace. Hehee...apparently the midnite orchestra with surround stereo system in the bedroom was too much, so he had to abandoned the great composer Jimmy Choo and Steven Lee for his beauty sleep.
I grabbed my camera and stealthily went out to grab the morning air. Its breathtaking view in every angle. My finger just could not stop snapping. There was a huge mountain at the back of our little hut. The peak was covered by the thick fog, another great shot! You simply gotta check it out at my Flickr account where all the photos were shared.
The breakfast was served at the restaurant where we had dinner last nite. We were so amazed by the scene hence we choose the alfresco seat despite the cold wind. It was a sumptuos breakfast, with a variety of bread and pastry spread.
The guys decided to go for sauna while Pauline and I went for a massage. The massage parlour was situated near the opwn-air siwmming pool. The pool was small but the scenery was nice.. With a full-blossomed tree by the side, lotsa humming birds chirping and singing for our presence. The cherry blossom magic had completely hypnotised me and i cant help but to wish for a swim in the pool covered by the petals.. Too bad, i din bring my BKN along.
It turned out to be farmstay with a tint of French influence. The staff was so kind to show us around the place and we decided to have lunch in the restaurant. In fact, I love eating out. I love the whole dining experience: the being greeted and seated; the decision making process; the warmth, lighting, music and chatter; being waited upon; sampling new food and drink and, of course, not having to wash-up afterwards. And that is why i had been really enjoying this weekened. You cant imagine how much i had been missing my good life in SG!
The good time is always too short. We had to check out by noon. On the way back, we spotted another secret hideout. The iron-gate was high and huge, and we had to talk to the owner through the security system before drove-in to the proprietary posada.
We ordered our dishes and then went into the Posada TV lounge to catch the England x Ecuardo Match. Then here came the sky-breaking news! The resaturant would not accept Credit Card! And we had spent most of our cash earlier at Araras. Luckily Steven still got R$200 left in the car!!
I was really impressed by the free starter, no words can ever describe the 'melt-in-ur-mouth' experience. Wat a pleasure for my tastebud. The chef was a brasilian lady who practised her culinary skills in France. She told me the entree was called 'A surprise for your mouth', and it really surprised me!! Our vegetarian fren Pauline too had a surprise awaiting her. The chef had did some trick and made her a similar entree by changing some of the ingredients. That was real sweet of her!
It was really full and i had to excuse myself from the dining table for a walk. I spotted an avocado on the ground so i raised my head and hey!!!! The tree was fulled of avocados!! I got so excited! The first time i ever seen an avocado tree.
Its time to pay for the bill and lucky us the meal costed just below R$200. Phew!!!
End the nite with another dinner at our all-time fav, FARANI. I think the sashimi going to make me fat too. Wat a eat-drink-sleep and relax weekend! C'est La vie!
Time : 11:05 PM
Our programmer cum coordinator Ed had made a wonderful arrangement.
A mouth-watering lunch at one of the trout farm at Itaipava, a district off Petropolis.
We drove for 1 hr plus to Petropolis. And we spent 20 mins looking for the mysterious trout farm. 'Trutas do Rocio'
We had to walked down a little bit from the gate to the restaurant. It was like a secret garden full with flowers and bushes.. There was a few trout ponds with hundreds of trout fish, and a cool nuicely-decorated wooden restaurant situated in the middle of the farm. The owner, Luciana and her husband are very friendly and easy-going. They have a big country-house situated not far away, higher than the restaurant. And the crews stay in a horse-stable look-alike staff-cabin.
I have to say this is one of the best lunch i ever had...
Oven-baked fresh biscotti and Trout sashimi as the entrees.. and the main course is really something!! Fresh trout covered with flaked almond, with the poached potatoes by the side. Sizzling hot out from the oven. Shitake as Side dish. Complimented with a glass of Fatellini Chardonnay =) Oohh... i think Heaven is afterall not so far away.. I am soooo sooo sooo insanely in love with everything here!! Well... the food in particular.
The owner invited us to her house after we ordered our second bottle of white wine. It was a cosy wooden buiding, with a fire-place. Everything was so rustic and woody. It was such a perfect paint of a perfect family, a couple with two pretty little gals and one old, frenly golden retriever. I wonder its the wine or the air that made me feel like to stay here forever...
Went for a walk after the lunch. The cool air was nothing but breeze now with the wine in our stomach. Ed accidentally walked into a residential area which was sooo huge that we mistook it as a Posada. We heard dogs barking and charging towards us, and soon four pure black huge labrador and sharpei appeared at the edge of my vision!! Our faces turned green and the next minute i noticed, the guys ored had a stick in their hands. Lucky of us, a lady in black, apparently the lady mistress of this huge country-house came to our rescue. It was quite a scene. Four big BLACK dogs + one lady in pure Black. ( black shirt, balck jeans + black shawls covering her hair) . She introduced herself as Tata, and generously invited us to her house. Well.. i was soo excited and we all agreed to go in for tea.
Its a long way from the entrance to her big house, surrounded by a huge garden taht i cant see the end of it. i thot this will only happened in movies or novels. The for black dogs were scary but they soon befriends with me. One of them, 'Darkie' is blind, but he is a sweet kind fellow, and apparently the leader among the rest.
Tata handed us a flower each and led us to a pond. She asked us to throw the flower into the pond and hold hands while praying together. It is some kind of Indian Goddess, which i found out later from her.
She then led us to where the house was. We saw a big BMW and a Pajero parked in her garage. She then ushered us into her beautiful house. The master of the house, Rudiner was sitting by the fireplace, enjoying his worldcup game. I spotted the huge snooker table in her living room. Cool!!
Apparently, our hostess is a multireligious meditaor lover. She pointed to us the 3D smiling Buddha Wall sculture in her living room. It was amazing!! The Buddha with the smiling face was looing and smiling at you wherever you go. A hunt from Indonesia, Tata proudly declared. Then she couldnt wait to show us her bedroom. She was playing some relaxing chant, and the room was full of sculpture, pictures, icons and lotsa religious stuff of different beliefs and religions. What an eye-opener. I spent most of the time playing with the big dogs in her huge garden.
Then Tata and Rudiner led us to another wooden building. It was smaller than the main one and it appeared to be a two-storey guest house. Our kind host invited us to stay overnite. We politely declined as we had made a reservation at the Araras Posada. Rudiner then showed us an opening to a dungeon, and it was in fact a wine cellar without wine.
Then we were led to another part of the house where Rudiner kept all his trophies. So, he was a famous biker in Rio year ago. Tata liked me soo much and she decided to give me one of Rudiner's poster =)
By the time we left Tata's house, it was already dark. I cant even see my five fingers with my hand spread rite in front of me. Tata and her dogs sent us to the door and we bid each other goodbye. Ed curiously asked what did she do for living?? and our mysterious hostess, whispered in her mysteriously way: ' BRUXA'. A witch??!!
We were all shocked and quickly marched back to where we park our car. Ed, Jim n Steve started teasing and scaring us by saying how Tata liked two of us, gals esp me. She had given Pauline and I a handmade candle and some flower with natural scents. I am still holding teh candle in my hand and to be frank, i felt a bit scared too. However, i would prefer to think that she was just another sweet kind soul that we encountered in Brasil. So wat if she is a 'bruxa', she was a kind 'bruxa' to us. =)
I cant help but to wonder. How mad i were today by going through all these weird experience. In fact, there is a lot of madness in Brazil. The way they drive which greatly show-off their creativity of making three lanes into four or five lanes on the highway. The mad, made-up names that people have which ends up the whole kampung of 'Pedro aka Peter', 'Paulo aka Paul'. The mad way they stop to talk and joke however busy they are even they are in the middle of the road: driving or walking. The mad way that they actually like it if you turn up for an invitation with more people in tow. The mad way they all shout at once when they talk, and the mad way they respect everyone´s opinion, and the mad way that your hosts look after you so that you really feel at home. The sort of mad things, in fact, that appeal to sane Asians like me. Hv i mentioned one of the maddest things is that the moon is always the wrong way round. It still travels from left to right across the sky, but a waxing moon looks like a sun in disguise ans i always had this little problem indentifying the sun and the moon. How mad is that? Hehee.. and now i was smiling at my foolishness under the big round moon.
We reached the Araras Posada late. It was too dark to enjoy the view so we headed straight to our resort. To our delight, it was such a cosy nice place!! And how great, a big fireplace in the living room!!
We skipped the shower, cause the nite was too cold and there wasnt hot water supply. After a simple dinner in the posh restaurant at a table in front of the fireplace, we rounded off the nite with a billiard game.
Brasil x Japan 4:1
Time : 7:03 PM
Brasil x Japan. It's one of the world's oddest cross-cultural mixes if stereotypes are to be believed - the quiet, private and reserved Japanese versus the loud, chatty, and famously flamboyant Brazilians. And if there's one man who can bear witness to this , i believe there is no one but the Brazilian football legend Zico, one of the greatest players never to win a world cup, and nowadays coach of the Japanese national team.
Early in the morning.. once i stepped out into the street, the passerby start asking if i support Japan or Brasil... All yellow-skin, small eyes races looks like Japanese to them.
Well... cant you see i m wearing Brasil Jersey???!!!
On the way back to the apartment, our taxi stopped in front of a pub.. Some apparently drunked Brasilian who might have start drinking from eleven am got so excited and start blowing the big trumpet at us! The situation got out of control, and we quickly ran towards home soonafter we alighted. We cant help but to wonder, waht of Japan won and brasil kena kick out?? I think i had a valid reason not to go to work tmr due to my safety consequences.
well... same as last game.. Jimmy fixed us salad, penne and some side dishes. Ed, Pauline and I enjoyed the food as well as the game. Hidetoshi Nakata still looks good. However, he looks even better in the magazine and on the red carpet of celebrity's party. I think he belongs to the show ring. Asia's Beckham.
Japan's World cup adventure is finally over. They were beaten 4-1 by Brazil which leaves them bottom of Group F table. Personally, i think Japan played very well in the first half of today's game especially the early lead with a fantastic goal but Brazil always looked dangerous all night and when they equalised on the struck of half time, I sensed the second half will be tough. And so it turned out. But I think the Japanese players gave their all and especially goalkeeper Kawaguchi tonight made some fantastic saves.
=( No excuse for not going to work tmr.
Day 4 in B.A- The Antique Street
Time : 11:26 PM
Took a cab to Calle La Defensa in the San Telmo region. Away from the hustle of downtown, San Telmo retains a more traditional feel with its charming old European-Style buildings with wooden doors and iron balconies, and its cobblestone streets. This is a traditional corner of Buenos Aires, peppered with many of those lovely, traditional bar-cafes I had read about. There were also antique shops selling all sorts of antiques - old record players, Baroque-style furniture, vases, discoloured posters of Che Guevera, Eva Peron and the likes, glass-wares and crystals, terribly kitsch plastic toys, ancient books and mate cups, etc... Charming.
The highlight has to be the Sunday Antiques Fare. San Telmo's central Plaza Dorrego hosts the Feria de San Telmo, a popular flea market. Streets were closed to cars, and were taken over by juice vendors, human statues and musicians entertaining the steady stream of visitors. In Plaza Dorrego itself are dozens of booths where merchants sell antiques and trinkets like old porcelain, jewellery, silverware, old records and etc — and probably a good bit of junk as well.
We three gals got Steven a Holy Water Font with Virgin Mary's sculpted portrait. A thank you gift cum Father's day gesture for his great companion and the care he had showered us.
I bid silent good-byes to San Telmo, Puerto Madero, Recoleta and other places in Buenos Aires as the van pulled out of the centre and headed to the airport. I felt strangely empty now as I was leaving B.A. Maybe I found it difficult to accept that the Holiday ended so soon... Hmm... perhaps the reason why many airports look clinical and charmless was to make parting easier for us. Hasta luego....Buenos Aires.
While having my hot chocolate ( they called it Submarino= dipping a bar of chocolate into a cup of hot milk) in Montivideo Airport, to my own surprise, i thought i began to miss Rio.. the friendly Carioca, the tasty pau com ove e presunto (bread with egg and ham) and so on... despite the complaints i had on their not-so-safe, not-so-clean street.
Hee.... still i think every place got their own special and unique charm!
Day 3 in B.A - A magical day
Time : 11:43 PM
Headed straight to the shop that we spotted yday, and I got myself a few nice clothes. then , we set off the our itinerary for the day. First stop-Recoleta Neighbourhood. It is one of the most luxurious and sophisticated neighbourhood in B.A, and Gosh!! i think i had fallen in love with this place.
The first building that welcomed us is the the colonial Iglesia del Pilar (the Pillar Church), the oldest church in B.A. I followed Steven into the church and the gals went recce at the nearby weekend fair. This was the first time i stepped into a catholic church. It seemed so rich in gold colour.. The sculture attracted my attention immediately when i looked at them. It is an 18th century church built by Jesuits. The sanctuary revealed beautiful, vibrant carvings. The carvings are vivid portrayals from the Bible. They fill the sanctuary with life and tell a story at the same time! The church was having its daily service when we entered and hence we just stood there watching and listening to the open hymns. Not being a Catholic, I went in the church without any expectation of anything like spiritual ecstacy or even empathy.Then came the part where everybody in the church gets up and in single file goes up to participate in communion. Interesting but not especially impressed. Out of a sudden.. i felt a flow of warmth ran through my veins and an urge of crying immersed from the inside of me.. Its an unexplainable feeling dat could not be pen down by any mortal words. I felt shaken... weird... confused.. and fragile.. As if someone had grasped me and held me by the hand, and i was so vulnerable to react to the odd sense dat i was going through.. It was such an unexplainable experience dat i had nvr came across b4. Despite my effort of suppressing the strong urge of releasing my feelings, my face suddenly scrunched up and I could not hold back the tears! It was odd, uncanny! I wasn't sad! I wasn't feeling devout or sacred. I had no idea what had hit me. My tears simply rolled down uncontollably after stepping out of the church. Steve who stood beside me observed my weird behavior.. leaving me a smile saying dat i was touched by the Holy Spirit. Was it so-called 'the tear of Joy' or a sign of calling upon me?? I doubt so... My eyes was red, there was an underlying sadness, even when my understanding of my emotional state or my perceived spiritual condition is fine. It's either that or the collective consciousness of the attendees of the service was enough to tilt me over the edge, even without my willing it to happen. At any rate, the tears were unbidden. It was an unique experience which had been unknown to me until now yet would not leave me from that moment onwards.
The plaza near the church of Recoleta serves as the largest outdoor handicrafts fair in the city, 'La Feria de Recoleta'. Taking place every weekend, one can see shows by street performers that are offered to the passerbys along with thousands of gifts on sale through the park. Joined the gals shopping and bargaining spree at this artisan fair. The goods and the vendors were interesting. Bot some very nice pendants, rings and a beautiful clay decorated wine bottle. Cost a bomb but its sooo San Telmo dat i fell in love with it at the first sight.
Satisfied with the Shopping Spree, we moved on to the next attraction. The highlight of Recoleta. Weird it might sound, but yes, the Recoleta Cemetry located behind the church of Pillar is a must visit. Well, personally I think the place was not at all spooky even thou it was a burial for a bunch of dead rich people. It has not fail to attract tons of tourists since its well-known as one of the most distinguished cemeteries of the world. Founded in 1822 by the recoletos monks. It has famous sculptures and graves where illustrious personages rest, many of which are considered to be Historical Monuments. Ok Ok I don't know the history of Eva Peron aka Evita nor her struggles with Argentinian history but as a tourist, I knew there was something to see here, her family's mausoleum. Lies in the cemetry, there are mausoleums and tombs of the very very rich Argentinians. They are fabulously decorated and structured. To use that kinda resource for commemorating one's death simply means one thing= these ppl sure got some serious bank!! Nonetheless, this is an outdoor musuem which brings tranquility and peacefulness to all who visits it.
After emerging from the Recoleta Cemetery, we strolled though the shade trees of the surrounding small Plaza Alvear toward the nearby shopping area. I had not seen a Banyan tree before thou i had heard of it owing to the famous 'Banyan Tree Resorts'. The size of the Banyan tree here really blew me away! Banyan trees are native to India and adjacent countries. They are actually a type of strangler Fig. Very often, they germinate from a seed dropped by a bird into the foliage of another type of tree. The seed sprouts there and sends it's roots down to ground level. As it grows over time it's numerous roots completely encase it's original host, killing the tree. By then, the well-established Banyan continues to send it's branches out horizontally, with further support roots dropping down to ground level every so often. Banyan trees, with the world's largest leafy crown, can grow to be 100-ft high and cover an area of 1-2 acres (0.8 hectares). Because of their often hollow main trunk, where the original host used to reside, determining their age can be difficult. They are estimated to have a 1000-year life span but reports put this tree in Buenos Aires at between 200-350 years old. I noticed that some of the large branches had man-made supports to keep them airborne, probably due to some of the 'down roots' being lost due to human interference.
Buenos Aires Design Center, an upscale shopping mall where Hard Rock Cafe is located, is a tremendous shopping boulevard which devoted to interior design. We bot a lot of Hard Rock T-shirts, comparatively cheaper than other Hard Rock ard the world. Filled our empty stomach with the huge portion of platters, we set home physically exhausted but mentally recharged.
After a short while of resting, we continue our shopping spree at Santa Fe, just a turn around our hotel. It is a famous long shopping street which you can shop till you drop without burning a hole in your pocket(Well... ultimately it still depends on how big is your pocket). At first we were told all shops at the street would be closed by 6pm, but when we started about 5pm many shops were still opened. We walked for about one and half hours, and I got myself an oversized silver color Puma gymbag. Peachy!! It started raining and we decided to go to Puerto Madeiro (again!!), for our last dinner in BA.
Estilo Campo , a restaurant highly recommended by our brasilian colleague Roy. Its some sort of upscale Parilla(Spanish word, meaning GRILL). We were attracted by the Asado- an open fire of glowing coals around which a number of vertical metal crosses hold carcasses of goat, lamb and pork meat. In a glassed-in enclosure, the restaurant's Asador faces the street for optimum effect. According to the chef, the meat gets the most benefit from the slow rotation above the glowing embers.
The restaurant was very clean and had a rustic motif. The waiters were dressed in gaucho attire and worked hard to please their customers. In short, Estilo Campo is the quintessential upscale Argentinean steak house dripping with ambiance, complete with the "merry go round" style roasting pit, scads of committed professional waiters, and a full line of appetizers, wines, desserts, brandies and Cuban cigars.
At our waiter's recommendation we ordered the Asado al Asador (Roast on a Spit). Steve, Dawn and I shared the pork rib and our vegetarian friend, Pauline chose a very tasty salad. The flavor was good. The food went down smoothly and warmly with the San Telmo Malbec introduced by Gonzale. A very pleasant dining experience.
After food the rain stop, we walked to the Faena Hotel which was again highly commented by Roy - the beautiful swimming pool and the must-see toilet.
After a few minutes of running our fingers across the map, asking for directions in the breezy, cold night, we finally found the Hotel situated at a corner. On the outside it did not seem impressive, or even like a hotel. So we went in with doubts, where 2 bellboy ushers us through a little door. My goodness... there was no lobby, only a wooden door with red curtain at the entrance leading to a long hallway. The aisle was red carpeted, and curtains flowing from the high ceiling. Along the way there were windows revealing the posh and stylish designed bars and restaurants - GORGEOUS. One that caught my sight was the chic Bistro. It was in purely white interior design with white/gold table and golden-clawed-feet white leather sofas. Another highlight was the swimming pool with great personality situated in the terrrace garden. It looked more like a pond cos the water was flowing rather than barricaded. It was really stunning!!
Update: I dint know that this Hotel is actually a 5star hotel and the real name is 'Faena Hotel + Universe'. A tribute of Philippe Starck, his most recent hotel Project as well as his first residential project. It is a dilapidated, turn-of-the-century, English- redbrick former grain silo. Today , with the help of this French design Guru, this 100-year-old landmark of the city has became the 'Faena Hotel + Universe', described by its creator as 'a temple to pleasure'. The interior is pure Starck. Why Hotel + Universe? After it had it's guts ripped out, this 25,000 sqm building was converted in to 83 hotel rooms and 80 private apartments. (Selling the apartments is a smart way to quickly make back some of the US$ 37 million invested in the project.) The best part is: its so unconventional. There isnt any concierge and receptionist, the guests are given a cellphone and a private number to an experience Manager who will guide the guest throughout his stay. The room is a bit pricey thou, from $300 to $1,200 a night, well.. considering you get to sleep on the signature Starck white white-upholstered bed.