Monday, June 30, 2014

Memory Monday

Traveling down to South America was without a doubt the highlight of the summer!  The memories made here were unforgettable!

Going back is a MUST!

We started out in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  There's only so many characteristics I can associate with this amazing city.  Not only does it have amazing clear water beaches with the softest sand, but it has spectacular views and mountain scenery that compares to nothing I've seen before!

These were my obsessions about Rio:

1.  City + Beach + Mountains + Forrest
No words needed to describe this....

2.   Beaches
We visited not only the world famous Copacabana beach, but also Ipanema beach.  Both were amazing.  I liked Ipanema a bit more because it was occupied with more locals than tourists, and I was able to observe the Brazilian culture more authentically.  Most locals there went to the beach with only a soccer ball, and played soccer for hours on the wet sand.

The boardwalks of these beaches were what gave them the character that makes them so unique. Portuguese mosaic tiles lined these scenic beaches, and a different pattern was associated with each beach.  On these "boardwalks" (or should I say tilewalk), were little shacks and live music restaurants sprinkled throughout, which made the environment so vibrant and filled with energy.

Copacabana's wave mosaic boardwalk:

Something else I LOVED about the beach was that you never have to feel like you forgot something if you go to the beach.  There are walking merchants selling anything that could cross your mind.  I was offered to buy jerseys, bikinis, blankets, biscuits, hookah, watermelon, towels, ice cream, grilled shrimp kabobs, arabic pastries, bracelets, coverups, and even clothes.  I of course stuck to (my beloved) ice cream.

Bikini seller at Copacabana:

(Disclaimer: I did not take the above photo!) 

2.  World Cup!
So our visit in Rio was just 2 days before the beginning of the World Cup!  Great timing for our trip because the environment that surrounded us was so lively.  Fans of teams from all different countries walked around wearing a jersey to flaunt the team that they were rooting for.  The bazaars were filled with soccer themed souvenirs.  Unfortunately, we left right before the games began :(  We did however stock up on some Jerseys!

3.  Escadaria Selaron
In one of the twists and turns of alleys in Rio, there is a set of steps.  These weren't ordinary steps.  Visitors to Rio would create their own tiles and send them to the artist who made a colorful mosaic of 215 steps.  There were tiles from anywhere in the world you would imagine!  I found Florida, Ohio, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Italy.  You name it, and it's there!  It definitely reflected upon the diversity of Rio itself.  This was definitely one of my favorite attractions.  Sadly, the artist passed away; otherwise I would have sent in a tile as soon as I came home!!

After Rio, we took off to one of the 7 wonders of the world- Iguazu Falls.  What we were expecing to see and what we actually saw did not match on any level.  To our luck, we came during a historical flood of the falls, and the falls were pouring 20 times more water than they usually do!  All the locals of Iguazu were so excited for us and told us that we were so fortunate to have witnessed this historic event!  

On a normal day, Iguazu falls are white, thin, and usually show 2 levels of falls.  However, when I actually went to the falls, they weren't like the pictures I had seen of it at all!  The falls were brown, thick, and you could only see one gargantuan wave of water overflowing the land beneath.  The amount of mist present was unsurmountable!  I was a little bit disappointed.... The locals of the town were all taking pictures as they had never seen the falls look like this in their lives.  Our tour guide showed us pictures of how they looked when she came a week prior, and they looked like 2 completely different falls!

What the falls looked like while I was there....

What they look like almost every other day that I wasn't there....

I mean I guess it was cool that I witnessed this rare moment, but I would have much rather seen the beautiful falls at their norm....

Soon after, we embarked to Buenos Aires!  I've always wanted to go to Argentina, ever sine I can remember.  This city truly amazed me- it beyond exceeded my expecations of a beautiful city.  According to my father, Buenos Aires is known as the Paris of South America, and I second that!  The architecture of the city reflects it's various cultures and rich history.  Every building I walked by was intricately designed with great detail, and well taken care of.

Things that blew my mind in Buenos Aires:
1.  La Boca
Walking thorugh this little town in BA, I had to keep telling myself that I wasn't in Disney.  The homes were all different colors of the rainbow.  They were little blocks of different colors stacked one on top of the other.  We were told by our guide that they were this way because when the settlement of this area first began, the people of the town needed paint.  So what they did was went to a nearby shipyard and took whatever leftover paint they had for the day, and just painted one home at a time.  The result- way better than what it sounded like!

2.  Tratoni's Cafe

This is the oldest cafe in Argentina!  On the outside, it looks like you're going to walk into a regular sized coffee shop, but we walked in and it was more massive than I ever would've imagined!  The food was alright to be honest, but the atmosphere is what made me fall for it.  The decor on the inside looked as if it had been untouched since it's first opening, and the amount of Argentinean locals inside made it feel like a local attraction and not a tourist trap!

3.  Archictecture
Seriously, I got a headache while walking because I had to turn my head every split second because every building there was a beauty.  Even just an average home building was embellished with beautiful sculptures, wood carvings, or lushious gardens.
That's all I can remember now about my trip! I will definitely sprinkle a few memories throughout as I remember them!

Have a lovely day!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Guess Who's Back

SOOOO, this is awkward, I haven't posted in ..........eeek....... years! That was bad.  Butttt, now I have many weeks off and I am determined to redeem myself and tend to my poor abandoned blog!

I finished one year of dental school!  Whoo!  How did I like it? I loved it, really!  It's so nice studying information I know I will be using in my future, unlike undergrad.  I met a lot of new friends, and the community atmosphere at school makes the experience cozy.

Due to my successful completion of my first year, I now have my last summer to enjoy!  I already went to Florida, Chicago, Brazil, and Argentina!  But now I have quite some time to myself.... I am determined not to let this "grand finale" summer go to waste and do things I've always wanted to do!

As a (future) result (I hope), I will post (almost) daily, with something I have accomplished that day- just to keep some pressure on myself to not glue myself to the couch and watch Netflix all day.

But before anything, I must reflect on my most recent trip- South America! (Coming very soon ;))