I just realized that I never shared my photos from when my brother was visiting. It was a crazy, whirlwind of a trip. We had a few hiccups in the beginning such as missing his connection and having to wait 24 hours in Dallas. Then his suitcase was sent to Colombia for no reason other than airlines just can’t help but mess things up these days. Somehow they managed to get it to us before we left the next morning for Brasília and all was good again in the world.

The first time I came to Brazil in 2011 was for an entire month and I still feel like that wasn’t enough time. My brothers visit made me realize you need at least two full weeks to be able to see enough of Rio and throw in a weekend trip or two. I’ll admit we may have been overly ambitious to try and fit in Brasília, Chapada dos Veadeiros, and Iguaçu all in one trip.

Brasília was interesting but in a very bizarre way. A little history: Rio was the capital of Brazil from 1763 to 1960. In 1956, the president ordered the construction of Brasília, fulfilling an article of the country’s constitution dating back to the late 1800’s saying the capital should be moved to a place in the middle of the country. Brasília was then built in just under 3.5 years with Oscar Niemeyer designing most of the major structures. The city was built in the shape of an airplane or a bird. Now maybe it’s just me but it felt weird being in a planned city. Buildings mirrored each other everywhere in the Monumental Axis, the main street, each purposefully placed. Maybe it’s just me but I love the chaos of cities. I think it’s beautiful when bricks don’t line up and old cobblestones threaten to break your ankles. I love the colors of favelas, the narrow winding alleys, the unplanned beauty of a city that has undeniable history. Although it wasn’t my cup of tea, I still recommend seeing it.

I’ve included an aerial view of the city below. Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park was another stop on our trip and couldn’t have been cooler. It’s an ancient plateau estimated to be 1.8 billion years old. I am a huge fan of waterfalls (who isn’t?) and this place was packed with them.

Finally, we managed a quick trip to Iguaçu Falls from the Brazilian side. Pictures and words don’t do it justice so I won’t even try. I will just say that being so close to such a powerful natural force leaves you feeling so light. Whatever you do, don’t miss the boat ride that takes you under the falls. An absolutely unforgettable experience! Check out the photos below.

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Brasilia

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Another Portuguese word that doesn’t really have a direct translation in English is cafuné. It would be closest to caress. I love the meaning even more than the sound of the word.

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I’m like that bad friend that you run into who promises they’re going to call more often, then you don’t hear from them for months. I don’t like being that annoying flaky friend. It’s a new year, my internet connection is strong, and I’m going to give this another go.

I spent the month of December at home renewing my visa and celebrating the holidays with my family and friends in Connecticut. Yes, I’m from that place between New York and Boston. Since my last post a lot has happened so we’ll just start fresh? Lets backtrack to last week when I arrived back in Brazil. It was wonderful. I went from 0°F to 100°F in just 10 hours.

Now that I’m back in Brazil with a shiny new 8 month visa, I’m feeling gooood. Excuse the Nina Simone reference. (I will come back to this visa situation with a certain rant that I’ll save for another day when I’m feeling less fired up about it. Brasil couldn’t be more beautiful or frustrating. I’ll leave it at that, for now.)

I landed in Rio after the new year and headed straight to Paraty. If you’re lucky enough to have a car in this city, Paraty is just a four hour car ride away. For my boyfriend and I, it was a six hour bus ride. This was six hours on top of my ten hour flight on top of….I’ll stop complaining. The buses have AC and the seats lay all the way back and to be honest are not that terrible. I had already been to Paraty in 2011 so I knew what a treat I was in for and it made the long journey much more bearable.

Paraty is a worth-while destination no matter what your style of travel. To give you a little background, it’s a preserved Portuguese colonial town, built around 1600 along Costa Verde. Besides having an incredible old-world charm, it’s packed with adventure options which is why I love it so much. There are so many places to hike, and so many waterfalls to see. A friend of mine runs a great company, Espirito Livre Aventuras out of Paraty that does hiking, biking, kayaking, stand up paddle, and multi-day boat trips that you just can’t miss. This is the way to go when in Paraty because the city is situated in a bay, which means the beaches are muddy and the water is much like “hot soup” during the summer.

I’ve included some of my favorite shots from last week. Let me know what you think. Will you be adding Paraty to your Brazil bucket list?

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I am very excited because today my brother is arriving from the states for a 10 day visit. It’s his first time in Brazil so naturally we have a lot of fun stuff planned. First, a trip to Brasilia this weekend packed with a couple days in Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park as well as a day exploring the Oscar Niemeyer work around the city. Next week we are also heading to Iguaçu Falls which I’m really looking forward to myself. It’s been at the top of my list for a while.
I really can’t wait to share my love and excitement for this country with my brother. Sometimes I wish I could experience everything all over again. My first açaí or caipirinha on the beach. My first time trying to dance forró, or getting caught up in a samba party in the street. The first sunset I saw setting over Rio. I can only hope that as my friends and family start to visit me, they can understand why I made this city my new home. I’ll be keeping you posted with lots of fun pictures of my upcoming travels so stay tuned. I’m breaking out the GoPro this weekend too! In the meantime, here are some of my favorite shots from the last week.

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Portuguese is a beautiful yet complex language as I am now learning myself. My friend suggested I start sharing some of the Portuguese I am learning with all of you and well, I thought that was a great idea. I will start with my favorite word in not only Portuguese but in any language.

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If you have some time I highly recommend listening to this 40 min podcast on NPR all about my favorite word. It’s packed with some really beautiful Brazilian music, too xx

http://www.npr.org/blogs/altlatino/2014/02/28/282552613/saudade-an-untranslatable-undeniably-potent-wor

Yesterday I did an exciting yet challenging hike up to Corcovado with friends from Portuguese class. It was a steep incline for a majority of the hike and we managed to do it in just under two hours. It was my second time up to Jesus Christ but my first time hiking and I highly recommend seeing it this way if you’re in shape! It makes the top so much more beautiful and rewarding! On the way up we fed some monkeys, used a chain to climb a steep incline of rocks, walked through clouds, and took a lot of selfies with JC. Check out some of the pictures below xx

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Does time ever stop flying? It’s been exactly one month since arriving in Brazil and I’m ashamed that this is only my second post. (hand-to-face)

Despite the slow start, I will be checking in more often since I am officially on my own for two weeks – every two weeks. On my own meaning my boyfriend works in Rondonia, a state up north, half of the month while I’ll be down in Rio enjoying the beautiful Carioca life. This all started today so the training wheels are off. No more tips and tricks and translations from my Brazilian. I’m hoping the three weeks of Portuguese classes I’ve taken will pay off.

I wasn’t so stressed about the language before coming here. In most countries it’s easy to pick up a few words in order to get by and avoid being rude. Pointing and hand gestures are also a huge help to getting your point across. But I’m learning that Portuguese isn’t a piece of cake. It also doesn’t help when your brain tends to mash it up and twist it around with Spanish. I also don’t usually spend so much time thinking about how I want to say something, a weird thing to get used to at 27 years of age. In my brain at least, it goes a little something like this: Pause…what do I want to say? Pause…thinks in English. Pause pause…thinks in Portuguese. Pause pause…corrects itself in Portuguese and removes Spanish. Pause…speaks in broken Portuguese. Pause…repeats in Portuguese because the person has no idea what you said. Pause…embarrassment. This will all speed up with time, I know it, but my crash course in Portuguese has begun.

Besides learning the language, I’ve been exploring the city and trying to see as much as I can. There are so many beautiful parks where I could just waste away the afternoons. The beach in Leblon is just a few blocks from my apartment and I’ve spent as much time there as my Irish skin will allow. Running along the beach at 7 pm when the city has cooled down is more refreshing than I had ever imagined. Besides a few hiccups, I’m really enjoying myself. Check out the pictures below to see what I’ve been up to xx

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Forgive me if this post sounds a bit deflated. It’s been just over a week since I arrived in Rio and I’m still trying to get settled in. It’s taken me a few days to process what I’ve actually gotten myself in to. I have no job, I speak almost no Portuguese, and I know very few people here. I knew this before, but it’s just hitting me now. Like a ton of bricks.

Since arriving I’ve already experienced how slowly things happen in Brasil, such as getting set up with a cell phone and (functioning) internet. My phone is a very touchy subject and I have since moved on from my near meltdown when not being able to use it for a few days. Slightly my fault, mostly Brazil’s. It made me realize that maybe, just MAYBE I am slightly attached. But all is good in the world because I have a brand new, shiny, Rio phone number.

Unlike the phone trauma, one thing that I was able to do quickly was sign up for Portuguese classes! I start Monday and will go 5 days a week / 3 hours a day. Since I’m going to be spending fifteen hours a week in a classroom and my boyfriend will only speak to me in Portuguese, I should be fluent in no time…….right?!

Even with plenty of productive things happening, I was able to explore the city a little. We met up with some friends, went to a ‘feira’ and of course laid on the beach and got really burnt. Here are some of my favorite shots from the past week xx

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So, after all these years of playing with the idea, I’ve finally decided to pack up my life in LA and head south to Rio. It all starts September 10th.

There will be plenty of pictures to share and adventures to speak of so I hope you’ll check in and make sure I’m alive and learning how to samba.

Wish me luck my friends xx

El Retiro, Madrid, Spain.

My love for Spain, specifically Madrid, hasn’t wavered over the six years since I studied abroad there. I’m drawn to passionate and fiery cultures and Madrid is the epitome of that combination. The trip I took a month ago reaffirmed my love for this country. Recently I’ve had the opportunity to hop around Europe and see some of the places I’ve already been and some of the places on my go-to list. I knew Madrid was somewhere I needed to experience again, minus the MTV Real World-like situation with my seven American roommates. Honestly, I was worried I would go back and ruin the way I remembered it but actually I couldn’t have been happier to be there, whether it was a party of one or a party of eight. I spent the first two days with friends from London and the last two days on my own, retracing my footsteps from 2007. I took this picture on a row boat in El Retiro park, where I spent an hour thinking about my state of extreme happiness. The row boat was something I never got around to back then, and was one of my favorite parts from the trip this time around.

My friends and I arrived into Madrid late on Thursday and quickly got ready for dinner, because as my favorite city in the world, dinner can never be too late. We had a midnight meal at Ramses, a +Starck production in Puerta de Alcala. We then headed down the street to Gabana 1800 which came highly recommended. We then proceeded to dance the night away. Friday I took off by myself and had a late lunch at Lateral on Velazquez, filled with espresso, jamon, and croquettes. The only thing missing was a glass of Rioja, but there was plenty of time for that later. The rest of the day involved a lot of walking with my head up in amazement of the beautiful architecture. That night we had drinks at the Hotel ME in Plaza Santa Ana, dinner at Lateral (yes, twice in one day), and did some more dancing at Macadamia Graf. The next morning my friends miraculously caught their flights and I spent the rest of the weekend trying to figure out how I could move back, stat. My weekend with Madrid was nothing short of magic.