Tuesday, April 29, 2014

And Now For Something Bike.......

I've been in awe of recumbents since 1998 when I bought my first.

Just came across this that proves the adage: "Nothing is new".

Friday, April 25, 2014

Rio de Janeiro April 2014

The ultimate as in "last", "there are no more", "that's it", "finito", for Brasil vacations we did over the Easter week end: Rio de Janeiro. I head back to Oregon landing on May 24th and Sue follows shortly thereafter (well, she's not really short) on June 8th.

Sue has been lucky finding really great places to stay on "airbnb", "Home Away From Home", etc. These sites are where you can rent someone's home, vacation house, etc. usually at a rate that is far less than the typical "yes, we will take your first born" upscale hotel price and often with features such as a kitchen, private area, etc. and maybe even a pool.

Not this time.

I would give this place 0.5 Stars and that is only because there was a roof over our heads. We later found that the place was right next to a favela and not a place to walk about after nightfall. The place was right across the street from the Sheraton and the place did have a great view across the way to the ocean that we enjoyed all of 7 minutes each day. That's all we wanted to stay inside there.

Took no photos of the place. Had zero desire to document or even admit we stayed there.

Awakening in our hell hole of an abode, we did not want to have breakfast there, so we ambled across the street to the Sheraton figuring we'd do breakfast there. Hello? What was that price per person? Did you say 57 Reals? (quick calculation that is $25.57 U.S.) For ONE person? But I only have coffee, toast and some fruit. Pass, thank you. Off to Christ the Redeemer. We'll find something there.

As pretty much everyone knows, "Christ the Redeemer" or Corcovado statue is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Rio. We were advised to buy tickets online ahead of time. Good thing we did. When we arrived early there was a line stretching down the sidewalk. Not wanting to chance getting there we took a taxi, one of the few times we didn't explore the bus route. More fun and challenging.

Walk around for breakfast. It's Good Friday. Some things were closed, but we noticed few if any places to grab a bite. Next to the train station to the top of the mountain was a museum, NAIF Museum. That we would explore later. I noticed a small sign on the Museum wall: Cafe. SCORE!. Lovely quiet picturesque area. Not crowded. Good coffee and a bite.

When we returned to the train departure area we noticed a sign: "Next train 6:00", which meant everything was sold out until then. The train ride to the top was about 30 minutes with a stop or two to allow the passing of other direction trams.

Photo www.tvsd.org www.stanford.edu

After taking the train to the top there was still a long way to get to the statue. Luckily we got to the elevator line at the right time as there was almost no wait. Exiting the elevator there were still 2 to 3 flights of stairs to climb.

I do not do crowds well. It is Good Friday. It is a holiday. This place is elbow to elbow, arse to arse, crowded. Oh, and add to that a temp in the mid 80's and humidity. Sue wanted to walk around and see the vistas. I plopped down at the base of the statue in the shade with a "I'll be right here."

And yah, we did the "hands outstretched" photo as did just about everyone up there.

jkeenan7's 2014 Redeemer album on Photobucket

Right next door was the NAIF Museum (Brazilian Native Art). These words from the gobrazil.about.com website: The result of a couple's love for the spontaneous, self-taught art form known as naïve art, the museum was founded by Lucien Finkelstein, a Frenchman who adopted Brazil as his home country, and his Brazilian wife, Mariza Campos da Paz. They devoted several decades to amassing their collection, taking rickety taxis to the top of mountains and leaving guided tours to search for artists in remote places.

I've often thought about "Trigger Memories", that something that dredges up a memory from the vast bottom of long forgotten reservoir of things past. The NAIF museum brought up a visit I did over 40 years ago to Bennington, Vermont where I first saw "Grandma Moses" primitive art. Had forgotten about that until I saw the primitive or native art at the NAIF Museum. There are over 6,000 pieces of art and I think we saw most of them!!

Some of the paintings and a couple of wall murals near the museum.

jkeenan7's 2014Rio Art album on Photobucket

The main thoroughfare goes by the beach and I'm sure we walked every inch of the Copacabana, Ipanema, and LeBlon beaches including a lunch at an outdoor cafe. As a cyclist I was envious of the separated bike lanes that ran along side the beach. Another day.

These few photos don't do the beaches justice plus somehow I lost a bunch of beach photos. As with anything today the internet has more than enough information. For example:

Or take a look here: Rio Images

A couple of beach scenes that caught my eye:

jkeenan7's 2014Rio Beach album on Photobucket

On both Saturday and Sunday there were markets galore. No pics. But if you want to read about the Rio markets: CLICK HERE TO READ ALL ABOUT IT--> Rio Markets

One last "To See" in Rio: The Botanical Garden was a nice relaxing way to spend part of the last day in Rio. Luckily for us the day turned a bit overcast and cooler driving away the heat and humidididity.

jkeenan7's 2014Rio Garden album on Photobucket

Yes, we looked at every and anything we could to stay away from going back to the dreaded "place" we rented. Chalk it up to an experience and a memory of that not favorable kind.

Rio on the other hand is a place to visit again me thinks.

And of course the "selfies" from a different perspective. I do think "We'll Be Back"

jkeenan7's 2014Rio Us album on Photobucket

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

LIBERDADE: Sunday March 16, 2014

Liberdade was on our "To See" list of things, places and events in Sao Paulo.

Wikipedia for the history:

Liberdade is São Paulo's own equivalent of Japantown in the USA. Significant populations of Chinese and Koreans also live in the district of Liberdade. It is served by the São Paulo Metro.

The entrance to Liberdade is marked by a nine-meter tall red torii (a Japanese arch that marks the entrance to Shinto temples) since 1974. This towering structure, situated on Rua Galvão Bueno, is a distinctive representation of the neighborhood. Liberdade was successfully connected to the São Paulo subway network in the 1970s, opening up this area to commerce like never before. Today, thousands of paulistanos (citizens of São Paulo) flock to the public square in Liberdade every Sunday to purchase craft goods at the weekly fair. In January 2008, in order to celebrate 100 years of Japanese immigration to Brazil, a project to revitalize the quarter was approved by the mayor Gilberto Kassab. 40% of the restoration were for the visit of the prince Naruhito to São Paulo in June 2008.
View of a street in Liberdade district.

The Japanese presence in the neighborhood began in 1912. At this time, Japanese immigrants began to take up residence on the street of Count Sarzedas. This street had a steep slope that gave way to a running stream and swamp area. Basement apartments were numerous and inexpensive, and groups of people or families often lived together in the small rooms. However, the central location of the neighborhood meant immigrants could also be closer to work. As the number of immigrants in the neighborhood grew, so did commercial activity. Soon Japanese-owned inns, emporiums, restaurants, shops, and markets were popping up. These new commercial endeavors also become workplaces, which brought more immigrants to the area, and thus the "street of the Japanese" was formed.

Image by Kay Rodriquez

Liberdade is a meeting spot for many groups, especially among young people who are interested in Japanese culture. Manga (Japanese comics) fans, sometimes participating in cosplay, can be seen in the district almost any day of the week, especially on weekends. The district is also a popular tourist destination. People from all over the world, as well as from Brazil itself, are often seen mixing with the Japanese housewives doing their grocery shopping on Galvão Bueno Street and businessmen looking for low priced Asian food for lunch. Most popular is the street fair that occurs each Saturday and Sunday. Offering tastes of traditional Japanese food and various goods, this famous event attracts so many people from outside of Japan Town that the event is predominantly non-Asian.

Our Visit

Next time we go will be in the Brazilian Fall. Today was in the 90's with high humidity making this a "bear with it" journey.

With the market in full swing, Sue decided to shop the booths. I lasted about 5 minutes and said to Sue: "See that statue over there. You can find me sitting in the shade when you're done." We did find a nice sleeveless "T" for me before we grabbed some japanese noodles and beef and chicken from one of the ubiquitous food carts.

Strolling along the street we found a Japanese garden with more food stalls, but at this time the heat had done a number on us and like Terriyaki on a Stick, we were "done". for the day.

Friday, March 14, 2014

TiraPretoTim Slide Shows

Unliked being tied down to a chair in the living room while the host clicks the next slide with "And here we are washing our underwear", you can view these any time you want.

They all apparantly load at the same time. You can speed up the viewing my hovering over the lower right of an image and a "back, pause, forward" control box will appear.

Carnavale in Tiradentes and Ouro Preto (Lots of pics)

jkeenan7's TiraPreto Carnavale album on Photobucket

Some Street Scenes:

jkeenan7's TiraPreto Street album on Photobucket

Smok'n Mary

jkeenan7's TiraPreto Train album on Photobucket


jkeenan7's TiraPreto Churches album on Photobucket

Some Windows From The Street
jkeenan7's TiraPreto Windows album on Photobucket

And images from the grounds of Inhotim, the modern art museum and botanical grounds near Belo Horizonte.

jkeenan7's TiraPreto Inhotim album on Photobucket

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


"TiraPretoTim": Tiradentes, Ouro Preto, and Inhotim. A week vacation during "Carnavale" week in Brazil.

The Carnavale is celebrated in Brazil every year, 46 days before the Easter festival. Carnival is derived from the word carnelevare, which literally translates to “removal of meat”. The roots of the festival are believed to be in the tradition of Roman Catholics when they abstained from meat and alcohol on certain days as a method to drive away bad things from their life. (Now I know why I couldn't eat meat on Friday as a kid growing up in Philadelphia's Irish Catholic streets.)

The Carnival in Brazil as we know it today is believed to have originated during the European dominated era. Back then, followers of the Roman Catholic Church would indulge in last day of dance, fun, alcohol and sex just before the start of Lent, which is a period of abstinence from alcohol and other sins. Back then, people would exchange clothes and indulge in wild dancing, and it also sometimes coincided with exchange of slaves. (From http://www.calendarlabs.com/holidays/brazil/carnival.php)

Sue's school closes for a week to celebrate "Carnavale" as it is spelled in Brazil. Do we go to Rio for the craziness and festivities? Some of Sue's school teachers suggested a small colonial town, Tiradentes, but the celebration lasts only 4 days. Further research showed another small colonial town worth visiting for another few days: Ouro Preto, a town built during the gold rush. Ouro Preto literally translate to "Gold Black". Wrapping up the holiday would be a one day trip to a modern art museum and botanical garden called "Inhotim".

This blog entry is a recap of the week with further blog entries with a little more detail on the towns, "Smokin' Mary", the many visited Igrejas (Churches), Carnavale itself and the Inhotim visit.

Tiradentes and Ouro Preto are small preserved colonial towns in the state of Minas Gerais. One of our main reasons for visiting these towns are the 300 year old buildings and cobblestone streets

Many of the streets wind wonderfully up and down the hilly town.

One day was spent riding the "Maria Fumaca" or "Smok'n Mary" steam train ride of about 35 minutes to the town of Sao Joao Del Rie.

In each town were simple and majestic churches, some with ornate statues inside, however almost all the churches prohibit inside photography. I'm one of those who follows the rules knowing what the electronic flash damage can be had.

One church did allow for inside photography. More pics when I post the "church" blog entry.

And of course there was "Carnavale" going on while we were there. We missed out on taking photos the first night in Tiradentes as we arrived late from our flight and walked downtown (without camera!!) to find a place for dinner. As we were dining the parade formed right outside our restaurant. One of those "..why didn't I..." moments.

On the next night we knew there would be another parade and one of the groups was selling shirts. I bought one planning to march in the parade but as we were having dinner a monster thunderstorm rolled in soaking everything and knocking out power. As we headed back in the pitch black dark to the hotel after the rain subsided, we heard the sound of chainsaws in the park. Freddy? Nope, a giant tree had fallen during the windstorm and the town maintenance were cleaning it up. Amazingly the next day you would not have known there was any tree fall at all. Nary a leaf.

We were able to enjoy a small parade our last night in Tiradentes and were lucky enough to see a big parade in Ouro Preto on the very last night of Carnavale. The next morning we were amazed to find most of the town clear of the night's revelry and partying. We could hear music and shouting until at least 6:00 a.m.

Without a doubt the best costume we saw.

And last but not least we spent a rainy day at the "Inhotim" modern art museum and botanical gardens. No photography allowed inside the museum exhibits of which there were many. Did get a shot of an outside mural and some standing sculptures.

Separate blog entries to be done on:
Towns of Tiradentes and Ouro Preto
Church Histories

Right now, time for a bike ride in Ibirapuera Park.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Peru & Argentina

Sue's school, Graded American School, in Sao Paulo takes a big break over the Christmas and New Year holidays: Almost 5 weeks.

For those weeks Sue put together two trips: First to Peru for 10 days. Home for a few days to do wash. Then 14 days in Argentina.

Blog post (ahem) force me to document our journeys, which personally is a good thing.

Feel free to drop in anytime for some thoughts, memories and photos of:


Cusco: The city used as a jumping off point to Machu Picchu and has a great town square.


Machu Picchu: My words will pale in comparison to the physical awe of this place. Aliens I'm sure.

Courtesy Flipkey

Ollantaytambo: More ruins and one of the most interesting salt mines ever.

Lima: How to almost spend a 10 hour layover exploring Lima.


El Calafate: Hikes and the Moreno Glacier.

El Chaltan: More hikes and vistas.

Ushuaia: "Fin Del Mundo" End of the World. How low can you go?

Buenos Aries: The "Paris" of South America and oh my, the steaks! (Sorry vegetarians, but they were awesome.) Not to mention the Palace of Papa Fritas.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Lost and Found Department

Ever have something valuable in your pocket and then you lose it? Money? Piece of jewelry? Even an important piece of paper? Something? Anything?

For some unknown and inexplicable reason, you’ll continue to reach in your pocket hoping that it’s in there somewhere. Over and over again. Admit it. You do that. I know I do.

It’s GOT to be there. Right? Nope, it’s gone.

But sometimes you lose something and get it back when you were sure you’d never see it again. But still…you keep hoping.

On our recent Peru/Argentina vacation that happened three times.


I love my gps unit. Take it with me everywhere. I use it to make track of bike trips I take. Go geocaching. Use it for directions to some place. Mark waypoints. Bought a Garmin map of Brazil. Even took it to Peru but even though I don’t have the Garmin map for Peru, I can still download Geocache coordinates or make waypoints. I can mark the hotel as a “waypoint” so if I get lost at least I have a directional arrow to point me back to the hotel/hostal etc. coordinates even without a street map.

Heading to Machu Picchu I downloaded some geocaches to find. One of them required a long walk towards Gate of the Sun. Found the geocache. A few hours later decided to look for another geocache as Sue and I were in a far different part of Machu Picchu. Where’s my GPS? It was in my pocket I’m sure. Looked in my pocket again. Not there. Looked in my camera bag, backpack, every place I could imagine. No GPS.

I’ve lost it. Yah, I felt in my pocket one more time.

Then I remembered I placed it on the rock wall along the path we were on while I made some notes. Sunk feeling. It’s gone. Sure someone picked it up.

Sue suggested going back and looking for it. I replied: “What’s the use? Someone by now has picked it up and that’s a valuable item. No one will turn it in”.

Sue suggested the go back and look one more time. After all she said, we’ve got plenty of time. OK. Why not.

I hiked all the way across Machu Picchu, climbed up the path to the Gate of the Sun, downtrodden I walked to where the geocache was, confident that I’d find nothing. Came to the spot and started looking along the wall and there it was, resting on a rock ledge right where I left it.

How did no one see it and take it? Then I had an idea maybe why no one saw it. The path was very rocky. As you walked along you had to really concentrate where you put your foot so your gaze was downcast to the ground. Maybe that’s why. Heck, I really didn’t care why, I was just glad to recover my gps.

Joe, where’s your Camera?

Our first night in El Calafate, Argentina was New Year’s eve. As we walked along the street, restaurants were either closed, booked solid, or were taking reservations for a later New Year’s Eve dinner that would only cost your first born.

We had passed a small bodega and decided to head back there, buy some goodies then go back to our room and have whatever we bought as our New Year’s eve dinner.

I usually have my DSLR camera with me. That is one of those big, fancy looking big lens cameras that everyone thinks takes great photos. Little do they realize that today’s point and shoot cameras have such incredible logarithms that their phone camera will probably take a better out of the camera photo than my DSLR. My camera and lens is over 10 years old. Antiquated by today’s technology. Still it is a pricey camera. The lense alone still sells for new at about $900. This was one of my “working” cameras when I did photography as a job.

The store was very crowded. We bought a couple of sandwiches, sodas, cookies etc. and left.

Blocks away Sue looks at me and says: “Where is your camera?” My hand was empty. No need to look in my pocket. “I left it at the store” says I.

Did not walk. Ran back to the store. Pushed my way to the cashier and said “Camera?” That’s English dummy. They speak Spanish. "Ola Camera?" I had placed it on a bunch of candy when I went to pay. I moved over to where I left it and some kid had starting to point to the camera about to say something to the cashier. It was still there!! MINE!!! I think I screamed as I exhaled deeply.

Lost and found number two.


On a bus trip back to El Calafate from El Chatel I placed my umbrella in the side pocket of my backpack and tossed it in the overhead bin.

Hours later unpacking at the hostal room I noticed the umbrella was gone. How? I realized I placed the backpack in the overhead top side first, which meant it was tilted down in the sloping bin. Of course, the umbrella slipped out. No, the umbrella wouldn’t fit in my pocket, but I almost looked there.


The next morning we had to go back to the bus station to take a different bus to the Moreno Glacier. I said to Sue: “I’m going to check at the other bus ticket office. Maybe someone turned in my umbrella.” "No way it will be there" , she says.

Walked up to the ticket counter and asked the ticket attendant: “Did you find an umbrella on the bus yesterday?” She smiled, jumped up, went over to a shelf and said “This one?”

Sue’s jaw dropped. “I don’t believe it” she says and smiles as I gave the attendant a “high five” and a thank you!!!

Number 3 lost and found.

And yes, there is a moral to this story: Joe, you really do have to be more careful about your things and stop looking in your pocket.

Peru & Argentina

From December 16th to January 15th, we visited Peru and Argentina. Some posts about those trips be coming. Oh yeah, on a Wednesday most likely.