Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Megabus

The Husband and I bought bus tickets to visit the in-laws for Christmas on the Megabus. A total of $4.50 for 2 round trip tickets and a booking fee. We take a taxi there this morning even though it's close enough to walk. It's been raining and snowing and there's gigantic puddles everywhere. We get to the bus stop and it's mobbed. Apparently the geniuses booked all the busses to leave at the same time. There's also supposed to be one bus that goes to Ann Arbor and continues on to Detroit. Between overbooking and the bus last night not running because of snow, they need 3 busses to get all the passengers to Michigan. People are pushing, no one has any idea what's going on, and we stood in the rain for 45 minutes before getting on a bus. Oh and my feet are soaked from the rivers of water that are running in the street and sidewalks.

I'm at a rest stop in Michigan now where I will be having some fried chicken for lunch on Christmas Eve. That's right, I'm classy like that. The actual bus is pretty nice. There's wifi and they're going to be showing Anchorman after the rest stop. It sucks that our rest stop is 30 minutes though. All in all quite the experience and you get what you pay for.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Next Year's Plans

The Husband has tons of free air miles saved up and it doesn't look like travel for work is going to slow down any time soon either. We've been looking into some international trips that take advantage of our miles.

We talked about doing Paris or Amsterdam for a long weekend over Labor Day or else later in September for our anniversary. I've already been to Paris but it was on a school trip in high school and I was only 16 or 17. I'm sure it's much different as an adult where I can actually drink since I don't have to follow school rules and I'm not in a tour group.

Neither of us have ever been to Amsterdam. The Husband is worried that people will think we're going for the weekend just to smoke pot. I would prefer to go to Holland in the spring though when all the tulips are in bloom. We had a great time just doing 2 days in London earlier this year so we think a weekend trip is doable.

Then as I was playing on Expedia instead of studying for exams I saw that this February there are some cruises through Asia for only $1200 for 2 weeks. In my mind I'm thinking we can use our free miles to get there and it's only $1200 including food so we only have to pay for excursions. Well first you can't use miles to fly into one city and out of another. Then next February's cruises are much higher priced that they're not worth it. And the most important thing - I completely forgot that I'd be in school next February and can't just take off for 2 weeks. I'm supposed to be studying but I can't even remember I'm still in school. I think I'm completely losing it.

After speaking to some of my favorite travel buffs, I think we've decided to try to do 2 weeks in Thailand next year right after Christmas. I was convinced cruising was not the way to see the countries. (But the thought of seeing so many countries in only 2 weeks is so tempting!) We are definitely looking at Thailand with maybe a stop in Cambodia or Laos. With free flights and cheap hotels available, this should be an economical trip. Probably cheaper than any 2 week trip we could do in the US, especially with our champagne taste. Plus we would get to go to an elephant training facility and ride elephants. How cool is that?

We are a little nervous about the food. The Husband is a very picky eater. He doesn't eat vegetables. He doesn't eat anything he doesn't know what it is. And I'm afraid 2 weeks of Asian food will just send him over the edge. He might be able to handle it for one night at home knowing his next meal will be a cheeseburger, but 2 weeks is a lot. Add to this my very sensitive stomach and it's a recipe for disaster. Luckily with the help of I have identified several steak, Italian, and seafood restaurants in Bangkok to make him happy.

We probably won't actually decide if we're going until June or so but I think I'm going to pick up a couple of guidebooks at the library tonight anyway.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


What an exciting day. We got to the rally right when California was declared and the election was over. The energy was amazing. I'd never seen so many people. I'm glad I got to be part of such a historic event. Here are a few pics.

Day 14 - Buzios

The last day of vacation always leaves me a little bit sad. We took a boat tour that went to some islands and beaches. It was cold and overcast though so we didn't get off the boat to swim although some others on the boat did. Being overcast I didn't wear sunscreen yet managed to get red as a lobster. Our boat looked like an old pirate ship which is way cooler than the catamaran tours. The big highlight was seeing a penguin! Apparently penguins get swept up in the currents from Patagonia and often land on the beaches in Buzios. After hearing this on our trolley tour yesterday I'd spent part of the morning walking along the beach looking for one. At one island people came out in a boat selling freshly cooked shrimp. Delicious. I think the others that bought them ate them with the shells on. Ick.

After the boat tour we packed up our luggage and stored it at the hotel. We went for lunch back to the crepe stand again. The Husband was deciding between a ham and cheese crepe and a ham and cheddar crepe. Good thing I checked it out because they were making someone else's ham and cheddar crepe with more cheez whiz. However what they just call cheese on the menu looks like cheddar to me. We spent our last hour lounging at the pool deck before being driven back to the airport in Rio. Unfortunately we got there so early we weren't even allowed to check in yet. Once we finally got checked in and into the international terminal there was no food there! All I wanted was to buy a bag of chips or get something small to take on the plane so I wuoldn't have to eat the nasty dinner. No luck there although I did spend the last of my Brazilian money buying candy in the Duty Free shop. There were some crazy people rolling around huge baskets of duty free goods. I think one woman had 20 pounds of Toblerone and others were spending hundreds on electronic devices, perfume, and designer clothes. I've never had the urge to make large purchases while waiting for a flight but maybe their flights were delayed and they were bored.

Spiny plants

Tropical flowers

Coconut stand

Our pirate ship

The hotel next door to ours from the boat

One of the beaches

Another beach

The penguin!

The same penguin

The Husband on the boat

Me with some fabulous shrimp skewers

The Husband watching the Michigan football game on his Blackberry

Another picture of downtown

Yet another

All the boats anchored off the beach

Pretty flowers at our hotel

Rocks along the bottom of the water

Our hotel from the boat

Entrance to our hotel from the street
Thoughts on our hotel: We loved Vila d'Este and would recommend it to anyone visiting Buzios. We liked that it was so close to downtown and all the restaurants. All the other pousadas looked nice as well though. What we didn't like was the size of our bed. In Salvador we had the most gigantic bed ever, then in Buzios we had to sleep in a full. We thought the rooms and the bed size were small for the amount of money we paid. Also we wouldn't recommend the restaurant. We only saw one party eat there the whole time besides the free breakfast. They do make delicious drinks though for a night cap or lounging by the pool.
Thoughts on Buzios: Buzios is a great place to relax. I imagine in the summer it's pretty packed on the weekends with vacationers from Rio though. The beaches were not as good as I thought they'd be. They were pretty small although nice enough. Just don't expect miles of gorgeous white sand. The downtown area had a lot of nice restaurants and shops that I managed to do a lot of damage at. I think if we were to go back to Brazil we'd try a different town, maybe Paraty or Ilhabela instead just to do something different.

Day 13 - Buzios

Given that Buzios is our relaxing part of the trip, we haven't really done anything while here. And we don't have plans to do much else. After lunch in town we took a trolley tour of the area. We some beautiful beaches and beautiful houses where the rich people vacation. It was nice to see a little more of the area other than downtown and our hotel and the lookout spots we stopped at had great views.

We had dinner at Don Juan's tonight, a steakhouse. I started with bruschetta and The Husband had a baked potato. What we learned is in Brazil, when cheddar cheese is listed on the menu they are referring to cheez whiz in a can. Look at the picture of the potato below. We also noticed this the next night at the Crepe stand. For dinner The Husband had a pasta that he somewhat enjoyed. By this point in the trip and after being sick he just wanted to go home and eat his comfort foods. I had a delicious filet with gorgonzola sauce. The beef was excellent. I highly recommend this restaurant if you're in Buzios.

Downtown Buzios

Downtown Buzios

Don Juan restaurant

Fishermen sculpture

The penguin restaurant

Buggys you can rent while in Buzios. I wanted a pink one.

View from our trolley tour

View of us at a lookout stop on the trolley tour

View of a beach

Our stop at a beach. It was way too cold to swim. Notice the sweatshirt in the picture above.


Another stop on the trolley tour

Baked potato with cheez whiz

Bruschetta on whole wheat bread

Monday, November 3, 2008

Day 12 - Buzios

The Husband is still sick so we decided to head to the doctor. What an adventure. The nurse and the receptionist didn't speak any English. Luckily the doctor did. Turns out The Husband had an intestinal infection and was dehydrated and would need an IV. Yikes. Getting needles stuck into you in foreign countries is scary. After 2 and a half IV bags, The Husband was feeling much better. I picked his 3 prescriptions for him while he was busy getting stuck. Luckily medical care and prescriptions was fairly cheap in Brazil, especially considering an IV at a hospital in the US without insurance would have been thousands.

We stopped for lunch then The Husband went to take a nap and recover and I went to the beach Joao Fernandes for an hour and a half. Then it was time for my spa day at the hotel and spa next door, Casa Brancas. It was very nice. They gave me a free pair of Havianas to wear and take home. I had a hot stone massage and a facial. Then I went and sat in the jacuzzi for a while and watched the sunset while drinking a cup of tea. Heaven.

We had dinner at a casual crepe restaurant. They had everything you could possibly want on the menu. I had an open-faced crepe with gorgonzola, parmesan, and ham. The Husband had a dessert crepe with strawberries and whipped cream. Another early night to bed. The Husband has to get better.

The Husband and his IV

Strawberry and whipped cream crepe

Parmesan, gorgonzola, and ham crepe

Nighttime in downtown

Day 11 - Buzios

We had a flight at 6:10 am out of Salvador back to Rio. Our hotel owner Didier drove us to the airport in the morning. The Husband is still sick at this time although feeling a little better. We were so thankful we booked the private transfer to Buzios instead of taking a bus. First of all I get carsick easily although I didn't this time. Secondly, instead of taking a taxi to the bus station then getting from the bus station in Buzios to our hotel, our driver was right outside baggage claim and we were delived directly to our hotel. We booked our transfer through Malizia Tours who were great.

We were staying at Vila d'Este. Our hotel was beautiful. Tropical plants and flowers everywhere. The hotel overlooks the water and a little street below. There's a restaurant/bar and pool that overlook the water too. Our room was interesting as it was waterfront and tucked away under the restaurant. It reminded me of a cave, tucked into the side of the hill. There was a small patio and we kept the doors open to see the great view. There was also a staircase there that leads down to the main street into town. It was great being a 2 minute walk into town.

The Husband was feeling well enough to eat some lunch so we headed up to the hotel restaurant. I had the bruschetta and he had some sort of toast with mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes. Not particularly impressive. The mozzarella was pretty tasteless.

We had a pretty lazy afternoon. After lunch we took a long nap. I had a pedicure at the spa at the hotel next door. Then we headed to dinner at Patio Havanna. The Husband was still feeling sick and skipped eating. I had pasta with lobster. Which actually included half a lobster on top of my pasta. Very delicious.

View from our bed to outside

View from our patio

Chair on our patio

Our room

Staircase to our room

Stairs to our room and down to the street



View from the pool deck
Downtown Buzios

Pool area

Brigette Bardot sculpture