Brasil: touristing in São Paulo

I have the opportunity to go to São Paulo with my dear spouse on a business trip this September. We won’t have a ton of time to explore, so I’ll mostly focus on areas near our hotel, which is near downtown. Below is my what to do, where to go research for São Paulo. See this post for Rio ideas.


São Paulo

Day

Wander around downtown

Follow this architecture walk around Centro, which includes the Teatro Municipal, and nearby Copan building–“Choose your pick-me-up at the ground floor shopping center: a creamy espresso at the old-school, standing-room-only Café Floresta, or a creative caipirinha cocktail at the classy and ballyhooed two-year-old Bar da Dona Onça (55-11-3257-2016; www.bardadonaonca.com.br)”

Or try this historic city center walking tour, which has some overlap with the architecture tour, and also includes the city’s most beautiful art museum, the Pinacoteca (Praça da Luz, 2; 55-11-3324-1000; pinacoteca.org.br), housed in a former high school. “Don’t miss the adjacent sculpture garden.”

Be on the lookout for some murals while walking around downtown.

The Historic Center area and Avenida Paulista are definitely places to be explored on foot.

Stroll the pedestrian-only streets near the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (Rua Álvares Penteado, 112; 55-11-3113-3600; bb.com.br/cultura)

For those, like me, who have enjoyed learning a bit of Portuguese, the Museum of Lingua Portuguesa has interesting interactive exhibits.

Go running

The best running in the city is in Parque Ibirapuera.

Evening

Sunset views

  • Banespa Tower – São Paulo’s “Empire State Building” “On the rooftop of the Banespa Tower it is possible to see a view of Sao Paulo that goes from Serra da Cantareira to Pico do Jaragua.”
  • Restaurant Skye, Hotel Unique
  • São Paulo Jockey Club
  • The View Bar: “…that view doesn’t come cheap: there’s a cover charge and only a few wines are less than R$100 a bottle. The better bets are the well-made cocktails, with the kir royales and margaritas particularly recommended.”
  • Have a drink at the piano bar at Terraco Italia for a 360 degree view

Late night

People-watching

“In Vila Olímpia, high-end nightclubs come and go, but the conspicuously consuming playboys and the surgically enhanced women they buy Champagne for are, alas, forever.”

“The Vila Madalena district is the main point for those who love to mix with a young, hipster and intellectual group.”

Where to eat

Mercado Municipal

“This covered market is a belle époque confection of stained glass and a series of vast domes. Inside is a delightful market specializing in fresh produce and dried goods. It’s also a great place to sample a couple of classic Sampa delights: mortadella sandwiches and pasteis, pockets of dough stuffed with meat, cheese or fish and then fried.”

Maní

Maní will astound you. This rustic-chic restaurant run impeccably by a Brazilian-Spanish couple is often touted as Sampa’s best Brazilian restaurant, and rightly so.”

Brasil a Gosto

At once cozy and modern, this Jardins staple is one of the city’s finest for homegrown cuisine, specializing in innovative takes on iconic ingredients and regional dishes from around Brazil.

Getting around

São Paulo has good public transportation via metro and buses. Taxis are a must at night. Neighborhoods are easily explored on foot.


General information

Safety

“So aside from not walking alone at night and taking other appropriate precautions, simply don’t go out with anything you couldn’t stand losing. I take a bit of cash, one credit card and a copy of my passport.”

“During the day the city is quite safe; in the evening the safest neighborhoods are Jardins, Higienópolis, and the residential areas of the city. Best avoided are the quiet side streets of Centro, particularly the empty shopping streets around Praça Sé, Bexiga, and around Luz station.”

Food

“Look for PFs, or pratos feitos, homey set plates of a main course, rice, beans and juice for under 12 reais”

Drink caipirinhas: a rum-relative liquor, sugar, and lime

Light Brazilian lager on draft called chope or chopp (said cho-pea). If you order a cerveja, you’ll get bottled beer.

Useful phrases

(Portuguese pronunciation is tricky if you’re coming from a Spanish background!)

  • Hello – Alô
  • Hi – Oi
  • Goodbye – Tchau / Adeus
  • Excuse me (getting attention) – Com licença
  • Excuse me (beg your pardon) – Desculpe
  • Sorry, I don’t speak Portuguese – Desculpe, eu não falo português
  • Do you speak English? – Você fala inglês?
  • Please – Por favor
  • Thank you – Obrigado (said by a man) / Obrigada (said by a woman)
  • Where is the bathroom? – Onde está o banho?
  • How’s it going? – Tudo bem? (The response is also “tudo bem.”) Or, “tudo bom”
  • Please, can you help me? – Por favor, você pode me ajudar?
  • I don’t understand – Não compreendo
  • Good morning – Bom dia
  • Good afternoon – Boa tarde
  • Good night – Boa noite
  • Beer – cerveja
  • Cool – legal
  • Cheers! – Saúde!

References

In Rio and Sao Paulo, go north

For a Brazilian vacation, 7 rules to save by

3 Experts, and Many Tips for Visiting Brazil

36 Hours in Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo

Time Out Sao Paulo

Brazil Important Phrases

20 Essential Portuguese Phrases

Brazilian Portuguese Phrasebook

Sao Paulo Walks

30 Things to Do in Sao Paulo

Lonely Planet: Top things to do in Sao Paulo

Frommers: Getting around Sao Paulo

Brasil: touristing in Rio

I have the opportunity to go to São Paulo with my dear spouse on a business trip this September. The business portion would be in São Paulo, but that’s only an hour flight from Rio, so we’d spend half the week there. Below is my what to do, where to go research for Rio. See this post for São Paulo ideas.


Rio

“The place makes Miami look like Cleveland.”

Day

Walk around Santa Teresa

Take the antique tram called the bonde uphill to the cobbled, winding streets of leafy Santa Teresa.

Visit the Botanical Gardens

Ferry to Ilha de Paquetá

45 min ferry ride from downtown for a very different beach experience from Ipanema. “Paqueta’s dirt roads, which are car-free (horse-drawn carriages cart visitors around town), feature 19th-century homes, stores that rent banged-up bicycles (5 reais an hour) and diners that offer up simple pleasures like fried fish or grilled ham and cheese.”

Take a favela tour

5-hour tour: http://www.favelatour.org/types-of-tours.html

2-hour tour: http://favelasantamartatour.blogspot.com.br/p/tour-copa-do-mundo.html

Article about favela tourism from The Guardian

Go running

Leblon-Ipanema-Arpoador – 3.7km

Runs the Lagoa a close second for the most popular jogging route in the city… Cruise along the most beautiful urban beach among the beautiful people that frequent it.

Lagoa – 7.5km
The loop of choice for many Zona Sul runners… the views are spectacular and you get to skirt four different neighbourhoods on the way.

Admire views

  • Sugarloaf Mountain
  • Corcovado (where the giant Jesus statue lives) – but long lines of tourists and often cloudy at the top
  • Elevator tower observation deck: corner of Rua Teixeira de Melo and Rua Barão da Torre, just off Praça General Osório

People-watch

Just sit on the beach and watch the ridiculously attractive locals play soccer and footvolley. Ipanema is nicer and less touristy than Copacabana.

Evening

Cocktails

Sunset at Arpoador Beach; get a table at the Arpoador Inn. But don’t get in the water; it’s very polluted.

Dinner

There’s lots of fancy dining in the Leblon area, specifically on Rua Dias Ferreira

Oro: Felipe Bronze heads this acclaimed restaurant, which celebrates Brazilian produce and its cooking traditions while serving up some of the most imaginative plates in the city. The low-lit Zen-like interior contrasts with the culinary pyrotechnics on display in most dishes.

Espírito Santa: “Espírito Santa is set in a beautifully restored mansion in Santa Teresa. Take a seat on the back terrace with its sweeping views or inside the charming, airy dining room, and feast on rich, expertly prepared meat and seafood dishes from the Amazon and the northeast.”

Térèze: The global flavours on offer at Térèze, part of the chic Hotel Santa Teresa, provide the neighbourhoods most exclusive dinner option. Elegant and modern, the restaurant couples accents from a wealth of countries with one of the most quintessentially carioca settings in the city. If you are thinking of taking any other mode of transport besides a taxi, think again – even some cabbies will balk at the winding, cobbled roads up.”

Late night

Lapa

This historic, charmingly shabby neighborhood in central Rio goes late into the night with plentiful street food — and cheap drinks.

Urca

Take a taxi to the Urca area and Zozô (Avenida Pasteur 520, Praia Vermelha; 55-21-2295-5659; zozorio.com.br). Dramatically situated by the beach, adjacent to the Sugar Loaf cable car station, this restaurant turns into a weekend after-dinner lounge and dance club where a posh crowd of 30-something Brazilians do what they do best: look good.

Where to eat

A lot of the most fun-to-eat food in Rio is sold on the beach, including esfirras, or little Middle Eastern pastries. Get a sandwich and fresh fruit juice for breakfast and eat it sitting on the beach.

Eat at the simple restaurants (Degrau, Jobi).

Confeitaria Colombo, even if it’s just for a light lunch or tea with some of the traditional (and to-die-for) Portuguese pastries like toucinho do ceu.

Santa Teresa: “Those feeling flush shouldn’t miss the opportunity to check out the view from Térèze, the sublimely romantic bar and restaurant in Hotel Santa Teresa but a “treehouse” booth in nearby Aprazível with its views of Centro and beyond, makes for a memorable meal too. Hearty dishes to suit more modest budgets can be found at Simplesmente or Bar do Arnaudo, both close to Largo do Guimarães, while seafood lovers are in for a treat at both Sobrenatural and Amazonian specialist Espirito Santa (pictured) a little further down the track.”

Where to stay

Stay in Leblon if you can, for the leafy streets, cafes and restaurants, and easy access to the beach. (Ipanema is not quite as pleasant, and Copacabana can be a bit seedy.)

Getting around

Taxis in Rio are for the most part easy to hail or order, though few drivers speak English, so bring a written address for your destination. At the airport, buy a prepaid fare from Transcoopass to avoid solicitations from dodgy drivers.

Rio’s metro is clean, fast, and safe.


General information

Safety

“So aside from not walking alone at night and taking other appropriate precautions, simply don’t go out with anything you couldn’t stand losing. I take a bit of cash, one credit card and a copy of my passport.”

Food

“Look for PFs, or pratos feitos, homey set plates of a main course, rice, beans and juice for under 12 reais”

Drink caipirinhas: a rum-relative liquor, sugar, and lime

Light Brazilian lager on draft called chope or chopp (said cho-pea). If you order a cerveja, you’ll get bottled beer.

Useful phrases

(Portuguese pronunciation is tricky if you’re coming from a Spanish background!)

  • Hello – Alô
  • Hi – Oi
  • Goodbye – Tchau / Adeus
  • Excuse me (getting attention) – Com licença
  • Excuse me (beg your pardon) – Desculpe
  • Sorry, I don’t speak Portuguese – Desculpe, eu não falo português
  • Do you speak English? – Você fala inglês?
  • Please – Por favor
  • Thank you – Obrigado (said by a man) / Obrigada (said by a woman)
  • Where is the bathroom? – Onde está o banho?
  • How’s it going? – Tudo bem? (The response is also “tudo bem.”) Or, “tudo bom”
  • Please, can you help me? – Por favor, você pode me ajudar?
  • I don’t understand – Não compreendo
  • Good morning – Bom dia
  • Good afternoon – Boa tarde
  • Good night – Boa noite
  • Beer – cerveja
  • Cool – legal
  • Cheers! – Saúde!

References

36 Hours in Rio de Janeiro

Rio, with eyes open

In Rio and Sao Paulo, go north

For a Brazilian vacation, 7 rules to save by

3 Experts, and Many Tips for Visiting Brazil

Top 5 Runs in Rio

Mercado Municipal

Brazil Important Phrases

20 Essential Portuguese Phrases

Brazilian Portuguese Phrasebook

Best places to eat in Rio

Santa Teresa Neighborhood Guide

Lonely Planet: Getting Around Rio

Why haven’t humans evolved beyond gluten sensitivity?

I’ve done a lot of reading about gluten sensitivity, and because there’s so much research and data on both sides of the gluten is ok/gluten is the devil fence, it seems to me I just need to go with my gut (pun intended) and believe the research that seems more legit to me. Therefore, I have limited my gluten intake for about 2 years now, and while I haven’t been perfectly gluten-free, I have gone for short stints with no gluten, and I honestly don’t think I am gluten-sensitive. I still see, from a logical if not physical perspective, the benefits of avoiding gluten, so I still avoid it, much to the irritation of my spouse. His argument has repeatedly been, “If gluten is a real problem, why haven’t humans evolved to process gluten properly?” I have not been able to answer that question to my satisfaction, so here we are.

This article from Doctor Auer gives a quick history of grains in human diets, from ancient Egypt to present day, possibly correlating with the rise of osteoporosis, diabetes, and later cancer and various degenerative diseases. Modern production methods strip out most of the grains’ nutrients, add chemicals, and leave behind naturally occurring toxins that cause gut inflammation. To sum up:

We must remember that evolutionarily speaking, we have been around for almost two million years, but we have only been eating grains for a few thousand. As such, our bodies have not had the time to adapt to this “new” food in our diet. Furthermore, modern farming, harvesting, and processing methods have stripped grains of their nutritional integrity, decreasing their digestibility, and making them highly toxic and inflammatory food to our bodies.

Here’s more, from Science 2.0:

“Only for the past ten thousand years have we had wheat-based foods in our diets, which in evolutionary terms makes wheat almost a novel food. If you put that in context to the 2.5 millions years that mankind has been on earth, it makes sense that our bodies are still adapting to this food, and more specifically, the gluten that it contains.”

But the best answers come from this Paleo Mom article. She explains the role of evolutionary pressure, or factors that reduce reproductive success, in adaptation, and states that while humans have had enough time to adapt to grains, there has not been sufficient evolutionary pressure to do so, because health issues related to grain consumption do not generally affect reproduction rates. (There’s an interesting reader comment at the bottom about gut flora that’s worth researching, but not for this post.)

So the answer I will give to Spouse and anyone else is: Humans are adapting to process grains, but have not yet fully adapted because eating grains does not interfere with reproduction enough to select out grain-intolerant genes at a high rate.

Why do horses drool?

muzzle

It has always cracked me up: ponies who get into clover and drool like leaky faucets. Until recently, I did not know the reason they drool is because of a toxic fungus that grows on the clover. (And I did not know its comical names: Saliva Syndrome! Slobbering Horse Syndrome!)

The Rhizoctonia leguminicola fungus, also called “black patch” because of the (sometimes microscopic) black spots that form on affected leaves, grows on white and red clover, and alfalfa. It produces the toxin slaframine, which can increase horses’ salivary gland output. In more extreme cases, it can also cause increased tear production and urination, difficulty breathing, and–rarely–even abortion. Some horses have have allergic reactions on facial skin that comes in contact with the fungus.

Horses that are more affected than others can either be especially sensitive to the toxin, or just prefer clover, so consume a larger quantity of slaframine.

“Black patch” prefers humid weather, so it is most prevalent in Spring and Summer. To control growth of the fungus, keep your pastures healthy. Clover thrives in stressful conditions, such as droughts, extended wet periods, poor soils, and over-grazing, so rotate your pastures to minimize stress. Use chemical treatments carefully to avoid harming your animals. Note that the fungus can also be present in hay containing affected clover or alfalfa.

References

http://www.greenerpasturesvet.com/past/summer_2005.htm

http://www.das.psu.edu/research-extension/equine/penn-state-horse-newsletter/articles/hn201007-02

http://www.horses-and-horse-information.com/articles/0799salv.shtml

http://en.engormix.com/MA-equines/health/articles/what-causes-horse-drool-t1328/165-p0.htm

How to get your first (or tenth) pull-up

Here are some tips compiled from various exercise gurus I have had the fortune to work with over the last couple years. Several friends have asked for these notes, so I thought I’d make them available here. Enjoy!

General rules

  • Install a pull up bar at home to be able to practice. Be able to stand on the ground or on a stable chair with your chin above the bar.
  • Work on your pull ups every other or every two days. Everyday is too often; your muscles need recovery time.
  • You can practice as many times as you want on pull up day–but not at all on off days.
  • Fight on the way down rather than just letting go–the negative-resistance builds muscles too.
  • Mix up grips (regular and reverse/chin up), widths (hands close together or farther apart), commando (one hand ahead of the other, palms facing).
  • Keep a log of your progress to keep you motivated.

To do your first pull up

  1. Pretend you can do a pull up. So much of this is mental!
  2. Use a stool or chair to help you get your chin over the bar. Rest as lightly as possible on the chair.
  3. Do as many assisted pull ups as you can, and then work on hang time–flexed arm hang as long as you can, and then just hang from the bar.
  4. Try scapular pull ups: hang from the bar and squeeze your shoulder blades together and down as hard as you can. Hold for 2 counts, and release. Repeat in sets of 10.
  5. Try hanging rows: suspend handles from your pull up bar and position your body beneath the bar in a plank, at an angle, holding the handles. Pull your chest to the handles, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Repeat in sets of 10, and to increase the difficulty, decrease the angle of your body to the floor, so that you’re lifting a larger percentage of your body weight.

Suggested workouts

Workout #1: Max set with negatives

  1. Do a max set of pull ups, rest, repeat until you can’t do any at all.
  2. Then get on a chair, get your chin over the bar, and do 10 negative-resistance reps.
  3. Finally, hang as long as possible.

Workout #2: Pyramid with negatives

  1. Pyramid: 1 pull up; shake it out. 2 reverse-grip pull ups; shake it out. Repeat to failure. At failure, come back down the pyramid.
  2. Then get on a chair, get your chin over the bar, and do 10 negative-resistance reps.
  3. Finally, hang as long as possible.

Workout #3: Just Twenty

20 pull ups, however you can get there.

Frog or toad?

frog or toad

Frog or toad?

Toad or frog?

Here’s how to tell:

Think about where they live and how they behave. Frogs live in or near water, they’re good jumpers, and they swim. Toads are born in water, but mostly live on land and walk more than jump. So,

frogs have slimy skin (moist environment), long legs (jumping), webbed feet (swimming), and bulging eyes on top of their heads (peeking above water while their bodies are submerged);

toads have dry, bumpy skin (dry environment), shorter legs and toed feet (walking), and flatter eyes (no need to peer out from underwater). Toads are also generally wider than frogs.

Other cool things to know: touching a toad won’t give you warts, and toads have fewer predators than frogs, because their skin tastes bad.

If you like frogs, visit Save the Frogs, a really cool website frog conservation. It has news, events, and froggy facts.

So, what do you think this guy is? Frog or toad?

References:

http://allaboutfrogs.org/weird/general/frogtoad.html

http://www.kidzone.ws/lw/frogs/facts8.htm

How to help a choking horse

I once knew a horse who died from choking on his breakfast. Bob got some food lodged in his esophagus, and his owner turned him out in the hope that the food would work itself loose. It stayed stuck, and by the time the vet was summoned, part of Bob’s esophagus had been without blood flow for so long that it had died. The horse, a young, talented Thoroughbred, was euthanized.

So when my own (not-so) young, talented Thoroughbred stopped hoovering her dinner the other night, curling her lip repeatedly in distress, I felt a bit panicked. My barn manager told me to take her for a walk to see if she’d work it out. That worried me, remembering what the vet said about turning out poor Bob, but her rationale was sound:

  • One reason horses choke is because getting fed from a hanging bucket puts their neck into an unnatural position for eating
  • Letting them stretch out their neck may help them work the blockage free
I also massaged my horse’s throat and watched for swallowing–a good sign–and discharge from her nostrils–a bad sign. It only took a few minutes before I saw swallowing activity in her neck, after which she stopped curling her lip and showed interest in grazing.
We were lucky: in reading up on horse choking, I saw many stories involving sticking tubes down horses’ noses and attempting to flush out the blockage with water. And those were the success stories: some horses died directly from the choking, and others died later from infections stemming from liquid in their lungs from coughing or flushing.Here are some tips I learned in my research:

Signs of choking

  • Stopping eating mid-meal
  • Coughing
  • Visible discomfort (curling of lip, for example) or even distress
  • Discharge from nostrils, or excessive saliva
  • Lump in throat that you can see or feel

Prevention

  • Keep your horse up-to-date on his dental work. Sharp teeth can cause poor chewing, and large pieces of food are more likely to get lodged on the way down
  • Put your horse’s food as close to the ground as possible
  • If the food is very dry, wet it to help it move down the horse’s esophagus
  • If your horse eats too fast, put a few large rocks in his bucket that he’ll have to work around, to force him to slow down (also works for slowing down ravenous Labradors!)
  • Give your horse as much grazing time as possible, so he won’t be (as) starving at meals

What to do if your horse is choking

  • Remove his food
  • Keep him still, and encourage him to relax and stretch his head down
  • Call the vet. If necessary, she’ll run a tube down your horse’s nose and into his esophagus, and attempt to flush the blockage out with water. She may even need to sedate him or give him IV fluids to keep him hydrated.
  • Don’t try anything Heimlich-esque: that works on humans because the blockage is in their windpipe, so forcing air through can clear the blockage out, but when a horse chokes, the blockage is in his esophagus.

Choke can also be caused by growths or scars in the esophagus, so your vet may want to scope the esophagus after freeing the blockage to see what’s going on down there. If your horse has choked before, he may be more susceptible to future choking, due to scar tissue buildup.Be aware of the causes and signs of choking, and if your horse chokes, hopefully the tips above can help you quickly resolve the situation with minimal stress for your horse and yourself!

References: