Italian Wedding

This year (2017) I had the wonderful opportunity to be one of my best friend’s bridesmaid in Italy.

Since the bride and groom have a good taste, I already knew it would be beautiful. But they did even better than I was expecting!

The couple lives in Milan, so they chose the beautiful Castello di Marne in Bergamo to celebrate the matrimony.

All the decor was in perfect harmonic with their style and the venue’s architecture.

The buffet … – ouch, the buffet! I still dream about it. rs … – totally vegetarian and full of surprises! Tables for appetizers for all tastes, including a whole table only for different types of cheese. Dinner with three main courses. And for dessert, 3 rooms of the entire castle of sweets, including a chocolate fountain and gelato made with liquid hydrogen.

After all, the result was an elegant marriage mixing perfectly Brazilian and Italian cultures. Not to mention it was sooo fun and made friends that I want to keep for life!

The Bride

❤ Cheers to the couple! ❤

Xoxo!

Dani Baumgardner

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Milan 2017

Hi loves!!!

I know I took a lot of time to do this post, but I was very disappointed to not have the complete material to write about the trip. Unfortunately, the memory card of the camera “gave stick” and lost several photos of the trip, including mine at the Duomo.

Either way, it was such an amazing experience that I could not help but share. So let’s go!

First impressions

What always came to mind when talking about Milan was the fact that it was one of the biggest fashion capitals, of course! And yes, you can see this in the way people dress. However, this city is much more than that! It’s a place full of possibilities, nice people, great restaurants, an intense nightlife, wonderful food and lots of cultures!

Places you have to visit

Duomo di Milano: The Gothic-style cathedral that began to be built in 1386 is undoubtedly one of the most important tourist attractions in the city. All the details are breathtaking! For lovers of history, art, and architecture, this must be the first place in the script. You can spend hours admiring the place inside and out.

Gallery Vittorio Emanuele II: Inaugurated in 1877, the gallery is considered one of the oldest shopping malls in the world and is only a few steps from the Duomo. So, take advantage of the proximity to take a look at the beautiful architecture, admire the windows of some of the most luxurious brands in the world and, maybe even make some shopping!

Castello Sforzesco: The sumptuous castle inaugurated in 1499 by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, is part of the list of things you have to see! Today, the site that was the granary of some works of Leonardo da Vinci, at the request of the duke, has been transformed into a museum and is open to visitors.

Santa Maria delle Grazie: Also having its construction been ordered by Duke Sforza and was completed in 1469. The place is part of the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO and houses one of the most famous works in the world, The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci.

Fashion Capital

Milan exudes fashion, from the fashion shops – oh, the shops!  – even the inhabitants of the city.

Even the department stores that exist around the world have a better selection made there. Some pieces that I certainly would not find in these same stores here in the United States. In addition, it is worth taking a walk in the “fashion quadrangle”.

But it is also no wonder, after all, that the city is part of the calendar of the most important fashion weeks in the world!

The food

Italy, right people? Wonderful food. But one thing that struck me very positively, was the amount of vegetarian and vegan options everywhere I went. (I.e.

       Where to eat:

Cocotte: Try breakfast or brunch in this cute and cozy bakery. A croissant with coffee is a great way to start the day.

Cioccolati Italiani: When you have a chance, take a wonderful gelato from there. There are 6 stores in Milan, but if you are already in the Duomo area, there is one in Via San Raffaele.

Il Bar: Drinks overlooking the Duomo? This is the place! The drinks are good and the view is amazing.

Fioraio Bianchi Caffè: Take time between 6 pm and 8 pm to enjoy a traditional “Apéritif” where you pay a fee as much as you want.

Osteria Conchetta: It is worth going to dinner and try the wonderful risotto with vodka inside the Grana Panado cheese.

Accommodation

We stayed in an Airbnb in the Corrobio area and we loved it as it is close to several sights of the city. But, if you like to stay in a hotel, there are great options too.

Transportation

I’m honestly not very lucky because on the days we were there, there was a taxi strike and me, speaking Italian the way I do, couldn’t t explain exactly where I was to the Uber driver. Imagine…

However, as in all of Europe, it is very easy to use the subway and nice to go places walking and watching.

Unfortunately, we did not have much time to leave Milan, but if you have more time than we had, I recommend taking a Rail Europe train and exploring as much as you can from the old continent.

If you have already been or want to go to Milan, leave a comment with your experiences or expectations.

Xoxo

Dani Baumgardner

www.trivago.com.br

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

[:en]After a very quick trip to my hometown, I thought it would be a good opportunity to show you the city of Rio de Janeiro.

It’s not easy an easy task to summarize the city in which I lived for 20 years in one post, but I will try to share some of my favorite things about the city.

Brazil is a huge country, full of natural beauties and a great cultural mix. However, one of the best known cities in the world is Rio de Janeiro, better known by Brazilians as “a wonderful city.”

Due to its landscape that accommodates urban life between sea and mountains, part of the city was included as a cultural asset in Unesco’s list of World Heritage Sites and is considered an important tourist destination.

Getting ready to go to rio

If you are a foreigner, the first step is to find out if Brazil requires visas for people coming from your country. To consult the official list, click here. You can also go to the official Itamaraty website for more information.

If you are Brazilian, I recommend trying to buy tickets to Santos Dumont Airport (SDU) which serves mostly domestic flights. SDU is an airport closer to the touristic area with a great view upon landing. If the pilots have time they may even give you the scenic view upon landing.

Climate

Brazil is a tropical country and Rio de Janeiro definitely lives up to it. With average temperatures ranging from 73°F to 86 °F with relative humidity of 79% in January (summer) and 64°F at 77°F with relative humidity of 77% in July (winter), we can say it is summer time all year round. However, if you are not used to high temperatures, I recommend you visit the city in the winter, as well as being a less rainy season and a low season, you will not take the risk of going out to see the city on a day when the temperature Reach 113°F  at noon.

Where to stay

This can be a controversial topic, since every Rio has many areas to chose from. However, if it is your first time, I believe that the ideal is to stay in some region with ease of transportation and that is more prepared to receive tourists. The neighborhood that I believe fulfills these requirements very well is Ipanema. Ipanema is a bustling area of the city that counts on beach, commerce, restaurants with bilingual menus, subway station, many bus lines, besides being the cradle of Bossa Nova and the famous Song “Girl from Ipanema”.

There are excellent hotels in the neighborhood, such as the Hotel Fasano and Praia Ipanema Hotel. However, if you are not on the vibe that you stay in hotels or are not willing to shell out money, there are excellent options listed on Airbnb and numerous hostels spread throughout the region.

What to do in Rio

There are a thousand and one options to do in Rio and here are just a few of them:

  • Visit Christ the Redeemer

Undoubtedly, this is the most tourist option of all, but it is part of the “must do” list. Going to Rio and not going to the Christ is like going to New York and not seeing the Statue of Liberty or going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower. You must go!

There are several tour vans that go up to the statue. However, in my opinion, the best way to get up is in Corcovado’s tram. The scenery is much more beautiful and the price is usually better than the chartered vans. What’s more, it’s not too difficult! You can purchase the ticket in advance through the website or at the place of embarkation.

Worth it, believe me! The scenery up there is breathtaking!

  • Ride to the top of Sugar Loaf

Another postcard of the city is the “Pão de Açúcar” hill that has a cable car that connects the stations located in the peaks. Up there you will find restaurants, shops and night clubs, not to mention the beautiful view of part of the city. Also, if you’re lucky, you may come across some little monkeys and beautiful colorful birds.

The sunset seen from Ipanema beach is beautiful. Especially in the summer and if observed from the top of Arpoador Stone. At the end of the afternoon, the Stone is crowded. And do not be frightened, but it is customary that as soon as the sun finishes putting itself, all the people who are watching this spectacle of the nature, begin to applaud.

  • Go to the beaches

Obviously, if you go to Rio, you will have to see the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Barra da Tijuca, which are busiest and easily accessible beaches. However, there are much more than that in Rio and if you have a little more time to explore the city, I recommend getting out of the comfort zone and visiting some more hidden beaches like: Prainha, Grumari Beach, Praia do Perigoso (Being an area of environmental preservation, which can only be accessed through a trail of approximately 40 minutes) and Reserva Beach.

And of course, if you have enough time, it is also worth going to visit other cities beaches in the state of Rio – yes, Rio de Janeiro is a city that is in a homonymous state – but these other cities will have their own Posts here on the blog.

  • Go hiking

As I said in the topic above, there is a trail that gives access to a small and very secluded beach. But if you’re adventurous and want more trail tips, here are some of the ones I like the most:

             – Pedra Bonita: Lasts 25 minutes on average and the peak has a breathtaking view of São Conrado Beach, Dois Irmãos Hill, Pedra da Gávea, Barra da Tijuca and Floresta da Tijuca.

Top of Pedra Bonita

Pedra da Gávea: At 842 meters high, Pedra da Gávea is the largest stone block on the seafront of the world and is just in front of Pedra Bonita. The trail is a bit heavy and lasts around 3 hours, but the view is wonderful from up there!

Morro Dois Irmãos: It lasts approximately 1 hour and at the peak there is a privileged view of the South Zone of the city.

Pedra do Telégrafo: This Stone is famous for the photos that cause the illusion that the person is hanging over an abyss. The trail to the peak also lasts on average 1 hour and overlooks some of Rio’s beaches.

Horto Waterfalls: The duration of the hike is approximately 30 minutes and, given access to some waterfalls, is ideal for cooling off in hot weather.

Note: Before venturing on some trail that you have never done, the ideal is to seek guidance from someone who knows the region and preferably be accompanied by someone who has already done this course.

The Lagoon is the heart of Rio’s South Zone. Take an afternoon for a walk, bike or skate around it.

And if you enjoy the region, you can enjoy staying late and having dinner in one of the live music restaurants that are in the Parque dos Patins region or Lagoon.

  • Saturday night in Lapa:

If you are Bohemian, this is your place!

On Saturday nights, the streets of Lapa close the streets to cars and are taken by all kinds of people. Crowded bars, booming concert halls, hawkers and nightclubs at full throttle!

I recommend a hot in the region of Arcos da Lapa, Leviano Bar or Carioca da Gema and then finish the night in Lapa 40° or Rio Scenarium, the latter used to be an antiquarian and was transformed into a large bar with several floors of music. Live and dance floor with DJ – it is definitely a unique place.

The Baixo Gávea is nothing more than a square with bars around. But since in Brazil there is no restriction on drinking in the street, you can choose your favorite bar and meet with your friends in this square to drink your chopp and have a good chat. The square is crowded on summer evenings!

Tourist point that is worth the photos. It is a colorful staircase made by a plastic artist and gathers tiles from all over the world. The music video “Beautiful” by Pharrell and Snoop Dogg was filmed here!

Where to eat:

    – Confeitaria Colombo do Forte de Copacabana: Traditional confectionery from Rio de Janeiro, founded in 1984 in the center of the city, and currently has a branch in the Forte with a breathtaking view of the Copacabana sea. Ideal for breakfast or afternoon tea.

 – Escola do Pão: As soon as you turn the street corner of the restaurant, you smell the freshly baked breads. The ideal is to go in the morning and pay for the carvery. Excellent brunch!

   – Aprazível: Brazilian restaurant for a perfect lunch in a tropical environment.

Phew … I wrote a lot!

These are just a few of the hints of the millions of possibilities that exist in my Marvelous City.

If you live in Rio or have already visited the city and have any other tips that you have forgotten in this post, write in the comments. 😉

Kisses…. Xoxo!!!! :*

Trip to Cuba

Hi, everyone! I just got back from Cuba and the first thing I have to say is “What an experience!”

On this trip, I learned a lot and I started to see the world in a very different way.

Internet

If you are also thinking of spending a few days in Cuba, be ready to leave your cell phone and social networks aside, as access to the internet is very difficult. As soon as we landed on Cuban territory, we received messages from our mobile operators saying that if we wanted to use the internet, the price would be US$ 2 per megabyte, what means if I decided to watch a 5-minute video on Youtube in a 720p quality, I Would have to spend about $ 75 !!! Crazy, right?

Despite this difficulty, I confess it was one of the most important parts of the whole experience. I learned to value more moments of conversation with my friends at a bar table without getting a flood of notifications on the cell phone or stop talking to scroll my feed.

I also discovered that, yes, 24 hours is enough for a day! lol … You can do a lot when you do not spend so much time on your cell phone.

But if you’re wondering if Cubans still use flip phones, the answer is: no! Almost all of them have smartphones, but the difference is that they only use the internet from time to time. Since to be able to connect, you have to go to a hotel or park where wi-fi available. In general, they only come to post something or download some app that works offline.

Accommodation

We wanted to get the complete experience with Cubans and without all the standardization of hotel services. So, we rented a house on Airbnb and it was definitely a very good decision.

The hostesses were wonderful people and were very concerned about making us feel comfortable. They gave us several tips and were always very nice to us.

If you want to do the same, there are many options available, but I will leave the link of the house that we stayed at the end of this post.

Food

This was what worried me the most since I am a vegetarian and some people had told me I would have a hard time finding food. But, for my surprise, it was not as difficult as I expected.

Two restaurants had specific options for vegetarians. The first one was called “Ideas.” I had an amazing mushroom and vegetable risotto that Ideas served. We went back there 3 times because it was so good! The other one is called Casa Miglis, where I had fried stuffed eggplant dish while enjoying live music and actually become friends with a couple who were part of the band. The night didn’t stop there though. We then went with them to dance and drink some Mojitos in a local bar. Do not expect to have too many snacks during the day, as the only thing I saw people “snacking” on the street was a giant loaf that that is sold by a bakery on the street we stayed in.

Transportation

Unfortunately, public transportation is very precarious and the best option is taxi. However, not all taxis have a meter, so it is important to ask the price before entering and negotiate, so you will not end up paying too much for a 5-minute ride.

People

Cubans are a wonderful and very happy people! Even with few resources, they have a lot of fun and they are extremely kind. Wherever you go, you will always find people willing to help you.

In addition, they are extremely patient people!! That was another valuable lesson I learned from them. Because of the technology, we are used to being impatient, we don’t like waiting for anything. Cuba teaches you patience! And every time we complained about how long something was taking, a Cuban we met called Daniel looked at us calmly and sang “Despacito” (a Luis Fonsi’s song), which means “Slowly” in English. We definitely have a lot to learn from them!

The famous cigars

It’s nearly impossible to talk about Cuba without mentioning Cuban cigars.

Since I do not smoke, that was not a big deal for me, but my husband was very excited to try fresh Cuban cigars – since they are hard to come by in the United States.

Well, make no mistake, many people will offer you unique opportunities to buy boxes at better prices on places called “cooperativas”. These people say it’s a government-authorized sale that only happens once a month and brings together employees from the tobacco factories. All chatting !!! The cigars are original but much more expensive than in the official stores. Keep an eye on it because we fall for it. It is more worth buying at the airport than from these people selling at home.

Politics

It doesn’t matter how hard you insist. Cubans do not talk about politics!

Many of them deny that they can not speak because of the dictatorial regime, but every time we asked, the answer was the same: “I do not talk about politics.”

However, everyone is unanimous in saying that even with the country’s bad situation, they pride themselves on having free health and education, having no children living on the streets and practically no violence – it means, if you go to Cuba, you don’t have to worry about using your cell phone on the streets, jewelry, expensive cameras or walking late at night because the city is very safe.

One of them even confessed me that he does not like the economic policies adopted in the country and another one said he does not like the lack of free speech, but it was the most that I could hear from them.

What to do in Havana

Plaza de La Revolución: Plaza famous for the famous murals with the photos of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos.

Memorial a José Martí: Located in front of the Plaza de la Revolución is the monument dedicated to José Martí.

Plaza de La Catedral: Square where you can find the baroque-style cathedral called San Cristobal de la Havana Cathedral.

Capitólio Nacional: An imposing building from the 1920s that is worth checking out.

Old car’s ride: You can find many of these cars available to ride in the Central Plaza of Havana and the price is charged per hour.

Playa Santa Maria del Mar (Mar Azul): The beach of Varadero is unmatched, but if you are a little bit of time to lose on the road, an alternative is a local beach, Playa Mar Azul, which has much fewer tourists and is Just 25 minutes from downtown Havana.

Viva Cuba!

Xoxo

Dani <3