Day 21—Coos Bay, OR to Humboldt, CA

  Waking up in Coos Bay, Oregon…

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Gluten free pancakes at Pancake Mill – yum!!

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Checking out Mingus Park…

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Driving down the Oregon coast…

Taking a hike from a random trailhead…

Made it back to California!

Redwood Gate to the Golden State!

One of our favorite parks…

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park…

Driving to Albee Creek Campground…


Double Duathlon

Post V-day workout at (the very dry) Lake Folsom.  Henning and I competed in a double duathlon (run-bike-run-bike-run) with Greg!

Thanks to Dan, Baxter & Milo for coming out to watch us!  :)

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We beat Greg!  (…just barely!)

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Northern California—Day 2.1!

This area of California is SO BEAUTIFUL that it deserves an extra day in the blog…

PART 2:  Braving the light rain and giant puddles to visit… Fern Canyon!

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View from above…

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View from below…

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Watching the fog roll in by the beach…

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Dinner in the cabin…

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Road Trip Day 5!!—Santa Barbara

Henning and I found a pure gem in Santa Barbara called Brummis… Veronika was so nice, and the German food was so good!  Highly recommend!

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Walking it off at the Carpinteria Bluffs…

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Toes in the sand in Santa Barbara…

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We couldn’t help but go back to Brummis’ for our last meal in the area…  Veronika even had a window seat saved for us!

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Road Trip Day 1!!—Big Sur

The rest of the day was pretty overcast, but I HAD to share these photos!
These are unedited photo images – look at that blue!!



Photos from the rest of the day, visiting Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (Big Sur).  Have I mentioned I love California…?



California coast foliage and California coast sedimentary rock.
Can you spot the lizard?


Rock formations…




McWay Creek and McWay Falls…






Jessie Messie

Jessie leaves tonight for her new job in New Zealand.  She wanted to see the California coast one more time, so Ricky and I took her out to Half Moon Bay.

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The fog is one of my favorite things about the Bay Area.

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Love Crystal Springs…

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Most of all, love my Jessie Messie!

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Barcelona—Day 2

I just couldn’t pick, sorry…  The good photos are courtesy my mom.

A morning run with Steve… and construction… it’s a good day already.

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“Tolerance and patience… are much deeper and more effective than mere indifference.” –Dalai Lama

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…La Boqueria Market…

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…pimientos de padron…

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…tour around town…

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…Olympic Park on Montjuic Hill…

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…first time in the Mediterranean Sea!…

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…stopping to listen to musicians play… nostalgia…

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…hidden courtyards…

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…dinner by the beach with the whole family…



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…oh, the classy and classic doesn’t end…

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Michigan—Day 2

We’re in Michigan—whutt!?!?

Pillows my mom and I made for Wes and Jamie!
(Michigan is not 100% accurate… we tried!)

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I stayed at Wes and Jamie’s place last night – love the accent walls!

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Driving to Mackinaw City!

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View of Lake Huron from our room!

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Walking around town…

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Mackinac Bridge… 3rd longest suspension bridge in the country!
(Verrazano-Narrows and the Golden Gate have spans just a little longer.)

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Memorial Day Fireworks at night, as seen from our hotel room balconies!

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Felt a little better Monday.  Met up with Malin, who was also in Mumbai for the day, and did a short tour around town before eventually meeting up with Saurabh and Prachi (who’s wedding I’m here to attend) and some of Prachi’s family for dinner.  It was very generous of them to invite us to eat.  I had definitely felt very welcome in India thus far.  By the way, Saurabh and Prachi are SUCH a cute couple.  I’m very happy and excited for them!

Gateway of India
Honestly, I was bit disappointed the Gateway… because it was built for King George V and Queen Mary…DSCN4031

Mumbai HarborDSCN4025

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Hanging Gardens.  Pretty!  (but it was so hot…)DSCN4046

A small homage to the terrible dyed red hair of the older men in India…DSCN4049

Malin haggling for bananas and papaya at a fruit stand in the lovely suburban Juhu neighborhood.DSCN4062





Paraty—Day 2

Here are some more pictures from Paraty.

You’d think that such a small town wouldn’t need more than say… 5 churches…. Guess I was wrong!





We went down to the docks to catch a schooner (escuna) to tour the neighboring beaches and islands.  These boats we passed along the way were a bit smaller, but so cute and colorful!



Some guy who caught a fish!



Finally made it to our boat at the end of the dock.  Here’s the lower deck.  There was a cute guy playing acoustic guitar, while people just lay out.  Paradise, eh?


Hannah and I managed to steal a spot on the top deck so we could enjoy the beautiful sunlight and view of the islands!


Beach stop #1.  “Squid Beach”


Look at these blue waters!  We had the choice to either descend via ladder, or simply jump off the boat.  Sorry to say, I chose the more boring option. 

We also had the option to use a “noodle” in the water, or to swim on our own.  Those who know me well, will be proud to know that I swam to shore and back on my own for one of the stops!  (I was a bit lazy the other times….)


Beach #3… I think.  They were all pretty, and blend into each other haha.  I think this was the one where someone lent us their mask to look underwater at the fish.


Hannah looking cute.


Hannah took a picture of this random guy’s tattoo, to add to the “stupid tattoos” collection.  We could make an entire blog dedicated to the topic, based on my 3 weeks in Brazil.


As our schooner was the last to return to dock, there wasn’t much space for us between the other boats.  I truly thought we would just have to jump onto another boat to get to land.  Of course… that was me being pessimistic, and American. 

Tem jeito…” as the Brazilians would put it.
There always seems to be a way….


This is how close we were to the boats on each side. 
Glad those tires were put to good use!


After that fun ordeal, we wandered through town.  After almost giving up, we found a little place that had all the food we were looking for!  Homemade pizza, aipim frito, and juices!  Well… couldn’t find pesto pasta, but this was a great second.  And for half the price as the other options!


While we were eating, there was a 10-minute downpour, and we watched as people ran into the church across the street.  (Act of God?  just kidding…)


After the rain died down, we wandered through the historical center looking for alcohol.  Found something better – tapioca!  It’s a chewy pancake made with tapioca flour, filled with cheese and sweet fruit goodness.


We then discovered some kind of music event going on in the main plaza.  Live music, laser light show, young kids, and alcohol!




Hannah and I sat down to listen to the music, people-watch, and share a very strong passionfruit caipirinha.

We took many pictures (per true Brazilian fashion) of ourselves, but could never really get a picture with both of our eyes open through the flash.

Speaking of fashion, check out the lady’s outfit in the background.  There’s the real gem of this picture.  Love it!


We made it back to the hostel to sleep, just as everyone else was gearing up to go out to the party haha.  I guess that makes us old…

Anyway, I had a great time in Paraty.  It was a great, quaint town, and I wouldn’t mind taking a short relaxing trip back some day in the future.


Paraty—Day 1

After breakfast, Hannah and I went to the bus station and just barely (…ya…) made it onto the 10am bus to Trinidade, a ‘bohemian’ town 45 minutes away (over the hills and through the floresta) with some beautiful beaches.

Beach #1 Praia do Meio


Lunch at the only place in town (i.e. one street….) advertising yakisoba.  SO worth the 12 $Reals!

One of the owner’s kids, who had smashed her pink Play-Dough into the mat of the restaurant.  She was trying to pick it out of the mat before her mom saw… pretty unsuccessfully… LOL


Beach #2: Praia dos Ranchos.

VERY interesting weather.  From our spot on the beach, here was the view to the left….


…and here was the view to the right…


We still got some great sun.  Along with mmmm….good fruit juices (I tried acerola!) and agua com gas.  And aipim frito!  (fried manioc, so good.)

Here’s a weiner dog that was wandering through the tables.
1) Dogs in Trinadade all looked so happy!
2) There is sand on this dog’s nose, because the couple next to him dropped a piece of aipim frito on the sand for him!
3) CUTIE!!!



At some point in the afternoon, the sun was making me tired, so Hannah snapped this picture to share with all of you.


Around 4 or 5, the sun was getting a little low with the clouds, so we took the bus back.  Here was a random site on the drive back into Paraty (on the main street).  Lots of horses!  And men with matching shirts.


More random, actually, was a horse and buggy riding this morning through the bus station… lol.  Unfortunately no picture.

After lounging around, we eventually had dinner at a good (and cheap!) a-kilo restaurant in town.  Walked toward the historical center in search of a good caipirinha spot, and instead stopped in the SorveTerapia (Sorvete = Ice cream / Terapia = Therapy)… which is a self-serve pay-by-weight ice cream shop.  Like Yogurt Land, but with locally-made ice cream!  I tried a little bit of all the fruit flavors we don’t have back home.  My favorite was Jacote’, which is a fruit I have never heard of or seen.


Paraty, aside from its quaint center and beautiful beaches, is also known for making cachaca, the liquor used in Brazil’s famous caipirinhas.  So we stopped by the “Cachaca Emporium” (a little shop with hundreds of cachaca options) to have a few sips and buy a few goodies.


During dinner yesterday, I was messing around with the cell phone I’ve been using here (my cousin Steve’s unlocked phone, with Rio SIM card).  There are some pretty old pictures, as the phone as ‘been around’ … the world, literally.  I found this photo taken a few years ago, and put it as the background on the phone.  Isn’t my mom pretty??  :)  As sad as I will be to leave Brazil in a few days, I am also excited to get home and spend Thanksgiving with my family.  A lot of people thought it was crazy to cut a vacation shorter for a tradition or for people who will always be there.  On the contrary, it wouldn’t be tradition if it weren’t upheld!  That’s my take, at least.


Arite, off to bed.  I am officially CAUGHT UP with blogging (no longer retroactively posting)!

And will be back in California on Monday!


Salvador — Day 5

Last day in Salvador!  :(

I have really grown comfortable to living here in the hostel in Barra, to making great friends, and to going out for fun times with all the travelers I’m meeting.  (Thank god for facebook!)

Today (Friday), after packing up my belongings and checking out of the hostel (!!), I went with Zani and Cassie to Pelourinho, so that we could take the Lacerda elevator down to the giant tourist-market-warehouse.  After some fun time walking around, Zani broke out her fancy camera to take some fancy pictures, while Cassie and I acted as body/camera-guards, watching for suspicious people.  She took some great pictures of the colorful jewelry and other offerings around the outdoor portion of the market.

Then Cassie went to tour Pelourinho, while Zani and I returned to Barra to join all the boys on the beach.  It was a lot of fun.  There’s always a new person or two to chat with.  In addition, there was a little Brazilian kid today who befriended some of the girls from the Netherlands (I think?), and asked to be buried in the sand.  Interesting dynamic for all of us, going between being entertained and suspicious at the same time.  In the end, all was well.

Made some dinner, watched some TV, had my last free caipirinha, and now how about an hour until my taxi ride to the airport for my night bus to Lençóis and its natural beauty.  I’ll probably have to blog retroactively (which I’ve been doing anyway….) when I get back to Rio.

Until then, much love and kisses to home.


Salvador — Day 4

Day 4, went on a day-long tour up the coast north of Salvador.

The first quick stop was on the very northern edge of the city, where there was a lagoon (Lagoa do Abaeté) that was quite nice.  It’s too bad we didn’t get to stay and admire it for more than a few minutes.

Next we drove up to Praia do Forte, and visited the Tamar Sea Turtle Project by the beach.  Brazil has 5 of the 7 species of sea turtles in the world, and is making an effort to help protect those species.

Big turtles…!

…baby turtles!…

 …not a turtle.  A really big deep-water fish–the first of its kind–was found in the area…

 Seashells bathrooms!  Fun!

 After some wandering time at Praia do Forte (“the beach of the fort”), we drove to Guarajuba.  Cassie, Peter and I had lunch (a bunch of fried fishes and aipim a.k.a. cassava) along the beach.  A guy made a painting in front of us on a 7″x7″ ceramic tile.  It was really nice, so I offered to buy it.  10$ Reals!  Which is like… $6 USD.  Crazy.

 We then hung out on the beach… practically had it to ourselves.  It was a bit windy.  The waters were choppy, but warm.

We also saw a pretty big crab!

Had a pretty long ride back on the bus to Salvador, but eventually made it home!

I went out for pizza with Zani, and we had a nice long talk about life and love.  Then went back to the hostel and had a few beers for the night. 

The end. (for Day 4…)


Salvador — Day 3

Along the way through Day 2 and Day 3, we collected a group of Californians/Brits/Aussies, which was great fun.  :)

We went to the beach for a few hours in Barra in the morning.  There are a few beaches, and this one is the best for swimming.  Great water, and it wasn’t TOO crowded.

Peter, Jamie, Clyde, Mike, Zanie.  I have no idea how long I’ll be able to retain the names of all these great people I’ve met along the way!

After the beach, we went into the Historical Center to buy tickets for a dance show later that night.  Got our tickets succesfully (!), and wandered the square asking around for a good place to eat lunch.  We were directed to (then gave up, then found) a great and cheap a-kilo restaurant, with a view to boot!

After lunch, we leisurely made our way back to Barra.  Got a little lost in the backstreets, but all was find.  There are so many friendly people in Salvador, who helped us navigate our way.

Clyde being silly.  Ben photographing.  The rest of us trying to act cool.

Made it back to Barra, had a relaxed afternoon, and made it back to Pelourinho for the show.  It had some samba, capoeira, and a few other traditional dances (fire dance, fisherman’s dance, etc).  After the show, went out for a few drinks and “dinner” (the guys just tried a bunch of bolinhos — fried balls), and back to the hostel.


Salvador — Day 2

My second morning in Salvador, I went back to the historical center to have a look at the Afro-Brazilian museum.  I happened to enter at the same time as an American tour group, so I got to hear some explanations in English, despite the fact that I was able to read the Portuguese texts and titles pretty well by themselves.

One of the more fun pieces…

One of my favorites… an Argentinian-Brazilian artist made these wood panels to represent the different Candomble gods.  This artist is the same who created all the iron gates and fences around the big parks/squares in the city.

Also notable was the hidden archeology museum downstairs of the Afro-Brazilian Museum.

Afterward, I wandered down to the Pelourinho square to meet Hannah’s friend Becky for lunch.  There are some steps to sit on and look out upon the square, watching the people–residents, tourists, salesmen–as they pass by.

I also had a look at some of these colorful paintings that I LOVE.  They are all around Salvador, and really speak to the color and life of the area.

After a nice simple lunch at the a-kilo, I happened to pass the Catedral Basilica as it re-opened for the day, and ran into Rob.  We had a somewhat in-depth conversation about Buddhism and other parts of life, as we sat in the pews and admired the church.

Eventually made our way back to the Barra neighborhood.  We were on a bus that for some reason or another refused to stop for us, so it took us an extra half mile up the beach.  On the walk back, we stopped at Salvador’s Jesus statue (guess everywhere’s gotta have one…) and got a nice view of the local beaches.

….and some awesome lizards!…

After dinner, we all went back to the Pelourinho area for some live music, part of every week’s “Blessing Tuesdays” festivities.


As an aside, this is often how açaí is served here in Salvador.  It’s dark dark purple, in a bowl, often with a little banana and crunchy granola.


Salvador — Day 1

On the morning of my first full day in Salvador, I met some new friends at breakfast who were headed my direction for the day.  Rob, Dom, Miro and I took a walk down to the beach here in the Barra neighborhood…

…ordered some açaí at the corner juice bar…

…then took a bus north to the Historic Center (Pelourinho) of town.

I LOVE the color of the buildings here in Pelourinho.  I also love that there are coconut-shaped telephone booths….

…here’s one of the plazas (praças) in front of the São Francisco Church and Convent…

…closer up…

…inside… so much gold!…

…steps inside the convent, to the second floor of the cloisters…
if you just glance, almost looks like graffiti!  but old… and religious….

Then we took the Lacerda elevator from “Upper City” to “Lower City,” where the big market — and most of the city’s commerce — is located.

 …nice view of Salvador…

I’m telling everyone now that souvenirs are… not really happening.  Sorry!

After a nice walk around the indoor and outdoor markets, we took a bus back to Barra, in time for a few short hours on the beach, and sunset from the lighthouse nearby.

Had dinner at the hostel, and got a nice early night’s sleep.  :)


Rio de Janeiro–Day 4.5–David Guetta

Crazy night.

Friday night, we went to see David Guetta DJ at the big Rio Centro Convention Center.  He’s known for such radio hits as “Love is Gone,” “Getting’ Over,” “Sexy Bitch,” etc.

The convention center was pretty much at the farthest end of town, so we decided to take the bus instead of a $55 taxi.  Honestly, when it came to about midnight, we were pretty sure the bus wouldn’t come.  AND THEN IT DID!  And it was amazing.

Me, Hannah, and Kaylena on the bus (after we finally got seats!  It was a packed party bus!)…




After we had passed the 10 checkpoints to get into the concert (no drinks, ID, ticket, purse, ticket, ticket, etc…).  They’re so cute in their outfits!



David Guetta finally started playing at 3am….!!



For a while we thought he was saying “Sao Paolo” and it was really confusing because we were like…. we’re not Sao Paolo, we’re Rio…. but I think he was comparing the cities.  It really was so tough to hear anything he said haha.  Even though it was in English!



… [and the word that comes after it.]  ; P


There were THOUSANDSSSS of people in this place.

It go to the point where half of the guys just ditched their shirts.  I had to get a shot of this guy’s back because… it just doesn’t get much more Brazil than that….!


After the show finished at 6am (!) we FINALLY made it onto a cramped bus, after watching full bus after full bus pass us by.


Once our bus driver realized the impossible traffic jam that would be involved with his normal route, he backed the bus up about 150 yards to take us on a wild detour around all the traffic.  A few other cars had a similar idea, and this one in front of us literally turned around in traffic.  Hannah, Kaylena and I were sitting on the dashboard…. perfect spot to witness it all!


We finally made it back to Ipanema after 7 in the morning, and walked the few blocks along the beach in the rain to get home.


Sand sculpture that someone has been working on for a while on the Ipanema beach.  I finally got to take a picture, without people in the way!


Slept in til around noon, and now headed out to enjoy Rio Day 5, despite the now-torrential downpouring rain.  : )


Oh PS… Akon and the cast of Fast and the Furious were at the concert.  Apparently Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Ludacris and co. are within a few miles of us, in Rio filming Fast and the Furios 5.  Crazy!

Rio de Janeiro–Day 2

Okay, so from here on out, I’ll likely be including more than one picture from each day during my travels.  It just not worth picking ONE picture to share an experience that is not “everyday” for either me or anyone else reading this.


The view from Hannah’s apartment, which is on the 9th floor of a building overlooking Praça General Osorio, one of the busier squares of the Ipanema neighborhood. 

I went downstairs to one of the juice bars on the corners, to order a Pão com Queijo Minas (soft kind of cheese, in French roll) for breakfast, which was amazing.  My first lesson in ordering in Portuguese by myself…. was NOT amazing… but I’m working on it.  For the record, “…to go” in Portuguese is “para viagem.”  Now I know…

Anyway, then I went on a walk around town.  Walked past the beach, then walked up to the park/reservoir that serves as the division between the Ipanema and Leblon (two wealthiest Rio) neighborhoods.


Here is a view as you enter the park.  Good shading, good benches, and a view of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) in the background.

On the left is the reservoir.  I was amused to see not only people, but also a white crane (Tai Chi, anyone?) watching the leisurely fishermen with their nets.



Then I strolled northward to the lake (Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas), which is a good 3 or 4 miles in circumference.  I didn’t walk the whole thing today, just enough to get a taste, and to feel my mouth salivate from the Agua de Coco (coconut water… from a freshly sliced-open coconut) stands.  I have yet to indulge; will tell you  how that goes in the future.


Anyhow, here are some views from the south side of the lake.  Rio is a very active community – lots of runners, walkers, bikers, even roller bladers – and the lake gives them a great place to practice their activity of choice.  Rio has a lot of individual hills (morros), which is also where the individual favelas (shanty towns) are.  Rio is one of the only places I have ever heard of, where the poor live up on the hill.  Of course, it’s because no public services (police, fire department, waste management, utilities) will go up there…  The story would be a lot different if Rio didn’t have miles and miles of beautiful beaches.


I really think these hills are amazing.  Again, you can see Christ the Redeemer on Morro do Corcovado in the background.  There’s another morro on the left, and another two on the right. 


On my stroll back to the apartment to meet Hannah for lunch, I noticed that a lot of the trees have flowers and other plants grafted to them.  This one’s for my mom!


Lunch with Hannah at a local restaurant/brewery Devasse (Rio’s equivalent of “Gordon Biersch”… it also has PARIS HILTON as its spokesperson).  We ordered off the menu of almoços, or the menu executivo, which has set lunch specials for a cheaper price than most entrees.  Hannah got beef with an egg, rice, beans, and farofa (toasted manioc flour).  I got a shrimp escondidinho (a kind casserole made with manioc flour and a soft creamy cheese) with herbed rice and salad.  And a tiny Devassa Ruiva (red ale) for kicks.  Mmm!


After lunch and a short break, I walked down to the beach, which is 2 BLOCKS from Hannah’s apartment.  You can see more random hills/islands out in the middle of the ocean, which is beautiful.  I went later in the afternoon, so it wasn’t too hot.  I just read my book and enjoyed a tiny bit of sun.


I stayed til sunset (still loving the hills!), then had dinner with Hannah at a Brazilian chain restaurant called Koni, which has sit-down but quick-service Japanese hand rolls, plus sushi and yakisoba.  Yet again, another great meal.

After dinner, met Hannah’s friend Kaylena, so we could discuss the David Guetta concert that I supposedly agreed to attend with them on Friday.  And somehow it’s now almost 1AM…. 

Tomorrow will involve my first adventure using Brazilian metro, and I will get to see the Centro of the city!

Ate logo,