Hot Zone

It is now officially ‘fall’ here which means that the temperature has been dropping and we are experiencing a bit of a cold and rainy front (highs of 74!). I know you are reading this and either thinking ” 74 degrees is not cold!” or “jealous/she doesn’t need it to rub it in, I wouldn’t be complaining about 74 degrees right now”… Anyways, it is cold here and you will see a report on the ‘winter fashion’ soon. On a ‘cold’ rainy day when you live in a beach town what do you do for excitement besides go to a movie? Head over to Hot Zone in Barra Shopping, the ‘Dave & Busters’ of Brazil.

Hot Zone is one of the most modern indoor game zones with 2,000 square meters of pure games and rides chaos!  Over 150 game devices ie: driving games (like above), ‘jump shot’ the basketball game, air hockey, shooting games, dance dance revolution, as well as your favorite ‘chuck-e-cheese’ style games- squirting a water gun to fill up a water balloon, hitting the little ground hogs (don’t even pretend you don’t know what I am talking about!)

There were also some very interesting crazy rides… Yes you are reading correctly, rides in the mall, there was the ‘pirate ship’ that swings back and forth, that ‘tower of terror’ style ride, an ‘auto track’ bumper car style, and a 3D roller coaster (shown above) you sit inside a box while it rocks, flips, twists and turns you as you travel through a virtual roller coaster.  Check out the video:

Virtual Roller coaster produced by Pamela Granoff on WellcomeMat

Of course playings games is even more fun when you win tickets (we won 550)! At the end, after your tickets are counted up there are tons of little items and large ones (6500 tickets and you get a tv!) for you to take home as your souvenir for the day.  Perfect place for kids of ALL ages;)

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A Tour of Sitio Burle Marx…

Burle Marx was a Brazilian visionary landscape architect as well as a painter, ecologist, naturalist, artist… you name it, he’s done it. He is responsible for the small black and white tiles flowing like waves along the entire beach promenade.  The creative use of tiles continues throughout the city- a stunning work of art, and a challenge for those in heals to walk on (It is quite challenging, and walking around, you will notice many people decked out in nice clothes, with Havianas on their feet!)

I took a trip up to his Santo Antonio da Bica sítio in Barra de Guaratiba, an estate he purchased in 1949 to store his plant collection. In 1985 after he passed away the property was donated to the Brazilian government in trust for posterity and has become a National Monument. FYI– You have to make an appointment to visit (9:30am or 1:30pm slots available) and it costs R$8 when you arrive.

It is beautiful, as one would expect from South America’s foremost landscape architect, and holds an important tropical botanical collection. In this first section (above) while walking through I actually felt like I was inside my favorite childhood book The Secret Garden. When we reached the agave area (below)it felt more like a scene from a Dr Suess book, each area had something unique that you could relate to- in my case send me back to my childhood. There are more than 3,500 different species of plants! Unfortunately there are also about 3,500 mosquito’s—remember to use bug spray!!! I am SO itchy now:(

The sítio has a marvelous house which was unfortunately under construction while we were there and a small Benedictine chapel that dates back to the 17th century; dedicated to St. Anthony, featuring a small shrine to Our Lady of Aparecida, one of Brazil’s patron saints.  You can still attend mass or even get married there if you want to, its been beautifully restored and you almost feel transported to the 17th century when you enter.

There are a number of sculptures scattered throughout the massive gardens, unfortunately none of the water sculptures were up and running but we were able to enjoy the wooden sculptures surrounding his huge studio (more like its own house).  The below is my favorite.  The piece of wood it was found on a sunken ship and carved into an image or Christ with people holding on to his beard and body trying to be saved.  With exquisite detail, I found it to be quite moving.

This is a little corner of Rio that Burle Marx left for the world to marvel, experience and learn from.

If you take a morning tour, head over to Grumari or Prainha to catch some waves or just relax on the gorgeous beaches

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