As the new year begins, it feels like the right time to look back at 2013 and think about the year. PJ and I agree that 2013 was a pretty great year for us. We traveled, enjoyed museums, music, and theater, saw friends and family, and generally appreciated the life we have made together. Since I didn’t blog much in 2013, I plan to write a series of short(ish) posts about the things we did and saw in 2013. These will then lead into my annual favorites lists. Hopefully I’ll get them all done before work takes up all of my time again!

This post will be about our travels in 2013. We only made it to New York City once in 2013, which was significantly less than in 2012 (when I was there three times!). Conversely, I visited San Antonio three times in 2013. My younger sister and her husband had their first child in 2012, and I’m totally in love with her. I’ll be going back a lot in the coming years. For our annual summer trip abroad we returned to South America and visited four places in Brazil. It was a whirlwind tour of the country during their early winter, but it was a wonderful experience. And we visited Seattle for the first time to visit one of PJ’s longtime friends and her wife. All of the trips were great, but I thought I would post a few pictures and comments from just two of the trips here: Brazil and Seattle.

Brazil

Brazil is a beautiful country. We were there before the riots; if we had gone after them, it might have changed our perspective somewhat. We started in Rio de Janeiro. We spent our first afternoon on the beach. I enjoyed watching this guy, who seemed to be gay or trans, braiding women’s hair for a small fee:

Maybe we were just hungry, but the cheap lunch we had that day was great — I had a ham and cheese crepe with a local beer. Yummy! We also tried fish balls — balls of fish meat that were battered and then deep-fried.

The second way when our tour started. We visited the Catedral Metropolitana de Sao Sebastiao after a brief drive around some of the downtown sites:

We then rode the cable car up to the summit of Pao de Acucar, or Sugar Loaf.

This is the view  of Rio from the cable car. Surprisingly, the cable car didn’t bother me, but once we were up on the mountain, my vertigo set in!

Our tour group then had lunch, after which we had a little time to walk around the Ipanema beach nearby. We quickly saw that this is the beach we should have stayed at, since it had a great gay area:

I took a whole series of pictures of the local guys in speedos! We then boarded our tour bus again and went to our final stop, Corcovado, where we saw the famous statue of Christ up close:

The views from up there was amazing, but my vertigo really kicked into high gear while we were there. PJ still complains about to this day!

Our second stop was the Foz do Iguacu, the widest falls in the world:

This is just one of dozens of pictures of the falls we took. We got to get right up close to them — there were several places where you could stand next to and almost right under the falls. In the picture above, you can see a boat in the river. We took one of those later that day. The boat takes you under some of the falls, and you can’t help but get completely soaked. It was one of the most fun things we’ve ever done. I was laughing hysterically with joy!

Throughout the park coatimundis roam freely:

One walked right along side PJ — less than a foot away from him — on a trail for little bit. The second day we were there we went to the Parque das Aves, a bird sanctuary. We saw all kinds of Brazilian birds, which really makes me want to do on an Amazon cruise someday so that we can see more! My favorite part of the bird zoo was when we walked into a large enclosed area with all of the birds flying around us.

A couple of the birds kept dive-bombing people, seemingly just for fun. At the end of the zoo, you could get your picture taken with a macaw on your arm. We did it twice each. The second time the macaw bit my arm unexpectedly! It hurt, but it was still so cool to have one of them sitting on my arm.

Our third stop of Salvador, which is where Michael Jackson shot part of a music video once. It has a lot of beautiful colonial buildings. It rained quite a bit while we were there, making it kind of dark and drizzly most of the time we were there.

We also visited a lighthouse near our hotel, which was interesting. It felt like we didn’t get to see much, since it was rainy and we were only there for a day and a half. But we did see some interesting churches and learned a bit about the city’s history and culture.

Our last stop was Recife. If our stay in Salvador seemed brief, Recife was even shorter. We were there less than 24 hours. Ultimately, this is a place we would love to visit again and see more of. The weather was nicer than it had been in Salvador, and the city looked beautiful.

One of the things that interested me was the restoration of the city’s historical buildings, like these. I have to admit that Recife is mostly a blur to me. It was the end of the trip, so I was getting tired, and we had so little time there.

All in all, Brazil was a beautiful country. I’d love to go back some day in their summer to really enjoy the tropical weather and see more of it.

Seattle

Shortly after coming home from Brazil, we visited friends in Seattle for the first time. I was skeptical of it for a number of reasons, but it was a really delightful weekend trip. One of the highlights was the solstice parade, which begins with lots of naked people (though most of them had body paint on) riding their bikes.

While you quickly get over seeing all of the breasts, pubes, and penises, it felt really liberating to see this many people having so much fun naked. I doubt that I’ll be come a nudist any time soon, but I can see its appeal!

We ended the day in a park overlooking the bay with a bottle of champagne while one of the bands from the parade played. It was glorious!

While the parade sticks out s a highlight of the trip, we also visited the Chihuly Museum, which was actually quite nice. An entire museum of his work could be a bit much, but I liked it and thought the works were very beautiful. We also visited the EMP Museum, which features works of music, sci fi, and pop culture, and the Olympic Park Sculpture Garden.

It was idyllic, and, if Ohio doesn’t get its act together soon, maybe we’ll go back and get married there!

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