Wednesday, January 31, 2007

One Night Only

It took three flights and changing planes in Lisbon and Madrid, but I made it to Central London around 4 p.m. this afternoon.

My flight on TAP, the airline of Portugal, was quite an adventure. We left Rio over an hour late. Nearly all of the lavatories on the flight didn't work (which is a problem on a 9 hour flight). And they didn't board potable water so they couldn't brew coffee or tea. And when we arrived in Lisbon the baggage delivery belt broke after spitting out the first four bags and it took thirty minutes to fix.

If I were still on my originally booked British Airways flight to London from Lisbon I would have missed it. But because of the threat of a strike (which ended up getting settled) I was re-booked on an Iberia flight that left 90 minutes later so it worked out OK.

Tomorrow I'm off to Marrakech, Morocco in the northwest corner of the Continent of Africa. I'm not sure what to expect in terms of internet access, but I'll be blogging as I can. Otherwise I return to London on Sunday night.

According to my site meter, this blog hit a new high with over 850 visitors in January.

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One of the hotest new plays in London is "Frost/Nixon" about the famous 1977, post-resignation interviews. I saw it tonight at the Gielgud Theatre.

It stars Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as David Frost.

This may seem like an unlikely topic for an interesting show, but it is absolutely gripping. Nixon desperate for a return and Frost in need of a carreer comeback of his own.

The play is written by Peter Morgan, who is something of a hot property right now. He also wrote the screenplay for "The Queen" and "The Last King of Scotland."

Sheen, best known for portraying Tony Blair in "The Queen" does a great job playing Frost as a man who comes to realize he may have bitten off more than he can chew, both in terms of going nose-to-nose with Nixon as well as financing the project (including paying Nixon).

But Frank Langella absolutely steals the show as Nixon. His performance is not a caricature a la Dan Ackroyd's Nixon. Nor is it a "tribute." Langella brings the brooding, street-fighting Nixon back to life.

This show's going to win a bunch of Olivier Awards (London's Tonys). And after it closes this month it's moving to Broadway where it will conquer as well.

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The new Terminal 4 at the Madrid Airport is quite something to see. It opened last year. I last passed through this airport on December 24, 2005 and this new terminal is a huge improvement. Posted by Picasa

One last picture from Rio: I guess they're starting to anticipate Carnival late in February. This mannequin went up in my hotel lobby sometime Tuesday afternoon between noon and 4 p.m. Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hello, Gorgeous

Spent a lovely afternoon at the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens. It was founded by Portuguese King Joao VI who, in 1808, fearing the fall of Lisbon to Napoleon moved his entire court (including 15,000 nobles, knights and courtiers) to Rio.

Tomorrow night I'm going in the opposite direction as I bid adieu to South America and fly to Lisbon on TAP. From there I'm flying on Iberia to Madrid and then on to London, where I'm supposed to land Wednesday afternoon.
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This flower is about the size of your hand. Posted by Picasa
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Out of nowhere I got choked-up thinking about Grandmother Green -- who died last year -- in the Rose Garden. She always had beautiful roses in her backyard in WilmingtonPosted by Picasa

Perhaps My Favorite Bird-Watcher can I.D.this small bird I spotted. Posted by Picasa

Here's a close-up. Posted by Picasa

The colorful growths seen here appear to be coming from inside the tree, not simply growing on the the trunk. Posted by Picasa

Drinking fountain. Posted by Picasa

A River Runs Through It. Posted by Picasa
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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Good Day to Be a Carioca

The sun was out and it was absolutely gorgeous on Ipanema Beach today. Occasionally a cloud would float by and give a short respite from the hot sun.

("Cariocas" is what the people of Rio de Janeiro call themselves. I'm not an honorary Carioca yet, but I'm working on it.) Posted by Picasa

On Sundays everyone likes to pack in real tight on Ipanema Beach. And between all the people talking (and flirting) and the vendors walking by and touting their goods (sandwiches, sodas, agua, cerveza, fruit salad, sunscreen, empanadas, freshly opened coconuts, and several items I haven't figured out yet) it's hardly peaceful on the beach. It's a party on the sand. And I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Posted by Picasa

Apartment buildings and hotel line Ipanema BeachPosted by Picasa

A sand sculpture (in need of some touch-ups) along Ipanema BeachPosted by Picasa

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Always Wear a Clean Shirt

Drug my tired self to the Buenos Aires airport this morning to fly back to Rio. What a delight to find out my coach ticket had been upgraded to First Class. Turns out coach was oversold and they had to move a couple of people up front and I was one of the lucky ones they picked. When flying I always try and dress as though I wouldn't be out of place in First Class. It worked today and made the two and a half hour flight much more enjoyable.

Above is a photo of a corner cafe a block away from the Ipanema Plaza Hotel. I haven't eaten there but it looks interesting to me.

The sun was out this afternoon and I spent some time on the beach. Hopefully it will be sunny tomorrow for the traditional Sunday big day at la playa.
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All Politics is Local

Stopped by Cafe Tortoni this evening. Opened in 1858 and located roughly halfway between the headquarters of Argentina's executive branch (Casa Rosada) and the legislative branch (Congreso Building) it is considered the most politically important cafe in the nation.

Later today I'm leaving Buenos Aires to return to Rio de Janeiro. Actually, my flight is in three and a half hours. BA's late-night nightlife, blogging and early morning flights don't make for a good combination.

But "whatever." I can sleep on the plane and how many Friday nights in BA will I have in my life?
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Stopped by the Congreso Building at the end of the day, but it was getting too dark to get any good photos. Posted by Picasa

Major thunderstorms hit Buenos Aires today. But we got a pretty rainbow afterwards.

I didn't mind being holded up in my hotel room for a while. It gave me a chance to fix my British Airways problem. In anticipation of a cabin crew strike next week, BA has cancelled nearly all flights on Tuesday and Wednesday (including mine from Lisbon to London). Fortunately I was able to rebook on Iberia (via Madrid) and I should still make it to London Wednesday in time for the Olivier nominated "Frost/Nixon" at the Gielgud TheatrePosted by Picasa