Tag Archives: Weekend

A Place to Visit in Our Own Campinas!

28 Aug

I love public spaces. Great public spaces are equalizers of society, places where socio-economic classes races, ethnicities, cultures, converge and interact in one space, where people can express themselves, meet friends, exercise, and have a good time. Public spaces, like Manhattan’s Central Park, can also provide a necessary escape from bustling city life. I just got back from a relaxing time at home in Brazil and want to boast about an underrated yet wonderful public space in Campinas: Parque Portugal.

An aerial view of Parque Portugal, courtesy of http://diegopintojn.blogspot.com/

Located around a beautiful lake, Lagoa do Taquaral, this park has everything.  A dirt track circles around the lake, passing by paddle boats shaped like swans, stretching areas, a children’s playground, an outdoor concert venue, a bird sanctuary, a mini-bamboo forest, and much more. Parque Portugal also features a swimming pool, a planetarium, a gymnasium, and much more!

Swan-shaped paddle boats, photo courtesy of http://diegopintojn.blogspot.com/

Fellow blogger Mandy and I went for a brisk walk around Parque Portugal last week and it was great. It is a great place to exercise. There are two tracks, one that circles around the outside of the park and one that circles the lake inside. Every hundred meters, there is a sign tracking how much you’ve walked. Inside the park, there are several areas to stretch, cool off, and lift weights (if you are so inspired).

There are always people walking around Parque Portugal, known to Campineiros as Taquaral, but the place really comes alive on weekends, when the paddle boats are out, the restaurants around the park are crowded, and Campineiros are out and about enjoying one of the great spaces in our city!



Walking the World in 10 Blocks

14 Aug

New York is an amazing city, and writing about it is a pleasure. Today I want to highlight an extremely diverse community in Queens: Jackson Heights. I had never made it out there until a couple of weeks ago, it’s a significant train ride as Jackson Heights neighbors LaGuardia Airport, and it was definitely worth it!

With no agenda or time frame, I just got off the train and meandered to try to get a feel for the neighborhood. Walking along Roosevelt Avenue, there was a food truck serving up Equadorian street food, a Himalayan fish market, a Mexican travel agency, a Tibetan goods store, and many stores selling Halal products. I heard at least 5 languages being spoken on the street, and none of them English!

Pedestrian Plazas- gotta love them!

In a moment of brilliance, I coordinated my trip so that I would be there for lunch. Located by a pedestrian plaza offering some peace from the hustle of the main commercial strip, I stepped into Delhi Heights, an unassuming (but DELICIOUS!) Indian restaurant. I decided to try something new- a sandwich called Kathi Roll. Described as “Succulent tender pieces of chicken or lamb cooked and rolled in soft bread like roomali Roti or naan,” this sandwich delivered bursts of taste with enough spiciness to tease but not overwhelm. I paired it with a mango lassi- a delicious yogurt-based drink that cools and calms the tongue. Aside from the amazing food, because it borders a plaza, Delhi Heights had some great people watching, so I hung out observing and taking refuge from the heavy, humid, and hot NYC summer.

Kathi Roll and Mango Lassi at Delhi Heights

Once I cooled off a bit, I was ready for dessert in another part of the world. Walking along 37th Ave, which runs parallel to Roosevelt Ave., I stumbled into La Nueva Bakery. As a Brazilian living in NYC, I often feel nostalgic for all the treats and eats from home, and La Nueva Bakery had just what I needed to help fend off the saudades: churros and empanadas! Although these treats were the Uruguayan version of my hometown favorites- they certainly did the trick! I ordered a churro con dulce de leche to stay and a couple of empanadas to go (I had just had lunch!) The churro was crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, where the dulce de leche was inserted. It was just what I needed to get me through the weeks left before my trip to Brazil.

Churros con Dulce de Leche from La Nueva Bakery

The 7 train takes you right through the heart of Jackson Heights. Get off at 82nd Street to be right in the middle of the action! Jackson Heights might be a little off the beaten path, but it definitely gives you a taste (pun intended) of the many worlds nestled within New York City!


Delhi Heights
37-66 74th Street
Jackson Heights, NY

La Nueva Bakery
85-02 37th Avenue
Jackson Heights, NY

ArtBeat, Boston- recap of a great weekend

24 Jul

Boston is the land of the Red Socks, the Tea Party that sparked the American Revolution, and my sister, Eve. I arrived Friday night after a long 7 hour bus ride from NYC (it’s only supposed to take 4). Saturday we woke up leisurely but excited for the migration-themed arts festival in Somerville we planned to attend, ArtBeat! At my job, I organize similar community events, although not to this scale, so I was curious about what’s happening in other cities and communities.

The smell of barbeque and brick oven pizza hit us almost immediately after we got off the train. ArtBeat runs along several streets and converges on Davis Square- where all the scrumptious foodstuffs were. Starving, Eve and I grabbed some gourmet hot dogs and brown sugar limeade (amazing!), and managed to find a seat in the shade. We sat next to some very nice ladies and chatted for a while about their upcoming travels and Somerville. One of the ladies gave us an excellent dessert recommendation, but more on that further down…

Hot dog- YUM!

After satiating our hunger a little, we took a lap around the festival. There were loads of artists selling their work, performances scattered throughout the day, and Somerville community organizations giving out information and talking about their work.  It was a beautiful day and the vibe was relaxing. Photographer Mike Ritter was taking free portraits, so Eve and I posed for a couple of shots.

Having some fun during our photo shoot….

Time for dessert (when is it not?!), we directed ourselves to Kick Ass Cupcakes, the dessert place our lunch buddy had recommended. The store name articulates exactly what I felt towards these cupcakes- they kicked ass! We bought three flavors, but the best by far was the “Green Monster.” Named after the famed Boston Red Sox, this cupcake featured a chocolate cupcake, with a chocolate beer ganache center, and green Sam Adams cream stout frosting garnished with cocoa nibs. Eve and I were sharing and we almost had an altercation over who would finish this delicious cupcake.

Kick Ass Cupcakes- note the Green Monster on the right…

Because I can never pass up a chance to samba and dance in unison with a large group of people, we hung around ArtBeat until SambaViva, a samba ensemble, performed. It was awesome! They had a bateria, a percussion band/drumline, carnaval dancers, and even taught the crowd some choreography. We worked up a sweat the best way possible: dancing!

SambaViva’s awesome bateria!

Sadly, ArtBeat only happens one weekend a year, but Somerville is a vibrant and diverse community that is definitely worth the visit, if for the cupcakes alone!

Foodie Fun at Schmorgasburg

17 Jul

Taking the L train on the weekends is always an adventure, and I was not alone in my trek across the East River to Schmorgasburg, a food market in Williamsburg. I was lured to Brooklyn by the promise of amazing food, great views, and a friend- and what a fun day it was!

Aerial shot of Schmorgasburg, courtesy of http://www.brooklynflea.com

Framed by dramatic views of the Empire State Building and mid-town Manhattan, Schmorgasburg features about 100 food vendors selling all types of food. From lumpia, a filipino street food, to vegan ice cream- whatever your craving, they have it at Schmorgasburg! I was hankering for a hot dog- done well, with relish and a soft bun. Brooklyn Bangers was calling my name. Made in Brooklyn, a trend at Schmorgasburg, this hot dog really hit the spot! I decided to try something different for dessert, and I knew I had found my match when I spotted Coffee Stout Chip cookies from The Cooke Guild! Guinness+coffee+chocolate chips= a good day!

Coffee Stout Chip Cookie, courtesy of The Cookie Guild

The food at Schmorgasburg is innovative and delicious, but one of the best things to do there is people watch! Schmorgasburg attracts people from all walks of life- hipsters recovering from hangovers, trendy young families, and people like me- amateur foodies wanting to explore the “outer boroughs.”

Bring your appetite, some water, and a sheet to picnic guys, because there’s a lot to taste and experience at Schmorgasburg!


Schmorgasburg opens on Saturdays from 11-6pm. Take L train to Bedford Ave. or East River Ferry!

Damien Hirst, a review

10 Jul

Summer in London means… more rain. After living here for almost 3 years, I can safely say that you shouldn’t rely solely on outdoor activities during the “hot” season. This brings me to a grey and rainy Sunday afternoon when all I wanted to do was leave the house. I was lucky enough to discover that one of the best museums in London, the Tate Modern, was open until late for the acclaimed Damien Hirst exhibition. I booked an 8:00pm slot and left the house, umbrella and wellies on, looking forward to an artistically refined evening.

Damien Hirst ruthlessly explores themes such as life’s transient and fragile nature or the individual’s relationship with religion, medicine and anything that will protect him/her from the undeniable reality of death. I know this might not sound like an ideal end to my Sunday afternoon, but the truth is that I felt surprisingly calm and wise after being exposed to the emotional, and often brutal, nature of Hirst’s work.

As some of you might know, Damien Hirst is famous for his Dot paintings and his series of dead animals in formaldehyde solution. Hirst’s current exhibition at the Tate includes many of the dead animals, such as the impressive shark called The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991. Although the shark was breathtaking, I have to say I was stunned/revolted/intrigued by Mother and Child (Divided), featuring a dead cow and a dead calf split in half (meaning each half is in a glass container and you can walk through them viewing both sides of their bodies). It was crazy — very crazy — and unnerving.


Mother and Child (Divided)

The exhibition also featured Hirst’s butterfly pieces. Constantly exploring themes such as life and death, the fine line between the two, and the beauty of both stages, Hirst presents a variety of paintings and installations that feature dead and live butterflies. The first room of butterfly pieces showcases dead butterflies on a few colored canvases such as For Boys and Girls, 1989 – 1992. Next, you move on to a humid room filled with live butterflies flying around (In and Out of Love, White Paintings and Live Butterflies). Side comment– I grew up on a farm with many flies/butterflies/bees and still found this installation a bit weird and uncomfortable. Now that I look back on the experience, it makes me think that sometimes life can be uncomfortable… Life can indeed make us feel claustrophobic and overwhelmed. Sometimes, in art and maybe also in life, it might be easier to appreciate the stillness of death.


In and Out of Love (White Paintings and Live Butterflies), 1991

After the room filled with real live butterflies, the exhibition takes you to other works by Damien Hirst, such as Loving in a World of Desire (a ball floating above a square base), and Beautiful, amore, gasp, eyes going into the top of the head and fluttering paintingThe exhibition ends with awe-inspiring paintings that look like stained glass windows but are actually made of dead butterflies and household gloss on canvas (Doorways to the Kingdom of Heaven, 2007). The three paintings stand beautifully next to each other, and in the middle of the room there is a glass container featuring a dead white dove, a symbol for many holy and peaceful things, called The Incomplete Truth, 2006.


Doorways to the Kingdom of Heaven, 2007

It is difficult to explain how I felt after this exhibition; the truth is that words tend to simplify and flatten emotions, not doing justice to the magnitude of what I felt that Sunday evening. For the first time in my life, I understood that death could be beautiful. All of the dead animals in the exhibition finally made sense. After facing so much death and beauty, I was able to make a connection between the two and accept our undeniable fate with more ease and poetry.

– Natasha

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