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Thomas Buechler's Posts
Thomas has posted 4 reports and 8 photos.

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Brazilian Federal District Visit: 2015-2
2015-02-23 - Where else in the world you have the executive, legislative and judiciary powers holding office on the same square? It\'s all happening on the Praca dos tres Poderes in the Brazilian capital. A few meters away is the Itamarati, a marvellous modern building that houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.The purpose-built federal capital of Brazil succeeded Rio de Janeiro in 1960, and was laid out by Professor Lucio Costa in the shape of an airplane, with many buildings designed by Brazil\'s most famous architect, Oscar Niemeyer. All planned, all organized.For instance on Esplanada dos Ministerios, you can find 19 tall ministry buildings where people go to work. The appartment buildings where they live were planned just next door. But the most impressive sites for me were 2 churches: The Sanctuary of Dom Bosco with its multi blue stained glass windows ranging from shades in light blue, to indigo, to marine blue and depending on the day light, it can be an extraordinary atmosphere inside this church; the other one is the Cathedral Metropolitana, a hyperboloid structure,constructed from 16 concrete colums, weighting 90 tons each.Inside you can see 3 aluminium angels suspended from the ceiling; the altar was donated by Pope Paul VI.The capital has been declared a World Heritage site in 1987. Brasilia has very little fancy restaurants, if you imagine that all the embassies are located here. Bar Beirute is a funny place. Middle East cuisine with Brazilian entertainment, its a GLS location and the beer is icecold! On our last day in Brasilia we were lucky: walking towards the Nacional hotel with our luggage, a local guy was hiding in the bushes along the sidewalk.But a police patrol was nearby, and they jumped over in full combat gear, arresting the suspect within seconds. I think the capital is a safe place, as the police knows very well what\'s going on.


Catamarca Province Visit: 2015-1
2015-02-23 - For many years I categorize my travel plans according to three criterias: AAA. the place has a Unesco world heritage site AA. the place has a tentative Unesco site or another interesting spot to visit A. the place has no Unesco sites and no special places to visit. Catamarca is a typical A place compared to other provinces in Northern Argentina or neigbour countries. But to reach Catamarca by public transport was not an easy task.From Santiago del Estero there were only buses at night, means waiting at the terminal for torturing 8 hours.Change of travel plan.We visited the Unesco sites of Cordoba first, and the Che Guevarra museum in Alta Gracia. Next destination was La Rioja.The bus going there took the NR 60 which passed at San Martin for a few kilometers the territory of Catamarca province, and I managed to make photos along the road.But according to the TBT rules and regulations, this kind of transit visits would not count.So I had to go back.Alone.My wife decided not to join me on this rather special mission and wanted a day of relax after the rather challenging excursion to the Talampaya NP yesterday!Buses between La Rio and Catamarca are very sparse, and I decided to leave at 8.10h for the 1 hour 10 minutes trip to the first village, Chumbicha, within the provincial boundery of Catamarca.Beautiful day here driving along the green Cordilleras while in Buenos Aires is a storm and heavy rain going on.It was in the morning news.Chumbicha must be a small community, it has not even a bus station. They stop along the highway.No timetable, no indications for my return bus to La Rioja.Hundreds of straying dogs.A small grocery shop with an empty freezer and no mineral water .El Trebol bar for the gauchos.I made some photo proof, a selfie as well.The only place where I see province of Catamarca written was the garbage bin.But this counts!!Job well done.Except that there was no collectivo coming for my return trip.Temperatures soaring to 38 degrees celsius, I went for a Quilmes beer in el Trebol bar. No attractive waitress, the friendly owner doing the job.In case I would have to stay overnight, they also have a menu, Milanesa, bife, pollo, empanadas, I would survive for a couple of days for sure.Was thinking of hichiking, but then suddendly,out of nowhere, like a Fata Morgana on the horizon, I see the welcoming silhouette of a double decker bus.When he activated the blinker to stop I was really relieved. I was now on my way back to La Rioja and back to Vanessa!Next will be San Juan and enchanting Mendoza with a trip to the wineries and the Chilean border.


Fernando de Noronha Visit: 2015-2
2015-02-25 - No mass tourism, no beach erosion, no airport noise, no pollution, no prostitution, no luxury beach resorts and no tour groups, this is Fernando de Noronha archipelago, a heavenly designed group of volcanic islands 500km off the coast of Recife in Northwestern Brazil. Yes, ist true, you are charged an entrance fee, and yes, on top of that, you have to pay for the entrance to the National Marine Park. In total about 180 USD for 1 week., the longer you stay, the more expensive it gets. There are 17 beaches around the island, plus lots of marine life, from Spinner dolphins to reef sharks and green sea turtles; if you are a diver, ist one oft he great places to come as well. I hear the best in Brazil. I did go snorkling on Baia do Sueste, and was called back because I did not wear a lifejacket; then I walked about 40 minutes in the midday heat to Praia do Leao or „Lionsbeach“, one oft he most scenic beaches in Brazil. Big waves, impossible to swim into the deeper water because of dangerous currents, but nice to lay down in the inland pool or just take photos. Number One beach of course is Baia do Sanco, a stretch of ultrafine sand and quite photogeic. It has been elected No. 1 beach not only in Brazil, but in the whole world, by Tripadvisor. Ahead of famous beaches in South East Asia, The Carribean islands, and the Seychelles!To reach the shoreline however it is not business as usual. You have to climb down on aluminium ladders inside some rock formations, and this makes the acces rather difficult.Most tourist on the island are local Brazilians, mostly from the densely popoluted urban centers of SP, Rio de Janeiro and Recife.Very few foreigners, I hear almost no foreign language spoken on the islands for one week. It must be a favourite destination for honeymooners as well, I have never seen in one place so many happy looking couples! And the favourite mode of transportation are the funny beach buggies that come in all colours and all engine noises and engine problems!But ist the perfect way to reach the beautiful beaches of Fernando de Noronha, as they are mostly on side roads. The shortest highway in Brazil-BR 363- is crossing the island from Porto via Vila dos Remedios to Baia do Sueste, passing the airport, it costs only 3 R, so when you arrive, just wait in front of the terminal for the Omnibus, in case you booked one of the posadas conveniently located along the highway, if not there are taxis available for a good price. The central square in Vila dos Remedios is a bit of the island center, especially at night when the plaza comes alive with music and food stands. The islands were discovered first on August 10th 1503 by a Portuguese seafarer named Amerigo Vespucci who reported it tot he king in Lisboa in a letter. King Dom Manuel donated this newly discovered islands tot he sponsor oft hat expedition, Fidalgo Fernao de Loronha, hence came the new for these beautiful islands. Talking about history: Dont miss to climb the „ Forte dos Remedio“s with ist great views, and excellent photo opportunities, the way goes up from close to Remedios church. There is also an excellent museum here, explaining in details the history of the islands, in both Portuguese and English, and adding some interesting photos and stories. Here I learnt that English naturalist Charles Darwin has also made it the Fernando de Noronha on board HMS Beagle, and that the USA has used parts oft he archipelago as a military and observation base for air traffic to Africa, of course this was during the Cold War and when Brazil had a military government in the late 1960’s. The Remedios Fort is also a perfect place to make photos of Morro do Pico, the pittoresque basalt finger that thrones magically (at 321m) above the island, and can be seen from almost every single place. It’s to this community here, what is the Eiffel Tower in France to the Parisians!

Fujian Visit: -


Kansai Region Visit: 2013-6
2015-02-23 - Nara is probably the most underrated historical place anywhere in Japan. Within easy reach of Kansai International Airport by a reliable limousine bus service in just under 90 minutes. But careful: the last trip is at 20.40h. After that just via Osaka. I stayed with Takeshi Hamano at Guesthouse Nara Backpackers (confy beds dorm beds for 23 dollars, wifi and of course tea included) in Yurugi-cho, a very cozy 90 year old wooden building that served in its previous life as a Japanese tea ceremony house. Its quietly and conveniently located inbetween Kintetsu station and Nara-koen, the huge park to the east of the city where you can find most of the temples.Also the park is home to 1,200 deers, freely roaming around in search of shika-sembei, the delicious deer biscuits.At the time of my visit it was the pregnancy season, and I was told that most of the pregnant mama deers are kept indoor (in a place called Rokuen), as they could attack visitors when approached in their string maternal instinct. Rokuen is open for public viewing of the newly born deers during the whole month of June. The highlight of any visit to Nara is of course the world heritage site of Todajij Daibutsu-den which is the largest wooden building in the world. A truly impressive structure, and to imagine that the original building was even wider by about one third of the present size, rebuild in 1709. Inside is yet another world record, the famous Great Buddha (Daibutsu), with 437 tonnes of bronze one of the largest bronze figures worldwide, with a height of 16 meters. I did the walking tour recommended by Lonely Planet and visited the temples of Nigatsu-do and Kasuga Taisha that is now charging a 500 yen entrance fee. Another gem in Nara\'s Unesco crown are the Kofuku-ji pagodas which served as tutelary temples of the Fujiwara family starting 710 when they were transferred here from Kyoto. Japan\'s first World Cultural heritage site (since 1993) is located in Horyuji, just a short trip out of Nara City by JR Kansai Line. In front of the train station in Horyuji, the connecting bus 72 is already waiting for the short hop to the temple complex.Here you will find the oldest surviving wooden structures (6th century, Asuka period) in the whole world, so its possible to see the biggest and oldest in just one day! Horyuji contains over 2,300 important cultural artefacts.The Gallery of Temple Treasures (Daihozoin) houses the most precious pieces like the Tamamushi Tabernacle which was the private property of the Imperial Family before or the nine headed Kannons, carved from sandalwod, and brought here from China.Also the famous Yumechigai Kannon statue has found a resting place in this newly constructed (1998) museum and attracts thousands of visitors every day. I found myself with many school classes, but avoided the long queues by politely asking permission to the friendly lady teachers!

Nicaragua Visit: -

Sudan (Other) Visit: -

Togo Visit: -
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