My trip to Rio de Janeiro was just as great as I was hoping it would be! But it wasn’t short on drama.
I received notice from American Airlines the morning of the day I was supposed to leave that my flight was being delayed by an hour, then another one that it was being rescheduled for the next morning instead of 11PM at night. By leaving at 11PM, I would arrive in the morning, but by delaying our departure by 9 hours, it meant that I was being cheated out of an entire day in Rio! Even the next morning, after arriving at the airport bright and early at 6AM for my 8:30AM scheduled departure, we were delayed 3 more times until we actually didn’t finally depart until about 11AM, 12 hours late, which meant that I didn’t arrive at my hotel until it was time to go to bed. I did convince American Airlines to give me a $300 credit voucher for depriving me of an entire day of my vacation! (I can’t figure out how to rotate the pictures, sorry!)
But flying first class on an international flight is a wonderful experience, and was necessary due to me being way too big to fit in a coach seat. The price for 2 coach seats was almost as much as the first class ticket, and after adding on baggage checking fees, and all of the other charges (for food, drinks, etc.)
I arose in time to make my way down to the in-hotel restaurant for the free breakfast that was included with my room, and it was an impressive buffet spread, with a very nice assortment of breads, cereals, home fried potatoes, grits, oatmeal, chopped up hotdogs in a BBQ sauce (kind of strange but not bad), an assortment of fresh juices, coffee and tea, and toast. Sitting down with my two plates full of food, I looked out the front windows onto the beach that the hotel was facing to this beautiful scene.
My hotel was located on Copacabana Beach and it was 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit every day and not a drop of rain. Unlike most other tourist destinations that I have been to, the Brazilians don’t really make any effort to make visitors feel welcomed with very few bothering to learn English, making things somewhat difficult at stores and in taxis. Hotel front desk personnel are multi-lingual but not most waiters. I used Uber to get around if I was going too far to walk. The Uber rates were half of what taxis charged, and the cars and drivers were much nicer, with well educated drivers dressed nicely in button-down shirts and cool, comfortable cars, unlike the cramped dirty taxis which were driven by old men who spoke no English and would drop you off no where near your desired destination and purported to never have the correct change. When I landed, I didn’t have local phone service, so I was unable to summon an Uber and took a cab from the airport to my hotel. The prepaid rate for the trip was R$135 (4 Reais to the dollar). My return trip in an Uber was R$72, almost half.
One of the highlights of any vacation trip for me is always the local cuisine, especially since I used to be a chef. Brazil didn’t fail me and provided me with several memorable and outstanding culinary experiences! Some of the most delectable offerings were the “Creme de Papaya”, Brigadeiros, Cream of Onion Soup, and of course, the delicious beef steaks and burgers!
One of my friends who I had been getting acquainted with prior to my trip planned an excursion up to the Corcovado Statue of Christ the Redeemer which stands high on the mountaintop overlooking Rio with his arms outstretched. He’s a professional photographer, so I got some fantastic pictures! We left around 11 AM, taking a taxicab to the starting point for the tours. There were several ways to get up to the top, either by taxicab, by tourbus, by foot (not recommended!), or by train. The train sounded like the most fun, but by taking the tourbus, we were able to stop at the halfway point and get out for a photo opportunity looking down on the city and up at the statue to get pictures with the statue in the background. The train, I was told, has a tendency to break down and get stuck, so it didn’t sound like the best option. If I return, I’d probably take the train just for the alternative experience! It stops 5 times going up where the buses only stopped once. There was a restaurant and snack bar along with souvenir shops at the top and bottom and prices were reasonable. It was breathtaking enjoying a drink looking out over the beautiful scenery!
Going to the beach was another highlight of my time in Rio, having heard so much about the famous COPACABANA BEACH, it was amazing to actually be there! To be honest, I really thought that the water would be more moderate, like it is in Miami or the Bahamas, but it was only about 65 degrees Fahrenheit which was a shock to the gonads going into the water, even though the air temperatures every day I was there was around 90 degrees or above with bright sunshine. Sun screen was a must, even just for walking around and my doctor had recommended that I get some bug repellent with DEET in it, due to the concerns that were just beginning to be talked about regarding the Zika virus. I’m definitely not planning on getting anyone pregnant, but didn’t want to get sick myself either! Below is a video of the surf at Copacabana Beach and people body surfing in the waves…
When I went to the beach the first time, one of the locals that I had been talking to before my trip went with me and helped to translate for me with the various vendors and attendants who were working there, even though his English wasn’t great, we could almost communicate. The problem was that I didn’t have phone service out on the beach, so my i-Phone translator APP didn’t function, so that wasn’t an option. Here’s some pictures from the beach:
The thing that I enjoyed the most, of course, was the Brazilian men! I met some wonderful guys during my trip, but several of the ones that I had communicated with before going ended up not meeting me for one reason or another, much to my disappointment! A couple of them had been some of the primary reasons that I decided to go to Rio de Janeiro, so I really was disappointed when I didn’t get to rendezvous with them in particular. I’m just not the type of guy who generally hooks up with random guys with no opportunity to get to know them, so I ended up only meeting 3 of the guys who I had talked to before going, and only hooked up with one of them, which was Daniel, the photographer who took the pictures above. We not only went to Corcovado together, but we also had dinner together, and went back to my hotel and spent the night together…. without the camera! 😉
Two of the guys I had talked to before going I met at the beach, one being the guy in the beach picture above, and one I was so thrilled at getting to meet him that we forgot to take a picture! Another one I had talked to, I met and ate lunch with and he was instrumental in getting my phone to finally work on the Brazilian system! The other two guys who I spent some “special” time with were guys who messaged me on one of my phone apps, wanting to come to my hotel and meet me. They were both great guys and I had a wonderful time with them!
It was really a wonderful vacation in South America exploring the Brazilian culture and experiencing the Carnival atmosphere! I loved the people, the food, the delicious tropical beverages, and the beaches!