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Rio de Janeiro – Sun, Fun & Food

46 hours, 5 airports, 4 planes, and 3 South American countries later we arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

October 2, 2009 - Decision DateOur anticipation to experience this charming, yet troubled city of 12 million souls was initially tempered by our lack of sleep. But no time for too much sleep as Rio offers a plethora of activities: frenetic beaches, busy markets, imaginable views, dancing, and walking tours of local slums.

We settled into our hostel in famed Copacabana. The place was alive with 20 somethings from around the globe. Everyone was drawn to Rio for a similar reason… the charm you read and hear about. We had barbeques, consumed caipirinhas, and listened to travel encounters across continents. Everyone raved about the juice bars seemingly on every corner in Rio. So far, I have enjoyed twelve glasses from an array of fruits. And we splurged a bit at a churrascaria, an all you can eat seafood, sushi, and meat experience. Three hours of deliciousness!

Itacoatiara Beach Ipanema Beach

 

 

 

 

 

Our first adventure wasn’t even in Rio itself, but rather on the opposite side of Guanabara Bay in Niteroi. It took two buses, a ferry, and 2.5 hours to reach Itacoatiara Beach and it sure was worth the effort. It seemed as if we were the only two “gringos” soaking up the rays on this beach too remote for the average tourist. We tried strange sandwiches with the help of friendly sunbathers, watched skilled surfers navigate the 10 foot waves, and enjoyed the natural beauty surrounding the enclosed stretch of sand.

Muscle ManThe weather continued its hot streak, so we hit the packed beach of Ipanema. I have never seen so many beach umbrellas and sun seekers in my life. We eventually found a small area to lay our green and maroon towels surrounded by men in “banana hammocks” and women in so-called bikinis. It seems a government mandate is in effect for all men to workout 3 hours per day, chug Muscle Milk, and otherwise look immensely fit. In order to make visitors feel better about themselves, the municipality installed pullup bars for skinny guys named Greg.

Ever the tourist, we had a drink at Garota de Ipanema where the famous Tom Jobin bossa nova song was supposedly written. So the story goes, The Girl from Ipanema would stroll by the bar to pick up smokes for her mom or head to the beach with friends. She was such a beauty, Jobin was compelled to compose a song after her.

Needing some Americana, I searched out any bar that was televising the Bengals versus Steelers game. We found refuge in an Ipanema pub that served terrible pizza, overpriced beers, and a jerky feed of the game. DISH Network Satellite, fed to a converter box, connected to a laptop, then channeled to the projector resulted in a grainy picture. Following the action via the the football was useless, so we were aided solely by the player’s reactions to each snap. Grinning and bearing the action alongside us was John, an oil man from Texas, that we chatted with until the brilliant conclusion of the Bengals game. Noting our tight backpacker budget, John picked up our tab via an expense account! Can you say… booyah!

Garota de IpanemaChoppy Carson Palmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been such a great mix of Brazilian food, drink, and beaches coupled with the familiar, albeit choppy, sights of home.

- Greg

Tips

1) When arriving at the airport, you can either take a taxi ($35 total) or the REAL bus ($4 per person). The bus is safe, air conditioned, and drops you on Atlantic Avenue in either Ipanema or Copacabana. If arriving at night, opt for the registered taxi.

2) Food and juice can be had for cheap ($6 lunch) on nearly every corner and all have similar prices. While the food may not win any American Heart Association awards, it is reasonably priced in an otherwise expensive South American city.

3) There are many hostels to choose from ($20 – $35 per night for a dorm bed) in both Copacabana and Ipanema. Opt for Ipanema as it is a bit safer, has the better beach, and is less touristy.

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