Good morning from Rio de Janeiro, “a cidade maravilhosa”, the marvelous city! From what I’ve seen, this is an apt description.
My post will be brief as I am in fact typing this on my iPhone. Oh, technology!
Mary, Stacey, and I arrived in Rio with no problems. Mary even sat with someone from Brazil on our first flight and learned some good phrases and important words like “chope”, a small, ice-cold draft beer. I used my new Cabin Pillow, a large inflatable pillow designed to sit on the tray table and help you sleep bent over. I think I slept more on our 9-hour flight than I have before, so it was a success!
Upon clearing customs, we exited into an airport not unlike the one in Caracas, where many solicitous men offered taxi services both in and outside the terminal. We spoke with a helpful woman at the info desk to find out where to catch a bus into the city, and she complimented us on our Portuguese!
After an hour’s wait (as the first bus was full), we boarded a very nice bus with air-con (no one says air conditioning here) and enjoyed a trip through Rio to Ipanema. The airport is at the northeast corner of the peninsula, and Ipanema is down in the southwest, so we got to see quite a lot. We were thrilled to catch many glimpses of Cristo Redentor, high atop Corcovado, with His arms stretched out as if to welcome and/or hug us.
After checking in at our hostel (located a convenient one block from the beach), we cleaned up, donned bathing suits, and set out for sustenance. We checked off two things from our list of foods to eat in Brazil: smoothies and acai. I got a smoothie with acai and strawberry that was delicious.
We spent the next two hours on the beach, surrounded by beautiful, tan people clad in thong bikinis and boxer briefs drinking straight from coconuts. It’s the stuff of dreams, but here it is real! We plan to drink from coconuts today.
After the beach and showers, we headed to a grocery store. I love going to grocery stores abroad; you learn so much and see such interesting things! We saw fruits that were completely unfamiliar, juices that don’t exist in the US, and dried cod, among other things.
From there we returned to our hostel for the final 20 minutes of the Real Madrid/Barcelona match and our free welcome caipirinhas. Oh, my. New favorite drink. So good and so strong.
For dinner we ventured a little further to a place called Jobi that one of my guidebooks recommended. We enjoyed some beer and a host of fried but very Brazilian appetizers: cheese balls, cod fritters, yuca fries, and fried manioc flour with ham and egg. It was all delicious!
Our final stop was at the Academia de Cachaca, where we sampled caipirinhas flavored with passionfruit, pineapple, and something unidentifiable but tasty.
I love it here!!!