Thursday, February 7, 2008

Seven Days in Rio

I'm back! And it feels so damn good to be back in dingy, dirty-butt Bmore. I'm home! After i got over my initial homesickness, I can safely say I had a good time, it was an interesting trip and I had fun!

The Highlights:

  • Guess what, folks? I saw Jesus! Turns out he's perched high on top of Corcovado mountain, overlooking the entire city. And I got to see him, close enough to touch him and he was fabu. Ok, no jokes, but we did get to take a train to the top of the mountain to see what is referred to as Cristo Redentor, in which you can walk right up to it.

  • My favorite tour was Sugarloaf Mountain. In which we took a cable car up, not one, but two large mountains. The views were spectacular!!! I wish I had a better camera to truly capture it. Seriously, I wish Bmore had mountains. Next to lakes and beaches, its like the next best beautiful geographic accessory.

  • Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches. My hotel was on Copacabana but we ventured to Ipanema also. The weather was hot, the water, felt great, the waves were huge surfer's waves and it was nice. The only caveat were the vendors. Dozens and dozens of vendors walk along the beaches selling everything under the sun from suntan lotion, to bathing suits, to jewelry, beer, ice, cream, donuts, hats, and steamed shrimp. All the Brazillian men wear tiny Speedo-esque briefs and all the women wear skimpy two -peices. And I do mean all of them, no matter the shape, size or age. Butt cheeks everywhere.

  • Carioca's ( the local Brazillian's) were very nice. Everyone was pretty much nice, friendly and tried to help ed us in any way.

  • Great fresh fruit. Every morning, our hotel provided a free breakfast, which included fresh fuit such as papaya, mango and kiwi. On the beaches, you can buy coconut juice straight out of the coconut and at a corner cafe I ordered a kiwi smoothie in which I believe they just grinded in several kiwi's and served it as is. Pretty tasty. And doesn't get more fresh than that.

Other Observations:

  • Brazillian woman have big butts and I cannot lie! Indeed. While there were all kinds of overexposed cheeks on the beach, I couldn't help but notice many apple-bottoms dispersed around the city, along with dozens of shades of brown and not-so-brown skin and bushels and bushels of curly and wavy hair; enough to keep beauty supply chains in Bmore stocked for years. Let's get on that!

  • When ordering a pizza, you also get a side of ketchup, mustard and mayo. But when ordering a burger and fries, you get nothing, not even salt. Apparently, they prefer to put ketchup on their pizza, which they eat with a knife and fork, carved up in little peices and put nothing on their fast food. Several times we had to specifically request ketchup for fries. When ordering Chinese sweet-n-sour chicken, you don't automatically get white rice. Again, that's your option.

  • Speaking of food, I avoided seafood for the remainder of my trip when I discovered that they oftentimes serve shrimp with the heads still on! A buffet we went to also served baked fish heads! And as an added bonus, found a hidden tenticle in my rice. I stuck with chicken after that.

  • I took the bus on 2 occasions and was bewildered to find that they actually have 2 people working their buses; the driver and a 2nd person sitting in a special seated area with a cash box to take money. After you give them the money, you go through a tiny turnstile to take your seat. At the airport, they also have an elevator person to sit on a stool and push one of the 3 buttons they have there. I thought both were a total waste of funds. I hope they weren't expecting a tip.
  • The Mall. We ventured over to the Rio Sul Shopping Center for shopping and ended up having some gelatos in the food court and people watched. Turns out, when eating in the food courst, the restuarants actually come out to your table and take your order an serve you, like in a regular restuarant. Food is served on real plates and busboys take the dinnerwear afterwards. There was also a flat-screened TV mounted on the wall. Sad to say, the shopping there was subpar. Guess I'm not into Brazillian fashion cause all the clothes in every store looked the same: beacy, brightly-colored, T-shirt-matertial, soft casual clothing. Not gear I generally rock in Bmore outside of summer. And every single store was also playing American music. I was in a dept. store for 5 mins. before I realized I was singing long to Beyonce's "Get Me Bodied".

  • Woman and wedges. Seems like the majority of Brazillian woman love wearing really high heels and wedges, even at the airport and even at 80 years ols, we saw woman trudging along in very high heels. My companion, Cat even snickered at an old lady who nearly bust her ass when her ankles gave out to the side in the airport. Bad Cat! Laughing 1

  • Bikini's. True to form, bikini's were tiny there. Most that I saw on display had tops with triangles so teensy, you'd barely cover a whole nipple on it and most bottoms were nearly thongs, with most of the triangular fabric wedged up the butt. Sounds appealing, guys? Most of these were on less than toned butts. Unless you love gawking at cellulite, stretch marks and many saggy bottoms. They did not care!

  • Just as we were told, most people did not speak English and learning some Portoguese did come in handy. Few even spoke it at the airport and besides the tours and hotels, most only knew a few basic words.

  • American music. Sad to say I heard more American music there, then I did local Samba music that I was hoping to hear. In fact, the only times I really heard anything local was during the cab rides to and fro. I did catch a few Brazillian videos that were played during commercial breaks but otherwise, it seemed that American music was everywhere. I even walked by a young guy blasting rap music from his car system and the bellhop at our hotel (that spoke NO English) had Akon as his ringtone.

  • Skol. You couldn't drive one block without seeing a billboard or advertisement for Skol beer. It was everywhere! I finally had to try one myself. Tastes like a Natty Boh.

  • TV shows. I saw more American TV programming than local including TBS, TNT, CNN, E!, MTV, Discovery Health and the defunct WB. They even showed shows that have long been cancelled. It was like watching out leftovers.

  • Cabbies drive like maniacs. Nuff said. I don't think they do less then 80, even during turns an I noticed few stop or yield signs. Seems like it was a free for all. Reminded me if New York.

  • Homeless children. So sad to report, there was many homeless kids, sleeping, tucked inside oversized T-shirts, sleeping right on the street. That was probably the most disturbing sight during the trip.

What can I say about Carnival? Well, it looks amazing on TV. In person, however, unless you have really close seats, love singing along to the same Portuguese songs for hours, get really, really drunk or love a looooong parade, it was a bit anti-climatic for me. Don't get me wrong, the costumes were fab, the floats intricate and flashy enough, the crowd pretty engaged and excited but I guess from our seats, where you could barely make out much and the stifling heat, the lack of seats (you had to come early for them), the repetitive, sambo songs playing for hours straight...well, it wasn't exactly what I'd hoped. But it was still an experience and the hottest ticket in town and by golly, I was there!

Overall, a fab, once-in-a-lifetime trip and I'm tickled I got to go.

Foe the exclusive slidshow, see here:


wv said...

glad to hear you had fun. The contrast of mountains and beach makes for a beautiful landscape. I don't need any condiments on my pizza; thanks.

Cat said...

That old biddy was like 60 years old and had no business wearing platform heels. That's the risk she took! And I was angry and sick/in pain so I wasn't in my right mind.

James Tubman said...

very indepth description of your trip

got the sense that you really got a feel for the environment down there

brazil is a crazy place

lots of history about the slaves and how they revolted against their masters there and established their own independent colonies (palmeres and bahia (hear anything about that))

the best carnival i've heard is in trinidad (god i gotta go there)


jsm said...

Sounds like you had a great time... It's exciting to get that first stamp in your passport.

And oh yeah, Happy Birthday you old fart!

jsm said...

Duh, for some reason I thought it was the 14th. 2 more days of your 20s!

Salesdiva said...

Welcome back! Looks like you had a great time.