Last day in Rio

Trip Start Apr 10, 2006
Trip End Apr 17, 2006

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Sunday, April 16, 2006

We are totally beat today. Dog tired. After walking what seemed like 30 miles yesterday - from the Botanical Gardens to Ipanema Beach then to Copacabana - we awoke a little achy and subsequently got a very late start today. But we had to recuperate from the past few days, which were spent touring Rio by foot. We have found that one of the best ways to learn about a city, to really get the flavor of the place, is to travel through it by foot and public transportation. And that's what we've been doing. By Metro, bus and foot we have toured Rio de Janeiro, from Gloria to Catete to Flamengo to Laranjeiras, Botafogo and all the neighborhoods in between. By now the employees at Le Meridien's concierge desk probably think we are the craziest Americans to come through here in a long time. Who in their right minds would walk that far when there are so many taxis around? I'm sure they're wondering this. But they're getting a kick out of hearing our daily recount of how far we walked.

Our observations of this beautiful city are many and varied. We've noticed that the majority of the vehicles here are very compact - Fiat, Volkswagen, Peageuot, and the like. No big SUVs and Cadillacs. And these folks drive like maniacs, very fast. Rush hour traffic is typical. But I must say that we haven't seen one accident, although we've had a few close calls crossing the street as hurried drivers whiz past us or slam on their brakes to avoid what would certainly be a dramatic impact between the car and our bodies.

Despite the Mario Andredi-like driving, we have found the people to be very friendly. The language barrier we were initially concerned with has turned out to be a non-issue. Once people realize that you are a foreigner they try to communicate through facial expressions and hand gestures. My grammar school Spanish has helped us communicate on several occasions to the Portuguese speakers. But it has also helped to know some of the polite expressions. One that has gotten us very far is "thank you (obregado/obregada)". Fingers help for counting, thumbs up means "good", "sim" is "yes", "nao" is "no", and a smile is worth a million bucks.

If you're on a diet, don't come to Rio. There are so many great restaurants that you'd be sure to ruin your resolution to stay away from the bread. From neighborhood diners to expensive restaurants, people tend to gather socially around the dinner table, often in patio settings just sitting and watching people walking by as they enjoy their food and wine, often into the late hours of the night. We discovered this one type of buffet style restaurant where they charge by the weight of your plate. How scary is that? With dozens of selections it's hard to keep your choices to a minimum because everything looks so tasty. But it definitely helps cut down on waste and actually helps you control the cost of the meal. Very different from our American-style "all you can eat" for one price buffets. No wonder we're so fat in America. When you can eat all you want for one price, you're bound to go overboard and eat more than you need, and be wasteful on top of that. The Italian influence is very prevalent in the food and the language here. There are lots of pizzerias, and practically every restaurant has some kind of Italian dish on the menu.

This might sound strange after talking about all of the delicious food, but we've been hard pressed to find a fat Brazilian. Well, they're here, but they are certainly the minority. The people here are beautiful, with skin the color of caramel, bronze, cocoa, and charcoal, dark hair, slender, and some with hazel eyes. The locals are called Cariocas (carry o cuhs), and they are truly comfortable in their skin. Speaking of skin, you see it everywhere.

The human body is considered art here, not something to be covered up or ashamed of. It is appropriate to show some skin, and it's no wonder because it is very warm here - consistently 78 - 85 degrees, day and night.

Finally, the staff at Le Meridien has been exceedingly friendly, informed and willing to assist us wherever possible. I highly recommend this hotel, although there are hundreds more to choose from in Copacabana, as well as Ipanema and even into the inner city. And with this time of year being considered the "off season", we have been privy to several small perks - early check-in (10 AM), ocean view room, late check-out (6 PM) and more. Of course, we had to ask for these perks, but our boldness has paid off.

 So, with our late check-out we decided to take it easy today - a leisurely buffet breakfast at Café Fleur, the hotel restaurant (not pay by weight), one last day sunning on the beach, a dip in he hotel pool, and a final trip to our favorite Internet café to send off this journal. Of course, we had to take a nap before departing for the airport for our 8-hour flight back to Atlanta. So we're off to the airport. We'll check in when we arrive. Adios from Rio.
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globetrotters on

Re: are you murried?
To satisfy your curiousity, Nooooooo. However, we've done some research and found most married folks probably wouldn't be able to have as much fun. Why, who knows? they should all try travelling a little more to keep things exciting, fun and alive. Take it from us it works.

globetrotters on

Re: I enjoyed your trip!
Karen, Thanks for the well wishes. We had a blast as you can see. You're right this has been a once in a million years experience. Stay tuned for our next trip.

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