Archive for September, 2004

30th Sep 2004

Rio Report #4

Monday was a day of relaxation. I know, trips are supposed to be about relaxation but tours are just not. We had another great breakfast and went back to Ipanema Beach. On our way to the beach we stopped at MNG, a European clothing store, where after we spent way too much money, they held our bags until we got back from the beach. I love Rio.

After leaving MNG the weather had turned ugly and looked like it would rain. Miraculously, once we reached the beach all of three blocks away, the clouds had cleared and the scorching sun had returned. It was great. I guess my Brazil beach jinx lifted for the trip. The beach was so nice that I was completely distracted when I dropped my ring in the sand by our chairs.

We left the beach around 1:00 and went to a cute restaurant called Colher do pau (Wooden spoon). It is a Jewish deli (we found out later) in the middle of Ipanema; with the best burger I’ve found in Brazil. They’re surprisingly hard to come by here. They also had great salads.

Upon returning to the hotel, we took our time getting ready for another dinner. We also ran into a rather large, loud group of American and Canadian guys. Cute, but a little reminiscent of junior high students. We made vague plans to go out with them; which never panned out. Actually, I don’t think we ever saw them again. Hm. After we were ready I finally realized that I had lost my ring. So, we made a fruitless, though interesting, return to the beach to comb the sands at night under the high powered stadium lights that illuminate all the beaches at night.

After combing the sand around where we had sat for about five minutes, I asked Sebastiao, the nice chair attendant, who had helped us that day and the day before. They were just closing up shop. I expected an American reaction, which would have been something along the lines of: How stupid are you for bringing valuables to the beach in Rio? But instead he pulled out a rake and started combing the area around where we were looking. After a few more minutes we realized that the effort was a little futile. I thanked him profusely, but asked him not to worry about it anymore. He however, wouldn’t hear of it and told me that he would look again in the morning when the sun was up (it never turned up). But as we left the beach I looked back and three of the men who worked at the stand were searching the beach for the ring. All the horrible things you hear about big cities like Rio are completely forgotten when you actually meet some of the people there.

We left the beach and went to Esplanada Grill. Another great restaurant with equally grand prices. But the food was good, and we slept well in preparation for the next day of hang-gliding.

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28th Sep 2004

Miss Tanaka (Rio Report #3)

After perusing Veja, the Brazilian magazine with great restaurant reviews, we decided to check out Miss Tanaka. We drove through beautiful Lagoa in order to get to this cute, dimly lit restaurant on the edge of the botanical garden.

The restaurant had great furnishings, tatami rooms, and a coy pond in the middle of the floor. The service and decor were great, but the food was ten times better.

If you’re not a sushi fan this may not sound all that great, but trust me it was fabulous. We started dinner with coconut and sesame encrusted shrimp with a tamarind mango sauce. Next were a specialty of the restaurant called Hot Jardim Botanico; reversed rolls with rice paper on the outside, seaweed in the middle with cream cheese, shrimp and salmon. Next was the main course, barely seared sashimi tuna with a pepper crust in a light curry sauce with a mango salsa and the other course was a great teriyaki fish with vegetables. I can’t quite describe just how exciting it was to find a restaurant like this in Brazil. But I didn’t want to leave.

Coming soon: Hang gliding, Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer) and a jeep tour of the National Forest.

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28th Sep 2004

German Beer Fest

More pictures! And yes, in case you’re wondering these were taken in Brazil. Beer Fest!

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28th Sep 2004

Rio Pictures

Check them out. There are more on the way. Link

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27th Sep 2004

Pictures, but not from Rio

My friend Sarah, who I met on my trip to Pernambuco, sent me an e-mail of some pictures she took. Sarah likes to take candid pictures. I’m all for candid shots, unless they’re of me. I’m not a particularly photogenic person, and even less so when I’m in candid shots. I chose the least offensive three. Though the best of the three is of my back. But at least it’s proof that I was actually in Recife and Porto de Galinhas.

You can see the pictures here.

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19th Sep 2004

Editor’s Note

And yes, I’m the editor. But, since I need some sort of acknowledgement that anyone is actually reading this to fulfill my ego; please note the comments link underneath each entry. Click here and feel free to leave behind messages of encouragement, envy, or if you’re my brother, mockery. All will be greatly appreciated.

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18th Sep 2004

Rio Report #2 (With pictures!)

I need to hurry up with this or I’m going to forget everything that happened during my trip!

Sunday in Rio. We woke up to what looked like cloudy weather. We put our new bathing suits on and headed upstairs to fill up on the great buffet breakfast in the restaurant with the panoramic view of Copacabana beach. By the time we made it up to the restaurant the sun had come out and the day was gourgeous. After eating way more than we should have we hopped in a cab and drove down to the very trendy, very pretty Ipanema Beach.

Beaches in Brazil are fabulous. You could go with nothing more than a bathing suit (and not even that if you were brave enough) and buy or rent everything you need on the beach. As soon as we stepped onto the sand several chair vendors were waving us down to rent from them. Our three chairs and one umbrella were set up for us by a sweet guy named Sebastiao, who was also available to bring us drink and food if we so desired. Or we could obtain our various food, drink and beach needs from the hundreds of vendors strolling up and down the beach all day. They sell a variety of necesseties, such as, drinks (including water, cokes, beer, juice, tea or mixed drinks) or food (including cookies, corn on the cob, ice cream, grilled shrimp, sandwiches, and whatever else you might think of) or sunscreen, or jewelry, towels, beach chairs, t-shirts, or bathing suits (in case you forget yours). The vendors are, for the most part, not too intrusive. Most of them wait patiently for someone to flag them down.

The water was freezing as it was still technically winter. Though it was about 85 degrees out. We spent a couple hours and a couple layers of 30 spf enjoying the sounds and beautiful sites of Ipanema and then headed back for our hotel to get ready for our city tour. Which not surprisingly forgot us, so we ended up waiting for an hour in the lobby after hurrying to get off the beach.

We eventually caught up with our tour group. We made a quick drive around downtown and then headed up to see Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain). Sugarloaf sits basically on the entrance to the bay in Rio and has a great view of the city and the Christ statue. We were there for sunset, which fell just behind the mountains that we were facing. Pictures coming soon. After spending the day in the warm sun, the high altitude and quick advance of nighttime made it extremely cold and winter returned.

We made it back to the hotel and got ready to go out to Miss Tanaka, a creative asian cuisine restaurant, which provided me with my best meal that I can remember and which deserves its own entry. Coming soon!

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12th Sep 2004

Rio Report #1 (no pictures yet)

So, the girls and I invaded Rio de Janeiro last Saturday the 3rd. Saturday was a bit of a slow start. We arrived at our hotel which is directly across the main street in Copacabana from the beach. The restaurant on the 11th floor had a panoramic view of the entire beachline. However, our room did not, but it was a nice place and a significant step up from the last place I stayed in Rio.

After examining the hotel for a few minutes and having our complimentary drink, a caipirinha (cachaca, which is sugar cane alcohol, sugar, limes and ice) we left the hotel to go bathing suit shopping. We headed for Rio Sul Shopping. Shopping malls in Brazil are basically beautiful; they are social gathering areas with tons of stores, restaurants, and bars. If it’s raining or night time people go to the malls.

I’m sure some people have heard the rumors about Brazilian bathing suits and well, they’re mostly true. Though they are not all thong bathing suits (thankfully) but they are close. And don’t even think about trying to find a one-piece. Megan and Cynthia and I spent about three hours in the mall trying to find just one bathing suit that provided at least a decent amount of coverage. Luckily, there is about 1 bathing suit store for every 1 person in the country of Brazil, so there is a lot of choice. Though not a ton of variety. Mission accomplished we left the mall at about 8:30; starving and eager to see the nightlife of Rio.

We had a quick dinner at the restaurant by our hotel. We were provided with a fabulous typical Brazilian seafood meal (muqueca) and an extremely loud table of Brazilian men.

Upon returning to the hotel, we cleaned up, took quick naps and had a long conversation about whether we should just go to bed; as shopping for three hours had taken a lot of our energy. Finally, motivated by the idea that it was Saturday night in Rio, we went out on the town.

It was a bust of an evening. We went in to Leblon, an area of town that supposedly has great nightlife. We were greeted with long lines, expensive cover charges, and loud abrasive American guys that made it impossible for the english speaking people to gain access to the clubs. I had almost talked a bouncer into letting in Megan, Cynthia and I by flashing my passable Portuguese skills, when a particularly rude American guy started swearing at the bouncer. That was pretty much the end of our night. We eventually made it into the extremely overcrowded bar, but didn’t stay long. We finally decided to cut our losses and head back to the hotel and prepare for the next day.

Coming soon: Day 2: Lounging on Ipanema beach and Touring Rio (with photos!) and one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

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