Rio de Janeiro, Brazil exudes a setting which can seep into any fortunate visitor’s soul. As the sun is setting over Copacabana and ships move beneath the shifting colors of the South American sky, one would have trouble doubting the existence of some higher being who put nature together with loving, attentive hands.
The Brazilian City’s Warm Embrace
On the more earthly front, the city serves the finest cuisine in the world with plates from Cuban chicken to lobster to imported Argentinian chorizo steak on a platter that would make any carnivore cry at its wondrous effect on the taste buds. Its desserts are just as impressive and the chocolate mousse, a rare and tasty find, levels its opponents stateside quite mercilessly.
The feel of being there, surrounded by the natural beauty of the Rio de Janiero harbor, the enjoyable shopping, the sound of Brazilian Portuguese spoken with animation and the beautiful, friendly people are enough for anyone to forget that any place else even exists which bears further thought.
A traveler to this magical locale will soon be infected with its wonder and may only find time when returning home, a painful prospect, to count the days when they may soon return.
A Worthwhile Use of Travel Time
The trip from America is not for the impatient. Flight time is a good 11 hours or more no matter which coast the traveler departs from and even when they land, they can expect an additional hour of flight time when connecting through Sao Paulo. The reason it is worth it soon becomes apparent, however, as the airplane floats high over seas of clouds and then descends through them onto the South American city.
That descent feels as if one has traveled at least as far as the Moon and it isn’t because of the length of the flight. It is because of an inescapable magic of what is truly a new world for anyone embracing this new land. This first experience is only heightened by future trips since experience creates an anticipation of enjoyment which cannot be equaled elsewhere.
Though today Brazil is advancing its economic strength and its local currency, the real is only worth 1.75 to the dollar. Everything one pays for is worth it due to the excellent service, sumptuous meals and fun tourist areas.
Of course, Rio has its dark side which cannot be overlooked. While tourists close to the water in the populated vacationer zones can enjoy tanning in Copacabana, swimming in the much calm waves of the adjacent Ipanema shoreline and learning to dodge souvenir hawkers by walking on the street side of the “board walk,” the poverty-stricken makeshift lifestyles of the favela familes leaves those people just trying to get by. Whatever our own economic struggles are, they are plainly minor by comparison.
Crime becomes more pronounced the further towards the favelas one goes. Mostly constructed in the hillsides, the backstreets of Rio which precede them would be inadvisable for carefree exploration. Muggings have occurred even in the populated tourist areas at night so it is important to be cautious, stay with other people and always carry a copy of one’s passport for identification because the local police might be insistent about seeing it on occasion. Common sense will protect most travelers and the journey is certainly worth it for the numerous benefits of this magical city.
The “Musts” After You Arrive in Brazil
One will find the locals willing to teach them a little Brazilian Portuguese if they ask and asking is a good idea because in the most local establishments English will not be present.
The “musts” for first time travelers will include shopping in Ipanema’s Polis Square, an outside strip of stores of all kinds selling goods from CDs to shoes and the local Acai smoothie (nothing in America tastes like Acai in Rio), made from the fruit of the same name found in the Amazon. Coco gelado, fresh coconuts with sweet water inside are a required indulgence as well.
In the end, Rio de Janeiro provides a travel paradise which likely rivals any travel destination in the world. And, one might find themselves booking a ticket just to taste one of the local meals again for any one aspect of Rio is worth experiencing again and again for its adventure and wonder.
It’s not a matter of where, but when. Time is precious and my time spent living and experience the cultures of this world is what I lust for. This is why I created this website, to share true, genuine experiences and not just typical touristy info. Travel, the love of coffee, and food!