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Rio Trip Report from an “un-Rio Type Tourist

San Francisco, CA
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Rio Trip Report from an “un-Rio Type Tourist

What in world you ask is an “un-Rio” tourist? Suffice it to say that I’m not much into beaches, nightlife, alcoholic beverages, dancing, and don’t know any Portuguese. What led me to my first time visit to South America and to Rio in particular were the wonderful posts here unified in expressing that Rio has more than enough enjoyments to offer every visitor of every personality, even fuddy-duddies like me, and after my trip I can concur with “How true!”

I traveled with my family of 4 adults to Rio the first week of June to begin our 3 city, 2 week trip to Rio-Iguazu-Buenos Aires. The city of Rio gifted us with the following:

A FRIEND TO REMEMBER FOR A LIFETIME

Martha Vasconcellos was our private guide and has been consistently (and rightly so) described in TA posts as a friend as much as or even more so than a guide. All that has been written about Martha was played forward in my experiences both before and during our trip. She was prompt and detailed in our correspondences and obviously wanted us to have the best experiences her city had to offer. I cannot think of one thing she did not follow through on and she often went the extra mile on our behalf at no benefit to herself. She made suggestions but worked within what we wanted and would gently nudge us in the right direction when we didn’t know what it was we wanted. Martha was our guide “in the flesh” for all or parts of 3 days but she had her hand in guiding our entire stay in Rio. For all the hours spent with her, we were never lacking in conversation, a resource for advice, humorous insights, and I would be remiss if I did not add FUN!

HISTORICAL AND CURRENT INSIGHTS

Through our tours of the historical Santa Teresa and Praca XV areas, and Downtown, the amazing churches, and the Favelas, we have through Rio an appreciation of the spirit, pride, ingenuity, resilience, and the melding of its peoples and cultures. While Brazil, like all countries, has its problems, the future and direction of Brazil looks promising and I now read with interest of its affairs as our visit has made the world smaller.

EYE CANDY

What beauty to behold all within a single city! The natural views of and from Corcavado and Christ the Redeemer, seeing Rio from Sugar Loaf at sunset, the sights of mountains, waters, islands, and sands with names still unknown to me were a feast for the soul. Additionally satiating was the creativity of man in the works of art by Brazilian artists we enjoyed at the Museu National de Belas Artes and the incredible Selaron Steps. (Hint: A Martha treat - Walk down from the top and then turn around…BAM!)

OFF THE BEATEN PATH

It is the desire of almost all travelers to experience travels “off the beaten path.” With a population of over 6 million in the city itself, it is not always an easy thing to achieve. For us, we found the experience in our day trip to Niteroi, a short ferry ride across the bay. With views of Rio from the ferry behind and prospects of seeing an area not frequented by many tourists ahead, we were not disappointed. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) by Niemeyer is a wonder in itself to behold. The architecture of the building makes any snapshot of it a winner. The same, unfortunately, couldn’t be said of the current exhibit inside but seeing the views and the sea turtles below from its windows was worth more than the price of admission. We then went by bus to the fishermen village of Jurujuba. Hard to believe we were so close to Rio as we walked the picturesque village with old fishing boats bobbing in water, fishermen repairing their nets, sampled freshly squeezed sugar cane juice that Martha bought for us from an outdoor vendor, and feasted on fresh local seafood at a restaurant for locals.

WITNESS TO TRUE PASSION

Passion’s synonym → SOCCER, or more properly futbol! Initially, in outlining the desires of our trip, seeing a soccer game was a “nice, if we can do it but OK if it doesn’t work out” kind of thing. Was I off! Seeing a soccer game (our first one ever BTW) at the Maracana Stadium is a “Bucket List” keeper. It makes fans at the Super Bowl look like they’re sitting on their hand! But, I’m getting ahead of myself. As our arrival to Rio drew near, Martha sadly informed us that there was no soccer game scheduled during our visit. Being then in the “nice if we could, but OK if…” mode, I got on to other things. Suddenly, I get an urgent email from Martha saying the local Fluminense was now going to play the Boca Juniors from BsAs in the semifinals of the South American championship at the Maracana. Can you spell R-I-V-A-L-R-Y!? Tickets were going fast and at a premium for a sure sellout. An event she said was "not to be missed." Despite my initial hemming and hawing (stupid me) about cost/safety/”I’m not even a soccer fan” and causing some delay by sending Martha on a rabbit trail to unsuccessfully get tickets from another source, Martha miraculously pulled out 4 tickets (when there were only 3 available) from her own connections. We are forever indebted to HER passion of “not accepting ‘No’ as an answer for my guests” and getting us tickets as seeing the game was the highlight of our trip. The crowd was deafening…and that was 2 hours before the start of the game. Fireworks, giant flags rolling over the crowds, smoke, chanting, and 80,000 fans all functioning as one organ. Exhilaration and anguish in unison and then resounding joy in victory. The best part was we were embraced, high-fived, and group hugged by the fans around us as they sought to absorb us into their passion, even as our presence shouted “newbies.” Such passion is and will ever be a gift to have been a part of.

TRY GOING OUTSIDE YOUR BOX

With my fuddy-duddy status previously documented, there was much in Rio to experience outside of my box…and I did, with no regrets. After all, who can truly say they have been to Rio without experiencing samba. We went to the Rio Scenarium and celebrated our last night in Rio along with Martha. The music, singing, eclectic surroundings, and local feeling crowd were so fun to be part of. The dancing was not only great to watch, but fun to try as Martha accompanied us each to the dance floor to help us strut our stuff. Note: I use that expression loosely. I even tried a caipirinha! Whoa!!! Not only that but we EVEN stayed there till midnight!...Hey, baby steps now, baby steps!

Well, my feet still haven’t touch the white sandy beaches, but hey, got to leave something for later.

Thank you all at TA for your many posts that have helped me plan and enjoy my travels. Your genuine comments and love for Rio has been a core to our family’s journey and the experiencing of Rio’s many gifts.

Rio trouxe-nos a alegria. Obrigado.

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1. Re: Rio Trip Report from an “un-Rio Type Tourist

See, you do speak a little Portuguese now! A very refreshing perspective on Rio. Hope you'll come back soon to see more of what this huge country and her people have to offer.

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2. Re: Rio Trip Report from an “un-Rio Type Tourist

Ahhhh, doesn't get better than that!!

Truly a joy to read and of course to recall my own moments spent in Paradise!

Obrigado for sharing your "un-Rio Tourist" impressions... :-)

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3. Re: Rio Trip Report from an “un-Rio Type Tourist

BRAVO, BRAVO!!! you caught Paradise fever. only those of us on this forum will be able to help you now. the ultimate cure is to seek treatment several times at special "clinques" in the City!!

Welcome to the forum. stick around and share with others your "un-RIO tourist" conformation to Rio de Janeiro FEVER!!!!!

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4. Re: Rio Trip Report from an “un-Rio Type Tourist

VAF, I'm not joking, but I almost cried with the strong positive emotions you shared - you see, I am a Fluminense fan and had to watch from over 1000 km away as I couldn't make it to the biggest game of Flu history! But not just your description of the game and its atmosphere, but your whole post was one more exceptional testimony to the incredible reality (and potential) of Rio and the whole country of Brazil. If you do come back, and please do, I would love to share a little bit of Brasília, though I will be the first to admit that it is very unusual and not the most excitiing city in the world. But as you were impressed by Niemeyer's UFO in Niteroi, then maybe you would get something out of the architecture and urban design of my city.

All the best! Obrigado a voce pela linda descricao do Rio e do Brasil!

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5. Re: Rio Trip Report from an “un-Rio Type Tourist

Thank you all for your kind encouragements.

Daniel, I can totally feel your longings to be with your Fluminense team but I can assure you, the fans there represented you well. After the game while waiting for our transportation, we stood dumbfounded watching the spectacle of unbridled celebration around us. A group of nearby Flu fans saw us standing with "our hands in our pockets," paused their celebration and stood around us in a semi-circle. One fan stretching out his arms with his hands facing up quizzically said, "Fluminense???" I raised my fist to the air and said, "Fluminense!" All at once they all erupted in joy and had us join in their revelry. For several minutes, we experienced the ultimate in communication without knowing each others language. An unforgettable experience. Best wished to your team for tomorrows game!

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6. Re: Rio Trip Report from an “un-Rio Type Tourist

Well, Daniel, it seems you went w/the right spirit and you felt what so many of us feel during our first visit to Rio! Only you expressed yourself much more eloquently than I (and most others).

I just knew ahead of time that I would fall in love w/Brazil and did.(My husband and I visited Buzios and Iguacu Falls as well.) Just FYI, our first time there was last Nov. and we did about everything on our own (except our favela visit - for which we did have a guide. And probably should have booked something like you did w/Martha for our attempted visit to the Scenarium, which had lines a couple of blocks long - in the rain. We were too late. Hope to make it next time). I learned so much ahead of time from the previous responders (above) to this thread.(Books are great, but you can't ask questions!)

I am still soaking up Brazilian movies and a little music and now have plans for another (albeit short) visit to Rio at the end of Feb. next yr., w/stops in Salvador and a couple of other places. We will be spending at least 3 days in Buenos Aires during that same trip.

Thanks for sharing your impressions and experiences so the rest of us can experience heightened memories a little bit!

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7. Re: Rio Trip Report from an “un-Rio Type Tourist

What a wonderful and cleverly written trip report. Thank you so much for sharing! Brings back good memories! (Except for one thing...we're now Botafogo fans.)

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8. Re: Rio Trip Report from an “un-Rio Type Tourist

More samba and soccer infomorsels:

mibcruiser, before writing my post I did read about your aborted trip to Rio Scenarium and feel for you in your disappointment. I look forward to hearing your report on your upcoming trip when you return there. You will find your experience will have been worth the wait. Please also report on Salvador, a place I want to go to on a return trip to Brazil.

WorldTravlingNJMom (aka Botfogo fan), as I previously mentioned I have not in the past been a soccer fan so I admired that you have such an allegiance. I was quite taken aback, in fact, to learn from futbol fans in Rio, that the loyalty is so great toward their team that they would rather root for a team from another country rather than root for one of the 3 other Rio teams. The closest personal thing I can think of is being a California Bears fan where our rendition of the national anthem consists of the "rockets blue glare" rather than utter the red color of our rival Stanford. But even there, I would (shhh) root for them on the world stage. To root for a rival futbol team in Rio I imagine would feel like death.

Also as an aside WTNJM, I am heartened by your "name." As a mom myself who has been traveling with my family, which includes 2 daughters, on annual trips for many years I can attest to the value traveling together has to our development collectively as a family and as individuals. People are constantly amazed that our kids still enjoy traveling with their parents. In fact, my soon to be married daughter commented that she wouldn't get married if that meant not being able to travel with us anymore! Hmmm, I guess that means five from now on. So TravlingMom, best wishes to you and your family in your future travels.

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9. Re: Rio Trip Report from an “un-Rio Type Tourist

Having received inquiry into Martha Vasconcellos' contact info, I thought it might be helpful for those who might be interested to list it here. It is: martha.guideinrio@hotmail.com.

sth australia
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10. Re: Rio Trip Report from an “un-Rio Type Tourist

hi i sent you a message regarding martha vasconellos the guide in rio but have not heard from you ,not sure if you got my message can you please give me her email address and ph number also how much does she charge and does she do airport transfers

we leave on wed for rio

cheers marg

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