I haven’t been able to update my blog and that is because my sister and I are back safe and sound spending time with the family. Despite our plane leaving us behind in Rio, missing our connecting flight, and getting yelled at by officials, we are doing great and I am currently researching for my next big adventure! The end of my South America trip was complete with beautiful sunsets and never ending food in the wonderful city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
After spending less than 24 hours in the city of Iguazu, Argentina, we decided to go to Rio on another 24 hour bus ride. This is the first bus that I have been on where there were more than 2 tourists. It felt good to know that we were all on the same bus because I didn’t know what to expect at the border. The visa for US Citizens was already hefty and the horror stories I hear made me feel uneasy to go alone. I was expecting worst than my Bolivia border experience.
Although it was 24 hours, we had a really nice bus and the most surreal scenery that I have came across since my road trip along the coast of California.
We only had 3 days and 2 nights in Brazil and wanted to stay in a hotel on the beach for our last stays in South America. However, when we were looking up hotel reservations, it seems like something was going on because almost all of the hotels were booked for our price range. We had also looked up hostels and they all had a 4 night minimum stay. We didn’t know what to do and was going to book the hostel for 4 nights and just pay the extra fee.
Beverly and I had known about this website called AirBnB for a while now but neither of us have tested it out. Basically this website has people who have apartments, houses, villas, etc where they rent out rooms for travelers. We had e-mailed a couple of families around midnight and prayed that someone would read this on time before we had left the next morning to the waterfalls.
Right before I boarded the bus and feeling hopeless, I received an email from Maria stating that my sister and I can stay with her family. I didn’t know what to expect but it was the best experience ever! Her place was beautiful and in the perfect location to everything. She also welcomed us with open arms and was like our mom towards the end of the trip. She made us a wonderful breakfast that consisted of cheese bread, fruit, juice, coffee, tea, yogurt, croissants, toast, jam, cheese, ham, and even eggs!!! I mean, after all the breakfast we have had in the past few countries, this was to die for! Thank you Maria for everything that you had done for us!
Our first day, we had arrived in the afternoon which is plenty for us to do and explore the city; however, I was super sick and my body wouldn’t allow for me to go out. We ended up resting until we decided that we had to go out on a Saturday night in Rio! Maria lived about 15 mins walking distance to the infamous neighborhood of Lapa and so we decided to hit the town.
Brazilians know how to party! It’s crazy how many people were in the clubs, bars, and outside patios. Their national booze is cachaca – it’s basically a 40% sugar cane liquor. I wasn’t able to try the liquor itself but did have it in a popular drink called the caipirinha. This popular drink is mixed with sugar, lime juice and ice. It basically reminded me of a regular mojito.
Another different thing is that their draft beers usually comes with one inch foam. So if you don’t like that, you may want to let the bartender know.
We had gone to a club called Lapa 40 Graus from Maria’s son recommendation and it was definitely different than the clubs you find in California! There was a cover and when you go in, you are given a card with your name and a list of all of the drinks. Basically, when you go to the bars, you hand them the card and ask what you want and they sign off. At the end, you pay for the cover and your drinks at the cashier.
In addition, I’ve never seen so many people wearing fedoras and smoking cigars nonchalantly. The dance floor was hilarious. A song would go on and everyone, I mean everyone, would all dance the same way and sing along to the songs. It was kind of hard to have fun with that because I didn’t know any of the lyrics nor the dance moves. Later on in the night, a band came out for the audience and it felt like I was at a concert.
Overall, it was an amazing night with the locals. The next day, we finally put on our bathing suits and hit the beach. The first beach we had gone to was Copacabana – one of the world’s famous beaches. The coast is surrounded by many hotels and restaurants and the famous Sugar Loaf. On the boardwalk, you can find many bars outside serving fresh coconut drinks, booze, and yummy deliciousness.
After sunbathing in the perfect sun, we had gone on a search for the perfect filet mignon sandwich. Lonely Planet recommends Cervantes – the sandwich is filled with thin slices of filet mignon, pineapple, and cheese. Definitely worth the trip.
What better way to complete the meal? Of course, we go on another search for the best ice cream in Rio. We were told Mil Frutas had the best sorbet/ ice cream and indeed they do. The best sorbet you will ever taste. Guarantee. It was so good, that my sister and I paid for another cup of ice cream after we were done with the first one.
While your at the shop, make sure you are there around sunset at Ipanema Beach. I would recommend walking to Arpoador and taking a seat. It was seriously one of the best sunsets I have ever seen. Once the sun goes down, everyone claps. Make sure to arrive early to find a good seat because there hundreds of people every day looking at one of the famous sunsets.
When we were at the beach and in search for the ice cream, little did we know but we were in the middle of Rio de Janeiro’s Gay Pride Parade of 2012.
The clean-up crew:
After a long day at the beach, it felt like a seafood kind of day. Beverly and I decided to go to Boteco Belmonte for a seafood dish “Moqueca”. It is known as a bar; however, you can still get a fine dinner. It was the best meal I had in Brazil. Very delicious. It was filled with steamed fish, shrimp, and veggies over rice. The servers at the restaurants here serves the meals to you and comes back and puts more on your plate.
The next day, it was our last night in Brazil so we decided to give a visit to the famous Christo Redentor. This is the view from the top:
Next, we took the bus to the Sugar Loaf Mountain “Pão de Açúcar” to see the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. Here you can see Cristo Redentor.
Before I left, I wanted to have another steak sandwich but forgot that I had to try the Acai drink. It is definitely different from California. The mixture was great and I think the berries seemed more fresh in Brazil. I didn’t order the stroganoff but heck, it was in front of me. I seriously ate all 3 meals in less than 30 minutes below 😛
My sister and I are currently back in the states and my next adventure is going to be in Australia. If you have any tips or suggestions, please let me know. In the meanwhile, I will still be updating my recipes of all of my favorite meals in South America and my past travels. Happy Holidays – Xuanie