06 September 2015

Rio de Janiero, Brasil

We arrived in Brazil bright and early.  Rio was overcast and gloomy but we were elated to be there.  I couldn't wait to test out my Portuguese and for the adventure awaiting us.  

While passing through immigration to officially enter the country I took full advantage of using the newest language is added to my Arsenal.  During the visa application process the Brazilian consulate attached a photo copy of each child's birth certificate and a parent travel authorization letter to the last page of their passports.  I asked the officer in Portuguese whether it was necessary to bring the documentation during future visits.  He ask,"are the children Brazilian too?" Implying that I was and perhaps they were too.  I was so excited, that my Portuguese was good enough to pass for native or at like fluent.  I explained to him that none of us are Brazilian which is the reason I asked.  After looking a little surprised he toke me the documents would not be necessary and I could not remove them.  Woohoo!  Go me!  I was very proud of myself.  

Upon exiting the airport I was able to pull up the Airbnb reservation information and address for the apartment we were renting.  After swiping up a city map and changing money we were on our way.  Our host, Levy, told us to look for a specific taxi to take us to his rental unit.  We weren't able to find that particular company and got swept away in the hustle and bustle of the busy airport.  We totally got hustled by a taxi that cost much more than Levy quoted us, but unfortunately that was to be expected.  

The taxi driver took us straight to our apartment and our eyes were WIDE open the entire time.  We saw plenty of graffiti, favelas in the distance, newly constructed stadiums, high rise apartments and so much more.  We passed under the famous tunnel that passes under a mountain and we could see glimpses of Christ the Redeemer peek from behind the clouds every now and then.  Everything was on full alert the adventure was just beginning.  After about a half hour our driver left us at our temporary new residence appropriately named Edificio Yankee (Yankee building) located on avenida  copacabana.  We were about 49 minutes earlier than Levy was expecting us but the doorman seemed to be familiar with renters coming in and out of the building for Levy.  While we waiting in the lobby we people watched.  Plenty of buses passed down the stree and plenty of stores and banks were also in close proximity.  People rushed along with the umbrellas in hand protecting them from the drizzle that showered the city.  After a 30 minute wait Levy came bouncing along and led us up to the apartment in the 8th floor.  I'm guseeskng that levy was in his 60s but he was strong, full of energy, had endless jokes and was like and runaway rocket once he got in motion.  He was an ADHD senior and I loved it.  

What I loved more was the apartment! It looked just like its pictures.  A queen size bed and a full size futon.  With one bathroom and a tiny kitchen.  The parade the place to drop our bags and good nights rest.  For the first 30 minutes levy gave us directions to everywhere in the city.  He used that same map to plan our route and indicate bus routes, prices, and even recommended which days we do each particular activity.  He was getting more awesome me by the hour.   Once that map was planned out, he went over safety tips and took us to the streets for a neighborhood tour.  
Our first stop was a lik drop in restaurant for açaí cold smoothly.  It was delish.  Açaí is Brazil's super fruit, extremely high in vitamin C and a staple of the countries healthy diet

We the  stopped by 2 cafes and 2 grocery store.  He made sure we knew where to get on and off the various buses.  It was amazing.  Levy must have spent 3 hours with us making sure we were safe and comfortable.  He let us know of his concern about the city's high crime rate and had plenty of tips to avoid robbery and pickpockets.  

Per levy's recommendation once we departed we decided to first visit pao de azucar, bka sugarloaf mountain.  The trolley cars took us up the mountain and shared with us a spectacular view of the city.  While taking pix and enjoying the scenery Alpha poppa saw a helipad and the helicopter tours company.  He couldn't wait to sign us up for a family ride!  I was so excited j think you can kinda tell in this pic. 

The video was beyond amazing and we all loved it.  After the ride we walked around the first mountain top but opted out of taking the cable car to the next mountain.  The line was about 500 people (no exaggerating!!) and the park would close within 2 hours.  We decided to go back down and walk the boardwalk of the adjacent beach.  

Apparently we didn't take pix at the beach, lol but despite the cloudy day it was still nice and relaxing.  We grabbed popcorn and churro a from food stands in the area and we just sat and chilled while snacking, joking, and enjoying the view. As it started to get darker and cooler we decided to head home.  With the help of strangers we were able to find out bus and with the help of the bus attendant we were able to find out bus stop.  We stopped at one of the grocery stores levy showed us and we bought food and snacks and drinks for any night time munchies was make have and for the next day's breakfast.  

Our first day in Rio was a success!  I cans wait for tomorrow.

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