Travel Tips for Rio de Janeiro
RIO DE JANEIRO: FOOT REFLEXOLOGY
Well, I know, strange for me to put up a tip on Foot Reflexology here in Rio de Janeiro. But seriously, if ever you need this service either due to long hours of shopping resulting in foot or leg problems, you will thank me for this.
Visit this Foot Reflexology Medical Centre for free consultation. Treatment is extra. This is not a dodgy run-of-the-mill foot reflexology centre, but this is run by very professional doctors.
The lady who attended to me pressed and massaged for a good half an hour and pronounced my feet to be 'tudo bom' (although I was suffering from some pains) and did not charge me anything! Later, indeed, my feet felt great after the massage!!
Rua Siqueira Campos, 43 sala 617
Centro Comercial Copacabana
Cameras and the Problems they Present
No one thinks of going on vacation without their camera. I am the same way. When I traveled to Rio, I was armed with a Canon video camera and a Nikon 35 mm. The video camera was the first generation type in 1986, backpack and all. As soon as I hit the street in front the Arpoador Inn, a woman leaning out her window watching World Cup revelers spotted me and shouted in her best English, "Don't Go There!" as she pointed at the beach. I was already walking in the direction of the beach. I gave her the thumbs-up sign, thanked her, and headed to the beach anyway. Nothing happened, but since then I've been very much aware of cameras and the logistical problems they present. Many on these pages tell you just leave them behind.
Today's cameras are much smaller than the back-pack unit I hauled on my back in 1986 (people would stop me on the street and ask, "qual canal?" "which channel?" They thought I worked for a TV station. I thought a CBS logo might help). If you are going to one of the main tourist spots, Pao de Acucar, Corcovado, etc., just keep the camera out of sight until you're on site. Take a cab right to the location and enter. Once inside you'll not experience any problems.
But if you think you are going to stroll along anywhere you like without any problems, think again. If you want to take a video camera to the beach (not recommended), only do it in front of the Ceasar's Park Hotel in Ipanema. The hotel's security is located on the beach, and they are also located atop the hotel looking for any trouble makers. Madonna rented the whole hotel to herself when she toured Rio.
I lost a Ricoh 35 mm on my first trip, but it was removed from my room. I am still trying to figure that one out. I failed to keep it in the room safe. Use them!
If you must take your camera, keep it out of site as much as possible. I kept the Nikon in a plain brown paper sandwich bag and only pulled it out when I was at my destination. Today's tiny digital cameras are made for Rio. On the day the nice lady warned me about the beach, I was also with a group of others on the sand, who watched for bad guys while my eyes were peering into the eye-piece.
A trip without a camera is not a trip to me. My family and friends tell me to leave them behind and enjoy the moment. I'll continue to take them to Rio, but I remain on constant alert when I have them.
The best way to go to the beach is with as little on as possible. A woman in a tanga clearly has no hiding places for a camera, and a guy in a "zunga" (speedo) doesn't, either. I think I just discovered the moving force behind Rio's shrinking bathing suits! Oba!
Many would tell you that you...
Many would tell you that you should visit the Sugarloaf mountain (Corcovado), or the statue of Christ the Redeemer, or the beach, or some other sights. But I found the most important thing in Rio to do, is to WALK. This is one of the greatest cities for walking -- it's flat, the streets are wide, and there are good shops on the streets. To get to know Rio, one must walk the city and many of its neighborhoods: Central, Copa, Ipanema, Leblon, Gloria, Botafogo, etc. It's through walking that one touches the city and smells it and allows one's eyes to feast upon all the colors and sights, and still have enough time to process them in one's mind, and register them in one's heart. There is a very small neighborhood called Urca, under neath the Sugarloaf mountains. We chanced upon this neighborhood completely unexpectedly. We would have never found it had we not taken the wrong bus to go home after a visit to Sugarloaf mountains because it was not in any tour books we had. But it is a beautiful enclave -- built around the Rio bay. Very clean, very quiet, and very calm. A little meditation in the center of a spinning world. If you get a chance, walk along Ave. Portugal from end to end -- for about 2 hours or so -- an hour or two before sunset. It's one of these places I can live in. Here is a sign in Urca that says, 'no doggie poo' in Portugese.
CARIOCAS?WHAT DOES IT MEAN??
"Carioca",more than a simple name for someone borned in Rio,is a state of mind!
To be carioca is to have a light spirit,to be naturally happy,receptive,friendly-if you have these characteristics,you are a carioca too,no matter if you borned in German,Japan or any other state in Brazil!It's apeople that is so passionate about their love of things like samba or soccer,that a mere discussion looks like a fight,probably over a round of ice cold beer!Don't be fooled by those thousands of bodies strechted out on the beach during the week,they are on vacations,and for each one of them,there are scores doing a hard's day work!When you come to Rio for the first time,you may find people that only speak Portuguese,but you will soon appreciate how the carioca tries to help you,even if only in sign language!Those leaving after a stay in the city,take something that has no translation-Saudade(pronounced sau-da-dji)-it's the feeling of missing something that you had while in Rio,and the certainty that the feeling will only go away when you come back!It's not for nothing that the greatest symbol of the city is waiting for you with open arms,always!Literally,the meaning of it,some tells, derives from one of the indigenous Brazilian tribes language and means "house of the white men":OCA is house and KARIO is white men.
The picture is from a tipical "carioca" girl,who coincidentally(!) is my nephew Isabela!
More culinary tips on Brazil
Brazilian culinary traditions are wide-ranging and diverse as those of the United States, a country of similar land area. While you will find white rice, beans, and manioc flour (of which I could not quite acquire the taste) on most tables everywhere, regional differences stand out just like in any country that big. African influences such as dende oil figure prominently in Bahia, whereas Minas Gerais is well-known for dishes based on pork and collard greens just like the American South. Here are a few culinary items to mind while down there:
1. Fill up on meat at churrascarrias, where you'll pay between $12-$30 for an unlimited amount. These restaurants like to tempt you with rice and other sides which fill you up before you can sample the pricier cuts of meat they hold out for the last. Another smart way to eat at churrascarias is when they offer up the cheaper cuts of meat, say "Só um pouco." which means "Just a little bit." to save room for the "good stuff."
2. I don't drink beer, but my beer-loving friends down there recommend asking for a Chopp ("shope"), a pale blonde pilsner draft. Brazilian beer which usually comes in a 600ml bottle, and is commonly shared with your drinking buddies.
3. Caipirinha, made with lime, sugar and some sort of sugarcane liquor, is Brazil's national drink. In my opinion, it's very similar to the mojito.
4. Pitanga, cupuaçu, taperebá are only some of many Brazilian fruits not found on menus much anywhere else. The pitanga is also known as the Brazilian cherry, but looks rather more like a tomato. The dark red to black ones are sweet and the green or orange ones are sour. The cupuaçu is commonly used as a cheaper alternative to cocoa. The seeds can be made to taste like chocolate to be used in sweets and desserts. The taperebá is also known as a "hog plum" or "golden apple". The pulp can be eaten fresh or used in jams, jellies, and sherbets.