Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rio de Janeiro!!!

At last! I'm still working on getting all the vacation pictures edited and organized, but I'm excited to post now about the very first part of our trip!

We got the kids all settled in with my parents in San Diego, and then it was off to LAX for our LOOOOOOONG flight. And I do mean long! First there was the 9-hour leg to Lima, Peru. The plane stopped there, and then continued on for 5 more hours to Santiago, Chile, where the 30 missionaries on our flight were all getting off to serve in various parts of Chile. Unfortunately, we had a 12-HOUR layover in Santiago before continuing on to Brazil. By far the longest layover I have ever had! We wanted to take a shuttle and go see the city, but we found out that just to exit the airport U.S. citizens had to pay a fee of almost $200 per person. So, of course we ended up killing time and trying to sleep on the uncomfortable benches in the Santiago airport for 12 hours. Not the highlight of the trip. Funny fact about the Santiago airport: All the food options in the terminal were American. Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, and Ruby Tuesday of all things.

Finally, we boarded the next plane for our 3-hour flight to Sao Paulo, and then our short flight to Rio de Janeiro. By the time we got there, we had spent almost two full days flying and waiting around in airports. I wanted a bed so badly! A bed, any bed at all, just sounded amazing. Thankfully, we did get to Rio at night and were snoozing away in our beds at the hotel by 1 am. And we got to sleep in the next day! It was blissful!

So was it worth it to fly all that way to get to Rio?
You be the judge. . .

That was Ipanema Beach. SO stunning!

I had always read about Rio de Janeiro being the most beautiful city in the world. On our first full day there, we had a city tour and I got to find out for myself. We were supposed to go see the Corcovado statue of Christ the Redeemer, but the roads up the mountain had actually been wiped out by the floods from the week before. So we weren't able to go up, which was a bummer. But we saw no flood damage in the actual city.

My verdict is. . . I do agree that the setting for the city is among the most beautiful in the world. The beaches, mountains, rainforests, and everything the city is built in is just a complete paradise! But the buildings in the actual city, for the most part, are ugly. Seventies-looking concrete and lots of graffiti. Take a look at their cathedral. . .

After seeing all the ugly buildings, we got to the real highlight of the city tour and one of the things I was most excited about for the entire trip. . . riding the cable cars to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain!!! And it did not disappoint! It was truly spectacular! There were actually two mountains, and we rode two different cable cars from one to the other. Check out the awesome views of the city of Rio from the first mountain!

And this was the view looking from the first mountain to the second mountain. The cable cars were really big, and a lot of people fit into them. Stephen laughed when I told him I had imagined tiny little open-air cable cars like the ones at the San Diego Zoo. These ones were completely glass-enclosed.

We saw the CUTEST little tiny monkeys on the first mountain. I wanted to take one home with me!

We got to watch the sun set over Rio from the second mountain. It was such an unforgettable experience! Pictures don't do it justice, but enjoy the pictures anyway. It was really cool to see the sun gradually fading away and all the lights of Rio turning on.

It was SUCH a crazy amazing day that I will never forget! We loved it! We figured we'd end our awesome first day in Rio with a spectacular dining experience, so we went to one of the top-recommended Brazilian BBQ houses in the city, called Marius. This place was truly over-the-top! The meats they served us were SO tender they melted in our mouths, and I've never seen a more lavishly decorated buffet. We were definitely wowed!

The ceiling of this place even had all kinds of awesome stuff on it. No matter where you looked in this restaurant, there was tons of interesting stuff to see. When I travel, I love to find unique experiences that you can't find anywhere else in the world, and this was a dinner that fit the bill! It did not come cheap though! We were blown away by how expensive everything was in Rio. The dinner was incredible, but it cost over $100 US for the two of us!

Some other things I was surprised about in Rio, besides the extravagant prices on pretty much everything, included:

*I was really excited to have real Brazilian limeade there, like the kind you get at Tucano's or Rodizio. I LOVE that stuff, and we have an amazing recipe for it and Stephen makes it for us when we have tacos or enchiladas. So when we ate dinner at Marius we ordered it. Oh my gosh, it was nothing like our version. It was SO sour, pretty much straight lime juice with no sugar at all! I got a whole bunch of sugar packets and mixed them all into it, which made it tolerable. Brazil had lots of fresh juices, but you had to order ones that were already sweet (like orange or pineapple juice) because they didn't add sugar to anything! So I don't know where our American version of Brazilian limeade comes from, because it's not from Brazil!

*There were NO souvenir stores or handicrafts stores in Rio. Seriously! None! On the beaches a bunch of locals would walk around selling some things like jewelry, snacks, sunscreen, fresh coconuts, drinks, little sarongs that they lay on like beach towels, stuff like that. But I've never been to a big city like that with no places to buy cool stuff. So I didn't even get a Christmas ornament or anything cool from Brazil. Pretty disappointing and strange!

*We didn't meet a single other tourist from the US while we were there. All the other tourists were mostly from other parts of South America, and we did meet one couple from England. Stephen speaks Spanish, but not Portuguese, so we did have the most trouble with the language barrier there and couldn't always read the menus.

*Very weird thing: I saw NO seagulls in Rio at all. I thought they lived everywhere! Their beaches had a whole bunch of pigeons, but no seagulls!

We really enjoyed our three days in Rio! It was VERY nice, after all our time spent flying, to have free time to just relax on the beaches. Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach are both BEAUTIFUL! We spent most of our time on Copacabana Beach, because it was very close to our hotel and we liked it the best. The sand was SO soft and clean, and the water was really clean too! We were Brazilian beach bums for a couple days, and loved it! Wouldn't you?

I thought the water was a little too cool, even though it was clean, but Stephen went swimming in it!

Everything about staying in Rio was so enjoyable! We loved the food, the fresh juices (except for the sour ones!), and the gorgeous scenery!

I thought this sign was pretty funny. . . not a beach bathroom, but actually a little bar on the beach where you could buy drinks. They had these everywhere!

Livin' the beach life in Rio de Janeiro!

Little pizzerias were all over the place, so we finally tried some pizza on our last day in Rio. They actually don't put pizza sauce on them, so they serve ketchup with their pizzas. Weird! That big pitcher of fresh-squeezed orange juice was delicious, and we both liked Brazil's national soda, Guarana.

Our first day in Brazil we had perfect weather, a breezy but sunny day with temps in the 70's. But our last day it climbed to the 90's so we couldn't walk very far without getting wiped out. Oh, this was another cool thing about the beaches. . . they had a whole ton of sand sculptures and sand castles built along the walkways! And they also had places everywhere for people to rent beach umbrellas and chairs.

So if you are a lover of the beach, the ocean, gorgeous scenery, and delicious Brazilian meat, I highly recommend visiting Rio de Janeiro! It was seriously awesome!

We were sad to leave Rio, but also really excited to get to our next destination. . . Iguassu Falls! A place I had been wanting to go for YEARS! Stay tuned for that post and some of the most spectacular pictures I have ever taken anywhere in the world!


  1. I just love all your pictures! They are amazing! So jealous!

  2. Wow, what long flights, especially being pregnant! Glad it was worth it though. Especially the clean beaches!

  3. My hubby served in Brazil, and he mentioned that people in the state he served in (Goiania - central west) do put sugar in the limeade. Must depend on where in Brazil you are from.

    What an exhausting beginning to your trip - and I'm sure that being pregnant didn't help the exhaustion. Looks like fun though!

  4. My hubby served in Brazil, and he mentioned that people in the state he served in (Goiania - central west) do put sugar in the limeade. Must depend on where in Brazil you are from.

    What an exhausting beginning to your trip - and I'm sure that being pregnant didn't help the exhaustion. Looks like fun though!

  5. Keep posting! You know how much I love to travel too...must be the travel agent in me.

  6. What an awesome trip! The pictures are amazing!! I'm so happy for you! Reading this post made me want to travel again so badly! Everything about traveling is so fun - all the new places, people, food, adventures, shops... :)

  7. We'd really like to go to South America since Oscar would really like to go back, but it's hard to find flights that aren't crazy expensive. I wouldn't want to go down to only one place either. I'd want to do a whole tour like you guys did. How much would you suggest a person budget for a full tour of South America?

  8. Ooohh! Gorgeous pictures! It looks like so much fun!

  9. Wow, what an amazing trip!! I've wanted to go to South America ever since we got married. We would love to go to Venezuela and tour all over. So keep your notes!! We may be coming with questions....but not for several years...

    I can't wait to see more pictures!

  10. Yay for pictures! How fun! I remember visiting their cathedral, too. It looks kind of like a spaceship, huh? The Carmen Miranda museum in Rio also looks a little like a spaceship, and the door even swings up like a spaceship door. It's such a strange aesthetic - I don't know what the Brazilians were thinking.

    Oh, I love Rio! I'm glad you guys had such a nice time there.

  11. Sounds like an amazing trip! Mike served in Brazil for part of his mission. It's so fun to see what it looks like - though I think you went to a more beautiful part - he was pretty much in a concrete jungle. Love your photos - definitely makes me want to go there! :)

  12. Your pictures are absolutely amazing! What an incredible trip!!!

  13. Your pictures are simply GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!! What an amazing trip that looks like! I can't wait to see the rest! And where are you girl? I haven't heard from you in FOREVER!!! Hugs!

  14. I scrolled down and looked at all of your pics. Amazing! Simply amazing! Can I live vicariously through you???

    And congrats on baby #3 coming soon!

  15. Beautiful pictures! Looks like a lot of fun!

  16. oh my gosh, can you say jealous??? I would LOVE to go to Brasil!!! The beaches are gorgeous! WHY did you get to go there???

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