Hello from Rio, dear friends. It's been several years since I last visited Brazil and so much has changed; I'm married, I'm more traveled, I'm more fearless, and I have higher travel standards. Yup I said it, I DO NOT like to rough it, at all. The airline lost my baggage and for 4-days I was stuck with only what I carried on (later I'll post on the essentials and how to manage when stuck with only your handbag). Did I manage? Yes! Does wearing clean clothes feel like a luxury now, yes! Hurray for the small things in life.
Here are a few things to know about Rio before planning a visit:
1. Clothing is optional, exercise is not. This morning during my run on ipanema beach I saw everyone enjoying the 28 degree (Celsius) weather by riding, running, playing, or walking. People seem happier and healthier.
2. Like NYC, the rich and poor are hard to tell apart. Everyone is bikini or speedo clad making wealth less identifiable. You know what I say to that BTB - bring that bikini!
3. The women are goddesses and keep themselves very well maintained (I'm pretty sure I got the stare down by a 70 year old woman yesterday at dinner) but so do the men. I've seen more blue-steel looks on the men than on the women.
4. It's pricey here, very. The average price of entrees in restaurants is 31-89 Brazilian real. Unreal!
5. Brazil is doable as an extended weekend trip from NYC, Miami, or Dallas. If you take the overnight flight direct to Rio and sleep on the plane - there's no jet lag to deal with. Yeehaw.
6.Caipirinhas, Brazil's national drink, help to put even the most high-strung traveler at ease. Made with cachaça Brazil's most commonly distilled liquor. Highly delicious and highly alcoholic - I dare you to drink just one.
7. Rio does not have a massive gastronomy scene. The cuisine centers around freshly caught fish and grass-fed beef, which is delicious, but it is hard to justify the cost given mismatched flavors that often accompany. For example, while perusing a menu last night I saw Brazilian pichana paired with passion fruit mashed potatoes - no thanks!!
8. You must bring you most confident self to Rio! Especially poolside. The scene competes with the likes of South Beach or any other model haven. Everyone WILL size you up. The meek should choose another locale.
9. Smoking is surprisingly banned in most places.
Headed out to find some all natural beauty products in Leblon. More from this Diva in a swimsuit later. Ciao.