A March 2000 trip
to Rio de Janeiro by MikeInTown
Quote: We went to Brazil with listeners and personalities from Philadelphia, New York, and D.C. radio stations. In all, there were around 180 of us. The trip itinerary consisted of 3 days in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and 4 days in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.
We were in Rio as part of a 180-member tour group. Trendsetters Travel was the travel agency responsible booking for our flights, lodging, and tour company in Rio (Today Tours). While we were in Rio, Today Tours took us on our excursions using three motor coaches. When we weren't on excursions, we found the taxis to be convenient. Additionally, since our hotel was located on the main strip and across the street from the beach, walking was also an option we used often.
Traveling in a group this size turned out to be an advantage for our flight to Rio. We flew Vasp Airlines from New York to Rio de Janeiro. Since all of us on this 9-hour flight had the same destination, the pilot was able to get permission to do a non-stop flight instead of the normal 3-hour layover in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Hotel | "Leme Othon Palace-Copacabana"
The Leme Othon Palace is a basic, no-frills hotel. It kind of reminded me of a room you would get at an old beach motel that has seen better days. The room smelled like the ocean with a touch of mildew. When I asked the front desk for another room, they offered to upgrade my wife and me to a junior suite. Although the suite was more spacious, it had a musty smell; therefore, we decided to keep our original room.
The Leme Othon Palace does have some positives - the most important of these being its location. It is located at the end of the main strip (Avenida Atlantica) and is across the street from Copacabana Beach. This end of the strip is relatively quiet, yet in short walking distance of shops, restaurants and bars. Additionally, the hotel had a good currency exchange rate comparable to the bank in the area. The hotel staff was very accommodating and spoke fluent English.
Some final notes on this hotel is that there is a stiff replacement fee if you lose your room key; therefore, it was recommended that we leave our room key at the front desk when leaving the hotel and retrieving it before returning to our room. There were no irons or washcloths in this hotel, so bring your own. It is not recommended that you drink the water in Rio; therefore, I had to get used to brushing my teeth with bottled water. The hotel is an okay choice for travelers that want to be close to the beach and the shops, restaurants, and bars of the main strip. Just keep in mind that the accommodations are basic.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on May 3, 2005
Leme Othon Palace
AVENIDA ATLANTICA 656 LEME
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
55 21 3873 5900
After our visit to Corcovada Mountain, it was dinner time. The bus drivers took our tour group (all 180 of us) to a churrascaria restaurant. A churrascaria is a Brazilian barbeque. There are several of these types of restaurants around town. The one we ate at was Carretão in the Ipanema section of the city.
We saw a big buffet table full of salads when we entered the restaurant. I was a little dismayed at first because I don't like salads. I thought I was going to have to find something to eat later, when we got back to the hotel. However, after everyone got their salads and took their seats, the real feast began. The waiters came out carrying cooked meats on long metal rods. There were rods with chicken, some with beef, and some with pork. The waiters would come to you and cut a piece of meat onto your plate or simply slide the meat off the rod in cases where they had chicken or sausages. Each time, the food seemed to have been prepared differently (i.e., different seasonings, different cut of the beef or pork, etc.). It didn't take long for me to become full after tasting all those meats. The waiters would just keep coming until you put up your hand and waved them off. They were very efficient. Overall, the food tasted okay; however, the presentation was fabulous.
Many of the meals we had on this trip were included in the cost of the trip package; however, drinks were not. My wife and I ordered soft drinks with our meal at Carretão. The sodas I saw the most while in Brazil was Coke, 7-Up, Fanta Orange, and a Brazilian soda called Guaraná. Guaraná sort of tastes like a mixture of apple juice and ginger ale. It was pretty good. The funny thing about the sodas in Brazil is that they all seemed to have a hint of Guaraná in them - especially the Coke.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 3, 2005
Rua Visconde de Piraja
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
For dinner on Saturday evening, our group was taken to Rio Sol E Mar, a seafood restaurant that overlooks a marina. The staff was very good at accommodating a group of our size. The tables were arranged to seat as many as 20 of us to a table. Despite the large amount of people in our group, we were served promptly. The meal consisted of big portions of fried fish, a giant prawn with the head still on it, squid, a small octopus tentacle, scallops, rice, and vegetables. This was the first time I had ever tasted squid or octopus. I liked the squid the most. The octopus tasted too fishy for me.
Rio Sol E Mar turned out to be a nice dining experience. I enjoyed the musicians who played jazz and bossa nova while we were eating. I also enjoyed conversing with our fellow travelers, with whom we would be spending the next week.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 3, 2005
Rio Sol E Mar
Avenida Reporter Nestor Moreira
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
+55 21 2295 1896
Attraction | "Christ the Redeemer"
The Christ The Redeemer Statue is a 100-foot statue of Christ with His arms stretched out overlooking the city. This statue is located at the top of Corcovado Mountain. Our group visited this famous landmark on a Friday evening and seemed to have the whole mountain to ourselves.
We were given tickets for the train ride up the steep mountain. The ride up the 2,300-foot mountain took about 20 minutes. Along the way, we passed through a rain forest. Then, occasionally, we would see houses or maybe someone just hanging out along the tracks.
When we arrived at the drop-off point, there were a quite a few steps to walk up in order to get to the statue area. Unfortunately, there was some restoration work going on while we were there, so the statue was surrounded by scaffolding. It was still awesome to look at up close despite all the scaffolding. Seeing this statue gave me an appreciation for how much work must have gone into building a structure this big on top of a mountain this tall. The statue as completed in 1931 after 5 years of construction.
The view from the top of the mountain was absolutely spectacular. You could see the city, the ocean, a forested area, the beach, and more. The sun was going down and little by little you could see the city lights starting to illuminate. There is a souvenir shop just down the steps from the statue. We stopped in to have a look around. The prices seemed to be in line with the prices of souvenirs we were seeing in the shops around the hotel.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 3, 2005
Christ the Redeemer Statue (O Cristo Redentor)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Attraction | "Carnival Competition"
We were in Rio de Janeiro during the week of Carnival. Our trip package included admission to the Best Of Carnival competition that took place at the Sambódromo the entire weekend after Ash Wednesday. This is a nationally televised competition between the samba schools of the Carnival celebration. A samba school is a group of people who perform as a team in Carnival. These schools consist of people of all genders, races, and social classes and can sometimes contain up to 4,000 members. There are dancers, drummers, floats, and singers. The purpose of the Saturday night competition that we attended was to determine which samba schools would advance to the Sunday night special group competition. The winning samba school gains prestige throughout Brazil.
We arrived at the Sambódromo around 10:30pm and were given admission tickets by our tour guides before exiting the bus. The Sambódromo looks like a big sports stadium with a street that runs right down the middle of it. It is on this street that the samba schools compete.
We entered the packed Sambódromo and found our seats. The seats were irrelevant because everyone was standing. The atmosphere was electrifying with all the samba music, the Carnival parade, and people dancing in the stands. The samba schools really went all out with elaborate costumes, pyrotechnics, and floats. There was float in the shape of a fire-breathing dragon and one in the shape of a globe to name a few. There were participants in very shiny and colorful costumes that seemed to make the street glitter as they paraded through. There were also some participants who weren't wearing much of anything. There were floats that contained topless women in g-strings, dancing and waving as they slowly rode through.
After a samba school promenaded all the way through the Sambódromo, the street cleaners would come through in their orange uniforms. They were a crowd favorite because they would start dancing to the samba music while they were sweeping. The crowd would erupt in applause and cheers.
The competition normally runs from 8pm to 6am the next morning during the weekend. After a while, it began to rain. Our tour company was running shuttles between the Sambódromo and the hotels at 1, 3, and 5am. My wife and I decided to take the 1am bus back to the hotel. I watched more of the competition on TV in our hotel room before finally falling to sleep.
If you are ever in Rio during the Carnival competitions, I very highly recommend going to see it live. A certain amount of tickets are allocated for international tourists. Although tickets go on sale in November, last minute tickets can sometimes be purchased through various hotels and tour companies.
Carnival in Rio
Rio de Janeiro
Our group took a cable-car ride to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar), a distinctive presence in the Rio de Janeiro landscape. The cable car makes two stops, one on the lower mountain and one on the top mountain (Sugar Loaf). We got off at both stops. During the ride, we could see rock climbers scaling Sugar Loaf. By the time we got up to the top, a thick fog had begun to roll in. Well, that pretty much ruined our chances of getting nice pictures of the scenery below.
Oh well, we still decided to try to make the most of our time on Sugar Loaf. There are several paved pathways at the top of both mountains. Surprisingly, it looks somewhat tropical at the top of these mountains. The paths on Sugar Loaf were surrounded by trees that looked like bamboo. The lower mountain had different trees that actually had monkeys in them. There are also some souvenir shops and small eateries that sell fries, burgers, pastries, etc., on these mountains.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 5, 2005
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
55 21 2461-2700