My vacation began yesterday when I left Toronto behind and started the rather epic journey to reach Brazil.
In a rather wonderful stroke of good luck, I flew through security at Pearson rather quickly. Less than 45 minutes actually. I then had a rather uneventful and pleasant flight to Houston where I had a long 4-5 hour lay-over.
The airport there was kind of fun! Lots of cowboy boots, hats, and shout-outs of ya´ll. First of all, it`s called the George Bush International airport. I kept thinking that if I were a truly naughty gal, I could have sported an Obama t-shirt that says `Yes, we can` or suggested in casual conversation that the airport be re-named to Obama International airport. I may have been killed by the local gun-toting republicans though.
These announcements kept playing over and over about how if you made any jokes regarding national security that it may result in you getting arrested. Woah! Some other interesting things I saw were a huge lifesize pair of cowboy boots advertising for the local rodeo and a Sephora vending machine. The latter excited me greatly. I used it to buy hand cream. 🙂
I had dinner there too, which included a couple of fruity but delicious cocktails and a filet mignon. The food was merely OK and took over an hour to arrive! Curiously enough, my forks were regular silverware while the steak knife they provided me was plastic. Cutting the steak was a bit of a challenge to say in the least. My rather intelligent waiter, tried to argue with me that french fries were not potatoes.
Finally got on my plane to Rio for a long 10 hour overnight flight. It`s never really fun to sleep in an airplane. Cramped and uncomfortable. Sat in front of a small but adorably cute child who kept kicking the back of my seat. I started dreaming up schemes in my head about airlines offering adult only flights as a way to keep myself sane. I was a litle tired and grumpy, but when I awoke to see a lovely pink and orange glow over the clouds, I became in instant awe of the sight and was reminded again how beautiful the world can be.
Landed and first noticed the heat and humidity. My straight hair became instantly curly! Yikes. Not complaining about the weather though. Better than the Canadian cold. 🙂
Was greeted at the airport by a man named Wagner from Greyline Tours who would drive me from the airport to the hotel. A humorous man, he sarcastically welcomed me to the third world when the elevator to the parking garage would not open. He then treated me to one of the more wild drives of my life as we weaved in and out of traffic coming into the city. Even by Brazilian standards he was insane.
Interesting sites along the way included the wonderful view of the mountains and beaches, a woman slapping her childly repeatly as they walked along the street, a sad view of the flavellas and a reminder of the poverty, 3 guys pushing a car along the street that was painted from top to bottom in flames (yes flames), and a man standing in an Elvis like body suit, unzipped to the belly, with his rather hairy chest exposed.
After thanking Wagner for miraculously not killing me, I arrived at the hotel.
I like the hotel – Sol Ipanema (a Best Western) – it`s clean and fairly decent. Not decadent by any means, but nice. It´s right across from Ipanema Beach and close to shopping and good restaurants. My window looks out directly on the beach too. Ocean view baby!
I ventured out to get some food and proudly used a bank machine to withdraw cash without any English instructions. Ha ha!
Then went out to eat at a local bistro called Alessandro E Frederico Cafe. It was fantastic! I had a sandwich with chicken, tomatoes, olive oil, and arugula – simple but yummy and made with freshly baked bread! Freshly baked, my friends means true happiness. I nabbed a table on the patio and watched people as they walked past. Rather obvious conclusion, people in Rio are fashionable and beautiful.
Ipanema also has great shopping. It´s a bit of a paradise actually. Of course, I just had to take advantage and did mama SJP proud with my Sex and the City style shoe purchase. I bought a pair of very very high purple high heels. They`re beautiful! I can`t wait to wear them when I get home.
Came back to the hotel with the intention of changing and heading down to the beach, but sleep won and I woke up hours later just after 9 PM. Boring I know, but I was really tired!
I have to say I felt really really really happy today. I`m in love with this city so far! Just thought about how I am more then 10,000 miles away from home, on my own, and enjoying life. I`m basically living out one of my dreams – to travel and visit Rio de Janeiro – and know that I will remember this trip for the rest of my life. I plan to have fun each and every day that I´m here. There`s no other way.
Tomorrow is a visit to the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf mountain. Can`t wait!