Wednesday, June 9, 2010

BackTrackin', Brazil Edition - Intro

Hey, all!

Welcome to my first BackTrackin' post! In these posts, I will highlight some of my past travels. Let's start off with my trip to Brazil. I went to both Rio de Janeiro and Salvador in the state of Bahia in Northeast Brazil in October 2008. This trip is waaay before I became a blogger much less one who writes about food and travel!

Brazil has a special place in my heart because it's the first time that I'd ever traveled completely alone. No companion; a guide for one day and that's really it. I'd taken a year of Portuguese back in college waaaaaay back when (**cough! 1998-1999..cough**), so I whipped out one of the few books at had left to remind myself. Let's just say that for the duration of the trip I had the vocabulary of a maybe 6 year-old; but, hey, that's better than nothing. As with most people anywhere in the world, many Brazilians appreciated the fact that I even spoke any Portuguese at all. One nice man was even surprised that there were Brazilian Portuguese language classes offered at my university.

Why Brazil? Well, I've been drawn to Brazil, especially by Afro-Brazilian culture, for ages. My major in college focused on studying people of African descent in the Western hemisphere. I've always been intrigued by the idea of syncretism, and have always found cultures that mix African and European (and everything in between) to be particularly intriguing. Besides, have you ever felt the beat of samba and wanted to sit still in your seat? Haven't you seen a picture of Rio's beaches and wanted to hop on a plane in a hot second? I have, and I did!

To begin, I'm reproducing with some editions a post that I wrote originally for Here it goes. By the way, I'd love to hear about any great Brazil travel tips and stories in the comments section.

My first stop in Brazil was to the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro, a place known for its caipirinhas, skimpy bathing suits, pulsing samba, and breathtaking landscape. I am sure you want me to tell you how cool it was to sip some great tropical juice while getting a massage on the beach, but that didn't really happen. Rio was having probably one of its dreariest Octobers on record, and the beach was totally off the menu for the first few days. October in Rio has the same type of weather as a lovely (or wet) April in the Northeast U.S.A., so the first few days I was there I experienced quite a bit of rain and overcast skies. Rio is a city that needs to be appreciated for its natural beauty especially on a sunny day, but there's quite a bit to see if you need some shelter and don't mind leaving the Copacabana/Ipanema beach area that's so popular with tourists.

Anyways, what's there to see in Rio on a rainy day and Copacabana Beach looks like this?

Churches! Lots of 'em....

Downtown Rio has got loads of beautiful churches and other sites all with fascinating history and importance to Brazil.

Here is the Igreja de Nossa Senhora de Candelaria with its mix of Baroque and Renaissance architecture

The Noval Catedral Metropolitana built in 1976 and serves as Rio's primary cathedral. Many of Rio's major public worship services are held here.

The inside is stunning even with very little daylight

Here's the roof. I spent quite a few minutes just staring into the ceiling.

Here's Rio's former metro church, the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo de Antiga Se, which was used frequently for major events until 1980.

There are museums in Rio as well, but for my time there I primarily took in a lot of sites. For those in Rio with some desire for even more inside time, check out the Museu Historico Nacional for a taste of Brazilian history, and I suggest the Museu de Imagem e Som for shutterbugs and other photography buffs.

Also Rio has a subway! Yes, I know that is not particularly fascinating, but since I am lover of rapid, underground public transportation I couldn't resist (can you tell that I'm a New Yorker?). Rio's metro system is clean, runs frequently and is a good, cheap option for traveling between the beach areas into downtown.

Yes, I am a big nerd and took a picture :)

Next up: watch me dance some samba in public, possibly play o jogo bonito (the beautiful game) otherwise known as soccer, and I'll actually post some actual pictures with me in them! :)

For those who have been to Rio, do you have any advice for taking in the city on a rainy day?


Maya said...

Stunning! Brazil is definitely one of my top places to visit. I will definitely have to refer back to this post when we plan our visit someday :)

M and C said...

I want to go so bad. I'm trying to get my husband excited about anywhere in South America. How did you like traveling solo? I did almost all of my traveling solo until recently and think I prefer having company.

Try Anything Once Terri said...

@Maya - Yes, please!! More to come on Brazil!

@M and C - Loved travelling solo! It was one of the most challenging things I have EVER done. It was lonely at times but I feel that I had some experiences that I would not have had otherwise if I were with someone else or a group. Brazil is a fascinating place. Great food, culture, people, sun. There's so much to see there. I want to go to Argentina and Patagonia really bad!


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