Last day in Rio
Trip Start Apr 10, 2006
7Trip End Apr 17, 2006
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Our observations of this beautiful city are many and varied. We've noticed that the majority of the vehicles here are very compact - Fiat, Volkswagen, Peageuot, and the like. No big SUVs and Cadillacs. And these folks drive like maniacs, very fast. Rush hour traffic is typical. But I must say that we haven't seen one accident, although we've had a few close calls crossing the street as hurried drivers whiz past us or slam on their brakes to avoid what would certainly be a dramatic impact between the car and our bodies.
Despite the Mario Andredi-like driving, we have found the people to be very friendly. The language barrier we were initially concerned with has turned out to be a non-issue. Once people realize that you are a foreigner they try to communicate through facial expressions and hand gestures. My grammar school Spanish has helped us communicate on several occasions to the Portuguese speakers. But it has also helped to know some of the polite expressions. One that has gotten us very far is "thank you (obregado/obregada)". Fingers help for counting, thumbs up means "good", "sim" is "yes", "nao" is "no", and a smile is worth a million bucks.
If you're on a diet, don't come to Rio. There are so many great restaurants that you'd be sure to ruin your resolution to stay away from the bread. From neighborhood diners to expensive restaurants, people tend to gather socially around the dinner table, often in patio settings just sitting and watching people walking by as they enjoy their food and wine, often into the late hours of the night.
This might sound strange after talking about all of the delicious food, but we've been hard pressed to find a fat Brazilian.
The human body is considered art here, not something to be covered up or ashamed of. It is appropriate to show some skin, and it's no wonder because it is very warm here - consistently 78 - 85 degrees, day and night.
Finally, the staff at Le Meridien has been exceedingly friendly, informed and willing to assist us wherever possible. I highly recommend this hotel, although there are hundreds more to choose from in Copacabana, as well as Ipanema and even into the inner city. And with this time of year being considered the "off season", we have been privy to several small perks - early check-in (10 AM), ocean view room, late check-out (6 PM) and more. Of course, we had to ask for these perks, but our boldness has paid off.
So, with our late check-out we decided to take it easy today - a leisurely buffet breakfast at Café Fleur, the hotel restaurant (not pay by weight), one last day sunning on the beach, a dip in he hotel pool, and a final trip to our favorite Internet café to send off this journal.
Where I stayed