This post was originally from February 23, 2019
The last few days in Búzios have been absolutely fantastic! Búzios is about 150km from Rio. It sits on a peninsula that consists of 23 picturesque beaches. It used to be a tiny fishing village but after Brigitte Bardot made it famous in the 1960’s, it’s now an upscale vacation destination.
On Tuesday we found the perfect seafront bar and settled down for the afternoon watching turtles swim by and drinking Brazil’s national cocktail – the caipirinha (cachaça, sugar, and lime). It was the perfect way to wait out the afternoon rain shower and we were lucky enough that our server spoke English so she gave us the 411 on all the best places to go.
Wednesday we headed to Geriba Beach. It is a long stretch of sandy beach with cute guest houses and restaurants as far as the eye can see. We found a place where we could set up shop under an umbrella with a set of beach chairs. All we had to do was order lunch from them and we could stay all day. Ordering food is a bit challenging because Kris has Celiac Disease and I don’t eat meat. In the end the only thing I could have was a salad and for Kris it was fish and salad. When the food came, there were literally 4 fishes on one plate and two massive plates of vegetables. We had enough food to feed an army! Again not being able to speak a lick of Portuguese, we never really knew how much the bill was going to come to. Dumb and Dumber obviously got duped again … just bring the two morons a massive amount of food and they’ll have to pay the big bucks. A hundred and fifty dollars later…
Since we already felt like high rollers we decided to go have supper at a fancy restaurant with a stunning view of the bay. It was called Mistico Sunset Restaurant (for obvious reasons) but in fine form we arrived about 10 minutes after the sunset!
Thursday we hit up Brava Beach, where we were told to go to Rocka Beach Lounge & Restaurant. Here they had day beds where you could lounge on, and again the deal was that if you eat at their restaurant you can enjoy the amenities all day. Even though it rained off and on it truly was the most relaxing and enjoyable time. There’s nothing like swimming in the ocean during a rain shower. Búzios is known for sea turtles so it was cool to have our second turtle sighting since our time here.
Leaving Buzios was bitter sweet. I know there is so much ahead to look forward to but sad that it goes by so damn quickly!
Our waiter at Brava Beach Lounge was telling us that it’s best for us to see Rio on a tour. He said two women alone are targets. He also told us that men in Brazil have an arrogance about them and they have this sexist, macho attitude. (He was from Argentina). Because of his suggestions we went back to our hotel and with the help of Google Translate and the man who worked at the front desk we were able to book a tour that not only brought us from Búzios to our hotel in Rio, but allowed us to see the two attractions we were interested in – Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer…or so we thought.
We were told to be ready at 7am so we had checked out of the hotel and sat there waiting. The van pulled up over an hour later but instead of coming to the lobby it waited down at the bottom of this steep hill. Kris and I gracefully pulled our luggage down this rocky path only to find the most abrasive, male chauvinist tour guide wearing a big skull ring. When he heard we spoke English that only put a nail in our coffins and sealed our fate for the day. He lectured us telling us that if he came to America (I guess we are from the States now) he would have to speak English, so we shouldn’t expect HIM to speak English. Fair enough… but dude you are working in tourism!!! When the van door opened we were greeted with a bunch of couples who didn’t even crack a smile. The only seats left were far in the back. The tricky part was that the people in the seat ahead reclined their seats all the way back so there was literally zero leg room. Maybe a small child could fit…maybe! You’d think this would be bad enough but it just got worse! We picked up a family of four who also had to sit in the back with me, and then against all odds two more people! I thought I was back in Tanzania where the mode of public transport is a dalla dalla (a small van with a million bodies inside packed like sardines!). The funny thing was the couples that got there first had ample space near the front while the rest of us maneuvered our bodies like a Tetris puzzle! This was how the ride would be for the next few hours back to Rio. To make it even more uncomfortable let’s add the bumps of being right over the back wheels as well as the fear of getting motion sick! No word of a lie at one point the bouncing put my back out. You know you’re getting old when you put your back out SITTING in a vehicle!
Everyone on our tour was from South America so the tour was in Spanish. This would be fine if perhaps once in awhile the guide would acknowledge our presence. It was like we didn’t even exist. He explained everything in Spanish and the the entire van would roar with laughter. At one point he was asking where everyone was from and he completely skipped over us. It was quite comical until we made our first stop and had no idea where we were or what time we were supposed to be back.
We went to several different places in Rio which all seemed really cool. The problem was the two of us would get out of the van and have to figure out what we were doing and where the hell we were. From our understanding we went to a football stadium where the World Cup was held, a really cool Cathedral that was the shape of a dome and had four massive stained glass windows and then this really cool area with tons of street art and mosaic tiled stairs.
*** In retrospect and with a little help from Google I now know where we went to:
Maracana Stadium – the world’s largest stadium and home to several World Cup’s and the 2016 Olympics.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of St Sebastian – The cathedral’s four rectilinear stained glass windows soar 210 ft from floor to ceiling.
Escadaria Selaron – In 1990, Jorge Selarón began renovating dilapidated steps that ran along the front of his house. It was a tribute to the Brazillian people. Originally, tiles for the work were scavenged from various construction sites and piles of urban waste found on the Rio streets. But in later years most of the tiles were donated by visitors from all around the world.
Finally we did go to one place on our list which was Christ the Redeemer. High upon Corcovado Mountain in Tijuca Forest National Park stands the largest statue of Jesus with his arms spread wide. Constructed between 1922 and 1931, the statue is 98 ft high, and that is not including its 26 ft pedestal. The arms even stretch a whopping 92 ft wide!!! The view from the mountain was absolutely incredible as you could get a 360 degree look at the city. It truly was spectacular!
Eventually we were dropped off at our hotel and we couldn’t get out of that vehicle from hell fast enough. It was a great day and I’m so glad that Kris and I could look at the situation as humorous! I am pretty sure that our tour went on to Sugar Loaf Mountain after they dropped us off, but when we saw our hotel we were more than happy to say goodbye to that group. Rio has so much to offer and obviously we just scratched the surface!