My first encounter with Brazil!

This is an old update that love to tell you again with updated links and refreshing text! This was my first encounter with Brazil! Thereafter, I have come several times and have written several blog posts on Brazil and you can do search to find a plethora of information on the country in my blog.

Many years ago, in my working life in Florida USA, my boss asked me to do some business traveling. The year was around 1999 or so, do not recall exactly and did not dated my photos. My boss a CFO was a very busy men and we have even become friends over the years and still in touch. He was doing all the traveling and I stayed behind handling the battleship (office) of a multi billion dollars corp traded in the NYSE.  Finally, one day he sat with me and told me I need to travel. I try to evade it claiming have small children and do not wanted to be away so much from home. However, he insisted and touch a nerve on me when he told me that he trusted my decisions and was sure I would do a good job doing these travels. That was it, confidence and self acknowledgement are men’s best friend , could not refuse anymore.

The trip that I needed to do for two weeks! included Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! Now to most this would be like a dream trip, but at that time I was sad to go leaving my little boys ( ages 7 and 5 ,5) behind for the longest period as of that time in 1999. The rest is history, memories, souvenirs , the best experience of my life up to that point, the trip went beyond my expectations ,the job was done well but what I saw and the friends I met have stayed with me even today. Yes, today, still have friends from that trip from Brazil in touch with me in social media!!! And of course, my travels took off !

Previously to this trip i had played football/soccer with the Portuguese community clubs and was aware of the language to a basic level. This trip push me to learned the language which now I do fluently and improved each time with subsequent trips. A Vida É Bela!!!  What can I say more than to tell you again a bit more on these 3 cities.

I  came first to Porto Alegre with a stop at Sao Paulo airport.  Porto Alegre is the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, located between the Rio Guaíba and its many islands. The city is decorated with parks (nine large urban parks) and tree-lined streets, especially in the ancient districts of the Cidade Baixa (lower town). In addition, the city has a biological reserve, around the beach of the district of Latif, on the river, which it is known to have one of the largest urban concentrations of birds of the country. The city has many hills, the Morros, which can reach up to 311 meters in altitude.

The port of Porto Alegre is the southernmost of Brazil. A river system that unites the regional producer center on streams that flow into the Lagoa dos Patos with the largest seaport of Mercosul, the port of Rio Grande, 300 km south, on the South Atlantic Ocean. Its old entrance portico was built in an iron structure decorated with stained glass, commissioned in Paris in 1919. The latter is a tourist attraction point of the city, from where the cruises on the Rio Guaíba leave.

Here my HQ have been the Ceasar Hotel, since then it has gone thru some changes first to Blue Tree Towers Hotels, and lately Hotel Radisson Porto Alegre located at Coronel Lucas de Oliveira, 995 – Bela Vista. they had a japanese resto there very good, then, Becco churrasquerias, and now Don Pallesi Restaurant-Italian style. It has been with mixed emotion seeing all the changes here, I still sentimental for the Ceasar! The new webpage for reference is at https://www.radissonhotels.com/en-us/hotels/radisson-porto-alegre  

In Brazil, it is managed by Atlantica Hotels webpage here: https://www.atlanticahotels.com.br/hotel/radisson-porto-alegre/

The area is known for the gaucho tradition, very horse oriented with great shows for eating and entertainement not to be missed. The Mercado Publico is great now housing many shops of local flavor and tradition centered around the gaucho heritage. Many restos and pubs around Bela Vista and Centro typical of European cities. Galpao Crioulo is an excellent place to see the gauchos in action and eat well very well,its located at Avenida Loureiro da Silva s/n – Centro. I was able to get a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/galpaocrioulochurrascaria/

Porto Alegre friends at gaucho show Churrascaria Galpao Crioulo 1999

For the traditional dish Feijoada, try Panapanà Bistro,Rua Demétrio Ribeiro, 174 – Centro. This has now closed but for the memories a local site that talks of it in Portuguese: http://www.mochilinhagaucha.com.br/2015/06/panapana-bistro-porto-alegre-rs.html

 Another is the great football/soccer team Internacional de Porto Alegre at river banks of  river/Rio Guaíba,in Avenida Padre Cacique, 891, at shopping  Gigante da Beira-Rio. I could not attend a game but did walk by it as consolation. Locally is a giant forever! Webpage:  https://www.internacional.com.br/beira-rio/gigante-para-sempre

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The official tourist office of Porto Alegre has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/portoalegre.travel/

The Rio Grande do Sul tourist office on Porto Alegre: https://www.turismo.rs.gov.br/cidade/1/porto-alegre

Many memories here of a family who would read this having white wine in her restaurant that kept her cellars loaded with wine bottles!! right in old city center. Unfortunately, forgot the name of the restaurant and no pictures just my early travel flops…Always nice memories thus, always remember.

And then I went to São Paulo ,the largest city in Brazil and South America. On the plateau of Piratininga at 760 meters above sea level, the city is crossed by two rivers, the Rio Tietê and the Rio Pinheiros which confluent before crossing the whole State of São Paulo and to throw themselves in the Rio Paraná. Founded in 1554 by Portuguese Jesuits, the city developed thanks to the gold of the surrounding mines until the end of the 18C, and then became prosperous thanks to the cultivation of coffee and sugar. In the last century, it has gradually become the economic heart of Brazil, with its business district around Avenue Paulista , hosting the São Paulo Stock Exchange and seats of large Brazilian and international companies. The city is known for its unpredictable climate, its architecture-and in particular its skyscrapers-, its gastronomy, its gigantic traffic jams and the number of helicopters flying over the city (biggest in Latin America).

As mentioned above, this was my first entry point to Brazil, the airport international at Guarulhos, and the country main airport . However, now I came back to see the city! Now traffic here is big and if you are planning to head out by car, I did; better get your bearing on the traffic before leaving home. Not perfect but better than go out blind. Of course, it helps if speaks Portuguese (I do) .CET Webpage http://www.cetsp.com.br/

And of course , more firepower in Portuguese but the AutoBan of Brazil expressways (rodovias), I take from here the Anhanguera (330) and Bandeirantes (348). More on the webpage: http://www.autoban.com.br/

Of course if scary there is the metro or taxi (i have taken the taxi never the metro) ,for info Metro of Sao Paulo webpage, and here they have an English version: http://www.metro.sp.gov.br/en/your-trip/index.aspx

My old time favorite here for stays has been the Maksoud plaza althought lately family feuds has kept renovations from been done until lately, was and is still a grand hotel, done by the architect owner Maksoud tire of staying on other hotels, the one and only Maksoud plaza. . It has wonderful places to eat inside like the Atrium lobby cafe and the Arlanza Grill. Ibirapuera park is nearby for a nice jogging and conferences were held every year for the business traveler in those times . The close by Ave Paulista is the grand avenue for stores ,shopping in the area. Webpage: https://www.maksoud.com.br/en

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

For eating out do not missed the Famiglia Mancini, a tradition restaurant not to far from the hotel, and of great renown amongst locals who took me there for dinner ,try the all you can eat choice, awesome, and lately totally renovated. Webpage : http://www.famigliamancini.com.br/?page_id=3418

And for a nice bar go to Bar Original ,there since 1996 near the big park  a taxi ride from hotel. Located at Rua Card Arcoverde, 1265 – Ibirapuera. Webpage: https://www.baroriginal.com.br/

Many things to see here, my favorites are:

The city has many monuments, parks and museums such as the Latin American Memorial, the Ibirapuera Park (big park and many business conventions attended there) and its flag monument, the Municipal Theater b. 1911; The Museum of Art of São Paulo (MASP); The Cathedral of the Sé, the Botanical Garden ; the Trianon park, the Zoological Park , Rua 25 de Março ,the largest outdoors market place of Latin America, with over three thousand stores, the wonderful Sao Bento monastery , the Benedictines arrived in São Paulo in 1598, but only in 1634 was created the Abbey and the Chapel was dedicated to St. Benedict. The site, which hosted Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Brazil, home to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption and the monastery. Avenida Paulista; the most popular avenue of the city  (yes) concentrates all that is best in São Paulo. It is possible to visit museums and cultural centers, find a park amid great skyscrapers, check book launchings, enjoy the happy hour in one of its many bars, enjoy the evening at nightclubs, watch theatrical performances and movie sessions of the most diverse productions, and go shopping: all in one place!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The Metro area of Sao Paulo tourist office in Portuguese: http://www.capital.sp.gov.br/turista

The tourist office of Sao Paulo in English: http://cidadedesaopaulo.com/v2/?lang=en

And again many memories of good cheers and still good friends, who would read this page. Thank you all for reading me! Sao Paulo is big but lucky to have been afterward.

And as it happened, left Brazil by Rio de Janeiro, last on the trip and again many nice memories. Rio de Janeiro is the capital of the State of Rio de Janeiro.Originally designated the Bay of Guanabara, discovered on 1 January 1502 by Gaspar de Lemos and Gonçalo Coelho, captains of the fleet of the Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, discoverer of Brazil. On March 1, 1565, marks the foundation of the city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro (“St. Sebastian of the River of January”) in honor of King Sebastian I of Portugal and the celebrated Saint on the day of his birth. San Sebastian who remains the patron of the city is celebrated every year. The capital of the Portuguese kingdom was thus transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, which became the only European capital located outside the European continent. It was the capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, following the escape of the Portuguese court during the invasion of the Napoleonic troops (1808-1821), then of the Empire of Brazil (1822-1889), of the República Velha (1889-1930), of the Estado Novo (1937-1945) and the beginning of the Second Republic until 1960.

The Bay of Guanabara is 30 km into the landside. Its entrance is guarded by two forts of the 17C and 19C. It is easy to cross the Bay of Guanabara to get to Niterói or the islands, from where you discover a magnificent view of the city of Rio and the lush mountains that crimp it. The most interesting stage is the island of Paquetá, one of the 84 islands of the bay, where the landscape has not changed since the 19C. In this island, cars are not allowed. The largest of the islands is the island of the governor (Ilha do Governador), where is located the international Airport Antônio Carlos Jobim. From where I left this time and have come in later.

Many memories at Rio, the anecdote is that upon ariving at the airport, my buddy call to verify the hotel reservation, the company had cancelled it because he booked the Palace Copacabana!!! very expensive place; in the haze to change the reservation the company made a booking at another hotel in Copacabana beach, the Othon Palace, but booked it for two nights instead of one, so we took advantage lol!! Located at Avenida Atlantica, just marvelous again , the views,the service the food all is sublime,and the Skylab bar fantastic!

Rio de Janeiro Othon Palace Hotel fr Copacabana beach 1988

Rio de Janeiro view from othon palace hotel window over copacabana beach Brazil 1988

Many things to see here me think , my favorites are:

Pao de açucar (Sugar Loaf) is a rocky peak at the altitude of 395 meters and the so singular form that has always been the symbol of Rio. The famous statue of Christ the Redeemer , a cross-arm, stands on the peak of the Corcovado with a height of 710 meters and can be seen from all areas of Rio. Copacabana beach  ; and its extension to the north, the Leme, with its six kilometers of length that describe a perfect curve is certainly the preferred beach of foreigners. The local friend took me to Niteroi for a nice view of the bay and hang gliding!!!

Along Copacabana beach try the bar Boteco da Garrafa, great pints of beers ,Belgians, Germans you name it ;located at Rua Bolívar, 27, Copacabana.  See it on Restaurant Guru: https://restaurantguru.com/Boteco-da-Garrafa-Rio-de-Janeiro-2

Restaurante Quinta da Boa Vista in Sao Cristovao, inside park same name, open from 1822 when it serves the royal Portuguese family. webpage : http://www.restaurantequintaboavista.com.br/

 Ipanema Beach is located in the most exclusive residential area of the city.  Ipanema Beach, less extensive than that of Copacabana, is the venue for the golden youth of Rio and the homosexual community. Less lively and less noisy than Copacabana, Ipanema is arguably the most romantic of the twenty-five beaches in Rio. The São Conrado beach is located in a cove surrounded by mountains covered with dense vegetation. There rises the Pedra da Gávea, a huge block of granite much more impressive in its shape and size, with its 842 meters, the mountain of Pedra da Gávea overlooks the long beaches of fine sand. You can access it after the Botanical garden . Each of the 141 hectares of the Botanical garden hosts specimens of the Brazilian and World Flora.

The fame jewerlers H Stern store in Niteroi or Copacabana is another great place to shop, webpage :https://www.hstern.net/

The Church of Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro ,white and graceful, the Church of Glória dominates from its height the bay of Guanabara. Built in 1739, this Chapel was intimately linked to the life of the imperial family. In his arms, Joao VI carried his granddaughter, Princess Maria da Glória, to present her at the altar, and Don Pedro I made the same with the future Emperor Pedro II. The decoration is made of carved wood and azulejos (colourful ceramic tiles).  National Historical Museum was only converted into a museum in 1922. Its collections, spread over fourteen halls, retrace the history of Imperial Brazil (19C). It has a library of 70 000 volumes. One of the things to see in this city is the museum Carmen Miranda, the great Brazilian actress of Hollywood fame.

Case apart for this beauty and the errors of incapables governments. National Museum, located in the park of Quinta de Boa Vista, the Sunday promenade of the Cariocas (natives of Rio are call) of the suburbs, this former palace was once the home of Joao VI and the imperial family, until the proclamation of the Republic in 1889. It contains the largest scientific collection of zoology, mineralogy, archaeology, ethnology in Brazil. Unfortunately for lack of funds and proper fire system ,on September 2, 2018, the museum is ravaged by a fire that has burned hundreds of rooms and destroys all historical archives!! This museum webpage:http://www.museunacional.ufrj.br/

The tourist office of Rio de Janeiro: http://visit.rio/en/welcome/

And so famous I give you the Carnival of Rio webpage: http://www.rio-carnival.net/

There you go, a nice 1 2 3 punch in Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo,and Rio de Janeiro to enhance all the beauty of Brazil. Hope you enjoy it as I always will.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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