What Rio Doesn’t Want the World to See or Know

The 2016 Olympics has been both a blessing and a curse for the people of Brazil. Can you imagine, suffering the pangs of poverty and your government spends millions, and millions of dollars (Brazilian Reals R$)to ensure that you are kept out of sight – hidden behind walls? This is real folks. The video will explain much of what the people of Rio are experiencing. It is just over 8 minutes long. Take time to view it because the world is being coerced into NOT knowing what is really happening in this beautiful country.

Be not deceived! I lived there for about a year and several things became painfully obvious within a couple of months. The Government is riddled with corruption. Why do I say this? Because they pillage the finances of the country openly. Are you aware of the fact that only 40% of the country has water and sanitation? As a result, the pollution from the favelas occupied mostly by the very poor, drains directly into the rivers and the ocean.

Here are just a few notes to be aware of. Lesson No. 1: Be VERY careful where you swim. Think about it – it really does matter. Although the Government did promise to clean it up, the water is still extremely polluted. Lesson No. 2: Ensure that you read our article about The Do’s & Don’ts of Travelling to Brazil – this article has some valuable information that will keep you safe. Lesson No. 3: The Brazilian people are a friendly people so if you want to know something, just ask? It is best to get the real story from the people who are living it although experiences will vary depending on who you ask. So be mindful of who the messenger really is and learn how to travel and get the most out of your trip.

“Must See” Sights in Rio

If you plan on attending the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, make sure to leave room in your itinerary to check out some of the most fascinating, “must see” attractions in Rio. Your visit will not be complete if you don’t. Here are some of our favorites.

Sight Seeing in RioChrist the Redeemer – The Statue of Christ the Redeemer (or Cristo Redentor) is located on top of Corcovado Mountain at 2300 feet above the city. In 2007, the iconic statue was voted as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Christ the Redeemer is also the world’s largest art deco statue and measures 130 feet in height with an arm span of 98 feet. The magnificent sandstone and concrete statue was unveiled in 1931. The statue provides some excellent views of the city especially on clear days. Visitors can take the cog train to the top of Corcado or reach the statue via taxi, or bus.

Corcovado Mountain – This mountain was originally named Pinaculo da Tentaco or the Pinnacle of Temptation by the Portuguese settlers. Later on, it was renamed Corcovado for its distinct hunchback shape. The mountain is located inside the Tijuca Forest National Park. At 2300 feet, the Corcovado Mountain towers over the city of Rio. Aside from its magnificent natural beauty, the mountain is also noted for being the foothold of Christ the Redeemer. The roads which were originally built for the railroad are still used to provide access to the top of the Corcovado Mountain. Travellers can also take the electrical train which carries around 360 people up and down the mountain every 60 minutes. Bear in mind that transportation tends to get very busy during peak hours.

Sugarloaf Mountain – Sugarloaf is a world famous natural landSugar Loaf Mountain Riomark. It is one of the most recognized attractions in the city of Rio. It is named for its shape with soil that resembles a type of refined sugar used in the 19th century. Sugarloaf Mountain is a great place for urban rock climbing with the historic Guanabara Bay at its base. The mountain is 1299 feet in height and can be accessed via the cable car which was installed in 1912.

Ipanema Beach and Copacabana Beach – The famous Copacabana Beach is a must to visit when in Rio. The beautiful crescent shaped beach features warm sand, sunbathing travellers, various vendors and musicians. There are several sidewalk cafes for visitors to grab a drink and a bite. The beach is especially lively in the evenings. The Ipaneba Beach is another beautiful beach that stretches for about 1.25 miles and is much cleaner in comparison to Copacabana. This lovely beach is the perfect destination for a relaxed, romantic evening.

Escadaria Selarón – The famous stairway, also known as Selarón’s Staircase, was refurbished by Jorge Selarón, a painter and sculptor who migrated from Chile. He settled in Rio in 1983 and began renovating the steps in 1990.  Regardless of his losses, this became a labor of love for the artist.  He eventually resorted to accepting donations from the locals and tourists to complete the staircase which consists of 250 steps that span for 125 meters, connecting the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods. Aside from its size, the Selaron_StepsEscadaria Selarón has been a favourite for many visitors because of its fascinating décor. These steps are decorated with over 2000 colorful tiles from various countries. This attraction is widely popular and has been featured in National Geographic Magazine, music videos, travel shows and even Fanta commercials. Recently, the colorful steps also appeared in “The Passion Unites Us” – Rio’s video bid for the 2016 Olympics.

Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro – The Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro is considered to be the heart of the city. Dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the magnificent 19th century church is one of the most important historical structures in the city. Featuring Rococo style interiors with stunning wood carvings, white walls and golden trimmings, the church definitely has a regal air. The Portuguese Royal Family used the church as the Royal Chapel and then the Brazilian Imperial Family has used it as the Imperial Church. Located on the Rua Primeiro de Março, the church is accessible for free from 8am – 6pm from Monday to Friday.

Walking & Riding tours – Touring the city of Rio is one of the best ways to learn walking Tour - Sao Pauloabout the city. Walking tours are offered at many establishments all over Rio where visitors can get together with locals or other travellers to explore the city. These tours may cover various interests such as historical attractions, evening bar crawls or even Segway tours if you prefer not to walk. Visitors can even choose from horseback riding tours and bicycle tours to cover more ground and to enjoy a novel experience. Some walking tours are offered for free with a request for a donation at the end.

2016 Rio Olympics

The Olympics in Rio are Fast Approaching

Olympic-Games-closing-ceremony-and-handover-to-Rio-2016Although the 2016 Olympics in Rio is not currently on our daily news radar, 2016 is fast approaching and the Brazilian people are working extra hard to prepare for it. Added pressure reigns down on this nation since this is the first time that a South American country and the first time that a Portuguese-speaking nation has hosted the Olympic Games – all eyes are looking to this nation with great anticipation. Unfortunately earlier this year, several complaints had been lodged against the leaders of the Rio 2016 Local Organizing Committee to a point where the International Olympic Committee was concerned that they might have to step in to assist in their efforts to ensure that deadlines could be met.
For any nation to prepare for an Olympic Games is a herculean task especially when the Brazilian people, a predominantly poor people, must support its government who is spending billions of dollars towards an event which will last for less than one month – the Olympics will be held August 5th to August 21st, 2016. The hope of the Brazilian government and its people is that the funds spent on the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will inject billions of dollars back in to their economy just as the World Cup of 2014 had done. It has been reported that the World Cup added $4.4 billion to Rio’s economy. So the members of Rio’s Local 2016 Olympic VenueOrganizing Committee together with the city, state and federal governments are all working in tandem to ensure a memorable but profitable celebration to come for its people and for all attendees.
In keeping with the goal of the Brazilian government and its people, the Olympic Park is bustling with activities in preparation of the big event. The Park is made up of four competition zones. They are as follows:
1. Barra da Tijuca, which is centrally located. This will be the home of the Olympic Village.
2. The Deodoro Sports Complex which was started on July 3, 2014. It is the second largest Olympic zone which will include a few venues previously used in the Pan American Games of 2007. This Sports Complex, which will host several Olympic events, will house among others, the equestrian arena, the Bike park and the Canoe Slalom. The Deodoro facilities are currently on schedule and well under way to being completed before the 2016 deadline date.
3. The Copacabana Zone will naturally be the site for the water and beach events such as sailing, canoeing, beach volleyball and others. In fact for one week this past August, sailors from around the world gathered on Guanabara Bay for the first test event to be held in that Zone. It was considered a grand success although there were many complaints about the conditions of the water – several people complained about the high water pollution levels and as a result, the event became a situation where dodging unseen objects below the surface of the water was the ‘order of each day.’
4. The Maracanã Zone where the majority of the events will be held includes two stadiums, the Maracanã Stadium (also known as Engenhão) where the opening and the closing ceremonies are to be held and the João Havelange Olympic Stadium, where track and field events will be held. Of all the four zones, this zone is more ready than all of the others because the two main complexes are already in place, although they do need some repairs before their final opening.
Of course if travel tips to Brazil are to be of benefit to any visitor, one would need to know not only about the Brazilian food, and the Brazilian people, but also about transportation, and how to get to and from the facilities. Now that more Brazilian people have greater access to wealth and education, they are buying more cars and congestion has become a major problem in many Brazilian cities. The Rio government together with private investment intend to spend over $8.5 billion to upgrade its urban transportation system in order to increase the use of public transportation by 300%. Major improvements will be made to the metro system which being extended about 16 km and to the bus-lines so that they can move people around that city more quickly. Much improvement had been made to the infra-structure in preparation of the World Cup and now efforts continue in earnest as the deadline for the 2016 Olympics in Rio is less than 2 years away. I encourage you to read my articles on each of the referenced topics because they will give you many travel tips on how to ensure that you experience an enjoyable yet safe trip to Brazil and will also give you the Do’s and Don’ts of travelling in and out of that beautiful country.
Come August 2016, over 10,000 athletes from around the world are expected to participate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Therefore in order to support its efforts, the Brazilian Organizing Committee is in search of thousands of volunteers to make their 2016 Olympics a roaring success. Whether you serve in a food pavilion, or you become a part of the security team, whether you work online, if you serve as a translator or on the front lines meeting and greeting the attendees, Rio’s Local Organizing Committee will need over 70,000 volunteers to make this event happen. So if you are interested in helping, you must be 18 years of age or old and you must be available for at least 10 days during the events. If you meet these criteria (and there may be others), you can apply to be a volunteer at: http://www.rio2016.com/volunteers/. I am certain they will need all of the help that they can get and therefore they will welcome you with open arms.

Places to stay while in Brazil

Places of Stay in Sao-PauloThere are a number of places to stay while in Brazil, from hotels, to motels, to hostels, bed and breakfasts, you can stay with a friend or relative, but I need to update you on a few situations.  First of all, location is critical wherever you decide to stay especially if you are going to be out late into the evening.  Depending on where your accommodations are located, you need to decide whether you are prepared to take the bus, cab or metro back and forth to your destination. I suggest (even before getting to Brazil) that you can actually go online to Goggle maps which is the one I use most often, find the city or area where you will be staying and search for directions.  Then add the hotel address or where you are leaving from and the address where you are going.  The search will determine how long it will take to get to and from that address via bus, cab or metro.  I suggest you also read my Articles on Transportation – Part l, Transportation – Part ll and Transportation – Part lll to ensure that you are aware of those relevant matters of concern so that you are not caught unawares.

First of all, please take note that motels as opposed to hotels, most often, are known as places where the locals go to have sex and more often than not, will be frequented by persons of ill-repute and their clients.
This is not to say that this does not happen in hotels, or eslewhere, but my advice is, regardless of the price, there are other more reasonable alternatives that will assure your safety.

There are many hostels new and old that can accommodate a family for example.  I stayed in one myself for several months although I had never stayed in one before.  However the hostel I stayed in had opened its doors just a week or two before I moved there.  It was a beautiful place but I came to realise that hostels are places where you take minimum luggage for short periods of time although I stayed at that hostel for almost 3 months.

Lodging in BrazilHostel life is very different if you have never experienced it before.  We had 4 sets of bunk beds (8 beds in total) in our room with 1 toilet, 1 shower,and 2 sinks in the powder area. Imagine 8 women in a room barely large room to pass between the bunks with 1 toilet and 1 shower.  Storage space per person is limited to a tiny locker and one-half of the lower side of the bunk.  But the hostel had other amenities – a TV/stereo room, computer access, a full-kitchen, a pool table and a family atmosphere.   One problem that I experienced with this particular hostel is that we ate most meals outside under a covered patio which can be a very chilly experience when it’s winter in Brazil.  Case and point, the temperature in Sao Paulo dropped below 53 degrees farenheit several days while there.  Another problem that I experienced was with the toilets.  They were push button toilets BUT you cannot put ANY trash (which includes toilet tissue) in the toilet – i.e. the used tissue had to be disposed of in the trash can. I was most fortunate to have a bidae which we could use for added cleanliness. I was also amazed that the disposal of waste in the trash did not produce an odor mainly because the staff were great at ensuring rooms were thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis.

Several hostels opened their doors this year in time for the World Cup, so they will do well to support those persons attending Carnival 2015 and the Olympics of 2016.  They really provide a safe place for an entire family to stay but I wil assure you that you may pay prices that are almost comparable to hotel rates.   Be careful to ask lots of questions because I did have one experience in Rio where the location and the price were great but the room was the size of my walk-in closet at home.  This really was not a major problem since I did not spend much time in the room, so do your research, check online for a place that is conducive to your desired means of comfort.  Look for a hotel, hostel, or for the accommodation with the amenities, location and price that best suits your needs. Enjoy!

World Cup final: Germany defeats Argentina…

By James Masters,CNN;July 14, 2014 — Updated 1049 GMT (1849 HKT)

(CNN) — Never bet against Germany.

In a world where so much can change so quickly, perhaps it is reassuring that there is one constant which remains.
The nation which had ripped Brazil’s dreams to shreds in the semifinals, won its fourth World Cup after a tense 1-0 victory over Argentina Sunday.

Mario Gotze’s strike, seven minutes from the end of extra time, ensured Germany ended its 24-year wait for glory at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium.

For all the doubters who said that no European side would or could ever win the World Cup on South American soil, there was one team which refused to listen.

Lazy stereotypes often abound when describing German football.

The words ‘organized’, ‘ruthless’ or ‘machine’ are bandied about along with that other cliché, ‘efficient.’

To use those words to describe this German side would not only do it a disservice — it would ignore the wonderful talent which passes through the veins of each and every player.http://www.trippintobrazil.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

Germany has long threatened to rule the world.

In 2006, it came close, bowing out at the semifinal stage after a painful defeat by Italy in a tournament held in its own country.

Two years later, it was beaten in the final of the European Championships by Spain before the same opposition ended its World Cup dream in South Africa. (Read the remainder of this article at:  http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/13/sport/football/world-cup-final-germany-argentina-football/index.html?iid=article_sidebar)

Four key takeaways from World Cup 2014

By Amy Bass
July 14, 2014 — Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)

(CNN) — This World Cup final looked to answer a question that has been surfacing throughout this tournament, and perhaps — considering the hold King James has had on U.S. basketball fans in the past few weeks — all of sports: Is it the team, or is it the star?

The last game of this tournament pitted the best player in the world, Messi, against the best team in the world, Germany. And if nothing else, this match demonstrated definitively that while players like Messi might win games, teams like Germany win titles.

So Messi gets the Golden Ball. Germany gets everything else.

After steamrolling its way over Brazil to make the final, Germany looked to be a favorite for the title despite its early draw with Ghana. For Argentina, at stake was the lure of claiming the title on the home turf of its arch rival, Brazil, which finished a devastatingly disappointing fourth after losing in Saturday’s match against the Dutch.

But the depth of Germany was too much for Argentina in the end. While Thomas Müller — who started the tournament with a hat trick against Portugal and whose goal against Brazil in the semifinal made him only the second player in history to score five goals in consecutive World Cups — has been one of the stars of these past weeks, it was an extra-time goal by Mario Götze, who came off the bench, that propelled Germany to the top.

So with play over for another four years, what have we learned?

Sports matter: As we have seen time and time again with the Olympic Games, politics do not cease to exist when players step onto the field, the court or the pitch. This tournament proved yet again what a critical window sport provides into the world we live in, particularly considering the fiery protests that greeted the Brazilian government when it signed on the dotted line to host. The billions spent on bringing the most-watched sporting event in the world to Brazil put the country’s government into a fragile state as protestors told FIFA World Cup 2014 to “GO HOME.” But the politics were not reserved for the streets of São Paulo and Rio: Inside the stadiums we saw fans in blackface when Germany faced Ghana and a spike in the use of “Nazi” on Twitter when Germany faced both Brazil and the United States. (Read the remainder of this article at: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/13/opinion/bass-world-cup-final-takeaways/index.html?iref=allsearch)

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