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Our Rio Trip– or lessons learned

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Last weekend we decided last minute to head to Rio.  Since we have kids, we thought we’d break up the drive and sleep in Paraty for the night.  We stayed at the Pousada Eclipse in Paraty, which is farthest from the town, and right off the freeway.  With free wi-fi, 2 beds, and a clean room for R$160 a night, I was fine with having to park in town.  So no photos of this VERY VERY beautiful city, as we basically drove in and thought we’d grab lunch… so I left the camera in the car.  Then we started to walk, as we didn’t realize that half the town is foot access/ cobble stone only. Of course this meant I had to stop and by Haviannas, as I was wearing heels, and you can’t walk these streets in anything but flats.

From Wikipedia– since I left the freaking camera in the car

Paraty is a MUST MUST MUST.  The streets are quaint, and all the restaurants looked great.  They have little cultural events all the time, as they need something to attract people.  When we were there it was a big dance showcase.  We didn’t go in, but in the jeito of Brasil, we passed off our squirmy 2 year old to the waiter (we ate at 7 so no one was in the restaurant), and he took him into the show across the street since he had access to it.  SOO wrong right? I would never do that in the US, but this is Brasil.  For R$30 we went on a buggy ride of the city, I recommend it, as you get a real quick look at all the shops etc, and then can decided where you want to go, versus walking the whole thing.  And you hear a bit of the history.  If we had actually planned to stay in Paraty, I would have loved to go on one of the many day trips on a boat, or taken a class at the cooking school they have there (classes in English too).  Paraty is known for the art/culture, and there were some unique shops and art galleries.  Alas, we were only “resting” here, and didn’t do much other than look and kick ourselves for not visiting sooner.

Sooo Rio… I have to say, it was nice to be somewhere warm instead of cold like Sao Paulo is right now.

taken prior to the “accident”

My initial observations on Rio, are the following:

  1. Architecture in Rio is older and more ornate, there are a lot more buildings and churches here to enjoy
  2. The graffiti style in Rio is different- first there is more art graffiti, second the tagging is more curvy than the spiky styles of Sao Paulo
  3. The beach fairs they have at night, probably have the best touristy chotchky crap I’ve seen yet, I actually wanted to buy a lot of it

So lessons learned on this trip:

  1. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS check the camera battery before leaving the hotel room to Pao de Acucar– hubby pointed out each and every “photo moment” that I missed
  2. Check the weather at Corcovado before you go.  It seemed sunny until we got to the top
  3. Carry and extra shirt, and bring a second baby carrier- just in case you’re on top of a big mountain and your kid decides to kill both the Moby and your shirt.
  4. Set up a baby changing area on the counter in the bathroom, before you go to bed, so that when your kid poops at 4am, you don’t wake up the 2 year old too.
  5. Bring a point and shoot camera, not just your fancy Cannon, as your husband will expressly forbid it to be taken to just walk around Rio with. It’s the shark rule- it’s okay to swim in shark infested waters if everyone else is a target too (major tourist areas– not the beach)

We stayed at the Windsor Palace for R$360 for a King + twin.  It was a great deal for Rio, and the room and hotel was clean and 2 blocks from the beach.  They recommended a Churrascuria in Copacabana called the Palace for dinner.  I think it’s the first one I’ve gone to that I really really liked.  Again a list.

  1. The meat was delicious, AND varied, they had shrimp, squid, bbq pork ribs, and the best picanha I’ve had (better than Fogo de Chao)
  2. The appetizers on the table were good- garlic fried shrimp, onion rings, farofa
  3. There was a sushi bar, where you could order any roll you wanted or just slices of sashimi– and it was a welcome break from the usual meat fest
  4. The salad bar had a hot bar- paella, grilled salmon, pasta — again a nice change from just red meat
  5. For all of that the price was only R$70

The 2 year old was of course free, but he pounded down food like I’ve never seen him do before, he thought it was all delicious too.  He also polished off an entire cup of watermelon juice (which is just weird to type in English.  Suco de Melancia just seems right).

All in all, Rio was lovely, warm and I enjoyed our quick drop in, and right now as I snuggle my 2 month old to steal his body heat as Sao Paulo is cold as usual, I miss the sunny beaches.

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Google Maps and Favela’s

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Personally, I like knowing where the Favelas are. The last thing you want to do at night is drive into a Favela that you shouldn’t drive into it.  Granted, the Google Map I live nearby shows Favela Nigera, which I think has long since been torn down…But I get where Rio is coming from if all of the good things about Rio are missing too.

Article I ran across this am on the BBC site:

Google to amend Rio maps over Brazil favela complaints

Googlemap of RioWithout zooming in, favelas take prominence over tourist sites

Google has agreed to amend its map of Rio de Janeiro, after city officials said it gave too much prominence to favelas, Brazilian media report.

Favelas, sprawling shanty towns which are home to tens of thousands of people, are a defining feature of Rio.

But the Globo newspaper said their labelling on the map and the absence of wealthier districts and tourist sites gave a bad impression of the city.

Google told Globo it would change the way the information was displayed.

When viewed in a large-scale format, the maps of Rio pinpoint several of Rio’s more than 600 favelas, including some of the less well-known ones.

The middle class neighbourhood of Cosme Velho – where tourists take the cable car up to the famous statue of Christ – is not labelled, but the smaller Favela da Villa Imaculate Conceicao is.

Sugar Loaf mountain is also not marked and in Humaita, the favela area is labelled in the same size text as the entire district.

Globo warned earlier this week that the map gave a “false impression that the urban area is nothing more than an immense cluster of favelas”.

“The maps turn Rio into a favela,” one resident of Humaita told the paper. “Anyone who doesn’t know the city would be frightened.”

Antonio Pedro Figueira de Mello, special secretary of tourism, said the maps were “absurd” and that Google had turned down a request in 2009 that they be changed.

View over favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (file image)Rio’s favelas are clustered around wealthier and more established neighbourhoods

But on Monday, a spokesman for Google told the newspaper the company had never intended to “defame Rio”, and that the person who drew up the maps was a native of the city.

“The problem is a lack of discretion in the way the information has been posted on the map,” said Felix Ximenes, adding that Google had bought the data but then used it without prioritising it.

Mr Ximenes said the maps would gradually be amended to change the text sizes and to apply labels to districts. The favelas would still be marked, but only once the user had zoomed in.

It is not the first time Google has run into trouble over its mapping service.

Earlier this year, the north-west German town of Endem complained that the map gave its harbour to the Netherlands.

And in November 2010, Costa Rica said Google had fuelled a border row with its neighbour Nicaragua, after its map of the region mistakenly placed a disputed island on the Nicaraguan side of the border.

Google apologised and revised its map.